Hillary Clinton Refuses To Pledge to Restore Constitutional Liberties

Hillary Clinton and John McCain are two presidential candidates who have something in common. The Nation reports that they have not signed a statement supporting “the restoration of basic Constitutional principles after the battering they have taken during the Bush-Cheney era.”

Every Democratic candidate except Hillary Clinton has supported this pledge during the campaign. Needless to say, the Republicans have not. The sole exception among the Republicans was Ron Paul who signed a similar statement from a conservative organization which also defended the Constitution. According to The Nation:

The effort to get presidential contenders to sign on the American Freedom Pledge has been promoted by organizations ranging from the Center for Constitutional Rights to Human Rights Watch, MoveOn.org , Amnesty International USA, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and True Majority.

The pledge is anything but radical. It simply asks candidates to affirm a statement that reads: “We are Americans, and in our America we do not torture, we do not imprison people without charge or legal remedy, we do not tap people’s phones and emails without a court order, and above all we do not give any President unchecked power. I pledge to fight to protect and defend the Constitution from attack by any President.”

Most likely Hillary is holding out until the prohibition with regards to unchecked presidential power is rewritten to exclude her.

Update: Clinton’s refusal to sign t his pledge is consistent with previous information obtained on her views. A review of the candidates’ views on presidential power showed that Clinton “embraced a stronger view of a president’s power to use executive privilege to keep information secret from Congress than some rivals.” When I recently compared the views of Clinton and Obama, I noted Clinton’s tendency to support increased government power.

Both Whoopi and Amber Let Obama Down


Whoopi Goldberg has flip-flopped back and forth between Clinton and Obama, proving only that The View is one of the least intelligent shows on television to comment on public affairs.

What about the Obama Girl, Amber Lee Ettinger? Back in August I reported that, after becoming famous for her Obama videos, Amber was switching to Hillary. She returned to make a new video supporting Obama in time for Super Tuesday. When it came time to vote, who did she vote for? She didn’t vote at all.

On Tuesday night, City Room ran into Ms. Ettinger at an election-watching party in Greenwich Village and asked how things went at the polls.

“I didn’t get a chance to vote today because I’m not registered to vote in New York,” she said.

So where is Obama Girl registered to vote?

“New Jersey.”

Um, but didn’t New Jersey also hold a primary?

True. The problem, she explained, was that she was sick in New York City and was unable to get back across the Hudson River to the polls in Jersey City.

“I was in Arizona for the Super Bowl — every time I get in the airplane I get sick,” said Ms. Ettinger, who did manage to make it to the Svedka Fembot election returns party at Chinatown Brasserie.

Fortunately neither Whoopi or Amber are representative of those who are getting out to vote for Obama. Obama supporters in general are neither empty headed entertainers or members of cults.

Debates and Fund Raising

Hillary Clinton continues to attempt to avoiding looking desperate following Super Tuesday. Typically the challenger in a campaign wants to debate, especially when low on cash, while the front runner has less interest. Their roles are exchanged to some degree after Super Tuesday. Clinton wants to debate every week. So far Obama is saying he’ll debate two more times, one before the Ohio primary. Obama does far better at campaign events which bring in huge crowds, so there is little reason for him to debate and allow Clinton to appear like his equal. On her own, Clinton is receiving less and less attention.

Clinton is also trying to avoid appearing to be in too much financial difficulty. It’s amusing to see how some of the blogs backing Clinton are posting about how much money she is bringing in. She remains well behind Obama in money raised, plus Obama will be receiving even more from a fund raiser from MoveOn. At least it looks like Clinton is bringing in enough in contributions so that her staff won’t have to work without pay, at least for now.

One reader, who believes Obama and not Clinton is the real deal, reminds us that Hillary’s cash problems should have been predicted. She points us to this report from The New York Times about the bill she ran up while running for reelection to the Senate. I’ve often feared that the dishonest manner in which Clinton has been campaigning will be seen in the manner she governs should she be elected president. It looks like we should also fear she will over-spend our tax money in the same manner as she runs her campaigns. Looking at her economic proposals suggests this is a real fear.

The Obama Cult?

Barack Obama has often been described as inspirational. Some of his detractors have applied the Rove tactic of directly attacking the opponent’s strengths, twisting his inspirational nature to create fear that the Obama campaign is some sort of cult. The pro-Clinton bloggers have been pushing this meme for a while. Generally if something is repeated often enough in the blogosphere there will be a reporter who will believe he can use the idea for an article. Jack Tapper picked up on this today. At least, even if the quality of his journalism might not always be top notch, he spreads the nonsense attacks around between the campaigns. Perhaps this is his attempt to redeem himself for his inaccurate reports on Bill Clinton last week.

A lot of people support Barack Obama, and I imagine that some of them are writing things which sound like cultists. With all the blogs and other internet discussion sites I can only read a small percentage. Maybe I’ve been lucky and have only encountered the better material, but most of what I read from Obama supporters is based upon rational comparisons of the candidates without using the type of religious fervor Tapper describes. Even those I see which do border on such an attitude are no more irrational than those who back Clinton because of her non-existent superior experience or purely because she is female.

For many of us who support Obama it was a process of elimination. Back when there was a whole line up of candidates, there were some candidates who I felt I could support and others who I did not believe would make a good president. In this process of presidential Survivor, Hillary Clinton was one of the first that many wanted to vote off the island. If there was any doubt, the manner in which she resorted to dishonest smears and race baiting was the final straw in getting many to support Obama over Clinton. To most of us Obama is not the Messiah. He is just one of several potential candidates to survive the process to oppose a candidate we do not find acceptable. Others find both candidates to be acceptable, but for a variety of reasons prefer Obama.

There are many different reasons why people prefer Obama. While the conventional wisdom is that there is not much difference between Obama and Clinton on the issues, I have noted a pattern on the issues which makes me find Obama to be far preferable to Clinton. I have discussed these differences here. The character issue is also important to myself and probably even more people than those who are deciding based upon issues. I have noted these differences in many posts, and this is summarized well by Lawrence Lessig in a post from earlier today.

While it is generally issues which sway me in an election, I know very well that it is often not on issues where an election is won. Contrary to the view often spread by Clinton supporters, Obama has often been quite specific in his views and proposals. When he has done so, I have found his proposals to be far superior to those advocated by Clinton. However, most people do not review such proposals at length and this is not what influences many voters. Obama realizes that he will pick up far more votes by being inspirational than by being a policy wonk when speaking in public. Many find this to be a virtue in itself, believing it will take an inspirational politician using the bully pulpit of the White House to accomplish progressive goals.

This does not mean that there is no substance to Obama’s talk of change. We saw why we need change in politics when Hillary Clinton resorted to Swift Boat tactics against Obama. It is my fear that the same dishonesty seen in Clinton’s campaign will be seen in a government led by Hillary Clinton. It is my hope that the same integrity demonstrated as he refused to lower himself to Clinton’s level will also be seen in a government led by Barack Obama.When Obama supporters speak of being inspired by the candidate, this is not just empty talk. Obama supporters often can provide concrete examples. A few days ago I read this one, with the following video showing what the blogger was impressed by:


In response to seeing this at a rally in Boston, an Obama supporter wrote:

On Feb 4th in Boston, Barack Obama proved to me how truly different he is. During the section of the speech where he repeatedly points out how hard it will be to change and transform our country and selves, he was critiquing how fear drives politics and how Democrats, in reaction to that, have often adopted those tactics.

When a supporter yelled out, “You mean Hillary” at that moment Barack could have piled on and given the crowd the veiled anti-Hillary one-liners it wanted. But instead, he said, “No, because it’s more extensive than that, sometimes it seeps into my own campaign too. It is habits of mind, habits of heart that we all start engaging in. Because we start thinking this is a game, a contest, we forget the kid who doesn’t have enough to eat…”

When Barack could have “torn down an opponent” (which the crowd would have loved), he instead chose to criticize his own campaign as a way to show how deeply internalized these things are and what he means by, and what he thinks has to, change. A politician opting to criticize himself rather than his opponent so that he could make a more important, broader point. Wow!

So right in the middle of a speech on transformation, in an unscripted, revealing moment, Barack Obama provided a living example of that transformation.

This is a just one example of a supporter finding a true reason to be impressed by Obama as a potentially transformational candidate. This is a view based upon a rational assessment of the candidate, not cultism.

Lessig Explains Why He Is For Obama


Lawrence Lessig explains why he supports Obama over Clinton. His reasons center around character, moral courage, integrity, how they would change politics, and how they would inspire a movement towards peace.

A full transcript is below the fold:


Romney Quitting Race

According to multiple reports, Mitt Romney is suspending his campaign or withdrawing from the race (either of which will amount to the same thing). There was already little doubt that John McCain was going to win the Republican nomination. There are only two things that can stop McCain now:

1) All the conservatives rally around Mike Huckabee, ignoring his populist economic stands and embracing his social conservativism, or

2) The Ron Paul Revolution really exists and all those people who Paul supporters kept arguing were going to vote for Paul, despite the polls, actually turn out and vote for him.

Looking at these two possibilities, they range from low to zero.

Update: Romney has dropped out of the race. The transcript of his statement is here. Does anyone really believe he is quitting the race for the good of the country, and the Republican Party? This certainly sounds like a speech from someone who wants to keep their options open to run in the future, and perhaps who is hoping for a position in the winner’s administration. Despite all his flip-flopping, Romney showed himself to be a true Republican. He passed the test: confusing the war in Iraq with the “war on terror.” That is something we expect to hear from true Republicans, along with as Hillary Clinton.

Remember when the conventional wisdom was that a Senator could not be elected president? I guess one way to make it happen is for both major parties to nominate one. Baring one of the scenarios above, or perhaps Michael Bloomberg winning as a third party candidate, it looks like the next president will be the first coming directly from the Senate since John F. Kennedy. (When we are dealing with Kennedy comparisons, one candidate certainly comes to mind first.)

Thank You Zell Miller

The bad news: The super delegates might decide the Democratic nomination

The good news: Joe Lieberman won’t be one of those deciding

The ironic news: We have Zell Miller to thank. Something good has come from his 2004 speech at the Republican National Convention.

Capitol Watch reports:

Thanks to Zell Miller, there is a rule to deal with Joe Lieberman.

Lieberman’s endorsement of Republican John McCain disqualifies him as a super-delegate to the Democratic National Convention under what is informally known as the Zell Miller rule, according to Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo.

Miller, then a Democratic senator from Georgia, not only endorsed Republican George Bush four years ago, but he delivered a vitriolic attack on Democrat John Kerry at the Republican National Convention.

The Democrats responded with a rule disqualifying any Democrat who crosses the aisle from being a super delegate. Lieberman will not be replaced, DiNardo said.