Momentum Shifts Back In Obama’s Favor

The last week was not one of the best periods for Obama’s campaign, but over the past day momentum has suddenly shifted back in Obama’s favor as the news has been dominated by stories which do not help Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Post did some fact checking on Clinton and gave her Four Pinocchios for her false claims about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire in 1996. Here’s a picture of her being greeted by snipers:

It appears that Clinton was greeted in the manner Dick Cheney erroneously predicted we would be greeted in Iraq, while Clinton falsely claimed she was greeted in Bosnia as Americans are actually greeted in much of Iraq.

From there it gets worse. The Washington Post also looked at her overall experience:

While Clinton’s advertisements have boasted that she is best prepared for a 3 a.m. crisis phone call, the schedules contain no evidence that Clinton was at the table during major national security decisions. They do not list her as attending National Security Council meetings or joining briefings in the Situation Room. She did not have a national security clearance. And the documents make clear that at moments of major crisis, Clinton was often busy with her own agenda.

If that isn’t bad enough, a story from The Politico which basically argues that Clinton has already lost has been widely quoted today. They report that not even Clinton’s people believe she has a meaningful chance to win:

As it happens, many people inside Clinton’s campaign live right here on Earth. One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.

If Clinton has any chance, it will be even harder as it now appears her campaign is in the red:

Despite a strong month of fund-raising in February in which she brought in $35 million, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton finished the month essentially in the red, once her campaign’s outstanding debts are factored in, as well as her personal loan, according to filings submitted late last night to the Federal Election Commission.

Losing the endorsement of Bill Richardson to Obama doesn’t help Clinton either. Her campaign looks even more foolish for claiming that it doesn’t matter considering that Both Bill and Hillary called Richardson as recently as eight days ago attempting to get his endorsement.

Speaking of Bill–it looks like he is at it again:

Adding a bit of fuel to the political fire, Bill Clinton made a bizarre comment on Friday, leaving the impression that he believed Barack Obama’s patriotism would be a general election issue.

MSNBC is reporting that on the campaign trail today in Charlotte, North Carolina, the former president said a general election matchup between his wife, Sen. Clinton, and Sen. John McCain would be between “two people who love this country” without “all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.”

It’s difficult to determine exactly what Clinton meant by this. Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said the former president was not implying that Obama didn’t love America. As for “this other stuff,” that Clinton referred to? He was talking about “the politics of personal destruction,” said Wolfson. “He was lamenting that these kind of distractions ‘always seems to intrude’ on our politics.”

Not everyone had the same interpretation. MSNBC, for example, was quick to suggest that the former president was implying there were doubts about Obama’s patriotism, and that those doubts would play a role in the general election. Which seems, on its face, hardly a stretch.

With all this bad news Mark Halperin presents a list of fourteen painful things Hillary Clinton knows, or should know. Obama is also well on his way to reversing one of the more serious obstacles in recent days as a CBS News poll shows his speech on race was well received:

Sixty-nine percent of voters who have heard or read about Obama’s speech say he did a good job addressing the issue of race relations, and 63 percent of voters following the events say they agree with Obama’s views on race relations. Seventy-one percent say he did a good job explaining his relationship with Wright.

Bill Richardson Endorses Obama

Bill Richardson has endorsed Barack Obama for President, releasing the following email over night:

During the last year, I have shared with you my vision and hopes for this nation as we look to repair the damage of the last seven years. And you have shared your support, your ideas and your encouragement to my campaign. We have been through a lot together and that is why I wanted to tell you that, after careful and thoughtful deliberation, I have made a decision to endorse Barack Obama for President.

We are blessed to have two great American leaders and great Democrats running for President. My affection and admiration for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver. It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall. The 1990’s were a decade of peace and prosperity because of the competent and enlightened leadership of the Clinton administration, but it is now time for a new generation of leadership to lead America forward. Barack Obama will be a historic and a great President, who can bring us the change we so desperately need by bringing us together as a nation here at home and with our allies abroad.

Earlier this week, Senator Barack Obama gave an historic speech. that addressed the issue of race with the eloquence, sincerity, and optimism we have come to expect of him. He inspired us by reminding us of the awesome potential residing in our own responsibility. He asked us to rise above our racially divided past, and to seize the opportunity to carry forward the work of many patriots of all races, who struggled and died to bring us together.

As a Hispanic, I was particularly touched by his words. I have been troubled by the demonization of immigrants–specifically Hispanics– by too many in this country. Hate crimes against Hispanics are rising as a direct result and now, in tough economic times, people look for scapegoats and I fear that people will continue to exploit our racial differences–and place blame on others not like them . We all know the real culprit — the disastrous economic policies of the Bush Administration!

Senator Obama has started a discussion in this country long overdue and rejects the politics of pitting race against race. He understands clearly that only by bringing people together, only by bridging our differences can we all succeed together as Americans.

His words are those of a courageous, thoughtful and inspiring leader, who understands that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And, after nearly eight years of George W. Bush, we desperately need such a leader.

To reverse the disastrous policies of the last seven years, rebuild our economy, address the housing and mortgage crisis, bring our troops home from Iraq and restore America’s international standing, we need a President who can bring us together as a nation so we can confront our urgent challenges at home and abroad.

During the past year, I got to know Senator Obama as we campaigned against each other for the Presidency, and I felt a kinship with him because we both grew up between words, in a sense, living both abroad and here in America. In part because of these experiences, Barack and I share a deep sense of our nation’s special responsibilities in the world.

So, once again, thank you for all you have done for me and my campaign. I wanted to make sure you understood my reasons for my endorsement of Senator Obama. I know that you, no matter what your choice, will do so with the best interests of this nation, in your heart.

Sincerely,

Bill Richardson

We’ve seen this year that endorsements have limited effect, but at very least this is one more super delegate backing Obama. Richardson will also help with the Hispanic vote and it doesn’t hurt to have Obama’s speech on race brought up once again as it might take time for the average voter to become fully aware of it. Richardson’s support might also help strengthen Obama’s foreign policy credentials:

In his statement, Mr. Richardson, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under Mr. Clinton, said “there is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama has the judgment and courage we need in a commander in chief when our nation’s security is on the line. He showed this judgment by opposing the Iraq war from the start, and he has shown it during this campaign by standing up for a new era in American leadership internationally.”

I wonder if this could be taken as a sign of how the race is going. Richardson has been spoken of as a possible running mate or major cabinet secretary for the next Democratic president, but the Clintons are known for having a long memory with regards to who supports or opposes them. This endorsement might be taken as a sign that Richardson no longer fears that an endorsement of Obama reduces his chances for career advancement.

Barack Obama’s Libertarian Support

Barack Obama is a strong civil libertarian, a strong supporter of separation of church and state, and has economic views which are influenced by the University of Chicago. As I discussed last month, Daniel Koffler has even labeled Obama a left-libertarian. I believe that Obama’s beliefs don’t fully fit this label, but there are many reasons for libertarians to support Obama.

Obama has received the support of many libertarians such as Publius. While I would anticipate support for Obama among left libertarians, I was a bit surprised to see a somewhat favorable post about him at Lew Rockwell’s site. As would be expected for a libertarian writer, there are definite objections to many of Obama’s policies, but the author also does acknowledge that “Obama does offer a few market-friendly programs.”

On the other side of the coin, Obama does offer a few market-friendly programs, such as increased child care and education tax credits (which Paul also supports), exempt payroll taxes from the first $6,500 of earned income, exempt seniors making under $50,000 from income taxes, supports clean coal (most democrats despise hydrocarbon energy production in general), supports carbon sequestration (more market-friendly than carbon regulation), limits agricultural subsidies to farms earning under $250,000 a year, will reinstate PAYGO, has pledged to get all troops out of Iraq within 16 months, opposes war with Iran, and supports the Genocide Intervention Network, which uses private money and nonstate social action to stymie genocide.

So, is Obama a left-libertarian? No. Obama’s platform is more akin to “Soft Paternalism“, a gentler, less threatening approach to controlling people’s lives (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Libertarian Paternalism).

In the grand scheme of things, Obama is far less statist than Hillary (socialism at home, hegemony abroad) and McCain (fascism at home, endless warfare abroad). If Obama wins the democratic nomination, I suspect he’ll run with Bill Richardson (who likes market solutions on pragmatic grounds as well), as he can help shore up Obama’s dismal support among Hispanics, which could cost him Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada (19 electoral college votes). Don’t get me wrong: in a hypothetical match up in the fall between Obama and McCain, I’ll either abstain from voting or write in Paul’s name. But for the electorate as a whole, Obama would be the more liberty-minded choice over the statist, warmongering, ill-tempered and possibly unstable John McCain.

This is hardly what one would call an endorsement, but this is still a far more favorable review of Obama’s policies than I would have expected from this site. Choosing Bill Richardson as running mate would also please many libertarians. I have suspected that Obama would not run with Richardson due to his connections to the Clintons and as there might be pressure for more balance than having two minorities on the ticket. However if Richardson could bring in more Hispanic votes this might be a consideration.

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 Las 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

AP Reports Richardson Dropping Out of Race

AP is reporting that Bill Richardson is planning to drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination. AP reports this based upon information from two people close to his campaign who have spoken on a condition of anonymity. They say that Richardson will be making the announcement on Thursday.

I was interested in Richardson early and there appeared to be a possibility of Richardson at very least challenging Edwards for third place last summer. Richardson’s campaign never took off, partially due to a number of minor gaffes which had a cumulative effect of preventing Richardson from looking like a serious candidate. By the end of 2007 I was both questioning whether Richardson would make a good candidate, and had given up any hope that he could seriously challenge for the nomination. The results in Iowa and New Hampshire also demonstrated that few held out much hope for him. If this report is true, I suspect it means that he does not expect to do well in Nevada.

I wonder if Richardson made a mistake trying to differentiate himself based upon taking the most aggressive stance with regards to leaving Iraq quickly among the Democratic candidates. Richardson just never fit the role as “the” peace candidate or the candidate from the left.Richardson has received the support of many independents, as well as libertarian-leaning Democratic voters. While many of his positions were based more upon pragmatism than libertarian principles, some libertarians saw Richardson as a candidate who was friendlier to business and less supportive of big government than his rivals. In failing to stress such issues or show a real reason to support him, Richardson’s support remained minimal. While positioning himself in such a manner might have helped in the general election, it is also questionable if such positions would have been successful in the Democratic primaries.

The rise of Barack Obama further prevented Richardson from being able to receive a significant amount of support from independents. Running on his resume was also not a very successful strategy in a year in which voters desired change or were interested in the stars, leaving the three most experienced candidates in the second tier far behind the less experienced top tier candidates.

Richardson’s campaign is denying the report but is speaking of suspending the campaign and stopping active campaigning while preparing for the legislative session in New Mexico. Regardless of whether he suspends or ends the campaign, there is little doubt that Richardson will not have any significant impact on the race.

Update: The New York Times reports Richardson is out

The New Hampshire Democratic Debate

With two debates involving ten candidates I only saw two people I could take seriously as president. If experience is a factor, Bill Richardson might make the best president of the bunch, but he doesn’t make a good enough candidate to get the chance. Richardson was best prepared for the final question regarding admitting mistakes as he’s made a few. At least he was willing to admit it as the others dodged the question:

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, I’ve made a lot of them. One that I particularly remember — I think it was here in New Hampshire, the first debate — I was asked who my favorite Supreme Court justice was, and I said, dead or alive? (Laughter.) I said — I should have — I should have stuck to the alive because I then said, “Whizzer” White, because I idolize John F. Kennedy and I figured if he appointed “Whizzer” White, this was a great Supreme Court justice. Well then I find out that “Whizzer” White was against Roe versus Wade, against civil rights — (laughter). You know, so that’s — that wasn’t a good one. (Laughter, applause.)

Being included after the field was narrowed down to the final four certainly helped Richardson. Edwards joined Obama in trying to get Clinton to be the one voted out at the next tribal council. As things got heated, Richardson got in one of the better lines of the debate as he said, “Well, I’ve been in hostage negotiations that are a lot more civil than this.” This served to also remind people that he has negotiated with foreign leaders. He also didn’t hesitate to remind viewers that he was the only governor there with executive experience.

While Richardson had a good night, the big winner was Barack Obama. Seeing Edwards and Clinton argue over change only highlighted the fact that Obama now dominates the race. He might lack the experience Richardson has, but he was the only other person I saw tonight who appeared the least bit presidential.

Once again, seeing Edwards I couldn’t help but wonder why he is even on the same stage as legitimate contenders to be president. It’s amazing how far a big smile and lots of ambition can get you, but it won’t be enough to win. Clinton didn’t do herself any favors either when she tried to compete with Obama by claiming to be an agent of change but instead appeared to be imitating Edwards as someone consumed with anger, as seen in this video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07u6uffKvpA]

Ultimately Obama won by both looking the most presidential and by denying his opponents the opportunity to change the current dynamic before Tuesday. Only Richardson might have given anyone reason to shift their vote to him, but he is too far behind for that to matter.

The full transcript for the debate is here.

Peggy Noonan’s Fairly Reasonable Assessment of the Candidates

Peggy Noonan reviews the candidates from both parties based upon whether she finds the candidates “reasonable” as opposed to whether they share her ideology. As a result of looking beyond ideology, I must say that Noonan does a far more reasonable job of assessing the candidates than I would expect from a conservative columnist at The Wall Street Journal. She is also far more reasonable than some of the liberal bloggers who are distorting what she wrote.

Looking at the Democratic race, Noonan starts with Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, writing “They have been United States senators for a combined 62 years. They’ve read a raw threat file or two. They have experience, sophistication, the long view. They know how it works. No one will have to explain it to them.” She also briefly mentions Bill Richardson as being a reasonable choice. She finds Barack Obama to be reasonable, even if having some reservations which aren’t totally unreasonable:

He has earned the attention of the country with a classy campaign, with a disciplined and dignified staff, and with passionate supporters such as JFK hand Ted Sorensen, who has told me he sees in Obama’s mind and temperament the kind of gifts Kennedy displayed during the Cuban missile crisis. Mr. Obama is thoughtful, and it would be a pleasure to have a president who is highly literate and a writer of books.

Is he experienced enough? No. He’s not old enough either. Men in their 40s love drama too much. Young politicians on fire over this issue or that tend to see politics as a stage on which they can act out their greatness. And we don’t need more theatrics, more comedies or tragedies. But Mr. Obama doesn’t seem on fire. He seems like a calm liberal with a certain moderating ambivalence. The great plus of his candidacy: More than anyone else he turns the page. If he rises he is something new in history, good or bad, and a new era begins.

Noonan finds problems with Hillary Clinton which do make sense, although I can’t agree with her ranking of Clinton compared to Nixon:

Hillary Clinton? No, not reasonable. I concede her sturdy mind, deep sophistication, and seriousness of intent. I see her as a triangulator like her husband, not a radical but a maneuverer in the direction of a vague, half-forgotten but always remembered, leftism. It is also true that she has a command-and-control mentality, an urgent, insistent and grating sense of destiny, and she appears to believe that any act that benefits Clintons is a virtuous act, because Clintons are good and deserve to be benefited.

But this is not, actually, my central problem with her candidacy. My central problem is that the next American president will very likely face another big bad thing, a terrible day, or days, and in that time it will be crucial–crucial–that our nation be led by a man or woman who can be, at least for the moment and at least in general, trusted. Mrs. Clinton is the most dramatically polarizing, the most instinctively distrusted, political figure of my lifetime. Yes, I include Nixon. Would she be able to speak the nation through the trauma? I do not think so. And if I am right, that simple fact would do as much damage to America as the terrible thing itself.

I also agree with her assessment of John Edwards, writing, “All the Democrats would raise taxes as president, but Mr. Edwards’s populism is the worst of both worlds, both intemperate and insincere.” It would have been better if she went into further detail about how Edwards is not qualified to be president, and she is being kind in limiting her description of an opportunistic phony such as Edwards as merely being “insincere.” Joining Noonan in looking at character over ideology, with the exception of George Bush we have rarely seen a candidate so unfit to be president have such a real shot at the job. Bob Shrum elaborated more than Noonan in calling Edwards a “lightweight,” a “hyper-ambitious phony” and “a Clinton who hadn’t read the books.”

Unfortuantely Noonan couldn’t resist one trivial shot in writing, “Also we can’t have a president who spent two minutes on YouTube staring in a mirror and poofing his hair. Really, we just can’t.” This line, which does weaken the column, has been taken out of context by some bloggers suggesting that this one throw away line is characteristic of her entire column. James Joyner also notes that Glenn Greenwald is inaccurate in his criticism. The YouTube video is hardly the major reason why Edwards should not be president, and is not Noonan’s major objection. While out of place in a column of this nature, the video shouldn’t be totally ignored either. The video actually does capture the shallowness of John Edwards, which is the real issue as opposed to Edwards not being a “real man.” Sure it is possible that any candidate might look foolish if videotaped while combing their hair, but it is no coincidence that such a video has come to represent John Edwards specifically.

On the Republican side, Noonan considers John McCain, Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter, and Fred Thompson to be reasonable. My view of Romney as reasonable has declined the more I see him campaign. While both Edwards and Romney have changed their views out of political expediency, and both appear “insincere” to me, Noonan is far more forgiving of Romney. She also considers Rudy Giuliani to be reasonable. While I disagree I’ll give her a pass on that one as she also writes, “He is reasonable but not desirable. If he wins somewhere, I’ll explain.” As long as she realizes that Giuliani is not desirable it is possible we agree on him.

Noonan doesn’t elaborate as to why she doesn’t consider Huckabee to be unreasonable in this column, but did express her views of him in a column I discussed a couple of weeks ago. Huckabee is also notable for being one of only two candidates left in the race who are foolish enough to admit they don’t believe in evolution. The other, Ron Paul, is not mentioned but few would expect Paul to be considered in any review of candidates based upon being reasonable, with some of the reasons noted in a post yesterday following his discussion of a possible third party candidacy. Not surprisingly, she also left out Alan Keyes, and on the Democratic side she left out Kucinich and Gravel.

Hillary Clinton vs. Cartoon Sex

Wired reports that Hillary Clinton is continuing her crusade against video games and is now taking on cartoon sex:

Hillary Clinton is still outraged that  Rockstar Games left a sexually-themed mini game nestled in its best-selling  Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in 2005.

You’ll recall the kafuffle when the deactivated love scene was found buried in the code for the otherwise wholesome car jacking, cop-killing shooter. The unfinished mini-game featured clothed characters simulating sex acts. To access the scene, randy teens had to download and install a special patch developed by a Dutch coder, expending more effort than it takes to find real, human adult content on the web.
That all led some cynics to suspect Clinton of grandstanding when she called a press conference to denounce Rockstar and demand a Federal Trade Commission investigation into San Andreas. The ESRB re-rated the game to AO for “adults only,” raising the minimum age of purchase from 17 to 18 years old — a crucial year in which a teen develops the necessary psychological defenses to resist the Siren song of polygon porn.

But in a response to a questionnaire from the watchdog group Common Sense Media, Clinton reveals today that she still sees the affair as a victory for child safety. She describe her introduction of the doomed Family Entertainment Protection Act as a response to the “illicit” sexual content in San Andreas, and says, as president, she’d support regulation of the gaming industry.

“When I am President, I will work to protect children from inappropriate video game content,” she told CSM.

This position has Hillary Clinton aligned with Mitt Romeny and Joe Lieberman but on the opposite side as many of the other Democratic candidates:

That puts her on the same page as Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who told CSM that the U.S. needs to “get serious against those retailers that sell adult video games that are filled with violence and that we go after those retailers.” Clinton’s fellow Democrats John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson said they’d rather give the industry a chance to self-regulate, at least initially.

Clinton’s Family Entertainment Protection Act would have made it a federal offense to sell adult-rated video games to minors. It never passed, but similar state laws have been struck down as unconstitutional.  Clinton’s co-sponsor on the bill, Joseph Lieberman, had his own video game nemesis: Stubbs the Zombie, who, like too many politicians, needs braaiiiins.

Democratic Freedom Caucus Endorses Bill Richardson

The Democratic Freedom Caucus has endorsed Bill Richardson. Following is their statement:

The Democratic Freedom Caucus (DFC) endorses Democratic candidate Bill Richardson for president.

The DFC is a caucus in the Democratic Party, and promotes the values the Democratic Party was founded upon: individual liberty, constitutional democracy, and social responsibility.

As Democrats, we see that the Republican Party has strayed far from any respect for individual freedom, or any sense of realistic, practical policies, so we recommend voting in the general election for whichever Democratic candidate wins the primary, but we are convinced that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is the candidate who would best represent the Democratic Party in the presidential election.

Richardson’s campaign platform connects with many of the basic principles of the DFC, whose policy views emphasize: promoting the public interest rather than special interests; introducing incentives and customer choice for improving the quality and efficiency of public services; and upholding civil liberties.

Foreign Policy

Regarding Iraq, Richardson advocates redeploying troops so that we can address the real security threats, including the Taliban, terrorists who are still headquartered along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and nuclear proliferation.

As Richardson points out, our courageous and dedicated troops “cannot win someone else’s civil war”, and “only when Iraqis know we are leaving will they start seeing us as partners, instead of occupiers”. In fact, “our presence fuels the insurgency”, so only when they see us moving toward a complete withdrawal will that give them “the incentive to kick out al Queda and heal their country”.

Bill Richardson also calls for engaging all of Iraq’s neighbors in stabilization, “in a regional conference modeled on the Dayton conference which ended the war in Bosnia.” “All of Iraq’s neighbors have an interest in preventing Iraq’s civil war from spiraling even further out of control….”

He advocates a new realism in foreign policy, “not unilateralist illusions”. We need to repair our alliances,which “means restoring respect and appreciation for our allies, and the democratic values which unite us.”

Richardson’s policies for healthcare, education, jobs, the economy, energy, agriculture, and education connect in several ways with the DFC’s approach of cutting subsidies to special interests, and recognizing the importance of incentives and choices in the economy, including introducing incentives and choice to public services, to improve quality and cost-efficiency. That approach is illustrated by the following examples of Richardson’s policies:|

Healthcare

Bill Richardson wants all Americans to “have choices of high quality, affordable care by giving every American the choice to keep their current coverage or obtain coverage through an existing, well-established program”. His plan “can be paid for without raising taxes”.

He advocates giving veterans “a choice of physicians wherever they live, rather than have to drive to the nearest VA facility just to get care”. And he would lower prescription drug costs by having the federal government negotiate prescription drug prices through Medicare.

Education

Richardson “will oppose public tax dollars going to private schools, but will increase school choice with charter, magnet, and other public school options, as well as more flexible course options”.

Agriculture

Richardson points out that agriculture “has come to be dominated by a handful of massive corporate conglomerations, and the family farmer, the environment and American consumers suffer because of it.” … He would ensure that the market “functions as it is supposed to function through a new generation of antitrust legislation for the farm sector.”

Fiscal Discipline

Bill Richardson advocates fiscal discipline, to rein in wasteful, inefficient spending, “so that we may return to the budget surpluses we experienced during the Clinton Administration”. As Governor of New Mexico, Richardson consistently demonstrated fiscal responsibility.

Energy

To reduce our dependence on oil imports, Richardson would provide incentives for the electric and industrial sectors to make significant reductions in carbon emissions, and would “raise some revenue from sales of carbon permits”, as well as get out the “green scissors” to “cut back on wrongly-placed tax subsidies”. That “will create more than ten times as much value in the American economy by reducing our oil imports as we spend to make this program happen.”

Civil Liberties

Bill Richardson is a champion of civil rights, freedom, and the rule of law, including equal rights under law. For example, he supports equal rights for domestic partnerships. Richardson is for protecting the right to vote, by ensuring that every individual’s vote is counted, by such means as making the election system more transparent.

As Richardson points out, “America is too great a nation to support such retrograde measures such as torture. We should “restore American greatness by putting an end to these inappropriate (and ineffective) policies and following the Geneva Conventions”.

Immigration

Bill Richardson points out that “attempting to deport 12 million illegal immigrants is not feasible or reasonable.”Instead, “a realistic immigration reform must address the problem from all sides: securing the border, penalizing employers for knowingly hiring illegal workers, offering a tough but reasonable path to legalization, engaging Mexico in the reform process, and improving our current immigration quota system.”

Environment
Richardson would restore the Clean Water Act, revive clean air standards, provide incentives for power plants to use cleaner fuels, and expand corporate reporting requirementsfor disclosure of toxic pollution. He wants the U.S. to be a clean energy nation like he made New Mexico a clean energy state. Richardson would also get back “to the international negotiating table” and support world-wide limits on global warming pollution.

Edwards Forms Web Site to Attack Hillary Clinton

In July John Edwards criticized Clinton and Obama for feuding with each other:

“We’ve had two good people Democratic candidates for president who spent their time attacking each other instead of attacking the problems that this country is facing,” Edwards said to a mixture of groans and applause.

I’ve repeatedly provided examples of Edwards violating this himself, both before and after his call for Democrats not to attack other Democrats. Edwards has escalated this further in forming a web site to attack Hillary Clinton, making him look increasingly desperate. From Washington Wire:

Former North Carolina Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards launched a Web site today that takes a cloaked strike at front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Called “America Belongs to Us,” the site is essentially a petition seeking one million voters who promise to withhold their vote for any candidate who “accepts campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists’’ and lobbyist political action committees. The target is clear: Of the three leading Democrats — Edwards, Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama — only Clinton has refused to turn down special-interest money.

In keeping with Edwards’s increasingly strident (some would say angry) stump rhetoric, the site includes an “outrage of the day.” The debut outrage takes on credit-card companies, which the former North Carolina senator all but accuses of usury by deliberately making credit contracts opaque and confusing to the average consumer. The site says credit-card companies and banks have spent nearly $750 million on political contributions and lobbying since 1998.

Edwards’ hypocrisy is seen when his own record is compared. A tremendous percentage of Edwards’ contributions come from a single source–trial lawyersEdwards also didn’t come out too well when The Washington Post looked at how pure the candidates were on campaign finance issues. Edwards was the most secretive with regards to revealing the identities of his big fund raisers:

Edwards is no less tainted by the trial-lawyer money he scoops up by the bucketful than he would be by lobbyist contributions…

Indeed, who takes money from lobbyists is the wrong question about an essential subject. Instead, voters who care — and I think voters should care — ought to ask: What is the candidate’s history on campaign finance reform, lobbying and ethics rules, and open government generally? How transparent is the candidate about campaign and personal finances? What steps will he or she take to limit the influence of money during the current campaign?

On these, there are revealing differences among the Democratic front-runners.

Edwards was part of the legislative team working to pass the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, but lobbying and campaign reform were nowhere near the top of his agenda in the Senate.

During the 2004 campaign, Edwards gave a useful speech outlining his plan to limit lobbyists’ influence. But, unlike the other Democratic candidates, he refused requests to reveal the identities of his big fundraisers. This time around, after considerable prodding, Edwards agreed to release the names of fundraisers — all his fundraisers, with no specifics about how much they had collected. His campaign argues vehemently that it should be praised for this avalanche of information, not faulted. But the candidate knows who has reeled in $1,000 and who raised $100,000. Why shouldn’t voters?

In concentrating his attacks on Hillary Clinton, Edwards risks repeating the mistakes made by Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt in 2004. Not only might this lead to a victory for Obama, but it might open up the possibility for a second tier candidate such as Bill Richardson moving ahead of Edwards, as David Yepsen recently suggested.