The Republican Results Today

As I already noted, Mitt Romney won in Nevada. There is a race for second place with all far behind and, with some votes still left to count, it looks like Ron Paul will come in second place. Currently Romney has 51% of the vote, with Ron Paul at 14% and John McCain at 13%. How many times can Giuliani trail Paul and still be considered a serious candidate? How many Paul supporters will declare this a huge victory?

John McCain has won in South Carolina, helping him go into Super Tuesday as the front runner. Mike Huckabee came in a close second but if he couldn’t win in South Carolina it is getting hard to see enough states where he can win in order to win the nomination. This very well might turn into a race between McCain and Romney unless Rudy Giuliani can manage to start winning somewhere. Should McCain win the nomination, Democrats who have been taking a general election victory for granted might be in for a surprise, especially if Clinton is the nominee.

Duncan Hunter didn’t even wait for the polls to close in South Carolina to drop out. Without being able to do anything in South Carolina it is hard to see how Fred Thompson has a chance, but he says he is staying in. Apparently he enjoys playing the part of a presidential candidate.

Update: Ron Paul isn’t going anywhere despite beating Giuliani in South Carolina and coming in second in Nevada. Paul came in second in Nevada primarily because he was the only one besides Romney to spend money there, yet he still came in far behind. That said, there is one point where Paul’s results do have meaning. It is sure hard to justify having a debate which includes Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson but excludes Ron Paul.

Does Hillary Cheat? A Brief Photo Essay

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The photo sums up the answer.

Obama’s campaign has released the following statement:

“We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.”

A diarist at Daily Kos provides some first hand examples.

The Obama campaign has also released a recording of a robocall which was used in Nevada. There is no evidence as to the source of the call. The call states:

“I’m calling with some important information about Barack Hussein Obama,” the call begins, before saying that “Barack Hussein Obama says he doesn’t take money from Washington lobbyists or special interest groups but the record is clear that he does.”

Obama’s Post-Partisanship and the Founding Fathers

I suspect that Obama critics pay far more attention to Obama’s “post-partisan” message than Obama supporters themselves. Personally I have no illusions that partisanship will end should Obama get elected, and to some degree that might not even be desirable. What is disturbing is that partisanship has increased to an unhealthy degree with many Washington observers agreeing it is far worse than it has ever been in their memory.

I find that the real value of Obama’s approach is not being “post-partisan” but that, unlike many others left or right, Obama shows a willingness to consider the views of others. Obama was introduced to economic ideas which vary from the Democratic orthodoxy at the University of Chicago, and his understanding of conservative objections to liberal policies can be seen in his policy proposals. I recently quoted from a post at The Economist which reviews how Obama’s policies differ in substance from those of the other Democratic candidates. For those of us who hold views which don’t fit into the narrow confines of the partisan Democrats or Republicans, this is what makes Obama’s brand of non-partisanship something of interest.

While I doubt many Obama supporters really support Obama out of an illusion of ending partisanship, historian Joseph Ellis does look at the more idealistic version of Obama as a post-partisan politician. Instead of finding this to be something of an aberration from politics as usual, Ellis finds that Obama’s vision reflects the views of the founding fathers. His op-ed concludes:

There are several passages in Obama’s memoir, “The Audacity of Hope,” that suggest a familiarity with the founders’ legacy. He recalls teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago and always going back to “the founding documents — the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution,” which provide “the record of the founders’ intentions” and “the core ideals that motivated their work.”

Still, his stump speeches tend to cite Abraham Lincoln as his favorite political visionary. But then, Lincoln traced the source of his own inspiration back to the founders, who “four score and seven years ago” had called on Americans to embrace “the better angels of our nature.”

Let the argument about the viability and practicality of Obama’s major message go forward. But as it does, even his critics need to acknowledge that he is not a weird historical aberration. His message has roots in our deepest political traditions. Indeed, it is in accord with the most heartfelt and cherished version of our original intentions as a people and a nation.

Obama Beats Clinton for Nevada Delegates

As expected, Hillary Clinton won a narrow victory over Barack Obama in the popular vote in Nevada, but it looks like Obama won the real victory there. While Clinton did better in Los Vegas, Obama received more votes elsewhere, including in rural areas. According to the formula used to distribute delegates, which takes into account the number of Congressional districts won, Obama will win more delegates than Hillary Clinton. It appears that Obama will receive thirteen delegates while Clinton will receive twelve.

It looks like the Nevada caucus will be a wash in terms of the Democratic race and adding a western state will not have a meaningful impact as intended when the date was moved up. The caucus might have been more significant if Bill Richardson had remained a viable candidate.

If the race between Clinton and Obama remains close, John Edwards might become the king maker if neither of the major candidates can achieve a majority of delegates. Nevada won’t help Edwards as he was shut out, but I wouldn’t expect his type of populism to get much support west of the prairie states. We will have a better ideas as to whether Edwards can continue to receive enough votes to have an impact at the convention after South Carolina’s Democratic primary.

Mitt Romney won the bulk of the Republican delegates. The contest was not significant enough to have a major effect on the Republican race either, but a win in Nevada following Michigan does help keep Romney in the race.

Update: Further clarification of the delegate count

Obama Responds to Clinton’s Smear Campaign

When a campaign is the subject of a campagin based upon smears it is always a difficult decision as to how to respond. This was the case with John Kerry and the Swift Boat Liars in 2004, and with Barack Obama and the smear campaign being run by Hillary Clinton today. One problem is that time devoted to smears can distract from the positive message you wish for the campaign to portray. The Washington Post reviews how this problem has affected the Obama campaign.

The hundreds of people who turned out at the University of Nevada on Friday heard Sen. Barack Obama deliver a lofty stump speech about bridging the nation’s divides and creating a groundswell for change. But they also witnessed him engage in the more mundane task of rebutting attacks from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on his positions on Social Security taxes and on the proposed nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

“When Senator Clinton implied that I’m for Yucca when I’ve never been for it, that’s a problem. That erodes people’s confidence in our politics,” Obama said.

It was a sign of a lesson learned the hard way: Let no attack go unanswered.

After his victory in the Iowa caucuses, Obama arrived in New Hampshire more as the head of a movement than as a candidate, greeted by huge crowds that lined up for hours to hear a speech that could have been delivered at a suburban megachurch, all empowerment and inspiration.

I have previously discussed the smears regarding Social Security here. The Washington Post next mentions the smears regarding Obama voting present, which I discussed here.

While the Democratic senator from Illinois was holding his rallies, though, Clinton’s campaign sent out a mailing accusing him of being soft in his support for abortion rights, organized 24 prominent New Hampshire women to send an e-mail echoing that charge and distributed a flier accusing him of seeking a big tax increase on working families. The charges were debatable, but Obama’s only response was a hastily arranged automated phone call decrying the abortion attack. Clinton won the primary with strong support from the mailings’ target audiences — women and working-class voters.

It is understandable that the campaign did not see a need to respond more aggressively to Clinton following the victory in Iowa, and this will hopefully be a lesson Obama does not forget. The loss in New Hampshire following these smears might have been a necessary lesson for Obama to learn should he face the Republicans in a general election campaign.

“We came into New Hampshire on a high,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser. “The iconic rallies, combined with the polling, conveyed a sense that we were taking it for granted. She [Clinton] looked like she was working for it, scraping for it.” He added, “This is a long process, and this is how you learn.”

But the new, more aggressive strategy also poses a challenge for Obama: The more time he spends rebutting Clinton attacks, the more difficult it is for him to focus on the broader themes and uplifting rhetoric that have been drawing voters to him. While Obama may have the facts on his side — at least in several instances — engaging with the senator from New York may seem to many voters to be a wearying and obscure show of tit-for-tats that distracts from his overarching offer of a “new kind of politics.”

The article notes that Obama responded to the Reagan issue, which I’ve now commented on in several recent posts reporting that, “The Obama campaign quickly arranged its own call with congressmen, arguing that the remarks were a historical observation, not an endorsement of Reagan’s politics.”

(more…)

Jewish Senators Debunk Smears on Obama

The Obama campaign has received further support in its defense against the smears that Obama is a Muslim or has pro-Muslim and anti-Semitic views. I recently noted that several Jewish organizations have defended Obama against these smears. A group of seven Jewish members of the Senate ahve now written a letter defending Obama against these smears:

An Open Letter to the Jewish Community:

Over the past several weeks, many in the Jewish community have received hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo about Senator Barack Obama’s religion and attack him personally. As Jewish United States Senators who have not endorsed a candidate for the Democratic nomination, we condemn these scurrilous attacks.

We find it particularly abhorrent that these attacks arc apparently being sent specifically to the Jewish Community. Jews, who have historically been the target of such attacks, should be the first to reject these tactics.

We won’t dignify these falsehoods by repeating them in order to refute them. Instead, we will express our outrage at these tactics, which are being used to demonize a good and
decent man and our friend and colleague. Attempting to manipulate voters into supporting or opposing one candidate or another based on despicable and fictitious attacks is disgraceful. These false and malicious attacks should not be part of our political discourse.

All voters should support whichever candidate they believe would make the best president. We sincerely hope that Americans will make that decision based on the factual records of these candidates, not false charges circulated by anonymous mass emails.

Sincerely,

Carl Levin

Barbara Boxer

Ben Cardin

Russ Feingold

Frank Lautenberg

Bernie Sanders

Ron Wyden

Everyone Loved Ronald Reagan Until Barack Obama Said His Name

It appears that at the moment any mention of Ronald Reagan is a thought crime in much of the liberal blogosphere, as well as in the Clinton and Edwards camps. In reviewing the recent smears on Obama based upon misrepresenting his statement on Ronald Reagan, I noted that Hillary Clinton’s own campaign web site contains a statement in which Clinton lists Reagan among her favorite presidents. Perhaps that comes from being an old Goldwater Girl herself.

Clinton supporters now say that she only said that she included Reagan among a list of presidents whose pictures she would hang up at the White House. Even that would be far more of an act of support for Ronald Reagan than anything Barack Obama actually said. I guess at least that excuse would be better than a Clintonian discussion over what the meaning of “favorite” is.

In addition to Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Edwards has attacked Obama with similar distortions of what Obama actually said. It turns out that not only has Clinton made favorable mention of Reagan, but Edwards has also been exposed as having committed this thought crime. In the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs Edwards wrote:

We need a new path, one that will lead to reengagement with the world and restoration of the United States’ moral authority in the community of nations. President Harry Truman once said, “No one nation alone can bring peace. Together, nations can build a strong defense against aggression and combine the energy of free men everywhere in building a better future for all.” For 50 years, presidents from Truman and Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton built strong alliances and deepened the world’s respect for us.

While really not objectionable, this statement from Edwards is a far more favorable statement about the policies of Ronald Reagan than anything Barack Obama actually said.

Other bloggers debunking these attacks include Steve Benen (here and here), Daily Kos, and Matthew Yglesias.

Putting Words in Obama’s Mouth

You might not recognize the guy above but you’ve heard his words, through the mouth of Barack Obama. He is Jon Favreau, head speechwriter for Obama and the subject of a profile in The New York Times.

Mr. Favreau, or Favs, as everyone calls him, looks every bit his age, with a baby face and closely shorn stubble. And he leads a team of two other young speechwriters: 26-year-old Adam Frankel, who worked with John F. Kennedy’s adviser and speechwriter Theodore C. Sorensen on his memoirs, and Ben Rhodes, who, at 30, calls himself the “elder statesman” of the group and who helped write the Iraq Study Group report as an assistant to Lee H. Hamilton.

Like several others backing Obama, Favreau is a previous Kerry aide. Favreau obtained the position on the recommendation of Robert Gibbs, Obama’s communications director and prior spokesman for John Kerry.

Favreau commented on the job of speechwriter:

“The trick of speechwriting, if you will, is making the client say your brilliant words while somehow managing to make it sound as though they issued straight from their own soul,” said the writer Christopher Buckley, who was a speechwriter for the first President Bush. “Imagine putting the words ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’ into the mouth of Ron Paul, and you can see the problem.”

Many Democratic candidates have attempted to evoke both John and Robert Kennedy, but Senator Obama seems to have had more success than most. It helps that Mr. Obama seems to have the élan that John Kennedy had, not to mention a photogenic family.

For his inspiration, Mr. Favreau said, “I actually read a lot of Bobby” Kennedy.

“I see shades of J.F.K., R.F.K.,” he said, and then added, “King.”