Bizarro Cabinet

November 13, 2008

The NYT has a fun page that lets you pick the Obama cabinet and compare your choices with those of others. I had a good laugh over some of the names that were within the top 20 for various positions, including the following, which would make for some freakishly awesome cabinet meetings:

  • Defense: Arnold Schwarzenegger (18th)
  • State: Noam Chomsky (16th)
  • Homeland Security: Ron Paul (8th)
  • Attorney General: John Edwards (8th) or Eliot Spitzer (14th)
  • Treasury: Ralph Nader (17th)

I think I can say with confidence that none of these individuals are actually in consideration for these positions. The #1 choices are Robert Gates, Bill Richardson, Richard Clarke, Janet Napolitano and Paul Volcker, as of this writing.


Iowa Margins

January 1, 2008

Adam Nagourney asks, what if Iowa settles nothing?

What if at the end of Thursday, the three leading Democrats — former Senator John Edwards and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama — are separated by a percentage point or two, leaving no one with the clear right of delivering a victory speech (or the burden of conceding)? A number of polls going into the final days have suggested that after all of this, the Democratic caucus on Thursday night could end up more or less a tie.

Good questions. The answer is that the dominant media narrative is the key. We’ll see if a one-point or two-point spread can give off enough of a shine to the “winner” to carry forward into New Hampshire and onward, whereas a five- or six-point win will certainly be huge if one of the candidates can claim victory by that margin. John Kerry won by six percent over John Edwards in 2004, 38 percent to 32 percent, and that catapulted him to a series of primary wins and ultimately the Democractic nomination. Edwards never won a single primary and had to settle for the VP slot.

It’s also worth noting that yesterday’s Des Moines Register poll puts Obama up on Clinton and Edwards by a seven-point margin, 32-25-24. Big Tent Democrat explains, “the DMR Poll nailed the order of the 2004 Iowa Caucus and is easily the most respected Iowa poll. Obama will now be the odds on favorite to win the Iowa Caucuses.”

Basically, a few hundred Iowans could change their minds in the next few days and have a decisive influence on who the nominee will be, thus altering the course of history. For the moment, though, Obama appears the favorite.


Barney Frank Calls ‘Em Like He Sees ‘Em

June 12, 2007

On Mitt Romney.


The Metropolitan Opera Wing Can Go to Hell!

June 12, 2007

John Edwards’s rural advisor sure knows how to start a friendly dialogue on Time’s blog, doesn’t he? He has since apologized for that incredibly awful initial post, which read like a parody.


Has Kos Responded to Chait?

May 8, 2007

The Jon Chait netroots article in TNR generated a lot of commentary and blog responses last week, and I was excitedly awaiting the big Daily Kos smackdown on account of the fact that Chait labels Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the Daily Kos founder, as “almost comically lacking in phlosophical depth.”

The ideology of the netroots is, indeed, somewhat amorphous, as liberal bloggers themselves often point out. A major source of the ideological confusion is Moulitsas himself, who is almost comically lacking in philosophical depth. In one oft- discussed blog post, he described himself as a “libertarian Democrat” and proceeded immediately to outline a philosophy that was pure traditional liberalism. (“A Libertarian Dem believes that people should have the freedom to make a living without being unduly exploited by employers. … A Libertarian Dem gets that no one is truly free if they fear for their health, so social net programs are important to allow individuals to continue to live happily into their old age.”)

Granted, that’s kind of embarrassing, but Chait freely notes in the article that there’s been no love lost between Daily Kos and TNR in the past, and this feels like a cheap shot. When you blog a lot, some things you write are going to end up looking kind of stupid, inevitably. Chait should know this because some of his past writings are rather dumb in retrospect (on the Iraq War, for example, or his desperation to prevent Howard Dean from winning the Democratic nomination in 2004).

I am still a little surprised at the radio silence from Kos on this subject (here are his posts for the last few weeks), who isn’t exactly shy about going after his critics (such as dissing TNR in February). Perhaps he feels that TNR just deserves to be ignored. He may have a point there, though it’s too bad I didn’t get a laugh out of his would-be vitriolic response.


The Return of the “Democrat” Slur

May 2, 2007

Bush today:

The stakes are high, really high in Iraq. General Petraeus is beginning to carry out the strategy, yet the Democrat leaders in Congress have chosen this time to try to force a precipitous withdrawal. In other words, I was presented a bill last night that said, there’s a timetable, you had to leave — start leaving by July 1st and definitely be leaving by October 1st. That didn’t make any sense to me, to impose the will of politicians over the recommendations of our military commanders in the field. So I vetoed the bill. (Applause.)

I was expecting the White House’s written version of Bush’s remarks to use “Democratic” even though Bush said “Democrat” at the event, but it’s there in the text too. I guess he’s angry over the veto situation and resorting to name-calling again.

The repeated invocations of Petraeus and the charge that Democrats are tying the hands of the generals is really dumb too. First of all, plenty of great military minds opposed Bush’s Iraq plans, and they were shown the door. More fundamentally, though, I get the impression Bush has never heard the line that war is too important to be left to the generals. Deciding whether to make war or not is something that belongs in the control of civilian leaders, who are supposed to represent the public. The public wants out.

Another outrage in today’s speech is the “acceptable level of violence” standard.

Either we’ll succeed, or we won’t succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve.

Really? You mean there are parts of our country where there are suicide bombings, car bombs, sectarian killings, executions, torture, and the like that claim dozens or hundreds of lives in daily incidents? Remind me never to visit those places on vacation!


Mike Gravel Steals the Show

April 27, 2007

In what was a fairly pedestrian Democratic presidential debate on MSNBC Thursday night, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel provided most of the excitement with his impassioned antiwar harangues of the others on the stage. Here he is chastising the other senators for not going far enough to get us out of Iraq.

Unfortunately the others didn’t really engage him on the point, which might have been fun. For the record, Gravel is too far to the left to get even my support, but I’m looking forward to see what he’ll do in the upcoming events.

Gravel’s interview with Chris Matthews after the debate was hilarious too. Matthews asked where Gravel has been for the last 35 years, and he replied, “hiding under a rock.” Gravel then got into a fight with Matthews after Matthews said Gravel had put in his own name for nomination as vice president at the 1972 convention — not a controversy I was previously aware of. He stopped just short of challenging Matthews to a duel.

My only other observation from the event was that Bill Richardson did badly. His responses sounded poorly rehearsed and he kept making wild hand gestures and going over time. Brian Williams didn’t help much with the questioning by pointing out that Richardson stupidly said he had wavered on calling for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales because he’s Hispanic and that Richardson has a top rating from the NRA.