Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Campaign Poetry: I found my own voice

May 12, 2010

“Racing out of the hotel, they sped to Manchester for Hillary’s victory speech. ‘I came tonight with a very, very full heart,’ she began. ‘Over the last week I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own voice.’

When it was over, Hillary marched down a hallway backstage, with her husband and Chelsea at her side. She looked like a quarterback who’s just completed a last-second Hail Mary pass in overtime – pointing at her aides, high-fiving them, smiling from ear to ear. ‘This is amazing,’ one of them said. ‘I’m so proud of you! You did this! You did this!’

Hillary nodded and puffed out her chest.

‘I get really tough when people fuck with me,’ she said.”

John Heilemann & Mark Halperin – Game Change. Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime (p. 190).

Sunday talk show highlights, May 2, 2010

May 3, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press and This Week.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory was proud to show off the new set and announce that Meet The Press is now broadcasted in HD (the last renewal happened under host Tim Russert back in 1996).

In Gregory’s interview with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (former AZ governor, also on the SCOTUS short list), Gregory asked whether or not she thinks the Arizona immigration law “invites racial profiling”:

SEC’Y NAPOLITANO: I think it certainly could invite profiling. And, again, you know, as an Arizonan I think this law is the wrong way to go.

Gregory posed the same question to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

SEC’Y CLINTON: I don’t think there’s any doubt about that because, clearly, as I understand the way the law is being explained, if you’re a legal resident, you still have to carry papers. Well, how is a law enforcement official supposed to know?

Drawing a link between the three-party race in Great Britain at the moment and the Tea Party Movement, Gregory wanted to know “whether there’s a movement that could spread,” and whether Clinton could see “a third party becoming viable in the United States”:

SEC’Y CLINTON: Well, let’s see whether it’s viable in the U.K. I don’t know the answer to that. We had, in my lifetime, and certainly long before, viable third party candidates. We’ve had Ross Perot, John Anderson, you know, just within my voting history. I think there’s always room in a democracy for people to bring their views to the forefront. But I think one of the real strengths of our system has been our two-party approach, where each party may frustrate some of its own members because they, they do have a broad cross-section of voters and opinions. But, look, I’m going to be as interested in anybody in seeing what happens in the election in Great Britain.

Gregory also interviewed “Republican” Governor of Florida Charlie Crist, and he wanted him to explain his decision to run as an independent for the Senate seat left empty by George LeMieux (R):

MR. GREGORY: Just 35 days ago, during an interview on Fox News, you were categorical about this. The question was, “Are you willing to pledge right here, right now that you will run in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and not run as an independent?” Your response: “I’m running as a Republican.” Did you determine in those 35 days that the Republican Party had rejected you?

GOV. CRIST: I think the primary part of the Republican Party. The, primary Republicans, if you will. And what ensued in those 35 days was a lot of listening on my part, David. The next weekend was Easter weekend. My wife, Carol, and I went down to Useppa Island and had the opportunity to start listening to people around the state, whether in southwest Florida or in Miami or Jacksonville or my home of St. Petersburg, or in the Panhandle where I am today. And the consistent message that I got over and over and over again was that people were frustrated, they were tired of the gridlock, tired of the bickering in Washington, D.C., and that we needed a new way, a better path, if you will, and encouraged me to run independent and get to that November ballot so that the people of Florida, all the people of Florida, would have a much truer choice when it came to this race for the U.S. Senate.

MR. GREGORY: But, Governor, you were elected as a Republican. The Republicans of Florida know you best. And here is your standing in the polls, you’re now some 20 points behind Marco Rubio. What a change from back in October, when you had a pretty commanding lead over him. You say listen to the people. Have the people not spoken?

GOV. CRIST: Well, in a sense they have. But again, I would, I would emphasize that those are primary Republican voters. It’s very different from the November Republican or Democrats or independents. And I think what’s happening in our country is unfortunately there’s a lot of primary fear. And what I mean by that is, you know, I see people in Washington in the House or the Senate and they’re so concerned about being faced or challenged in a primary that they can’t speak their true sense, their free will. They feel kind of shackled, if you will, by what the primary voters might do. And I think what we need to have is a true, honest discussion about what democracy is supposed to be about. Let all the people have their say…

MR. GREGORY: All right.

GOV. CRIST: …give them a true choice, and that’s why I’m going to November.

MR. GREGORY: I was struck in an interview on Friday, you made a point by saying you’re not deserting the Republican Party. … If you are elected as a senator, will you caucus in the Senate with Republicans?

GOV. CRIST: I’ll caucus with the people of Florida. And, and as I said earlier this week, I’ll caucus with anybody who will help my fellow Floridians.

MR. GREGORY: But hold on, Governor. You have to make a choice when you’re in the Senate, Republicans or Democrats. Who do you caucus with? As a matter of business, you’d have to decide.

GOV. CRIST: Well, when I’m an independent, I’m going to do what I think is in the best interest of my people, and that’s my decision. And that’s what I’m going to do for Floridians. And that’s what people want. They don’t want you to say, look, you have to either go with Democrats or Republicans. You have to go with your gut and with your heart. That’s what this country needs now more than ever, and that’s why I’m running independent.

From an analytical perspective, Charlie Crist used some interesting terms: “Primary Republicans” and “November Republicans.” Now, what did Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) say about Crist’s decision to run as an Independent?

When he changed his mind, I changed my mind about him. I’m very disappointed by that. I mean, it really undermines the ability of people to participate in our politics. We’ve got a lot of alienated people in America right now. They want a place to have their say. So we say, “Come on in to our primary if you want to put a check and a balance on runaway government.” So he did, and now he says, “I’m not doing so well by the rules, so I’m going to go another direction.” That’s what primaries are for.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) described the events in the Florida Republican Senate primary as “an ideological litmus test.”

On a different note, Richardson referred to Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) as a “moderate” – and Pence felt the need to correct the record:

REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN): I’m still trying to recover being called a moderate by Governor Richardson.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

REP. PENCE: You know, I’m a, I’m a conservative.

MR. GREGORY: Something tells me he didn’t really mean that.

REP. PENCE: Yeah, I…

GOV. RICHARDSON: I was trying to be nice to you.

REP. PENCE:  Yeah, yeah, it was nice.

On the issue of Arizona’s immigration law, Gregory played a tape of one of President Obama’s jokes at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner this weekend:

PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Unfortunately, John McCain couldn’t make it. Recently he claimed that he had never identified himself as a maverick. And we all know what happens in Arizona when you don’t have ID. Adios, amigos.

Unsurprisingly, Mike Pence struck the holier-than-thou-tone:

REP. PENCE: Well, let’s be clear for a second. This is no laughing matter for the people of Arizona who have been profoundly affected by the fact that there’s nearly a half a million illegal immigrants and a rampant drug trade and human trafficking trade that’s been besetting. Phoenix, Arizona, is, is the kidnapping capital of the United States of America. I don’t know if this law is perfect, but I do know that it is wrong for officials in this government to throw stones at the people of Arizona as they’re trying to reassert the rule of law in the wake of the fact that this administration and this Congress have been systematically cutting funding to border security since the Democrats took control.

Lamar Alexander had something similar to say:

Instead of joking about the Arizona situation and suing Arizona, the president ought to work with the governor and secure the border. … That’s his job, he’s the commander-in-chief. It’s a federal responsibility. When the border’s secure, then we can deal with the people illegally here and how they become citizens or not.

On This Week,  the Roundtable discussed the fallout of the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, and Bill Maher had the following to say:

MAHER: You know, he [President Obama] owns this issue now, because it was only a few weeks ago that he came out for offshore drilling. And I would say philosophically this is — you know, the problem, I think, a lot of people on the left have with this country and have for many years, is that there’s no one who really represents our point of view. There’s two parties who want to fight the war on terror with an army in Afghanistan. There’s two parties who want to drill offshore. Where is the other side on this? So, you know, I could certainly criticize oil companies, and I could criticize America in general for not attacking this problem in the ’70s. … But it is very disappointing, I think, for this president to be taking a position, as he had — and I guess he’s backpedaling now on it, I hope. I mean, I hope there’s a flip-flop I can believe in there. But…

TAPPER: There’s a slogan for you, flip-flops I can believe in.

MAHER: I could believe in that one, and I hope he does.

On the issue of the Arizona immigration law, the discussion got lively between the Reverend Al Sharpton and Bill Maher on the one side, and George Will on the other. In short, there is a lot of “CROSSTALK” in the transcript…

Trying to frame “show me your papers” as something unproblematic (though sell!), Will said the following:

To enter Mr. McDonnell’s Capitol building or to enter the House office building where Connie Mack works, you have to show a government-issued ID. I mean, this is synthetic hysteria by a herd of independent minds called our political class right now that has decided to stand up and worry about the Constitution being shredded by measures that have ample history of being sustained against constitutional challenges.

Sharpton’s response:

When you say, Mr. Will, that if you go to Mr. McDonnell’s building or Congressman Mack’s building, you have to show ID, that is the point. Everyone has to show ID. They do not have guards stand there and say, “Only you that I deem to be reasonably suspect because I think you come from a particular group that may be entering the building to do harm, we’re going to search you.” Everyone is searched.

This is not the case in the Arizona law. This is not the case of what’s going on in the raids with Sheriff Arpaio there. And this is not what we’re protesting. If everyone was subjected to that, like the buildings you referred to, there would be no cause for concern.

On the issue of racism, Bill Maher sparked off a back-and-forth with George Will with the following statement:

The government intrusion, you know, government power is something that really bothers conservatives, unless it’s directed toward people who aren’t white. You know, I mean, it does seem like there’s some of that going on there.

Will’s “interpretation”:

Now, Mr. Maher just said, if I heard him right, that conservatives basically are racists and they like government intrusion only against people who aren’t white.

Maher’s retort:

Let me defend myself. … I would never say — and I have never said, because it’s not true — that Republicans, all Republicans are racist. That would be silly and wrong. But nowadays, if you are racist, you’re probably a Republican. … And that is quite different.

… I’m not calling you a liar, but…

In the end, who had this Sunday’s most memorable phrase? George Will’s “this is synthetic hysteria by a herd of independent minds called our political class” was good, but Bill Maher had the best one:

I hope there’s a flip-flop I can believe in there.

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.

Sunday talk show highlights, April 11, 2010

April 12, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press and This Week. In short: The White House’s defend-President-Obama’s-Nuclear-posture-review-effort was headed by Secretaries Clinton and Gates, and the roundtables’ focused on the upcoming replacement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory played a videotape of President Obama talking about the desired qualities of his future Supreme Court nominee:

It will … be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

My first reaction was that Obama was talking about a nominee who would oppose the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens’ United case since President Obama framed his opposition to that ruling in strikingly similar terms.

Now, who will Obama pick?

The shortlist includes about ten names, including the following: Judge Diane Wood (7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals), Elena Kagan (the solicitor general of the United States), Judge Merrick Garland (judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit) and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

My view? Take it away Tony Blankley (the conservative voice on KCRW’s “Left, Right & Center”): “I’m not sufficiently familiar to really discuss that intelligently.”

On the issue of Hamid Karzai’s latest statements, Gregory posed the following question to syndicated Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker:

Kathleen, you write in a column this morning about this complicated relationship with allies like Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. And, again, you saw that exchange. What was noteworthy is a shift in the administration. Here you had the secretary of Defense and the secretary of State saying, “We’re not going to react to some of these things. We’re going to be more sympathetic toward Hamid Karzai. He’s the guy that we have to deal with.” That was, that was a significant change.

Parker answered:

Yeah, that was a shift as of right this minute, right? We’ve been pretty hard on him, and he is the guy that was elected and he is our man. We, we created Karzai. And he’s been under siege from everyone. I mean, Obama pretty much came out swinging during his campaign, and he’s had, you know, every European parliamentarian coming after him. Everybody is on Karzai’s back. And, and naturally, he’s going to react. This is the testosterone axis of the world, and you don’t insult a leader in public and then expect him to just sit back and take it.

David Gregory then turned the roundtable’s focus to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference held in New Orleans last week:

MR. GREGORY: Well, let me go a little bit larger here and talk about presidential leadership and put it in the political context, because there is an opposition party, the Republicans, and they’re trying to figure out how to mount that opposition, as we are in an election year. And there was a gathering of Republicans that got a lot of attention, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. And you heard two prominent Republican voices, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, talking about how, again, Republicans position themselves to counter President Obama (videotape):

MR. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA): What the left wants to do is say we’re the party of “no.” …  And so here’s what I want to ask you to encourage every candidate you know, every incumbent you know, every staff person you know, every consultant you know, I think we should decide that we’re going to be the party of “yes.”

MRS. SARAH PALIN: There is no shame in being the party of no if they’re proposing, the other side, proposing an idea that violates our values, violates our conscience, violates our Constitution. What’s wrong with being the party of no.  …  Or better said by the good governor of this state, he said, “The party of `no’? Nah, we’re the party of `Hell, no!'”

Gregory then asked The New York Times’ David Brooks to assess the GOP right now in terms “of mounting this challenge, figuring out where it’s going to be in 2010 and 2012”:

MR. BROOKS: You’re turning to the party of “maybe” over here. So this is a bad move for you. Listen, Palin is great TV. She’s really attractive. Gingrich is sort of great TV. He’s got a billion ideas, 600 of which are really good. But the fact is the, the Republican Party is not Palin and it’s not Gingrich. The Republican Party is Rob Portman, who’s running for senator in Ohio. It’s Mark Kirk, who’s running for, for senator in Illinois. It’s Governor Christie in New Jersey. These are the people who are actually governing. And I happen to feel we pay a little too much attention to people like Palin, who’s sort of a sub reality figure on some TV show. But these are the people that are actually running, and they’ve actually got it figured out.They’re against a lot of what Obama’s doing, but they’re the party of “yes.” They’ve got a whole series of policies.  Paul Ryan from Wisconsin has–can wonk your ear off. And so that’s the real party. Palin, the tea parties–listen, the tea party movement is a movement without a structure, without an organization. No, no party, no movement like that lasts.

On This Week, the Roundtable focused on Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement, and George Will’s opening remarks emphasized the fact that the confirmations of Supreme Court nominees were much smoother and went much faster back in the good old days. Furthermore, and as host Jake Tapper pointed out, the confirmation of Justice Stevens was the last one that wasn’t televised.

Perhaps it was easier to be bipartisan when the voters weren’t watching?

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Tip of the hat to David Brooks for his description of Sarah Palin:

I happen to feel we pay a little too much attention to people like Palin, who’s sort of a sub reality figure on some TV show.

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.

Postscript: Cokie Roberts mentioned the cartoon we picked as “Political Cartoon of the Week, April 4-10” when she described the upcoming debate on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

The Politics of a Book Release: 2012 Edition

March 9, 2010

(updated May 1, 2010)

The fact that most American presidential hopefuls write a book before they announce their candidacy seems to be a truism of American politics. Thus, most Republicans with their aims on the 2012 Republican presidential nomination will release a book upon announcing their candidacy.

It’s not exactly rocket science. Just take a look at this list, containing the names of former presidential candidates who released books upon running for the presidency:

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, John Kerry, John Edwards, Howard Dean, George W. Bush, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan.

And that’s just as far back as I’ve checked. Feel free to list older examples in the comment section below.

By releasing a book upon running for the presidency, the candidate can introduce his life story, the travails of his past, and his vision of America’s future. Furthermore, having a book with your face on the cover increases your name recognition, and it’s a nice way for potential voters to get to know you and your ideas.

Former Massachusetts Governor, and failed 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney just released his book, entitled No Apology. The Case for American Greatness.

The Economist (February 27th-March 5th, 2010: pg. 44) describes it as “a 323-page paean to American greatness and a thinly disguised presidential manifesto ending with a 64-point ‘Agenda for a Free and Strong America’.”

Along with Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Lamar Alexander and Jim DeMint are all potential (though more or less likely) 2012 Republican presidential candidates that have written or authored books, and Tim Pawlenty will be publishing a memoir in 2011.

According to the apparent release-a-book-before-you-run-for-president-logic, the following need to write a book pretty soon if they’re going to be among the top contenders in the 2012 Republican primaries (add other names below if you can’t find them here):

Indiana Representative Mike Pence, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Texas Governor Rick Perry (not a likely contender if he loses his re-election campaign for Governor of Texas).

Former actor, Tennessee Senator and failed 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson is set to release a book in May entitled Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances. The title doesn’t really sound like a political manifesto, but who knows, maybe Fred Thompson, the self-proclaimed “consistent conservative” is gearing up for another run for the presidency?

On an end note, take a look at what could’ve been the 1990s first-couple:

POST SCRIPT: According to several reports, newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has signed a book deal with Harper Collins for a book to be released next year. I didn’t mention him among the potential contenders for the 2012 nomination, but who knows? Barack Obama ran as a freshman Senator in 2008. BUT, while Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 – four years prior to his historic win on November 4, 2008 – Brown was elected to the Senate this January – just two years prior to the 2012 Iowa caucuses…

The Paranoid Style in American Politics

March 3, 2010

During the January 31 edition of ABC’s This Week, a heated exchange took place between Fox News top dog Roger Ailes and Arianna Huffington, the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post. On the subject of Fox News’ talk show host Glenn Beck, Huffington invoked the historian Richard Hofstadter’s notion of the “paranoid style in American politics” to describe Beck’s demeanor on TV (and on the radio). According to Huffington, “the paranoid style is dangerous when there is real pain out there.”

Coincidentally, I had gotten Hofstadter’s book The Paranoid Style in American Politics: And other essays as a birthday present a couple of days earlier. After reading the book – first released in 1965 – it dawned on me: Huffington’s observation was spot on, and Hofstadter’s essay is just as relevant today as it was back when it was first released. His analysis of the paranoid style is enlightening, and his analytical framework seems ideally equipped to describe the actions of certain actors within contemporary American politics.

Richard Hofstadter ([1965] 2008: 3) chose the word paranoid, “simply because no other word adequately” evoked “the qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy” that he had in mind. Hofstadter was aware of the fact that “the idea of the paranoid style would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to people with profoundly disturbed minds.” In other words, whether or not various talk show hosts are truly crazy is beside the point. What’s interesting is the way they frame their thoughts (no matter how crazy they might be). As Hofstadter saw it, it was “the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people” that made the phenomenon significant (Ibid: 4). The paranoid style is interesting when average Americans embrace it.

Elaborating on the difference between the paranoid spokesman in politics and the clinical paranoiac, Hofstadter wrote that

although they both tend to be overheated, oversuspicious, overaggressive, grandiose, and apocalyptic in expression, the clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him.

The spokesman of the paranoid style, on the other hand,

finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others. … His sense that his political passions are unselfish and patriotic, in fact, goes far behind.

A key part of the paranoid style, then, is the tendency to see alignments and patterns of behavior where there are none. The paranoid style, by and large, is occupied with the rhetorical unraveling of plots. Plots to change the system. Plots to change the constitution. Plots to change the American way of life.

As Hofstadter (2008: 25-26) saw it, the right-wing of the 1960s could be “reduced to three”:

First:

[A] sustained conspiracy, running over more than a generation, and reaching its climax in Roosevelt’s New Deal, to undermine free capitalism, to bring the economy under the direction of the federal government, and to pave the way for socialism or communism.

Second:

[The contention] that top government officialdom has been so infiltrated by Communists that American policy, at least since the days leading up to Pearl Harbor, has been dominated by sinister men who were shrewdly and consistently selling out American national interests.

Third:

[The contention] that the country is infused with a network of Communist agents, just as in the old days it was infiltrated by Jesuit agents, so that the whole apparatus of education, religion, the press, and the mass media are engaged in a common effort to paralyze the resistance of loyal Americans.

While the third group is outdated, remnants of the first group in particular, but also of the second group (as far as the selling out of American interests goes), are still relevant.

As an example of the first group, take a look at this clip of Glenn Beck (at your own discretion), introducing a new segment shortly after the election of Barack Obama. To Beck, Obama’s policies were threatening the American way of life – so much so that he at several occasions took to tears while describing how much he loved his country (and yes, Hillary Clinton did choke up on the campaign trail in New Hampshire describing how she had gotten “so many opportunities from this country” – but that wasn’t the paranoia talking, whatever that was). As Beck saw it, America stood on the top of a slippery slope: capitalism – socialism – communism. Grandiose and apocalyptic? Kind of.

Of course, it’s easy to dismiss this as entertainment, or even comedy. But Beck’s show has gained traction. Like Limbaugh, he’s been on the cover of TIME, and as a sign of his standing among conservatives – he held this year’s keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Limbaugh held last year’s keynote address.

The usage of the paranoid style evolves with the political climate. Back in the 1960s, communism was the greatest purveyor of evil. It still looms large, but other issues have surpassed it in importance. Needless to say, then, the paranoid style can be applied to more than just the threat of communism. Every conspiracy draws on the paranoid style. The so-called “birthers” and “truthers” are no exception. While the “birthers” – convinced that Obama wasn’t born in the United States – is a phenomenon of the right, the “truthers” – believing the U.S. government played a role in 9/11 – are spread across the political spectrum. Their common denominator is the belief in a conspiracy of huge dimensions. One stretching back to Hawaii in the early 1960s, and the other planned and carried out by the former president and his confidants.

I could list more contemporary examples of the usage of the paranoid style, but I won’t. Media Matters does that every day (though they tend to ignore its usage on the left side of the political spectrum). However, if you’re interested in a thorough analysis from one of the best journalistic minds out there, check out this excellent episode of Bill Moyers Journal; “Rage on the Radio.”


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