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Patti Solis Doyle and the Elusive Unity Pony

The news hit today that former Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle will be joining the Obama campaign as the chief of staff for the eventual running mate. The truly hilarious thing about this is that not a single person seems to have a clue what the hell this means.

While the general consensus is that Mark Penn was perhaps the single most destructive force in the Clinton campaign's upper echelon, it was Doyle who ended up being the first high profile sacrificial anode from Team Clinton during the hard fought primary season. Indeed, for all the political blunders made by the once revered staffers, there were surprisingly few people shed even when it was more than clear that the Clinton campaign needed a shake up in a major way.

How detrimental Doyle was to Clinton's campaign is likely to never be known; criticisms both inside Hillaryland, and outside from political pundits have been widespread and noisy, perhaps noisy enough to make it difficult to fully analyze everything that went wrong and why. Post mortems continue to trickle down weeks after the primary has ended, and everyone has their own pet theory.

But the question now is what is Doyle's worth to the Obama campaign? As a campaign staffer, her role in the Clinton campaign may or may not be suspect. That question can only be answered by knowing if Doyle was originally replaced in the Clinton campaign as a scapegoat, or because she truly did hamstring her candidate.

What about the all important unity goal, though? Surely, on the surface it would seem that Doyle's hiring would be a step in the right direction towards ensuring the bitter-ender class of Clinton supporters that high level Clintonistas are being welcomed into the fold.

More importantly, could Doyle's specific title, chief of staff to the VP, be indicative of the holy grail "unity ticket" that some so desparately desire?

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Obama on Fathers

We liberal and Democratic bloggers have a significant task laid out before us over the next five months in regards to the presidential election. The right has made it clear that they have little concern for defining or defending McCain, but instead heaping everything they got on Obama and then some.

Thus, for me at least, it's important not only to go after McCain, not only to defend Obama, but to do the one thing few conservative bloggers seem willing to do; and that is make a positive case on behalf of my candidate.

In the end, I think that may be what does it; for many of us, we actually LIKE the candidate we're going to vote for.

"I'm big on personal responsibility, so I'm a conservative," was the beginning of a long running political conversation I had with a coworker many years ago. One that had to end when he claimed that he would be executed even if he was innocent just because he believed in the Death Penalty so much, and when he called John McCain a traitor for talking under torture during his time as a POW.

The big myth lurking around out there in our highly charged partisan war of ideas is that liberals don't believe in personal responsibility. That we want government to take care of everything while everyone gets to do whatever the hell we want.

Of course this is more caricature than characterization.

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Will Webb Make the Cut?


Quick aside: the McCain folks have simply just got to HATE how much more attention Obama's running mate hunt gets than his does.  I'm just sayin.

Speculation is flying hard and fast regarding who will eventually find themselves on the number two spot for the Democratic ticket.  I think it's worth noting that in the Spring of last year my pick was Tim Kaine (just hold onto that for a little longer, we'll see how well I did soon enough).  But while my long ago prediction hasn't gotten a lot of mention in the VP running, another prominent Virginia politician is the subject of much speculation: Jim Webb.

There's lots to be said for an Obama/Webb ticket, but as talk about him grows louder, there seems to be more dissent out there as well.  For one, I've heard rumbling in the weeds that Webb's just not that great of a campaigner, something that I mentioned earlier this morning may not actually be a problem.

The Politico reports that another stumbling block to Webb's selection might be his affinity towards the Confederation.  While Webb frequently makes an historical argument for the Confederacy that I've heard often in the past, that doesn't change the divisiveness of the issue any.  Such proclivity may tamp down support in some areas, even while in others it will undoubtedly help (hint: Appalachia and the South).

But I think the Slate's Timothy Noah probably gets the biggest picture.  Simply put, Jim Webb's got a pretty long paper trail of positions on issues that don't go over well, not for a progressive base anyway, and on some issues probably not with a good majority of Americans.  Not that he continues to hold some of these stances, mind you, such as women in the military, but in the world of politics, as we all know, if you ever believed in something that is a political liability, you believe in it until the day you die.

Of course, there's a very likely possibility that none of this matters.

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"Jewish Lobby" Story Overinflated


There will probably be more coming on this story as things develop. There are still questions; who's Juan Carlos? How long did the post stay active? But one thing that seems increasingly clear is that the right is working overtime to force fire into a plume of smoke regarding an anti-Semitic post that used to be on my.barackobama.com.

In an incredibly misleading headline, Israel Matzav declares that, "Barack Obama Explains how the Jewish Lobby Works." Doug Ross is only a little better off by advertising that it's the "Official Obama Blog." Of course, as anyone who visits MyBO knows, it is a "community blog." That's to say, it's open to any who register.

It's kind of like letting all of the commenters to your blog have accounts, and letting them bring as many friends as they want.

Does such a situation need constant clean up? Of course it does, that's why the post has already been taken down, but that doesn't keep Little Green Footballs from accusing all of the Obamabots from being big old anti-Semites:

There's something deeply wrong with a presidential candidate who attracts so many of these hateful psychotics. Read the comments; you just won't believe what is allowed to be posted at Barack Obama's web site.

Now, one could accuse LGF of a lot of things, being itself disgusting and offensive at times not the least of which. But two things I don't think I've ever heard them being accused of by anyone with more than two brain cells to knock together would be "smart" and "thorough".

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Restructuring Coalitions


My friend Mark has a great post up about the nature of the political coalitions in the two major parties, and how two previously irreconcilable ideological groups may just find themselves allies after all.

Outside of the Democratic primary from Hell, one of the major running memes this election cycle is the collapse of the modern three legged Republican stool.  The catalyst of such a collapse would seem to be the inability of any of the Republican presidential candidates to successfully embody in acceptable measures the fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and neoconservatives that the GOP has been relying upon to build winning coalitions.

This has left the party with something of an identity crisis as OpEd after OpEd comes out where old party stalwarts continue to bang their head against the wall in their attempts to try to find new ways to make the Grand Ol' Party marketable again.

But is the Republican party the only party that is undergoing a realignment of its ideological coalitions?

At first glance,the disruption within the Democratic party may appear to be only skin deep; the logical result of two very popular candidates in a contest where only one can survive.  At the same time, as anyone familiar with the Democratic circular firing squad knows, we've always been a fractious bunch.  Unlike the GOP which always seemed to rally around the base, the Democrats seemed incapable of figuring out exactly what its base was, creating constant tension between the more conservative and more liberal aspects of its factions.

And this was BEFORE the Howard Dean and Barack Obama style Democrats started taking over, and it'll be some time before we see what their, or our, impact will be even as we seek to define this new breed of Democrat.

But because of the amorphous quality of the Democratic coalition, and because we've yet to see the final outcome and fallout of this election year, it is far more difficult to see how the Democratic party would divide itself ideologically should such an event occur.  But when we take a look outside of the traditional and the new portions of the party complete, there are definitely some things of note.

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Memoirs of a White House Press Secretary

I'll be completely honest; White House Press Secretary has to be one of the crappiest jobs you can have as one of the President's senior staffers.  This, of course, taken from the infinite amount of knowledge I picked up somewhere between the second and the third viewing of the entire West Wing series.

Seriously, when you stop to think about it, being the person who must answer for the president's actions day in and day out in front of (what one hopes would be) a rabid press corps can't be among the most enjoyable professions out there.

As the press secretary, you're perhaps the single most recognizable face of the administration next to the president and vice presidents themselves.  Serving in that capacity, your job is to push whatever line of propaganda your boss tells you to push, while you take the flame spray from the press that should be going to POTUS right in your face.

And let's not forget that you're quite likely to get blind sided as the chances are that you're not always going to get fully briefed, you're not always going to get all the information you need, and sometimes you're going to get shut out of information completely on purpose.

Which brings to mind another great point.  If there's anyone in the president's inner circle that's going to be a Kool Aid drinker, you're it.  You're the messenger, so your boss is not going to be forthcoming with information to the contrary.  If the message is, "The president is the single awesomest human being to grace this planet," you're not likely to be given a whole lot of evidence to the contrary.

Now it may not be this drastic.  I don't know.  Having to deal with the White House Press Corps daily for decisions I didn't make would still be something of a chore (note: I would make a terrible press secretary.  The first hardball question I get, my answer is, "What are you asking me for?  Ask the president, he's the one that made the call.  Me?  I would have went the other way.").  But when you get right down to it, manning that podium day in and day out is going to break down your patience or your self awareness or your integrity, or some combination of them all.

And then when the bubble bursts, when you are no longer restricted by the confines of your job title to only accept and then regurgitate one honed message, that must be an eye opener.

Continue reading "Memoirs of a White House Press Secretary" »

What Oregon Shows About Kentucky and West Virginia

Another lopsided win in Appalachia, and the chatter resumes about how bad off Obama is among the all important white vote.  Marc Ambinder, at least, posts up some exits from both states that voted tonight, though his focus, like many others, are on those dreadful numbers from Kentucky.  Yahoo's headline reads, "Exit poll: Whites back Clinton strongly in KY," and even Chris Cillizza is in on the act.


Now, I was doing what I'm sure few others will be doing, that is, reading the exits from Oregon, when it hit me, everything that is wrong with the white working class argument.


You see, a curious thing became clear when I read the exits provided by CNN; Obama won white people.  He won young white people and middle aged white people.  College educated white people, and non college educated white people.  He won female white people and male white people, and a lot of the church going white people.  About the only white people Obama didn't win were the over sixty crowd.


But, wait, I thought the conventional wisdom was that Obama couldn't win white people.  Why did he just about sweep the board on white people when it came to Oregon?


Well, for one thing, all these "questions" about Obama's appeal to the white working class voter are being raised by his performance in West Virginia and Kentucky.


The more time you stare at polling data, the more obvious the problem should become.  Let's show some examples.


With 83% reporting in Oregon, Obama has a 16 point lead over Hillary Clinton.  Now, if you had been following all of the polling data that has emerged from Oregon recently, this will not come as much of a surprise. Pollster's aggregation in the Beaver state showed Obama up in the mid teens.


But, if you were to run off of the most recent poll reported by Suffolk, Oregon all of a sudden becomes some sort of miraculous ascension for Obama given that Suffolk only had him up by four points.  Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, if you heeded only the final ARG poll put in the field before voting, you would be shocked to see that Clinton failed to win by sixteen points.

Continue reading "What Oregon Shows About Kentucky and West Virginia" »

At Least One Republican Gets It

I've been saying this for a while now; attack Obama personally at your own peril. The Democratic primary has shown that, for all of his flaws, Obama is both resilient, and knows how to redirect attacks against him back onto his opponent.

And, remember, for the Democratic primary, the gloves were on.

Obama is not the kind of guy to initiate offensives. When he does do so, he's often clumsy, and appears to not really have the heart or nerve for it. But when someone comes after him, it's almost as though there were two Obamas; the Dr. Jekyl Obama that is better known and suited to his soaring rhetoric, and the Mr. Hyde Obama that launches counter offensives with rapidity and precision.

As has been detailed several times in the past by me, the Obama mechanism is simple enough to understand. You attack Obama, he denounces you for playing politics, and then he hits you back with impunity. This is the more pragmatic and battle focused aspect of the "change" messaging of his candidacy.

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Will a New Brand Bring Old Problems?

For years now, the Republican brand has been a terror on electoral politics; Karl Rove mastered the strategy of 50+1% politics while the Democrats stood around like the Washington Senators to the GOP Globetrotters.  In any given election, the Republicans seemed to know exactly the right hot button issue to go after, while Democrats just watched as advantage after advantage that should have tilted the race in their direction were rendered useless.


The flip side to this, though, is that once you've stayed in power for a long enough time, eventually you have to be responsible for how the government is run.


This is the real problem that the GOP faces right now.  Image, messaging, and branding, are, of course, suffering right now, but I believe that these are, at best, symptoms of the greater illness as opposed to diseases of their very own.


To his credit, Governor Schwarzenegger's attempts to help McCain rebrand himself carry perhaps a little bit more substance than calls for rebranding by other conservative navel gazers.  Break from the old party line on climate change and illegal immigration, for instance, suggests Schwarzenegger, but while these do point to substative shifts in Republican dogma, they still don't go to the heart of the issue.


Or, more accurately, the issues that Americans care the most about.

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Why Clinton's Win in West Virginia is Good for Obama

Beauty contest, Kabuki theater, dog and pony show, call it what you will, every once and a while it serves its purpose.

So I'm sitting here rather listlessly, rolling my eyes at all the West Virginia news and keeping a half-hearted eye on the Mississippi 1st district race to see if Childers will put Davis away thusly sparking up a firestorm of controversy about just how much of a shellacking the GOP will take this fall.

As of the time of this writing, with 23% reporting, Hillary has 27 point lead which is huge, but not as huge as predicted.

And then I remember how much worse this could be, and that while all the spin and hysterical reporting and watching the Clinton supporters act as though this changes everything is annoying, it's also quite necessary.

Yes, the more rabid the Clinton supporters seem, the more contentious the Clinton campaign comes off, the better.

Give me more.

Because as bad as a loss like this may appear, it would be a whole hell of a lot worse if Obama had lost this bad unopposed. Thus, nights like this are little more than an unpleasant necessity, a rough spot that must be endured while we wait for this contest to be officially over.

Cross posted at Comments From Left Field

The Absurdity of a Primary in its Death Throes

Chronicling all of the inane chatter that has come to pass in the Democratic primary would be an overly long and ultimately unsatisfying endeavor. I consider myself about as devoted a political junkie as one can get, the kind of addict that thrives on poll numbers and stupid stories that have the potential of butterfly affecting a candidate straight out of a race, and even I find myself turned off by how ridiculous this contest gets at times.

That is kind of how I view this Telegraph article.

Political prognostication can use some strange sources at times, I'll admit. Seemingly inconsequential events can change the state of a race in a heartbeat, but sometimes, every great once in a while, people just kind of slip up when they talk.

Continue reading "The Absurdity of a Primary in its Death Throes" »