Silly Fight of the Week: Joe Klein vs. The Kossacks

Poor Joe Klein. He is basically right on the substance of the issue in his original column but messes up his defense leaving himself at the mercy of the Kossacks.

Along with Klein, I had also disagreed with Kos in his criticism of Obama in this post. While I considered Kos’s attack on Obama to be unfair, Kos later responded that he was responding to one particular AP interview. Kos’s case was stronger if limited to his entire interview, but I also considered this somewhat unfair to Obama as his position was far clearer when other interviews were considered, including an interview on CNN the same day as Kos’s attack. If Obama is to be criticized for his views on Iraq, his views as expressed in all his statements should be considered rather than limiting to a single interview.

Klein did make a minor mistake in including a quote from Obama which wasn’t in the specific interview Kos was referring to. I’m surprised that Klein didn’t respond by noting the problem of Kos attacking Obama for a specific interview without considering other statements made the same day as Kos’s post attacking him. By concentrating his reply with the implication that part of Obama’s statement came “later,” as opposed to the same day, Klein leaves himself open to a greater perception that he was inaccurate and unfair to Kos than was actually the case.
This is all quite trivial, and a situation where neither side is completely right. I wouldn’t have even bothered to comment if I hadn’t come across yet another comment on this from David Sirota accusing Klein of libel in this case which takes this to the point of absurdity.

I have had a number of posts on Joe Klein’s use of strawmen to attack the liberal blogosphere (here, here, and here). This does not mean that Klein is always wrong and liberal bloggers are always right. The overreaction to Klein’s justified criticism of Kos, even if incorrect on a minor detail, ultimately provides Klein with more ammunition in his criticism of the net roots.

Clinton and Obama Tied in Rasmussen Poll

There was a time when it appeared that Hillary Clinton would coast to an easy victory, with nobody able to compete. In recent weeks Barack Obama made the race look competitive, and Edwards could not be counted out due to his strength in Iowa. There was also a time when John McCain was the front runner for the Republican nomination, but nobody is saying that anymore. Today might mark the end of Hillary’s run as front runner.

I hate to pay much attention to polls this far out. We saw in 2004, when John Kerry trailed Al Sharpton in some national polls, that national polls meant nothing. We also saw in the final days before the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary that only polls just before people went to vote, when they actually made up their minds, meant a thing. With those warnings about paying too much attention to polls, it is notable that for the first time a poll shows Obama tied with Clinton. Rasmussen shows both Clinton and Obama at 32%, with John Edwards remaining third at 17%. For Bill Richardson, the good news is that he still leads the second tier, but the bad news is that his support is only at 3%.

Again, these polls have little predictive value, but besides the momentum Obama is showing, the polls show that Obama has greater core. While it might not help in the primaries, unless it influences the votes of Democrats, Obama has better favorable versus unfavorable ratings among all voters:

Among all voters, Clinton is viewed favorably by 50% and unfavorably by 49%. Obama’s numbers are a bit stronger—59% favorable and 34% unfavorable. The two candidates are essentially even among Democrats—Clinton is viewed favorably by 74% in her party while Obama is viewed favorably by 72%. Among unaffiliated voters, Clinton is viewed favorably by 50%, Obama by 67%.

If other polls agree this will end the idea that Clinton is the front runner and that victory for her is inevitable, increasing the chances that Obama, and possibly other candidates, can further increase their support.

Obama Promising To Provide The Small Print

After a campaign characterized by speaking in general principles (and sometimes impressively) Barack Obama is now promising to release the “fine print” of his policies. USA Today reports:

In the political hothouses of town meetings and union gatherings, the Democratic presidential candidate has shared his soothing style and intriguing background. He’s talked about bringing people together, banishing cynicism, serving as “a vehicle for your hopes and your dreams,” as he put it this month in Portsmouth, N.H.

Now his campaign is 10 weeks old. Enough with the niceties, the generalities, the story of his life. On Friday, the Illinois senator unveiled a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Today, he gives a speech on foreign policy. Next up, education and health care.

I might be giving Obama more leeway than he deserves due to having serious reservations about both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, but I do understand the situation he is in. Obama impresses me as someone who is brighter than the average politician. Ideally it would have made sense for him to run after having more experience in national government. I do understand that those who enter politics typically have great ambition, and it is hard to blame Obama for jumping in when his chances at victory looked unexpectedly good this winter. If he had waited, it is not possible to predict what his chances would have been in a future year. (more…)