The Cover Boys and Wine Drinkers


Barack Obama has made the cover of GQ–the first time a politician has made the cover since Clinton and Gore were on the cover in November 1992. Among the topics of the article is how Obama appeals more to college-educated wine-sipping Democrats but isn’t appealing as much to the beer drinkers. After years of putting up with that issue of which candidate people would prefer to go out for a beer with, I’m glad to see us wine drinkers get taken as a serious political constituency.

I also wonder if it means anything that GQ picked Obama while Esquire went with John Edwards. But  perhaps someone at Esquire wasn’t really all that fond of Edwards after putting him on the cover under the headline The Sexiest Woman Alive. After all the mistakes made by his campaign, even something which would seem positive such as being on the cover backfired against him.

Bill Richardson’s Prospects Improving

Add Politcal Insider as the latest site to recognize that if we look at the big picture, as opposed to national polls, Bill Richardson is becoming the number three candidate in the race. I certainly wouldn’t write off John Edwards any more than I wrote off John Kerry when he trailed Al Sharpton in the national polls in 2003, but at the moment Edwards’s prospects are looking quite poor. Political Insider writes:

Gov. Bill Richardson is on the move in the leadoff primary and caucus states, and if the trend continues, he will soon supplant John Edwards as the number three candidate in the Democratic race. While the RCP Average has Richardson at just 3.7% nationally, and Edwards at 11.4%, Richardson is rising in Iowa (11.0%), New Hampshire (9.3%), and Nevada (6.0%). In New Hampshire he is just three points behind Edwards, and actually pulled ahead of him in a July CNN poll.

Richardson is gaining because of basic retail politics. The man who holds the Guinness Book world record for political hand-shaking — 13,392 during an eight-hour stretch at the 2002 New Mexico State Fair — is perhaps the most accessible Democratic politician since Bill Clinton. A June New Republic piece on Richardson opened with a portrait of Richardson messily munching a hot dog in the stands at an Iowa minor league baseball game, chatting about North Korea and peppering his speech with f-bombs. The magazine said, “This is the essence of Richardson’s appeal — that he can blend seamlessly into a crowd of AAA baseball fans (unlike, say, John Kerry) while chatting about his negotiations with a member of the axis of evil (unlike, say, George W. Bush). … He is both the hot-dog-and-ballgame everyman and the seasoned international statesman.”

Richardson benefits from his earthiness and likability, as well as from some famously clever campaign ads. He works great on the retail level. His problems lie elsewhere.

They go on to discuss Richardson’s performance in the debates and the Meet the Press interview, but also note other candidates have overcome such early problems. He appears much better during his stump speeches than on nationally televised debates, and this might matter more in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Richardson has the advantages that, in addition to moving up in the polls in the early states, he polls strongly among independents who plan to vote in Democratic caucuses and primaries where this is allowed. At the moment it is a tight race between Obama and Richardson for such independents. Obama’s charisma gives him an advantage, but Richardson’s considerably greater experience might lead people to ultimately decide he’d make the better, even if less exciting, president.

Richardson remains a long shot. Edwards will be the easiest to move ahead of in the polls. Edwards primarily benefits from name recognition as Joe Lieberman did in the early polls in 2003 only to see his campaign collapse. Edwards differs from Lieberman in changing his position on the war, which may allow him to remain a credible candidate a while longer. However Edwards has the liabilities of a poorly run campaign and a move towards populism which alienates the the new Democratic voters who gave Democrats their victory in 2006.

As I already noted, Richardson will have to convince voters to value experience over charisma to move ahead of Obama, who also appeals to independents and professionals. Hillary Clinton remains the front runner, but an increasing number of Democrats are worrying about her negatives and just might consider an alternative.

Clinton’s First Iowa Ad


Hillary Clinton has her first ad up in Iowa. It doesn’t really make me gag, as it does Andrew Sullivan. It just gives me absolutely no reason to consider voting for her. Where’s the beef? I fear the absense of substance really does reflect her campaign.

From the text:

“As I travel around America, I hear from so many people who feel like they are invisible to their government,” Clinton says in the ad. “If you have a family that’s struggling… you are invisible to this president…You’re not invisible to me….You won’t be invisible to the next president of the United States.”

The Shift Towards Generic Democrats

Via Political Wire we have more evidence of the trend I have discussed in multiple other posts. A Democaracy Corps strategy memo reviews recent polling data showing a shift towards Democrats. Among the factors:

  • The “opinion elite” in the country — those with a college education and earning more than $75,000 — support a Democratic presidential candidate by an 11 point margin.
  • Independents have defected from Republican candidates and now support a Democrat for president by 19 points.

This is consistent with other recent data I have reviewed, such as increased support for Democrats from affluent suburbs.

What must be remembered is that these polls are for generic Democrats versus generic Republicans. Democrats won in 2006 due to the support of independents and many who previously voted Republican, such as the “Starbucks Republicans” and “South Park Republicans.” Some Democrats understand how to bridge the former party divides and attract the support of us independents. Others, such as John and Elizabeth Edwards do not. There has also been increased talk about Hillary Clinton’s negatives recently. In contrast, Bill Richardson and Barack Obama are taking the lead among independents, with many believing that Richardson will soon replace the badly struggling John Edwards as the number three candidate nationally.

Whether the lead for Democrats on the generic ballot is translated into victory, or whether Democrats risk another extended period out of office, depends upon which the direction the party takes. Unfortunately many see the choices as a false dichotomy between the far left and the policies of the DLC when neither views are attractive to many independents. While there is no doubt a variety of views in us independents who have voted Democratic, most of us oppose the war, oppose the social polices of the far right, but have no interest in the populist economics of John Edwards and have concerns about the true adherence to the principles we support by both Edwards and Clinton.

Hypocrite Watch Part 2: John Edwards and the News Corp. Money

John Edwards closely trails behind Rudy Giuliani on my list of my hypocritical politicians contending for their party’s nomination. Perhaps the best thing which could be said is that about Edwards is that he did a much smoother job of changing most of his previous views in preparation for a 2008 run than Giuliani did. Edwards succeeded where Giuliani has not largely due to adopting the views of a large segment of the liberal blogosphere. Unfortunately this also suggests that the liberal bloggers who accept Edwards’ new set of beliefs without question are less astute than those on the religious right who, despite all their faults, are smart enough to distrust Rudy Giuliani’s conversion to their point of view.

While Edwards has so far escaped much scrutiny on the changes in his political views, the hypocrisy underlying his attacks on other candidates continues to backfire against him. His initial attempts to attack other Democrats on their positons on Iraq were shot down by Barack Obama who reminded Edwards as to exactly which of the supported and which of them opposed the war before opposing the war became the politically popular position. Since then he has attacked Democrats for attacking other Democracts, and for accepting money from News Corp. The last backfired when it was found that Edwards received $800,000 in a book deal from News Corp.

Edwards claimed that the money was contributed to charity, but never provided the evidence or answered whether he took a tax write off for the donation. The Politico now reports that Edwards’ daughter and a senior political aide also received a portion of the money from News Corp.:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards recently defended taking a lucrative book contract from a publisher controlled by Rupert Murdoch — whose News Corp. empire Edwards has sharply criticized — by insisting that “every dime” of his $500,000 advance went to charity.

Left unmentioned by Edwards, however, was that Murdoch’s HarperCollins paid portions of a $300,000 expense budget for the book to Edwards’s daughter and to a senior political aide, Jonathan Prince.

There very well is nothing wrong in  Edwards’ transactions with News Corp. The problem is the manner in which he claims to be more pure than all the other candidates.

Hypocrite Watch Part 1: Rudy Giuliani on Civil Unions

We have news today regarding the two most hypocritical politicians who are prominent candidates for their party’s nominations. Starting with the nunber one must hypocritical politician, The Boston Globe reports that Rudy Giuliani is constinuing his conservative shift. Giuliani started out with a reputation as a social liberal, but has gradually been changing his views in order to appease the social conservatives who control the Republican Party. Th e article discusses changes in positions on issues such as abortion and assault weapons but concentreates on civil unions:

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to discard the moderate and liberal positions of his past. The latest is civil unions for same-sex couples, which the Republican presidential candidate has been backing away from in recent months.

A campaign aide told the Globe this weekend that Giuliani favors a much more modest set of rights for gay partners than civil union laws in effect in four states offer.

Giuliani has described himself as a backer of civil unions and is frequently described that way in news reports. But he began distancing himself from civil unions in late April, when his campaign told The New York Sun that New Hampshire’s new law goes too far because it is “the equivalent of marriage,” which he has always opposed for gays.

Giuliani’s aides offered little explanation of what specific rights he would support for same-sex couples.

There is a certain irony that Giuliani’s problems with the right on civil unions mirrors the problems faced by Democratic politicians who support civil unions but not same sex marriage. Some Democrats have urged for creating civil unions which offer all the legal protections of marriage and which would be seen as “the equivalent of marriage.” While certainly not ideal, it appeared to be a pragmatic way around the resistance to gay marriage held by a majority of voters in most states. Apparently the right wing has caught on to this, and now finds this form of civil union too threatening.