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.

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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.


Hillary v. Obama Smackdown Video

May 8, 2007

I hope that the fact that a parody video like this one has already been made will prevent the actual level of bitterness in this campaign from reaching such a depth.

It would have been better if the third guy at the end had been Edwards instead of Giuliani, I think.

While I’m linking videos, Raw Story has video of Fred Thompson’s racist role that the LA Times reported on a few days ago.


Atrios is Unfair to Jay Carney

April 11, 2007

Atrios, one of my favorite bloggers usually, is not making much sense to me today. In this post he sarcastically wonders whether Fred Thompson’s cancer announcement will receive the same treatment from Time’s Jay Carney as the Elizabeth Edwards cancer announcement did.

It shouldn’t because the medical scenarios are very different. I am far from a medical expert, but as far as I can tell, Thompson’s problem won’t get in the way of his running for president. Thompson himself wrote on Red State:

I have had no illness from it, or even any symptoms. My life expectancy should not be affected. I am in remission, and it is very treatable with drugs if treatment is needed in the future–and with no debilitating side effects.

By contrast, Elizabeth Edwards, who already underwent chemotherapy that basically took away a year of her life, now faces a debilitating treatment regimen and a fairly high likelihood of mortality within a relatively short time frame. The Edwards-Thompson comparison Atrios is urging is really a comparion of apples and oranges. The Thompson condition sounds a lot more like the non-serious cancer that John Kerry had in 2003.

Though Jay Carney and the other Swaplanders have said some pretty obtuse things in the past, I didn’t find Carney’s post on Edwards to be overbearing.

This is a thorny, difficult topic that mixes politics, medicine and parenting all into one. I want to make sure that readers understand that by expressing surprise at the decision John and Elizabeth Edwards made to stay in the race, I am not saying that what they’re doing is obviously or categorically the wrong thing. In fact, I take them at their word that this is the right decision for them and their family. But I don’t think it’s inappropriate or unfair (or remotely politically biased) to say that I feel discomfited by the decision and the rationale behind it, or to make the fairly simple point that some Democrats out there might feel the same way.

That’s a pretty respectful tone Carney struck, hardly “wanker of the day” material.


We’re Not in the MSM Any More

April 11, 2007

The MoveOn Virtual Town Hall on Iraq included member questions that took a different tack form the queries you usually find on the Sunday morning shows or at White House press briefings. For example, here’s the question for John Edwards:

What are you going to do about prosecuting war profiteering in Iraq?”
C. Davey Utter, Retired NBC Broadcaster, Venice, CA

Surprisingly, the questioner used to work for NBC. I doubt the networks would do much reporting on “war profiteering in Iraq” these days, at least not in those words. Here’s another question that went to Joe Biden:

“What is your position on the permanent army bases and the huge embassy building being built in Iraq in view of the administration’s constant assertion that the U.S. is not planning to stay in Iraq permanently?”
—Jerome Zornesky, Professor, Ridgewood, NJ

To Bill Richardson:

It appears that stopping the funding for the war is the only way to stop the war. Are you for or against stopping the funding and why?
—Dave Conlon, Landlord, Carrollton, VA

To Chris Dodd:

The Bush administration is quietly pushing the Iraqi government to install a legally binding proposition that the major oil companies, for example ExxonMobil, British Petroleum and others, be granted the rights to approximately 70% of all oil and natural gas existing underground in Iraq. Where do you stand on who should own Iraqi oil, its production and refinement, and how do you think this administration’s position is affecting its stay-the-course stance on the Iraq war?
—Oscar R Michael, Retired Salesperson, Prichard, WV

To Barack Obama:

The Bush administration’s obstinate refusal to diplomatically engage parties such as Syria and Iran has clearly done nothing but harm the United States’ interests in the Middle East. How would you include these countries in the effort toward establishing a stable, responsible, and non-hostile government in Iraq?
—Alex Landry, Reference Librarian, Alexandria, VA

Hillary also got a pretty tough questioning grilling her for more specifics regarding her previous statements about keeping some US troops in Iraq. All in all, I enjoyed the MoveOn forum very much, and I encourage you to click through to read or listen to the candidates’ responses.

Beyond anything the candidates said, though, I was struck by the novelty of hearing such unapologetically blunt anti-war questions asked of those running for the White House. I also wonder if MoveOn included the hometowns and professions of the questioners to try to show them to be regular folks and not members of the radical fringe group that MoveOn is sometimes caricatured to be. These strident antiwar views are, after all, shared by a solid majority of Americans these days.


Hope Is a Four-Letter Word to Edwards

April 4, 2007

John Dickerson’s observations on a day of the Edwards campaign in New Hampshire include this nugget:

“I hope you will put a really rigorous test to [the presidential candidates]. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the rhetoric. It’s not enough to talk about ‘hope‘ and ‘we’re all going to feel good.’ We’re past that. This is a very serious time in American history. It’s time for anybody running for president to treat this seriously. I have talked about hope and inspiration in the past, and they’re wonderful things, but you have to translate them into action.” The only way it could have been clearer that he was talking about Obama would have been for him to hold up the Illinois senator’s book jacket and point to it.

This could also be seen as a jab of Hillary’s husband, Bill “I still believe in a place called Hope” Clinton, and it fits nicely into the media’s pre-framed storyline of Obama “lacking substance.”

Dickerson sees Edwards positioning himself as the candidate with the detailed policy plans, and that’s all well and good, but isn’t there plenty of time for the others to reveal their own agendas more specifically in the coming months? How soon after announcing your candidacy for president do you need to lay out your precise governing agenda?

Glenn Greenwald also had a good recent post on this issue of substance in campaigns:

All of the candidates, including Obama, are going to issue a detailed health care plan soon enough. But the political system in which those health care plans — and every other specific legislative proposal — are going to be assessed, debated and processed is profoundly corrupt and broken.

Thus, any candidate who does not address those systemic political diseases is not actually being “substantive” at all, no matter how many thick white papers they issue chock full of think-tank-developed “plans.” Between (a) a candidate who understands our fundamental political problems but who has yet to issue a detailed health care plan and (b) a candidate who has all sorts of detailed, wonky legislative policies developed by aides but who has no real critique of our political culture and will do nothing but feed off of it and perpetuate it, candidate (a) is clearly the more “substantive” candidate in the way that matters.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire polls are tightening. The guts of the poll reveal that the attention Edwards received over his wife’s cancer announcement improved his favorability ratings.

The latest poll was conducted after Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, announced her cancer had returned. When likely Democratic voters were asked what effect that announcement had on their view of Edwards, 85 percent said it had no effect, while the rest were almost evenly split over whether it made them view him more or less favorably.

However, when likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire were asked whether they viewed Edwards favorably or unfavorably, the poll found a roughly 10-point shift in his favor since February.

Interesting that no one says it’s the cancer announcement itself that shifted their support toward Edwards. As he said on 60 Minutes, he doesn’t want sympathy votes. Rather, voters seem to like how he has handled the situation.


Couric’s Questions: The Video

March 27, 2007

Here’s a video condensing all of the “some say” second-guessing from Katie Couric in her 60 Minutes interview of John and Elizabeth Edwards.

A good roundup of blogosphere criticism of Couric is here.