14 August 2008

CNN: Pelosi not happy with some Clinton backers

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Wednesday some supporters of Hillary Clinton's White House bid need an attitude adjustment.

Appearing on a San Francisco radio show to promote her new book, Pelosi praised Clinton's actions since dropping out of the presidential race two months ago but said some of her backers have not acted so nobly.

"I think Hillary Clinton has been very gracious," Pelosi said on KGO radio. "I think some of her supporters have been less than gracious."

Polls have shown the majority of Democrats who voted for Clinton during the party's primaries will support Obama in November, but a highly-vocal minority has made it clear they won't support the Illinois senator under any circumstances.

One group of disenchanted Democrats have formed a coalition popularly referred to as "Party Unity My A–," while the AP reports Thursday other backers of Hillary Clinton plan to paper Denver, the city hosting the Democratic convention, with outraged fliers to express their disapproval with Obama as the presidential nominee.

Clinton herself has urged party unity, though she appeared to fuel some of the fire last week when she left open the possibility of placing her name in nomination at the party's convention. Critics have said that move would only serve to highlight rifts in the party on primetime television.

Speaking Wednesday, Pelosi also brushed aside comments made by Bill Clinton during a recent interview, during which the former president refused to say if he thought Obama was ready to be Commander-in-Chief.

"I can't answer for Bill Clinton," she said. "It's hard when you're in a primary election. Losing is very, very difficult.

In the wide-ranging interview, Pelosi also had tough words for onetime Democrat Joe Lieberman, now an ardent supporter of John McCain's White House bid. The House Speaker called Lieberman's recent comments suggesting Obama has not always put American first "totally irresponsible."



Looking at the potential toss up states and the ones that each campaign are setting out as 'battlegrounds', could we end up with a tie?
Of course this would still hand the presidency to Barack Obama, as it would be up to Congress to decide - that is a Democratic Congress...

An anticlimax waiting to happen.

Aren't the Veepstakes exciting?

Great fun, like some sort of enormous political game of 'Guess Who?' with each party slowly whittling out those hitherto seemingly solid senators, governors and others for any potential conflict, past misspeak, incorrect policy position or inconvenient associates.

We've been exposed to a whirl of potential candidates almost non-stop since Obama and McCain won their respective primaries. That's about two months of Obamaveepery and several more of Senator McCain's. With all the major news bureaux continuously filing reports on who's up, who's down, what's been said, how the candidate looked, sounded or acted around a potential VP is poured over, analysed, counter-analysed and then rubbished in the next contradictory report to come out. We've been treated to mini-resumes of every senior to mid ranking senator and governor in both parties for several months and they've all taken their turns in the media spotlight, taking a bow and participating in a form of political show and tell followed by some playground rubbishing of the other team captain.

Enough is enough. Seriously, whilst I'm as much of a politico as the next person, all this Veepfoolery is just building us up to one big anti-climax. Honestly, come the end of the Olympics when all is made clear and Obama calls first, followed by McCain there will be maybe one day of news coverage followed by a mass shrug. If McCain picks Romney then there might be some sort of witty hair comparison articles. For the Democrats Obama's VP will look dull in comparison and might end up being more qualified than the freshman senator. Either way, if, as the current buzz suggests, it's Evan Bayh or Tim Pawlenty, then we're not really talking about a game changer or major news. Two moderately qualified, moderately interesting, mid ranking Midwesterners; much like Baby Bear's porridge, not too hot, not too cold but just about inoffensive enough not to take a hit in the polls. Frankly, yawn.

Think back – Kerry announcing Edwards, woop, that changed the game, Gore choosing Lieberman, a little left field – but still yawn (though admittedly not yawn if McCain chooses him) and Bush choosing Cheney, ho hum. When this is all over, we'll look back and laugh. Ok, so we probably won't, we probably won't even look back – there'll be two people on the bottom of the tickets and we probably won't think much about them for the next few months; certainly less than has been thought about them for the past few.

By Matthew Bennett

13 August 2008

Happy Birthday Barry

If Barack Obama is inaugurated as the first black US President in January 2009, it will be a fitting centenary of a little remembered birthday from 100 years previously. In January 1909, a man named Barry Goldwater was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Not many younger people remember him these days, but his political life and legacy are crucial to the development of modern America.

He was the Republican Senator who lost the presidential election to Lyndon Johnson in the Democratic landslide of 1964. Goldwater’s campaign rejected the progressive social policies of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Citing states rights, he opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, generally credited as the single piece of legislation that kick-started equality between black and white in the United States.

His defeat was a watershed for conservatives in the US as they saw their hero step away from public life. Instead of it being their last stand, the end of a long journey to modernity, it actually had the opposite effect. Over the next few decades the Conservatives gradually built themselves up to be the strongest political force in the country, Republican party aside – they were a political force in their own right. Reagan became the new de facto leader, and his two landslides in the 1980s, followed by three victories from the Bush family and vicious political persecution of the only successful Democrat of the era (Clinton), showed a force so strong that the Republican party seemed to be second fiddle to it, rather than the umbrella organisation.

An Obama victory will be a symbolic rejection of the Goldwater legacy. He is liberal and black. He is a strong believer in the power of the federal government to improve people’s lives. Ironically, after Goldwater left the senate in 1987, his seat was taken by one John McCain, and McCain is not considered a real conservative by the movement.

This presidential election will leave the conservatives with a dilemma. Do they vote for a man that they don’t really trust (McCain) as a better alternative to the one of the most liberal members of the senate (Obama)? Or do they try to bring back Barry Goldwater by sitting on their hands or voting for a more conservative third party candidate? I suspect that enough of them will do just this to hand Obama victory.

Happy Birthday Barry!

By Nick Cooper

12 August 2008

Partner-in-crime: what’s in it for the Veep?

When Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair as the UK’s Prime Minister in June last year, he conveniently neglected to appoint a Deputy Prime Minister. After the shambles of John Prescott’s time in office, there was little resistance to this decision, and the role is now all but forgotten.

Across the Atlantic, a very different picture emerges. As the presumptive Presidential nominees for the Republicans and Democrats narrow down their running-mate shortlists, the press has been furiously postulating over the who’s, what’s and why’s of the decision-making process. The national celebrity status awarded by the press to recent Vice Presidents has undoubtedly heaped the pressure onto Obama and McCain’s decisions. For a role that Roosevelt’s first Vice President James Nance Garner reportedly described as being “not worth a pitcher of warm spit”, is the press’s expectations of the Vice President absurdly unrealistic?

For those Vice Presidents whose sights are set on the Presidency, the press exposure is invariably a double-edged sword. As Al Gore and George Bush Senior discovered, the Vice Presidency provides a huge helping hand when seeking your party’s nomination. The possibilities of accumulating a wealth of political contacts, funds and press coverage over the preceding eight year period are vast.

Yet the increasingly cynical and opportunistic nature of the press has meant that the idiom ‘all news is good news’ no longer sticks. Eight years of living in the spotlight before launching a Presidential bid has the potential to be disastrous. Cheney has claimed never to harbour ambitions to run for President, and it’s just as well: after two terms as Vice President, his favourability ratings dropped as low as 18% according to one Harris Poll conducted in April (from 69% in 2001). This would hardly have been a strong platform for a Presidential bid.

The fact that the Vice President is so intrinsically linked to his President is a bitter burden for any ambitious politician to carry. Although Clinton and Gore worked extremely well together, Gore felt forced to freeze his former boss out of his 2000 Presidential campaign after the Lewinsky debacle, and the Vice President’s favourability ratings inexplicably suffered even more than Clinton’s as a result of the scandal (a Gallup poll suggests that in February 1998, Gore’s public favourability was a measly 22%, whilst Clinton’s was 55%). Overshadowed by a more charismatic and personable President, the weaknesses of any Vice President are laid bare.

The Vice Presidential platform has been less relevant in the Presidential election process during the last two elections, with no former Veeps running for office and an increased emphasis placed on family ties (the Bushes and the Clintons) at the expense of political connections. The possible nomination of the young and charismatic Bayh as Obama’s running-mate, however, indicates that the Vice Presidential platform is far from dead. Perhaps it will be Bayh choosing the White House decor in 2016.

By Robert Black

John Edwards, Seriously?

I tend to think of myself as fairly cynical on the whole but I have to admit that the John Edwards affair caught me on the back foot. I had him pegged as a regular joe with a nice wife and kids. His message had found a hold with a sizable chunk of Americans despite his rather privileged background. Why? because I think people genuinely thought he cared and had the best interests of Americans at heart. I, like many others, liked John and Elizabeth Edwards especially the way they had battled through all the tragedy that they had faced.
It's hard to now tally that with the man who had an affair with an "actor/film maker" while his wife was in remission, (remission remember, it's not as if she was still battling cancer, so that makes it ok) with the man campaigning for universal health care reform. The only thing I can say is that at least it wasn't with an intern or secretary - that would have been clich├ęd.

It's a mystery, but not a shock, that men such as Edwards with everything going for them, wife, family, career etc go and hit the self destruct button and throw everything away on a few moments of self gratification. How can such clever men think that such a fling can be worth the humiliation and public exposure of the intimate details of their life, is beyond me. However, the greater mystery is why their wives, often strong, clever, beautiful women, not only stand by them but agree to covering up the incident, which lets be honest, is going to come out anyway into the full glare of the public eye.

What does still shock me is that being caught out, instead of holding their hands up and admitting their faults, they have the arrogance to come across as affronted and hurt by such slanderous rumours, as if a well rehearsed denial will fool anyone. Then being proven guilty they are not only cheats but liars as well. In an town where morals seem to be regarded as campaign rhetoric, you can understand the sudden enthusiasm that greeted a message of change by those who are sick of this kind of smut.

But what makes this case especially disheartening is, as Andy Ostroy writing in the Huffington Post says: "what is it about these extra-special dirtbags -- Edwards, Gingrich, McCain to name a few -- who are not only compelled to betray their wives, but allegedly do so while these poor women are battling some sort of dreaded illness or debilitating physical condition? They reside on the bottom of the philanderers food chain."

By Beth Connor