The Net Roots vs. Barack Obama

At this point I remain undecided as to who to support, and at times looking at the candidates offered by both parties I’m not sure that it is even worth the wear and tear on my shoes to go out to vote for any of them. There is an excellent possibility that I’ll vote more against one candidate as opposed to for any. That said, I must say that instead of dissuading me, every time I see the left blogosphere attacking Barack Obama I count it as another point in his favor.

There’s another round of attacks on Obama today, including from Chris Bowers and Digby. The attack is centered around what is being mischaracterized as Obama attacking Paul Krugman, which apparently to many liberal bloggers would be a major sin. In reality what occurred was that Krugman has criticized some of Obama’s statements. Obama responded by defending his position and showing that Krugman had previously written favorably about the same policies he now attacks. Considering that Krugman is influential among potential Democratic voters it seems entirely reasonable to expect Obama to respond to criticism from Krugman. Liberal bloggers complain that Obama is attacking Krugman, someone from the left, as opposed to attacking Republicans. As Obama is fighting for the Democratic nomination it  makes more sense that he respond to criticism from Krugman at this time as opposed to attacking Republican critics who have no influence on the Democratic primary race.

The attacks on Obama make me sympathetic towards Obama because, while I do have some disagreements with him, he is actually right in these areas. As someone who actually works in health care I find Obama’s arguments to be far more reality-based than those coming from his critics from the world of journalism. I’ve already discussed mandates in far greater detail in several posts, such as here and here.  As a defender of the great liberal tradition of supporting individual liberty I cannot agree with Krugman’s argument that considering matters of choice versus government mandates constitutes adopting right wing talking points. Obama’s health plan, even without mandates, remains to the left of any of those proposed by the Democratic candidates in 2003, including John Edwards. It is also not necessarily right wing to consider the long term stability of Social Security and it is certainly not “reality based” to ignore the long term demographic trends the program must contend with.

These attacks make me more sympathetic to Obama for reasons even beyond the fact that Obama is right on these two issues. One of the reasons Obama is appealing is that he shows signs of looking beyond the orthodoxy which has developed on both the left and right which has led to increased polarization with neither side necessarily having all the right answers. While I am happy to see prospects for the Republicans to be thrown out of office, I also see danger in the Democrats again having complete control over the government. The liberal blogosphere, while right on so many issues, is developing an unhealthy uniformity of opinion in which differing views are too easily dismissed as Republican-lite. Obama’s greatest strength may be in understanding the views of other political groups far better than those who attack him. Seeing Obama pursue a liberal agenda while still managing to differ from the orthodoxy of the Democratic Party, including being the target of attacks from Krugman and a number of liberal bloggers, is a positive sign in my book. This view might not be popular in the net roots, but it is why Obama is doing so well among the more independently thinking Democratic voters.

Gore Would Only Consider White House Bid If Returns To Politics

Only the most die hard Gore fans are probably still expecting him to jump into the presidential race this year but maybe Gore misses all that speculation. He made a statement which will keep speculation alive, even if only for future years:

Former Vice President Al Gore denied again that there were any campaign plans in his immediate future, but told CNN Monday that he hadn’t “ruled out getting back into the political process at some point” — and that if he did return to political life, it would be to take another shot at the White House.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, speaking from the Oslo site of Monday’s awards ceremony, told CNN’s Jonathan Mann that he didn’t expect to ever get back in the political process, but that “if I did get back, it would be as a candidate for president.”

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Ron Paul is a Batman Fan

ComicMix reports they asked Ron Paul about his favorite superhero and has received this answer:

“My favorite comic book superhero is Baruch Wane, otherwise known as Batman, in The Batman Chronicles. “The Berlin Batman,” #11 in the series by Paul Pope, details Batman’s attempts to rescue the confiscated works of persecuted Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, from Nazi Party hands.

“Batman’s assistant Robin writes in the memoirs, “[Mises] was an advocate of individual liberty, free speech, and free thinking… and so, should I add, the Berlin Batman.” Batman, a Jew in hiding in Nazi Austria, was willing to risk his life for the sake of the promulgation of freedom, and I find this to be super-heroic.”

I really don’t know if this report is true, but if not it should be. I wonder if this will cause Hutton Gibson to retract his endorsement of Paul.

Huckabee Hunts with Angels, Or So He Believes

We’ve previously heard Mike Huckabee credit God for his rise in the polls. David Corn quotes from a speech before the NRA last September in which Huckabee appears to also credit angels for assistance, this time with hunting:

I decided that one way or the other, this hunt is about to be over, because I can’t stand any more of this cold. And somehow, by the grace of God, when I squeezed the trigger, my Weatherby .300 Mag, which has got to be the greatest gun, I think, ever made in the form of a rifle — for my sake in hunting, I’ve never squeezed the trigger and not gotten something — did its work, and somehow the angels took that bullet and went right to the antelope, and my hunt was over in a wonderful way.

Corn says he has contacted Huckabee’s press office more than once to find out if Huckabee does “believe that angels literally intervene in the affairs of human beings and that such intervention includes hunting events.” He has received no reply. Is this because Huckabee does believe that angels have helped him hunt, or because he doesn’t want to risk the consequences of having his potential supporters hear a denial?

Scooter Libby Is Still Guilty (Always Was, Always Will Be)

While O.J. Simpson might still be on the hunt for the “real killer,” Scooter Libby has given up the charade of fighting to prove his “innocence.” AP reports:

Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is no longer appealing his conviction in the CIA leak case, a tacit recognition that continuing his legal fight might only make things worse.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction but President Bush commuted his 30-month prison sentence in July. As a convicted felon, Libby will lose his law license and, in some states, cannot vote.

The reason for this looks pretty clear. George Bush has commuted his jail sentence, but a successful appeal would lead to a new trial which would cost a fortune, and probably end with the same verdict. If found guilty in a new trial, commutation of his current prison sentence would not apply and Libby wouldn’t have George Bush around to commute a new sentence. Besides, there still remains the possibility that Bush will give him a full pardon before he leaves office.

There might be other repercussions of Libby dropping his appeal:

The Bush White House has refused to comment on unresolved questions in the Libby case — such as why no White House staff member was ever reprimanded — on the grounds that the appeals process was still unfolding. Now that argument is moot, as Libby has dropped his appeal.

I still don’t expect any meaningful response from Bush, who I doubt ever had any intention of keeping his word to fire anyone in this White House who was involved in the leak.

Did Chávez Attempt To Pull A Putin?

Last week had two elections which had an impact on deciding whether two countries, Venezuela and Russia, would slip more towards dictatorship. There have been several reports suggesting Putin stole the election in Russia. Newsweek now has an opinion article by Jorge Castañeda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico and a professor at New York University, arguing that  Hugo Chávez also attempted to steal the election in Venezuela but the military prevented this. (Hat tip to Captain’s Quarters):

Most of Latin America’s leaders breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week, after Venezuelan voters rejected President Hugo Chávez‘s constitutional amendment referendum. In private they were undoubtedly relieved that Chávez lost, and in public they expressed delight that he accepted defeat and did not steal the election. But by midweek enough information had emerged to conclude that Chávez did, in fact, try to overturn the results. As reported in El Nacional, and confirmed to me by an intelligence source, the Venezuelan military high command virtually threatened him with a coup d’état if he insisted on doing so. Finally, after a late-night phone call from Raúl Isaías Baduel, a budding opposition leader and former Chávez comrade in arms, the president conceded—but with one condition: he demanded his margin of defeat be reduced to a bare minimum in official tallies, so he could save face and appear as a magnanimous democrat in the eyes of the world.

Paul Declines Invitation To Run as Libertarian

A report this morning makes it looks less likely that Ron Paul intends to run as a third party candidate as it might have sounded in the interview I quoted from earlier. The Austin American-Statesman reports that Paul has turned down an invitation to seek the Libertarian Party nomination:

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul turned down a Libertarian Party invitation on Sunday that could have kept him in the 2008 presidential race even if his long-shot bid for the GOP nomination fails.

At a meeting in Charleston, S.C., the Libertarian National Committee on Sunday unanimously approved a resolution praising the Lake Jackson congressman for igniting “a renewed passion for liberty across America.”

Paul was the 1988 Libertarian presidential nominee and, according to the resolution proposed by former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, “is a member of the Libertarian Party in good standing.”

“The Libertarian Party and Congressman Ron Paul share many common principles for liberty and prosperity in America,” the resolution said.

The Barr resolution urged Paul to seek the Libertarian Party nomination that will be awarded at the party’s May national convention in Denver.

But Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said it would not happen.

“Ron has no intention to run third party whatsoever,” he said.

I’m not sure that this can still be taken as definite as it would be foolish for a candidate for a major party nomination to discuss the idea of running as a third party candidate. Such talk would be taken as a sign that he does not believe he can win the nomination which could reduce support. Some potential Republican voters might also be reluctant to vote for a candidate they see as disloyal to the party by considering a third party run.

Earlier I quoted from an interview with Howard Fineman which does seem to leave the door open as Paul declined to promise not not to run as Libertarian or a third party candidate.  Even if Paul would consider running as a third party candidate, assuming he loses the Republican nomination, it is far from certain he would run again as a Libertarian. His current campaign shares some ideas in common with Libertarians but Paul’s campaign for the GOP nomination has been aimed  at  the far right. Paul’s support currently comes from a curious coalition of paleo-conservatives,  white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and conspiracy theorists along with libertarians and  opponents of the Iraq war.

Ron Paul Leaves Door Wide Open For Third Party Candidacy

Ron Paul has no where near enough support to be a credible candidate for the Republican nomination but he does have enough support, and contributors, to possibly have more of an impact than most third party candidates in a general election race. There has been speculation that Paul might run as an independent or as a Libertarian Party candidate. Paul generally answers such questions in a manner which leaves the door open. An answer to an interview with Howard Fineman shows that this door is being left wide open:

If you don’t win, will you support the GOP nominee and promise not to run on the Libertarian or any other ticket?
I’m not promising any of those things. If we have a Republican nominee that has convinced me they have come around on foreign policy … I would consider it. As far as running on a third-party ticket, or [as an] independent, or Libertarian, I have no plans to do that.

Well, “no plans” doesn’t mean you won’t.
The best way I can state it is: I have no plans. I can’t conceive of it. But I guess in life there aren’t that many absolutes.

No candidate would be likely to admit to contemplating a third party run while still seeking the nomination of a major party. His statement that he is not promising to either support the Republican candidate or that he won’t run on another ticket will keep speculation alive that Paul is not going to disappear after the Republican nomination is settled.

Update: Paul Declines Invitation To Run as Libertarian