Real Americans Can’t Afford To Be Sarah Palin

Obama Winning Among Many Former Bush Supporters

An ABC News/New York Times poll finds that Barack Obama is winning among several groups which previously backed George Bush:

Underscoring the building strength of Mr. Obama’s candidacy in the final phase of the campaign, he was ahead of Mr. McCain among various groups that voted for Mr. Bush four years ago: those with incomes greater than $50,000 a year; married women; suburbanites; white Catholics, and is even competitive among white men — a group that has not voted for a Democrat over a Republican since 1972, when pollsters began surveying people after they voted.

Obama is also making inroads with another group which backed George Bush–former Bush press secretaries. Scott McClellan has endorsed Barack Obama:

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, who angered many Republicans earlier this year with a memoir criticizing President Bush, said today that he’s voting for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

McClellan told CNN that Obama’s message “is very similar to the one that Governor Bush ran on in 2000,” apparently referring to the current president’s early pitch as a reformer and a moderate.

“From the very beginning I have said I am going to support the candidate that has the best chance for changing the way Washington works and getting things done and I will be voting for Barack Obama,” McClellan said during the interview, which was taped for the Saturday broadcast of a new CNN show, “D.L. Hughley Breaks the News.”

Obama also added an endorsement this evening from a group which did not back George Bush–the editorial board of The New York Times.

Elitism Finally Defined

This year we’ve heard numerous attacks based upon elitism from politicians who preferred to avoid campaigning based upon the real issues. First we heard it from Hillary Clinton during the primaries, and more recently John McCain and Sarah Palin have been making similar attacks. Maybe Brian Williams was wondering about who were really the elitists if John McCain, who owns at least seven homes and thirteen cars, and Sarah Palin, who has recently been on a $150,000 shopping spree, are not elitists. Williams asked about this in tonight’s installment of his interview with the GOP candidates:

“Who is a member of the elite?” Williams asked, according to excerpts of the interview, which will air this evening on “Nightly News.”

“Oh, I guess just people who think that they’re better than anyone else. And– John McCain and I are so committed to serving every American. Hard-working, middle-class Americans who are so desiring of this economy getting put back on the right track. And winning these wars. And America’s starting to reach her potential. And that is opportunity and hope provided everyone equally. So anyone who thinks that they are– I guess– better than anyone else, that’s– that’s my definition of elitism,” Palin replied.

“So it’s not education? It’s not income-based?” Williams inquired.

“Anyone who thinks that they’re better than someone else,” Palin said.

“It’s not a state of mind? It’s not geography?” Williams asked again.

“‘course not,” Palin answered.

“I know where a lot of ’em live,” McCain added with a laugh.

“Where’s that?” Williams asked.

“Well, in our nation’s capital and New York City,” McCain replied. “I’ve seen it. I’ve lived there. I know the town. I know– I know what a lot of these elitists are. The ones that she never went to a cocktail party with in Georgetown. I’ll be very frank with you. Who think that they can dictate what they believe to America rather than let Americans decide for themselves.”

So instead of owning lots of houses, cars, and designer clothes the definition comes down to attending Georgetown cocktail parties. As Steve Benen pointed out, this is not the first time Gerogetown cocktail parties have come up. He also raised this in an interview with The Des Moines Register but The Trail outed McCain as an elitist:

For what it’s worth, our colleague Sally Quinn said that McCain himself hasn’t been a stranger on the circuit.

“I’ve sat next to him many times at dinner parties in Georgetown,” Quinn said. “He’s an absolutely delightful dinner partner.”

Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Sarah Palin have all raised these nonsense attacks based upon elitism. They all have one thing in common, assuming the current polls hold. None of them are going to win the presidential election this year. Becoming elected president or vice president makes one a member of an elite which Clinton, McCain, and Palin are unlikely to become a member of, but I don’t think this is what they had in mind when they launched their attacks on elitism.

ACORN and Voter Fraud

There is no controversy over the fact that there are problems with voter registration efforts in which workers are paid to sign up people to vote. There are known cases, such as described in this report from CNN, in which people do put list fake names. While Republicans spin this to claim that Democrats are trying to steal the election, the motivation is actually monetary and carries little real threat of election fraud. While there might be fake names added to the voter roll, such fictitious people don’t usually turn up to vote. ACORN is legally obligated to turn in all the names collected by workers, but they have often flagged ones they consider fictitious. After reporting on a case of someone convicted for registering nonexistent people, the report places the problem in perspective.

University of Washington law professor Eric Schnapper says the idea of fake cards turning into real votes is a myth.

“There are no known instances of fictitious people actually voting,” Schnapper said. “You look at some of the names: Mickey Mouse. Dr. Seuss. Mickey Mouse only votes in Disneyland. He’s not going to show up at a critical precinct in West Virginia or North Carolina.”

Schnapper said that if anyone should be upset, it’s ACORN.

“The victims of this are the people who paid these workers $8 an hour to go out and find legitimate voters, and … they didn’t get their $8 worth; they put down phony names,” Schnapper said.

Schnapper said he’s worked on Republican and Democratic campaigns and has paid people to hand out leaflets or register voters. He said some of the workers do their jobs and some don’t.

ACORN said it has registered well more than 1 million voters, most of them Democrats. Though the group is under investigation in a number of swing states, such as Ohio and Nevada, amid accusations that it turned in fake voter registration cards, Schnapper said there’s no evidence that any worker intended to commit voter fraud and actually take those names, produce phony identification and vote on Election Day.

Threats of criminal prosecution may scare some groups into closing voter registration drives, according to Schnapper. It could scare actual voters away from the polls as well, he said, “and that really does affect the outcomes of the election.”

A report from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School supports his claim. Researchers reviewed voter fraud claims across the country and found that most were caused by technical glitches, clerical errors or mistakes made by voters. One other finding: A person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to impersonate another voter at the polls.

ACORN has recently released a video on the Internet called “Fight Back: The Truth About ACORN.” It uses a mix of interviews and video to fight what the group calls Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout.

CNN asked Clifton Mitchell whether he and his team, at any point, got together to try to rig the election.

“When I did it, when my team did it, it wasn’t to steal any election,” Mitchell said. “They’re just trying to keep a job. But understand, I blame myself. I can only blame myself.”

It certainly might be argued that changes need to be made to address the problems of fictitious names being collected at all, but this does not represent voter fraud, and is not a problem such as we have seen with actual efforts by Republicans at voter suppression.

Looking Ahead to 2012

While the Obama campaign certainly cannot afford to look beyond this year’s election, there is already speculation among those who believe that John McCain will lose as to who the Republican candidate will be in 2012. One question is which direction the party will go. Many hoped that picking John McCain would lead to a more moderate Republican Party, but instead McCain has chosen to move to the far right (which is a major reason why he will probably lose). Many in the libertarian wing even hope to see McCain lose in the hopes that the GOP could return to a limited government philosophy. Radley Balko (hat tip for a third time today to Andrew Sullivan) writes:

While I’m not thrilled at the prospect of an Obama administration (especially with a friendly Congress), the Republicans still need to get their clocks cleaned in two weeks, for a couple of reasons.

First, they had their shot at holding power, and they failed. They’ve failed in staying true to their principles of limited government and free markets. They’ve failed in preventing elected leaders of their party from becoming corrupted by the trappings of power, and they’ve failed to hold those leaders accountable after the fact. Congressional Republicans failed to rein in the Bush administration’s naked bid to vastly expand the power of the presidency (a failure they’re going to come to regret should Obama take office in January). They failed to apply due scrutiny and skepticism to the administration’s claims before undertaking Congress’ most solemn task—sending the nation to war. I could go on.

As for the Bush administration, the only consistent principle we’ve seen from the White House over the last eight years is that of elevating the American president (and, I guess, the vice president) to that of an elected dictator. That isn’t hyperbole. This administration believes that on any issue that can remotely be tied to foreign policy or national security (and on quite a few other issues as well), the president has boundless, limitless, unchecked power to do anything he wants. They believe that on these matters, neither Congress nor the courts can restrain him.

That’s the second reason the GOP needs to lose. American voters need to send a clear, convincing repudiation of these dangerous ideas.

While I would also prefer to see the Republican Party move in a more libertarian direction, there are also indications that they might remain under the control of the religious right. I’ve assumed that Sarah Palin would run in 2012 but my prediction has been that she won’t get any further than Dan Quayle. Marc Ambinder has some compelling arguments which are leading me to reconsider this prediction, assuming she survives the current scandals in Alaska.

I’m still not convinced that Palin should be considered a front runner for 2012, but a party which has nominated George Bush is capable of doing anything. Palin has the support of the far right, and at least so far they give no sign of abandoning her regardless of how poorly she does. Unless they are putting on a front for political reasons, they don’t appear to even understand how terribly she is doing. She will undoubtedly be better prepared to answer questions on national policy in a future run, possibly leading to greater respect from the conservative writers who are currently critical of her. It would be hard for her not to beat expectations.

Ambinder makes one argument which is plausible but which I’m not convinced about:

Pro-Palin voices will begin to talk a great deal about how the only person to ever come close to beating Barack Obama was Hillary Clinton. Palin will seem to fit the Hillary mold for many Republican primary voters.

Maybe, but I think that the recent courting of Hillary Clinton voters with fond comments about Clinton from the far right is a transient phenomenon, and in the long run comparisons to Clnton will not be helpful to a Republican candidate. Besides, even if they want to look at this pragmatically, Palin’s extreme anti-abortion views will not enable her to compete against Obama with the backing of many Clinton voters. (If necessary, Amy Poeler can again remind voters that Palin and Clinton do not agree on anything.)

Ambinder also argues:

Republicans tend to pick the next guy in line. Strangely enough, the next guy in line is now Sarah Palin, by virtue of her being the VP nominee this year.  She will have the benefit of being both an outsider candidate and the natural heir to the nomination; indeed, the only candidate who will have experience in a general election campaign.

This makes her a possibility, but I wonder if it will be enough. The “next guy in line” is typically someone who has been a party leader for years (or son of one), not simply a losing vice presidential candidate. I doubt Palin has Richard Nixon’s political skills to come back from being seen as a loser. Again, being the last losing VP candidate did not help Dan Quayle, and next to Sarah Palin even Dan Quayle looks like a genius, or at least competent.

With the lack of a clear front runner, a sitting GOP governor or Senator might be able to take a leadership position over the next few years, positioning themselves as the more obvious next guy in line. As Ambinder acknowledges, Mitt Romeny and Mike Huckabee will be obstacles. If they must go with a candidate of the religious right, at least Huckabee has shown far better understanding of the issues, and is less polarizing than Palin.

Again via Andrew Sullivan, there are also conservatives who see Huckabee as having a better shot than Palin. Daniel Larison believes, “all talk of Palin ‘12 will cease, and Republicans should certainly hope that it ceases.  Palin will go back to Alaska with both a poor national reputation among much of the public and a lack of support from the GOP establishment, which makes her an unlikely heir apparent.” He sees Huckabee as being able to achieve the support of a broad range of Republicans:

It seems to me that Huckabee now starts to look much better to the conservative elites who were ridiculing him as Huckleberry just half a year ago; he becomes the relatively safe governing choice who can also generate tremendous grassroots enthusiasm.  Many of his former critics may come to recognize the missed opportunity of running with Huckabee’s pseudo-populism on economics this year, and going forward he may be able to develop a policy agenda that is not limited to praising the wonders of the Fair Tax.  Not having been a critic of Palin, Huckabee will not have alienated her supporters, and he will probably carefully avoid doing so over the next few years in the same way that he stayed on good terms with McCain voters.  Provided that he never, ever again tells the ridiculous story about how foreign wars make it possible for children to have schooldesks, and provided that he could get someone to give him some money, he could become the presumptive frontrunner.  Having spoken out against the bailout early on, he will be well-positioned to satisfy libertarians and populists alike.  Given the deterioration of the McCain campaign since it went to war with journalists, the value of favorable free media coverage, which Huckabee was able to attract so effectively during the primaries, cannot be underestimated.

A Goldwater Agrees: John McCain is No Barry Goldwater

Back in May I had a post arguing that John McCain is No Barry Goldwater. At least one Goldwater agrees. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, in a post which links to a copy of my earlier post (cross-posted at Democratic Underground) reports that Barry Goldwater’s granddaughter has voted early for Barack Obama. The Atanta-Journal Constitution quotes Alison Goldwater Ross:

“Coming from a political family, I had insight into a lot of things,” Goldwater Ross said. Of McCain, she said, “I don’t have respect for him.”

In my earlier post I noted that Ross found many differences between the views of Barry Goldwater and John McCain:

“I don’t think my grandfather would ever pander to the religious right like McCain did. That would get him angrier than anything. He believed in the division between church and state, he fought that constantly. And these guys are getting in there… religion is a wonderful thing but it does not have any place or purpose in politics,” she said. “My grandfather was for women’s rights. The idea that my body is mine, and what I want to do with it, I will do with it… McCain isn’t of that mindset.”

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for the link to the AJC post.

Update: Sullivan also links to a post from C.C. Goldwater at Huffington Post supporting Obama. She writes:

My grandfather (Paka) would never suggest denying a woman’s right to choose. My grandmother co-founded Planned Parenthood in Arizona in the 1930’s, a cause my grandfather supported. I’m not sure about how he would feel about marriage rights based on same-sex orientation. I think he would feel that love and respect for ones privacy is what matters most and not the intolerance and poor judgment displayed by McCain over the years. Paka respected our civil liberties and passed on the message that that we should conduct our lives standing up for the basic freedoms we hold so dear…

There always have been a glimmer of hope that someday, someone would “race through the gate” full steam in Goldwater style. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened, and the Republican brand has been tarnished in a shameless effort to gain votes and appeal to the lowest emotion, fear. Nothing about McCain, except for maybe a uniform, compares to the same ideology of what Goldwater stood for as a politician. The McCain/Palin plan is to appear diverse and inclusive, using women and minorities to push an agenda that makes us all financially vulnerable, fearful, and less safe.

When you see the candidate’s in political ads, you can’t help but be reminded of the 1964 presidential campaign of Johnson/Goldwater, the ‘origin of spin’, that twists the truth and obscures what really matters. Nothing about the Republican ticket offers the hope America needs to regain it’s standing in the world, that’s why we’re going to support Barack Obama. I think that Obama has shown his ability and integrity.

Obama Moves Out to Large Lead in Big Ten

With the midwest containing a number of battleground states, I’ve frequently looked at the states making up the Big Ten Conference, finding a growing lead for Obama in the region. There is even one poll which specifically looks at the Big Ten. When the first Big Ten poll was released on September 18, Barack Obama and John McCain were in a statistical tie. A follow up poll today shows Obama leading through out the region:

Illinois: Obama 61%, McCain 32%
Indiana: Obama 51%, McCain 41%
Iowa: Obama 52%, McCain 39%
Ohio: Obama 53%, McCain 41%
Michigan: Obama 58%, McCain 36%
Minnesota: Obama 57%, McCain 38%
Pennsylvania: Obama 52%, McCain 41%
Wisconsin: Obama 53%, McCain 40%

It is no surprise that early battle grounds such as Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin are now strongly for Obama. McCain’s recently rumored Pennsylvania strategy also appears difficult based upon this poll, but as McCain does need to try to take a large blue state Pennsylvania very well might be his best chance.

I was surprised by the size of the leads in Ohio and Indiana. If Obama really is leading in those states by such a margin he could be on his way towards a landslide. Seeing margins of this size makes me somewhat skeptical of their results, but a comparison with their September results does show a remarkable change.

Values Voters No Longer Voting Primarily Republican

The name Liberal Values was chosen for this blog following the 2004 election when there was considerable talk of the Republicans winning due to values voters. Although as an independent I might not have agreed with the Democrats on all issues, I was sufficiently repelled by the so-called values of the right wing to vote Democratic. I was a values voter–voting based upon liberal values. As is stated in the subheading of the blog, this includes values such which arose in the enlightenment including individual liberty, limitations on the power of government, a free market economy where all have the opportunity to benefit, and a respect for science and reason over superstition. This includes a respect for the rights of all to worship as they choose but insistence upon keeping religious views separate from public policy as the founding fathers understood in developing a secular government with a wall of separation of church and state.

I know that I am considering far more ideas in voting based upon values than was probably considered by those who answered this poll, but I still found it encouraging to see the change in views regarding values. After the 2004 election the conventional wisdom was that those who voted based upon values would vote Republican, An Ipsos/McClatchy poll released Tuesday not only found Barack Obama leading John McCain 50 percent to 42 percent, but found that on family values likely voters prefer Obama over McCain by 8 points, up from three points in September.

Obama also leads in many other areas. Despite the frequent attempts by the McCain campaign to distort Obama’s views on taxation, likely voters prefer Obama over McCain by eight percent. Voters also prefer Obama over McCain to handle jobs and the economy by 16 points and health care by 24 points. McCain’s lead on national security has fallen tremendously, and voters showed more concern for the issues where Obama is stronger.

Al Queda “Endorses” John McCain

One of the major goals of al Qaeda has been to overthrow secular dictatorships in the middle east in the hopes of replacing them with fundamentalist governments. George Bush played into bin Laden’s hands by knocking out Saddam for him. Bush further helped al Qaeda by radicalizing many moderates in the middle east, helping their recruitment and improving their reputation in the region. Forcing the United States to overextend itself, possibly resulting in eventual bankruptcy has been one of their tactics for handling a superpower. Considering the degree to which George Bush did exactly what bin Laden wanted, it is no surprise that bin Laden decided to give Bush assistance in winning the 2004 election, with CIA analysts concluding this was the purpose his pre-election tape.

With George Bush doing so much to help al Qaeda, it comes as no surprise that they hope to see a continuation of his policies under John McCain. This view has been expressed by supporters of al Qaeda:

“Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election,” said a commentary posted Monday on the extremist Web site al-Hesbah, which is closely linked to the terrorist group. It said the Arizona Republican would continue the “failing march of his predecessor,” President Bush.

The Web commentary was one of several posted by Taliban or al-Qaeda-allied groups in recent days that trumpeted the global financial crisis and predicted further decline for the United States and other Western powers. In language that was by turns mocking and ominous, the newest posting credited al-Qaeda with having lured Washington into a trap that had “exhausted its resources and bankrupted its economy.” It further suggested that a terrorist strike might swing the election to McCain and guarantee an expansion of U.S. military commitments in the Islamic world.

“It will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against al-Qaeda,” said the posting, attributed to Muhammad Haafid, a longtime contributor to the password-protected site. “Al-Qaeda then will succeed in exhausting America.”

Needless to say, the McCain campaign did not welcome this “endorsement” and held a conference call to attempt damage control. Spencer Ackerman reports:

I just got off a conference call held by the McCain campaign to deny that Al Qaeda, contrary to reports in the AP and the Washington Post, is rooting for their man. To describe the call as panicked would be an understatement.

Jim Woolsey, the former CIA director who publicly connected Iraq to the 9/11 attacks without any evidence in 2001, and senior foreign-policy adviser Randy Scheunemann spent more time whining about the Washington Post’s standards of fairness than on the logic of why Al Qaeda might prefer Sen. John McCain

What a week for John McCain. Colin Powell endorsed Obama, leaving McCain hoping that the endorsements of five out of six former Republican secretaries of state would be sufficient to counter this. Now he practically has the endorsement of al Qaeda.

McCain Believes Sarah Palin is More Qualified Than Joe Lieberman?

John McCain has sold his soul this year, saying and doing many things in hopes of becoming president which most people would never have expected from him. He’s said many ridiculous things this year, but this comment when interviewed by Imus might be the most absurd of all:

“I think she is the most qualified of any that has run recently for vice president.”

Palin’s lack of qualifications have become quite clear, but McCain apparently believes she is more qualified than Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney, George H. W. Bush, Jack Kemp, and Al Gore.