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Monthly Archives: March 2008

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It sounded like a line out of a Barack Obama speech. Or a John Kerry speech, for that matter. John McCain’s recent address on international policy was all about us listening more to our allies. About being less unilateral in our global dealings. About not being the proverbial bull in the proverbial china shop. Just one problem. John McCain is far better at grasping diplomacy than doing diplomacy. Like the time he went off on Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister of Germany. And Joe Lieberman had to calm him down. You know Germany? One of those allies we need to listen to? (This guy Lieberman is like McCain’s back-up brain or something. Does he live on McCain’s shoulder? Is he like always there hovering. Crazy!) Listen, McCain has got the right idea. But so does Obama and Clinton. The question is who has the right temprement to pull it off. We’ve had enough of hot-headed, knee-jerk diplomacy. Next time, we need to get it right. After all, one day Joe Lieberman might not be there.

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After voting for Obama in the Texas primary, caucusing for him that evening and going as a delegate to the district convention, it hit me. I’m not a Democrat. Maybe it was the to-whom-it-may concern invocation delivered by the bisexual Democrat congressman who had recently been brought up on public lewdness charges. Maybe it was the male Hillary supporter with the blue eyeshadow, French-tipped nails and beehive hairdo. Or maybe it was just the ad nauseum parade of politicians who kept saying, “After all, we’re all Democrats.” But whatever it was, I had the crashing realization that I was not a part of that tribe. Maybe I am a disenchanted Republican. Or maybe I’m a starry-eyed Obamacan. Or maybe I am a neo-con hating, peace-loving isolationist paleo-con who just happens to want a government-subsidized healthcare system. Or maybe––and this is an admission that positively gives me chills––just maybe, I am an independent. Independent! How wishy-washy is that!

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Apparently, Senator Clinton has actually understated her Bosnia valour and heroism. This week a GI blogger set the story straight: Actually Mrs. Clinton was too modest. I was there and saw it all. When Mrs. Clinton got off the plane the tarmac came under mortar and machine gun fire. I was blown off my tank and exposed to enemy fire. Mrs. Clinton without regard to her own safety dragged me to safety, jumped on the tank and opened fire, killing 50 of the enemy.” Soon a suicide bomber appeared, but Mrs. Clinton stopped the guards from opening fire. “She talked to the man in his own language and got him [to] surrender. She found that he had suffered terribly as a result of policies of George Bush. She defused the bomb vest herself.” Then she turned to his wounds. “She stopped my bleeding and saved my life. Chelsea donated the blood.” And you get all of this on day one. Now that’s experience.


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Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy doesn’t take any guff off of Republicans. He holds their feet to the fire, he asks the hard questions and doesn’t suffer fools or foolishness. And today, the soft-spoken Leahy is being just as crusty and hard-nosed with Democrats. Take the question he posed on Vermont radio for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “Isn’t about time you throw in the towel?” A question that probably deserves an answer. Like I said, Leahy doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Even if their last name happens to be Clinton.

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Used to be, the Democratic Party was the party of the little guy and the Republican Party was the party of the country club set. Then Roe v. Wade changed all that. The Democratic Party became the Pro-choice party and the GOP became the Pro-life party. Recently, those distinctions are not quite as predictable. GOP luminaries like Arnold Schwarzenegger are staunchly Pro-choice. Religious Right leaders like Pat Robertson openly endorse Pro-choice candidates like good ol’ Rudy. And Democratic up-and-comers like Bob Casey show up in the U.S. Senate unashamedly Pro-life. The Republican Party is gradually becoming more known by their views on tax cuts for the country club set, than their position on abortion. And the Democrats keep the “protecting a woman’s rights” rhetoric down to an absolute minimum. So when a Pro-life Democrat like Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey comes out today to endorse a Pro-choice candidate like Barack Obama, the question should not be, “Are Pennsylvania Catholics now going to flock to Obama?” The question should be, “When and why did abortion become such a back-burner issue?”

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Hillary has Ohio. Hillary has Texas. And Hillary has this man to thank: Rush Limbaugh. After all, her narrow victories in these two major states came in part from Rush encouraging his Republican Ditto-heads to cross over in these primaries and vote for Ms. Clinton. And he is doing it again in Pennsylvania. So for once, the vast, right-wing conspiracy is helping the Clintons. Ironic, huh?

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Obama is like that professor we had in college. The good one. The one that made things interesting. The one who made things make sense. The one who could put the snapshot of now into the big picture of then. That’s what Obama has done in his recent speeches. He put racism in its greater context. He gave us the big picture. He did it again today at Cooper Union where he spoke on the economy. He didn’t just talk about what isn’t working or how it’s all the GOP’s fault. He gave us the big picture. He made everything make sense. He made economics interesting. This is more than a gift for inspiring oratory, this is the gift of a brilliant mind. Imagine, a guy like that in the Oval Office! It’s been a while.

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Senator Clinton’s Perils-of-Pauline version of her trip to Bosnia has recently come under fire. And this time, there is no ducking for cover. It seems the USO-style trip she made as First Lady wasn’t nearly as harrowing as she likes to recall. No bullets, no snipers, nothing but plenty of news footage of what really went on. Apparently, Hillary and and daughter Chelsea were traveling, not with Special Ops, but with female pop singer Sheryl Crow and comedian Sinbad. And the good Senator’s campaign tales have provided the African-Amercian comic with lots of fresh material: “What kind of president would say, ‘Hey, man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife…oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'” News flash: Politicians lie. Desperate politicians lie big.

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Well, the good old days of smoke-filled rooms, political power brokers and back room deals are back. And in of places: the Democratic Party. Strangely, after a dodgy week for Obama, the big loser turns out to be Hillary Clinton. For it appears that she is not going to be given the chance of pulling Michigan and Florida out of the proverbial hat. With that said, she is now behind in the popular vote, the number of states won and in the total delegate count. Pennsylvania will help. But not nearly enough. So if she is going to be the nominee, her hopes depend largely on these so-called super-delegates. And we know that she won’t be getting Bill Richardson’s vote. Or Tom Daschell’s. Or Chris Dodd’s. And according to Maureen Dowd, it’s not looking so good with the other usual suspects–– Gore, Carter and Pelosi. To name just a few. It looks like Senator Clinton is once again  between Barack and a hard place. (You know, I’ve been waiting to use that one all year. Right?)

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The Easter season is a a good time to reflect on the importance of context. On Friday, a nailed-up Jesus looks pretty helpless. On Saturday, a dead-in-the-grave Jesus looks pretty hopeless. But on Sunday….my, my. Sorta like when you take the time to watch the excerpted sound bites of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons in their actual sermon. When you hear the pastor’s message in its actual context. When you hear what the Reverend is actually saying. And who he is actually quoting. My, my. You see, it wasn’t a sermon full of hatred and violence. It was, in fact, a sermon AGAINST hatred and violence. Funny, the difference context makes. Funny, how FOX News doesn’t seem to care much about context. Funny, how 2,000 years after Christ’s resurrection, some people are still more interested in crucifying than in rising again.

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Peggy Noonan doesn’t like the Obamas. She sees them as pampered, elitist, yuppified Ivy leaguers who are totally out of touch with mainstream America. The Obamas are liberals. Peggy Noonan is a conservative. But Peggy Noonan is a former speech writer who loves the written and spoken word. More importantly, she is a lover of truth and straightforwardness. And as a student of American politics, she doesn’t come across it that much. So, it was interesting to get her take on Obama’s race speech.

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As soon as Governor Bill Richardson came out to endorse Barack Obama, the Clinton Campaign quickly issued a statement that this was not a “significant” endorsement. Funny. It was a significant endorsement when Bill Clinton flew out to Santa Fe to unsuccessfully get the good governor to endorse Hillary. Now it’s not. Oh, well. Anyway, it’s got to hurt when a former member of the Clinton cabinet comes out for the other guy. Ouch.

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Given all the patriotic hew and cry over Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s prophetic call for God to damn America; Given all the conservatives who have gotten their knickers in a twist over Barack Obama’s refusal to repudiate his pastor; I’m just a little bit curious why no one ever asked George W. Bush to repudiate the man who led him to Jesus. The man who, on more than one occasion stated that if God did not judge America, He would owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. Not exactly a 4th of July flag-waving sentiment. I mean, Rev. Graham and Rev. Wright seem to be swimming in the same baptismal fount on this topic. Aren’t they? So where was the outrage then? Why did Presidents from Nixon to Bush get to pal around with this old hell-fire prophet with impunity? Why was Graham not banned from every presidential inaugural? Every White House prayer breakfast? Could it be that those of us in the majority culture have less of a problem with a white evangelist enumerating our nation’s sins than with a black preacher casting stones? Could it be that the racism that Rev. Wright finds so endemic in our nation is the very thing that makes us smile when Billy likens us to the sinners of Sodom and makes us spit when a black man makes the same observation? Could it be that Rev. Wright has struck a nerve? Could it be that our sins have found us out?

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In case you’ve forgotten just how scary outspoken black visionaries can be, a helpful staffer with the McCain campaign has put together this handy YouTube video. Through a series of slap-dash edits and artful juxtapositions, we see candidate Obama not saluting flags, not wearing patriotic label pins and not disowning his audacious pastor. But surely, there’s more. To make the articulate, smooth-talking Obama sound… you know… a little more foolish and awkward (think: President Bush in any given interview), McCain’s editorial whiz kid has sliced and diced the video to make the calm, collected Barack appear to stutter and stammer like some tongue-tied Max Headroom wannabe (think: the current president on any given day). Stir in a liberal amount of Reverend Wright getting all John the Baptist on our ass. Top off with an incendiary clip of the Black Muslim leader, Malcolm X (he even looks like Obama!). And serve. Translation: White people, be afraid. Be very afraid. Sadly, the inventive McCain staffer was voted off the island. Not to worry, the Clinton Campaign can certainly use and enterprising fellow like this. And don’t think they haven’t.