The Blogosphere vs. Barack Obama

I feel like the we have returned to the days of the 2008 Democratic Primary as a number of liberal bloggers (primarily but not entirely Clinton supporters) have spent the day bashing Obama. The latest round of this got underway with a blog post from Peter Daou (who worked for Hillary Clinton) and was picked up by the usual suspects. Others, such as Ezra Klein and Steve Benen, put the dispute into perspective, with Steve referring back to a recent post which outlined many of the liberal accomplishments under Obama which some on the left often ignore.

From a political perspective, Daou is overstating the problem when claiming that liberal bloggers such as “Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher” are “bringing down the Obama presidency.” Most people haven’t even heard of these bloggers, and polls have shown a very high level of support for Obama among liberals and traditional Democratic voters. Many liberals can handle acknowledging Obama’s accomplishments and showing some understanding of the political situation he is working in while also disagreeing on some issues.

On the other hand, we have seen a number of signs that this criticism is getting under Obama’s skin (along with that of close associates like David Axelrod). It is a safe bet that they are surprised by the amount of criticism they are receiving from those they expected support from. However to claim they are bringing down Obama is absurd. I think that Obama, as well as the Congressional Democrats, face far more problems due to the apathy towards voting from the average voter who is disillusioned by the slow progress on the economy than they are harmed by those who are upset by compromising of progressive principles.

This is not to say that all of those engaging in the Obama bashing today are sore losers among the Clintonistas or that there is no validity to their complaints. Those such as Glenn Greenwald who concentrate on civil liberties issues do have more to legitimately complain about. Even here a bit of perspective is needed from those who claim that Obama is worse than Bush. Obama is well aware that should there be another terrorist attack on his watch the right will blame it on any areas where they could argue Obama let up on the “war on terror.” This could easily result in a right wing backlash with greater restrictions on civil liberties.

It is of value for bloggers such as Greenwald to point out the problems with Obama’s policies but more of a sense of perspective is needed. Some of Obama’s decisions have been wrong, but we are hardly living in a dictatorial police state, or even in a state as bad as we would have under the Republicans as some on the far left claim. (It is also notable that the tea party supporters who attack Obama for a number of imaginary offenses have largely been silent on these issues).

I also could not help but think, seeing how many primary opponents of Obama are leading the attacks, that most likely either Hillary Clinton or John Edwards would be far to the right of Barack Obama on these issues based upon their past records.

While advocates of a single payer system have many valid arguments, it was disappointing during the health care debate to see some such as Jane Hamsher distort the Democratic plan as dishonestly as was done by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Besides, there was zero chance that a single payer plan would pass.

Obama’s mistake here it was more on selling reform as opposed to the type of reform which was passed. The Democrats were delusional to think opposition to health care reform would vanish after passing it, especially when most of the benefits won’t be seen for a couple more years. I don’t buy the argument being made by some that initially pushing for an agenda which is further left would lead to more liberal results, but on health care I do believe that it could have affected public perception of the plan.

Obama antagonized many liberals for quickly shooting down any chance of a single payer plan and also played into the hands of Republicans who falsely claim that his plan represents a government takeover of health care. Imagine if Obama had started out saying there are basically four ideas which might be considered:

  1. “Socialized medicine” where there will be a government run health care system and government bureaucrats run the system.
  2. A single payer plan, like Medicare, in which government pays instead of private insurance companies, with health care facilities remaining in private hands.
  3. A mixed plan similar to the Republican counter-proposal to the Clinton health care plan with controls over what insurance companies could do, exchanges to promote sales of private plans, etc.
  4. Continuing the status quo where bureaucrats from the insurance companies often make the decisions and where many people are denied insurance coverage entirely.

Obama then could reject both socialized medicine and the status quo. When he ultimately went with #3 it would be more accurately framed as a moderate option to the status quo and not a radical plan. Maybe such framing would have even made it easier to push for the public option, which would still be a long way from the rejected choice of socialized medicine.

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Aaron Sorkin To Produce Movie On John Edwards-Rielle Hunter Scandal

Aaron Sorkin, one of my favorite television and movie writers, will be producing and directing The Politician, a movie on Andrew Young’s book on the downfall of John Edwards. I certainly intend to watch this, and from a box office perspective the story of the affair between Edwards and Rielle Hunter certainly makes a lot of sense. Still, as there are so few writers with Sorkin’s ability, I would prefer to see him take on a different target.

There is really no benefit in anything further to take down John Edwards. His career is over. I’m not being merciful because of any sympathy for Edwards. If anyone cares to dig through the blog archives you will see that I was writing about how dishonest, slimy, and superficial Edwards was well before the Rielle Hunter scandal. It’s just I find Sorkin’s work to be the most beneficial when he is taking on targets which still matter, such as the religious right. He did a great job of this in The West Wing, and even had some great moments in Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. But yes, this upcoming movie is far more likely to be a success than Studio 60 was.

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Elizabeth Edwards Doesn’t Want Rielle Hunter To Become Step-Mother To Her Children

While the separation of Al and Tipper Gore is receiving all the headlines today, the failed marriage of another Democrat who was recently on a national ticket provides for far juicer stories. The New York Daily News reports that Elizabeth Edwards is trying to deny John Edwards custody of their children should she not survive her breast cancer.  Reportedly she does not want John’s mistress Rielle Hunter near the kids and has been preparing their older daughter Cate to care for the younger children.

Legally it is doubtful that Elizabeth would be successful in preventing John from having custody should she die. There is one possible way it could happen. John is already under investigation for use of campaign funds to pay Hunter hush money. Elizabeth might know of additional skeletons in his closet which could send John to prison, leaving Cate to raise the children.

Update: Elizabeth Edwards sent an email to Norah O’Donnell of MSNBC News denying the story.

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John Edwards and Sarah Palin Both Doing The Same Thing

Superficially the careers of John Edwards and Sarah Palin are somewhat similar. Both were the vice presidential candidate on the last losing ticket from their party. Edwards attempted to win his party’s nomination in the next election cycle. Palin is widely expected to seek her party’s nomination and fail (unless the Mayan calendar is correct about 2012). Despite this similarity, the two are at such different points in their career that I described it as being odd when Gallup ran a poll last October looking at these two. Looking at today’s headlines there is yet another superficial similarity. Both are testifying in court.

The Daily Beast report that Edwards will be testifying about his sex tape and affair with Rielle Hunter. Judging by the reaction to her in the conservative movement, many conservatives might wish that there was also a Sarah Palin sex tape. Sadly for them, Palin will be testifying about the hacked email case, not a sex tape.

Maybe the two are right where they belong. Conservatives such as Palin love to portray themselves as victims. Here Palin really is a victim (and we have a rare case where I side with her in opposing the hacking of her email). Palin gets what she wants in beng the victim, and we all know what John Edwards wants.

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National Enquirer Reports Grand Jury Ready To Indict John Edwards

The National Enquirer, which so far has been correct with every aspect of the John Edwards/ Rielle Hunter scandal, reports that a grand jury is ready to indict Edwards for violations of campaign finance laws. Edwards allegedly used campaign funds to pay hush money to cover up the affair.  They report:

The ultimate fall from grace, a Federal grand jury is about to indict John Edwards, The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively.

In another shocker, close sources say Edwards’ estranged wife Elizabeth could help send the former presidential candidate to jail!

Edwards, the disgraced two-time Presidential loser, is being investigated by the feds, including the FBI and IRS for possible campaign violations related to paying his mistress Rielle Hunter.

The grand jury has been meeting since April 2009, and insiders say an indictment is imminent.

“John is terrified that he’s going to be indicted,” a friend told The ENQUIRER.

“While he believes he’s done nothing illegal in trying to hide his extramarital affair with Rielle and their daughter, he thinks the Feds are going to make an example of him.”

This could be tragic. I do not believe that prison barbers will be up to Edwards’ standards.

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Edwards Denies Report Of Proposing to Rielle Hunter

CNN reports that an Edwards spokeswoman denies the earlier report that John Edwards has proposed to his mistress Rielle Hunter:

Former Sen. John Edwards’ spokeswoman flatly denied a story in the National Enquirer Wednesday that claimed the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee is engaged to his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

The Enquirer reported that Edwards proposed to Hunter on the day he told her that he would publicly acknowledge being the father of their child, Frances Quinn.

Edwards was taking steps to run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination when he began his affair with Hunter, a videographer. The former senator denied that he was the father of Frances Quinn for more than a year, but he acknowledged paternity late last month.

Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, have legally separated.

“John has said that when his divorce is final, he’ll buy her a diamond ring,” the Enquirer quotes a ‘close source’ in the story as saying about the marriage proposal. “But in the meantime, he’s getting them a house.”

But Joyce Fitzpatrick, an Edwards spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to CNN that the report was “absolutely untrue.”

This may or may not apply here, but it should be noted that several times in the past John Edwards has denied report published by The National Enquirer which were later verified as true.

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John Edwards Proposes to Rielle Hunter

It seems to be a pretty safe bet that John Edwards has given up all thought of making a political comeback after this story. The National Enquirer (which, despite its reputation, has been right from the start on this story) reports that he has asked Rielle Hunter to marry him:

John Edwards has proposed to his mistress Rielle Hunter, and is buying a luxury $3.5 million beachfront home where they can live happily ever after with their love child, The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively.

The disgraced presidential candidate popped the question at the same time he told Rielle that he’d be issuing a press statement finally confirming he fathered her daughter Frances Quinn, close sources told The ENQUIRER.

Edwards, 56, released that statement on Jan. 21, and just six days later a spokesperson for his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth confirmed the couple had legally separated after 32 years of marriage. Sources say they expect to be officially divorced within a year, paving the way for the ex-senator to make Rielle, 45, his wife.

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Worse Than Spitzer

Mark Sanford’s son’s reaction to the news of his father’s affair was that it’s “worse than Eliot Spitzer.” This comes out in Jenny Sanford’s book. Among the revelations:

- Mark Sanford kept “pestering” her for permission to see his mistress even after she found their lovelorn messages.

- He was a cheapskate who once took back a birthday necklace he gave her a day earlier.

Maybe it’s worse than Eliot Spitzer, but this all sounds pretty tame compared to what we’ve heard about John Edwards.

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Big John’s Sex Tape

There has been talk about a sex tape with John Edwards and Rielle Hunter since last June but it is being discussed more today, probably due this item in the report from Gawker:

Sources have told us that, in the throes of their affair, John Edwards and Rielle Hunter made a sex tape that contains “several sex acts.” And that his aide, Andrew Young found it on an unmarked DVD.

The tape, say both our sources, is explicit and reveals that Edwards “is physically very striking, in a certain area. Everyone who sees it says ‘whoa’. She’s behind the camera at first.”

Such stories are bound to help provide publicity for Andrew Young’s book, The Politician, which is scheduled to be released on February 2. At least John Edwards might have a one day reprieve as people will be paying far more attention to the season premiere of Lost than to him on that date.

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More Stories From “Game Change” Including Clinton Sleaze and Conflict Between Obama and Biden

More items from Game Change have come out since my run down yesterday. These include more examples of sleaze from the Clinton campaign and conflict between Obama and Biden.

While Hillary Clinton tried to disassociate herself from the smears against Obama based upon drug use when young, Mark Penn boasted to his staff how many times he managed to say “cocaine” on Hardball. Hillary was pleased by this:

“Hillary’s reaction to Shaheen’s remarks was, ‘Good for him!’ Followed by ‘Let’s push it out.’  Her aides violently disagreed, seeing what Shaheen had said as a PR disaster. Grudgingly, Clinton acquiesced to disowning Shaheen’s comments. But she wasn’t going to cut him loose. Why should Billy have to fall on his sword for invoking something that had been fair game in every recent election?”

While yesterday’s post dealt with John Edwards’ affair, there is also a section with McCain’s aides confronting Cindy McCain about her affair:

“The man was said to be her long-term boyfriend; the pair had been sighted all over town in the last few years. Members of McCain’s senior staff discussed the unsettling news, and their growing concerns that Cindy’s behavior had been increasingly erratic of late. [John] Weaver and others suspected that the Cindy rumor was rooted in truth. It was upsetting, Weaver believed, but not a threat.”

The Obamas flew to Nashville to get Al Gore’s assurance that he would not run before Obama decided to run. While the McCain campaign had problems with Sarah Palin’s ignorance, the Obama campaign had problems of their own with Biden’s mouth. From Politico:

The tensions began in September of 2008 word got back to Obama’s campaign headquarters that Biden had told reporters on his campaign plane that he was more qualified than his running mate to be president.

“A chill set in between Chicago and the Biden plane,” Halperin and Heilemann write in the book, to be released Monday. “Joe and Obama barely spoke by phone, rarely campaigned together.”

And when Obama campaign manager David Plouffe was asked about having Biden dial into the nightly campaign conference call, he responded: “Nah.” Instead, Biden had his own call with Plouffe and senior campaign adviser David Axelrod.

Obama himself was growing increasingly frustrated with his running mate after Biden let loose with a string of gaffes, including a statement that paying higher taxes amounted to patriotism and criticism of one of the campaign’s own ads poking fun at John McCain.

But when Biden, at an October fund-raiser in Seattle, famously predicted that Obama would be tested with an international crisis, the then-Illinois senator had had enough.

“How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?” he demanded of his advisers on a conference call, a moment at which most people on the call said the candidate was as angry as they had ever heard him.

Following his campaign plane braggadocio about being more qualified than the man who put him on the ticket, Biden’s access to the press was limited and he grilled new staffers that were assigned to him to try and determine if they were part of his team or loyal to Chicago…

When the ticketmates talked a few days after Biden’s prediction that Obama would be tested, Obama lit into his running mate. But Biden didn’t apologize – or even indicate he understood why his comments in Seattle were problematic, though McCain’s campaign had already cut an ad featuring the dark warning.

I noted both the low opinion of John Edwards by Democratic Party leaders as well as the conflict between John and Edwards over John’s affair in the previous post. These two narratives also came  together here:

There were apparently “two Americas” within the marriage between John and Elizabeth Edwards. The former North Carolina senator’s wife viewed herself as a worldly intellectual and publicly called her husband “a hick” and his parents “rednecks,” according to the authors.

“She was forever letting John know she regarded him as her intellectual inferior,” they write, mocking her husband, the presidential hopeful, as somebody who “doesn’t read books.”

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