Friday, February 29, 2008

The Dumbest Headline in a Very Long Time

The most salient criticism of modern journalism is the frequent lack of evidence of any critical thinking whatsoever. A combination of short staffing, questionable quality in the talent pool and the latest mutations in the Cult of Objectivity have led to more and more stories in which statements from officialdom are reproduced without the reporter questioning even patently ridiculous assertions. A particularly pathetic example appeared in Cleveland dot com's Metro updates yesterday: "Driver's dozing saves his life in guardrail crash."

From the story:

    Police said they expected he would have been killed when they saw the guardrail has crashed through the driver's door, passed through the driver's seat and through the trunk.

    Atkison was taken to Huron Road Hospital for observation for a head injury but was not seriously injured, police said.

    According to reports, Atkison fell asleep about 7:30 a.m. while driving east on Interstate 90.

    The car served off the road and struck the guardrail with such force it peeled off the support studs and skewered the 1998 Ford from front to back.

    Police said the fact that Atkison dozed likely saved him because he slumped to the right missing the impact of the guardrail.
At no point does the reporter allude to the painfully-obvious-to-my-11-year-old point that if he hadn't been dozing he wouldn't have been in the guardrail crash. But hey, the police say that's what happened, that's what we must report.

And these folks wonder why they get no respect.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blogs and Campaigning, Pt. 2: Hillary's Volunteer Turf Crew

For some time I've seen and heard pro-Hillary statements that supposedly came from regular folks, but that sounded an awful lot like talking points. For example, this comment from last week (read also my response). And then today an anonymouse dropped links to the CTV story. And for the past few weeks Diane Rehm fields at least one call from a Hillary supporter who sounds for all the world like he/she is reading off a card.

Well, I got this a couple days ago from the Hillary Campaign. It went out to contributors:

    Join the Hillary Rapid Response Team

    We have worked too hard, We have come too far, and We have fought too long to allow our candidate, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, to get unjust treatment in the media and on the internet.

    This has not been a fair fight when it comes to how our candidate's words and actions are misrepresented and misconstrued to voters. The other candidate has been given a "pass" and handled with "kid gloves" while our candidate is consistently damned if she does and damned if she doesn't.

    The time is now to join the HILLARY RAPID RESPONSE team and fight the factual untruths.

    Sign up here!

    What is a RAPID RESPONDER:

    * Someone who speaks the truth, to all forms of media, about our candidate's message and positions.
    * Someone who counters the attacks with factual truths.
    * Someone who stands up against the constant and negative bashing of our candidate.

    What do you get as a RAPID RESPONDER:

    * Daily talking points about our candidate's positions.
    * Daily talking points about how the opposition is misleading voters with false statements.
    * The satisfaction that you ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE on the campaign.
Well, as long as it's about the truth.

This is a dodgy business. On the one hand, it makes sense for a campaign to make supporting information available to supporters. On the other hand, sending out "talking points" in effect jeopardizes deputizes* grassroots supporters as flacks. And most of them aren't terribly good and speaking the campaign's "truth" while sounding genuine.

For some time, even before getting this suspicion-confirming email, too many pro-Hillary statements have sounded canned. Having gotten this, it's hard to take many as genuine. Jill's Hillary SUPPORTER is an obvious exception.

*Proofread, Pho. Proofread.

The NAFTA Issue: Sound and Fury, etc.

The ink spilled on the NAFTA issue in the Ohio primary is reaching tidal wave proportions. The latest episode has been a Canadian TV report alleging that an Obama aide let Canada know he was just kidding when criticizing NAFTA, followed by the reports refuting it.

Now come to find, it may not matter. Buried in a Washington Wire post about bipartisan cooperation in Congress is this bit:

    “I’m not a fan of renegotiating trade agreements,” said Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, and Reps. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, Steve Israel of New York, and Rob Andrews of New Jersey agreed, suggesting that re-opening Nafta would like be a nonstarter in Congress if Democrats maintain control of the chamber this fall. “We’re not running for president,” explained Emanuel, a former Clinton administration aide, on the difference of opinion.
Plenty of members from either side may think that, but when a charter member Clintonista like Emmanel fails to line up behind Hillary, it's hard to discount the threat. It may well be that the President has the discretion to end NAFTA, but he/she will need Congress to get on board a renegotiation.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thougths After the Debate

bviously you can discount this as biased because I'm an Obama supporter, but by the end of the debate, it seemed that Clinton had pretty much discounted whatever rationales she had left for her candidacy. Recall her "For shame!" tirade about the mailings -- by the debate it had revolved into a civil factual disagreement. That mocking speech from last Saturday? -- now it's just a way to let off steam during a tough campaign.

Obama could afford to be gracious and acknowledge that Clinton is a substantive candidate -- his campaign is predicated on his superior gifts as a politician. His campaign narrative says that he is more likely to get elected and more likely to successfully rally the people to demand political change.

Hillary's narrative is that Obama is inexperienced and insubstantial. As such, she was in the unenviable position of needing to attack right after he acted the gentleman. If she had attacked it may well have been judged a gaffe. But instead the debate ended with Obama having shown that he is substantive and experience, but a better leader, and Clinton having conceded that he is substantive and experienced but that, well, maybe she has a bit of an edge or something.

Add to that the extreme difficulty finding a sliver of daylight between their positions on most issues, and you are left with two solid candidates, one with a broader skill set, one who has basically been alive longer.

The general consensus was that Hillary needed a clear win and didn't get it. True, but she actually lost ground by conceding so much.

How Blogs Change Campaigning, Pt. 1

C-Notes dug up this tidbit in last nights spin room, from Hillary consultant Doug Hattaway:

    During the 2000 election we had only, like, three guys on the campaign running the website. And their only goal was to just make sure not to screw up. The campaigns now have to go 24-7. We had our staff reading the blogs during the debate to see what they were talking about so that we knew what to prepare for before coming into [the spin room] to answer questions.[Emphasis Added]

Jennifer Brunner in Town Tonight

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner brings her town hall tour to Akron tonight. According to the email, she is "utilizing a series of town hall meetings to hear directly from Ohio voters regarding the status of Ohio's elections systems." Details:

Wednesday -- Feb. 27, 2008
7:00 p.m.
Akron-Summit County Public Library
60 South High St.
Akron, Ohio 44326

I'm doing my best to able to attend tonight and post a report.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Couple Words Before the Debate Starts

First, I'm not planning to liveblog this. Nor did I make it to the Highland watch party.

There are two possible strategies Obama could have going in. First, he could think that he essentially needs only to hold serve. That he has scored enough in the early games (and has broken Hillary a time or two) so that he need not take any real risks. Basically, if he avoids a gaffe, he will continue to coast to the win, or at least a strong finish here and a win in Texas.

Second theory, he needs to break Hillary -- he can't remain essentially tied. He needs to take a couple of risks, including the risk of a gaffe and the risk of alienating a chunk of the electorate.

What will be most interesting to me is what sort of gameplan we can divine by how Obama presents himself.

See you on the other side.

Debate Night on the Blogs

First off, if you are here in Akron and want company watching the debate, Highland Square Theater is hosting a watch party. The Chief Source guys will be there with T-Shirts, so I maybe can pick up one of these:

is working in conjunction with WKYC -- several bloggers on site, plus Jeff and Jill on the floor. And as to the last, keep an eye especially on Ohio Daily and WLST for liveblog action.

The Plain Dealer has a full squad in the game, so no doubt Openers will see action.

Both Jerid and Eric have mentioned that they will be interviewed on the BBC post debate. Also Jerid says that Buckeye State will be the only single blog with multiple bloggers at the debate, if you follow that.

Michelle Obama in Akron Tommorow


North High School Auditorium
985 Gorge Boulevard
Akron, OH 44305

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Doors open: 5:00 p.m.
Program Begins: 5:40 p.m.

RSVP and learn more here.

New SUSA Poll: Hillary Continues to Slip

A new Survey USA poll commissioned by WKYC TV shows Hillary Clinton losing another three points to Barack Obama. The new poll shows Clinton at 50% and Obama at 44%, compared to 54-43 a week ago. This is also the third week in which Clinton's support has dropped in the SUSA poll. (Comparing results by one polling company is somewhat more reliable than comparing among different polls.)

One factor that may be adding to Obama's numbers -- the percentage of likely voters keeps going up. In the Feb. 10 poll, the SUSA voter screen found 39.7% of registered voters to be likely voters; in the Feb. 17 it was 41% and in the latest poll, 44%. The very small percentage of undecideds in the poll (smallest among the polls testing Ohio) suggests that SUSA's screen is particularly tight.

Wingnut Talk Show Host Bashes Obama, Get Souljah'd by McCain

Cincy Enquirer just posted video of local right wing radio yapper Bill Cunningham going off on Obama, followed by McCain apologizing and rebuking him. According to the accompanying story:

    Cunningham was critical of the national news media, saying that sooner or later, the media would begin covering Obama's "sweetheart deals in Chicago and the illegal loans he got in Chicago.''

    He also called Obama a "hack Chicago-style Daley politican'' and twice used Obama's middle name Hussein, referring to him as "Barack Hussein Obama.''
Cunningham also pictured a day a year from now when Obama is in the White House and meeting with a rogues gallery of world leaders like Ahmadinejiad and Kim Jong Il.

All in all, fairly tame stuff for local winger radio, but McCain was having none of it:
    "I take responsibility and I repudiate what he said," Sen. McCain told reporters after the rally at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine.
    * * *
    "I will not tolerate anything in this campaign that denigrates either Sen. Obama or Sen. (Hillary) Clinton,'' McCain said after the rally.

Cunningham's response was as predictable as it was sad:
    Cunningham said later that he stood by his comments. He told his listeners: ‘”I’ve had it with McCain. I’m going to throw my support to Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
It's been a puzzle why the right wing hates McCain so much. He is, after all, reliably conservative on what are supposedly the sentinel issues -- abortion and national security. Now we have one explanation -- he's uncomfortable with being an asshole.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bloggers Blowing Up Everywhere

What a run for the blogosphere over the past few days.

Friday Josh Micah Marshall and the rest of the Talking Points Memo won a Polk Award for their innovative and influential reporting on the US Attorney firings.

Last night, Diablo Cody won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Juno. For those unaware, Cody is a long-time blogger and her big, get-on-the-radar break came from blogging her experiences as an "unlikely stripper." (that last link is somewhat NSFW.)

And of course, also last night, Ohio's own Jill Miller Zimon made her national television debut on a CNN featurette called BlogBuzz. Jill showed grace and composure despite being asked inane questions (an Obama-Clinton dream ticket? So five months ago) and hearing her name mis-pronounced not once but twice.

Congrats to all concerned from up here in the cheap seats.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Very Essence of Blogging

From xkcd:

Obama in Akron Roundup

bligations kept me from Sen. Barack Obama's appearance in Akron last night. Fortunately, the posts and articles are springing up covering the event.

So far, PsychoBilly and Radio Free Newport have posted extensively on their impressions of the evening. Extra points for PBD for keying in on the presence of Rep. Tim Ryan.

In addition, local blogger Andrew Shears posted extensively, with photos, on the Obama website. And by the way, if you want to get involved with the campaign, joining the Akron, Ohio for Obama group is a good place to start.

The Obama campaign posted the following excerpt from the Akron speech on YouTube this morning. This one takes on Clinton's criticism earlier today of the campaign mailer regarding NAFTA and the one questioning her health care proposal:

Shifting to the media, the ABJ offers a strong write-up, plus a slideshow (BTW, that's Judge Annalissa Williams in the first photo, unless I'm very much mistaken.) And WKSU has a long M.L. Shultze report, with audio from the speech.

FactCheck on the Hillary NAFTA Mailer posted a story today taking on the now-infamous mailer sent out by the Obama campaign criticizing Hillary Clinton's stand on NAFTA.1 Up to now the debate over the mailers has been muddied by Clinton's cagey stance on NAFTA itself. The argument has focused on the Obama mailer putting quotes around the word "boon" which Newsday now admits was its summation of her position, not a direct quote.

All this begs the question -- what is (and more to the point, was) her position on NAFTA? Team Hillary has been flogging the Newsday article which only suggests that Obama should distance himself from quoting her as saying "boon." They have not offered an alternative history of Hillary's position on the trade agreement.

The FactCheck article sheds a little dark on the matter:

    We frankly find Clinton's past position on NAFTA to be ambivalent. Bloomberg News reported last year that Clinton "promoted her husband's trade agenda for years." Bloomberg quoted her at the 1998 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as praising corporations for mounting "a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of Nafta,'' and adding, "It is certainly clear that we have not by any means finished the job that has begun."
The problem, it appears, is that Hillary and Bill may have been split on NAFTA, and Hillary ultimately went along in part to advance her health care agenda. FactCheck continues:
    On the other hand, Clinton biographer Sally Bedell Smith says Clinton privately argued against NAFTA inside the White House and was "not very much in favor of free trade." [Click through for an extensive Bedell Smith quote]
Which raises a secondary troubling issue. If this has been her position all along, why haven't we heard it before now? Could it be that she does not want to campaign against a sentinel issue of her husband's presidency? And if so, what other policy positions might she alter in order to preserve her husband's legacy.

I don't want to condemn a candidate simply based on whom she is married to. On the other hand, we do have the right to ask what policy baggage the Clintons would bring with them if granted a second stay in the White House.

1If you need a reset, here goes. After Jeff Coryell originally posted the mailer in which, New York Newsday ran a story admitting that it had paraphrased a key quote -- that Hillary claimed the agreement was a "boon: to the economy. Campaigning in Cincinnati yesterday, Clinton called Obama out for the mailers.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stark Co Clarification: No Clinton Party at Dem HQ

A couple days ago I reported about a blurb on Ohio dot com inviting Hillary Clinton supporters to Stark. Co. Dem HQ for a debate watch party. Today I got an email from consultant, blogger, and Obama fan Kevin Fisher with reassuring news.

    I saw your post on Stark Co and the presidential race and wanted to clear a couple things up. First, the Clinton Debate Party was not held at Dem HQ. So far as i can tell, there was some miscommunication with the Clinton supporters that led to getting their HQ's in Massillon and the Party HQ's in Canton mxed up.
    Secondly, as to the clinton campign using Dem HQ's for a canvass, that is true. But let me assure you as an active member in the party and an Obama supporter, this should not be viewed as the party playing favorites. Chairman Johnnie Maier has made the Democratic HQ's and the party database available to both campaigns, as well as to John Boccieri and other local candidates. Both the Obama campaign and the Clinton campaign have used them in some capacity.
    I know how things can be misinterpreted in a heated campaign, but i wanted to make sure I let you know that the Stark County Democratic Party is playing no favorites and is not giving a leg up to either campaign.

Obama in Akron Tonight

n the off chance you haven't heard yet, Obama will be here tonight for a rally downtown. Details:

    John S. Knight Center
    77 E. Mill St.
    Akron, OH 44308

    Saturday, February 23, 2008
    Doors open: 4:00 p.m.
    Program begins: 5:30 p.m.

    The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is strongly encouraged.

Here at the House of Pho, we are celebrating Kid Z's 11th birthday, so I will not be attending. No doubt the Chief Source guys will have some art up at some point.

More generally, I apologize to all those who have generously sent me info or are waiting to see a promised post appear. I have been pretty much buried lately and, in an exercise of extreme will, have succeed in keeping the blog as the lowest priority. I'll keep putting stuff up as I have time, but more likely than not, will continue to spend large swaths of time in the basement. on Ohio vs Wisconsin

A post on Pollster considers the following puzzle: Ohio and Wisconsin are demographically similar and the differences would tend to militate in favor of Obama (more urban, larger Black population), so why is Clinton doing so much better in Ohio polls than she did in Wisconsin leading up to the primary?

The author, who declares himself an Ohio native, breaks down the demographics and comes up with the provisional half-answer that:

    The answer, for the moment, appears to stem mostly from her continuing strength among Ohio's downscale white Democrats. In Wisconsin, as noted above, Obama ran slightly ahead of Clinton among less-educated white voters. However, in both the Quinnipiac poll conducted two weeks ago and the ABC/Washington Post poll done earlier this week, Clinton continues to hold an enormous lead among less-educated white voters.
Which leaves the obvious follow up: Why is Clinton doing better in that cohort in Ohio than in Wisconsin. My hypothesis -- trotted out in this brief exchange with Redhorse -- is the influence of Appalachian culture in the Ohio electorate. From speaking with people who study Appalachia, verified by my personal observations living around here, is that as a whole1 Appalachians tend to be suspicious of institutions, outsiders and people who are different. Appalachians tend to respond well to populist appeals -- such as those Hillary has been making -- and they have a tendency toward less-than-progressive attitudes about race.

The regional cross-tabs in the Survey USA poll offer equivocal support for my hypothesis. On the one hand, Obama's support is by far the lowest (24%) in SE Ohio -- the part of the state that is physically within Appalachia. On the other hand, Hillary has the strongest support in the Columbus and Toledo areas. I know Columbus has a fairly significant population of Appalachian migrants -- don't know about Toledo.

There's a number of interesting studies one could do with this. I don't have answers, just a couple of suggestions.

1Yes, I am generalizing here. That's what you do when you try to predict the behavior of a group. Everything I've seen says the generalization is valid. The danger comes when one tries to use a generalization to predict the behavior of an individual. When I meet someone whose parent moved up from the hills of Kentucky I try not to assume that he/she harbors anti-Black attitudes. This is dicey business given that a) the former is valid social science, but the latter is bigotry and b) that sort of bigotry can influence the generalized assumptions in the first place, throwing the whole enterprise into a soup of elitist snobbery. Nonetheless, it doesn't do to pretend the issue doesn't exist in the presence of evidence that it does.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hillary the Original?

TNR has been all over Hillary's plagiarism accusation. But this one from Marty Peretz really has to sting Hill apologists:

    in this morning's Boston Globe letter section, a reader, David Stevens, writes, "On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, [Hillary] said, "You campaign on poetry, but you govern on prose." A clever line, and an elegant one, too. But it wasn't hers at all. "She borrowed [this] from Mario Cuomo...That exquisite maxim is in Bartlett's." Neither Cuomo nor Bartlett's got any credit.

BREAKING: Enzyte Won't Really Enlarge Your Pen1s

Shocking news from Cincinnati.

The continued viability of Enzyte (the once-a-day supplement for natural male enhancement) has a brand has always been something of a mystery. Obviously, the stuff had to be fake. Yet the parent company not only survived, but had the money to run the brilliant (if fraudulent) "Smiling Bob" ads seemingly during every ESPN commercial break. And they famously sponsored:

Their own NASCAR entry.

Turns out, the whole thing, was not only a consumer fraud, but was an ongoing credit card scam:

    When customers ordered a product, the company's goal was to keep charging their credit cards for as long as possible, Teegarden said.

    He said first-time customers were automatically enrolled in a "continuity program" that sent Enzyte to their homes every month and charged their credit cards without authorization.

    "Without continuity, the company wouldn't exist," he said. "It was the sole profit of the business."

    If customers complained, he said, employees were instructed to "make it as difficult as possible" for them to get their money back. In some cases, Teegarden said, Warshak required customers to produce a notarized statement from a doctor certifying that Enzyte did not work.

And what may go down as the best line of trial testimony ever:
    "He said it was extremely unlikely someone would get anything notarized saying they had a small penis," Teegarden said.
As a scam it was brilliantly audacious. This wasn't just something from a fly-by-night web-based operation, this was a real company! With ads on ESPN! And a presence in NASCAR!! All designed to make it look like the product must have some value or it just couldn't maintain all that presence.

Which leads to a serious point. Apparently the Feds have been after the company -- Berkeley Pharmaceuticals -- and founder Steve Warshak for a couple of years. They were able to make the case primarily by turning one of Warshak's top executives. Why, we must ask ourselves, is it so hard to make a case when the fraud is so obvious? Could it have anything to do with the anti-regulatory fervor of the current administration and the immediate past Congress?

The Berkeley Pharmaceuticals verdict comes one day after the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot offer stronger consumer protections if Federal law regulates an industry. It's easy to make jokes about Bob's wife smiling no more, but this could be a sign of something significantly less funny.

Welcome Back Bloggers

On the one hand, blogging is new; on the other it's been an immersion experience. As such, it sounds ridiculous to talk about Old School bloggers or "Back in the day," yet, it feels true. So, welcome back to some Old School bloggers from back in the day. Chris Baker, late of the Ohio Second Blog, posts a thought-provoking essay on Ohio Daily about NAFTA guilt.

This follows a run of Old Schoolers returning. 54Cermak posted an extensive essay endorsing Obama on his long-dormant Peanut Butter Knife (h/t BFD -- George evidently kept the feed subscription long after I did.) And Ken Gross has resurrected his Lost! blog after an extended absence. For now you can find it here, though he is working to make it a subdomain on his business website. And a while back we had a Grandpaboy sighting in comments, though still no new blog action.

(And yes, one other blogger has re-emerged. Haven't yet decided whether to bother acknowledging that one.)

In the meantime, surf through and enjoy some folks whose presence has been unequivocally missed. We hope they stick around.

That Was A Great Line About "Change You Can Xerox"

Someone ought to ask Hillary who wrote it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Carnival #105

Or I should say, Carnival M105. The usual tasty links, plus Scott Bakalar and I talk classic Cleveland Radio in comments.

Clinton Debate Watch at Stark Co. Dem HQ?

Saw this in today's ABJ.

    Local supporters for presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will hold a debate watch party at 8 tonight at Stark County Democratic Headquarters, 220 12th St. N.W. in Canton.

    The debate, which is in Austin, Texas, will air at 8 p.m. on CNN.
Should HQ be hosting an event for one candidate in a primary? To make things more curious, the party isn't listed among the parties on the official Hill site.

It's possible that Stark HQ has a facility like Memorial Hall here in Summit that is available to Dem-related groups/candidates for a fee. Nonetheless, given the rumors of strong-arming in Stark Co., you would think people would be more careful about maintaining the appearance of party neutrality. When Team Hillary rented Memorial Hall for an organizing meeting, the announcement specifically said the event was at Memorial and that the Dem Party has not endorsed a candidate.

Stark Co. readers: Your input please.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Elephant Wars: Alex Ouster Notes and Projections. UPDATED

Now that Kid T is safely nestled in bed, let us further consider the SoS Jennifer Brunner decision against re-appointing Alex Arshinkoff to the Summit County Board of Elections.

First off, Jeff got a quick post up with a good survey of what's available and calls on Redhorse, Team Chief Source and I to dish. And so we shall.

Allegations of partisan shenanigans have been flying around since Team Coughlin started putting its anti-Alex slate together. Specific allegations have included excluding some Coughlin candidates and punishing board employee Scott Sigel after Sigel wrote a letter complaining about how party leadership was managing the money. Much of it is reset in this ABJ article (for as long as it remains this side of the paywall) and Matt Hurley posted a long anonymous email about the Sigel saga. And yes, there is more and no doubt in the comments section the anonymice will play.

So what comes next? In Eric's post he wonders aloud if Alex will file some sort of challenge. Possibly, but it's highly unlikely he will succeed. The Revised Code vests sole appointment authority in the Secretary of State:

    There shall be in each county of the state a board of elections consisting of four qualified electors of the county, who shall be appointed by the secretary of state, as the secretary’s representatives, to serve for the term of four years.
She has to follow the party restrictions -- two from this party and two from that party -- but other than that, the statute is written to give her appointment authority. When Brunner removed the entire Cuyahoga County Board, she did so under a different statute that gives her the authority to remove only for some sort of malfeasance. This is different. Generally speaking, elected officials have broader discretion to appoint than to remove. I was just telling my class today that one always needs to check case law to be sure, but it looks like Alex can't do much if Brunner refuses to reappoint him.

Assuming Alex remains off the Board, what then? This is a potentially big blow to his continuing viability as Party Chair. Alex's survival at this point depends on an air of invincibility. Probably Coughlin & Co. do not have enough votes to unseat him with the precinct chairs on their slate, even if they run the But Alex has made plenty of enemies through the years -- almost certainly enough to take him down if they turn on him at the same time.

The problem for Team Coughlin to this point has convincing A2's enemies to jump ship together. To invoke Machiavelli, they won't strike at the king unless sure they will kill him. The weaker Alex gets, the more of his enemies will be jump. If they get a critical mass, he's gone.

And if not, look out. Alex's appetite for revenge rivals his appetite for roast beef. Rest assured, he's keeping a running list.

UPDATE: This morning's ABJ has an expanded story on Alex's ouster, including a laundry list of his transgressions from Brunner's letter:
    • Past and current Summit County board employees and others reporting incidents of ''harassment, intimidation, threats, hostility, retribution and condescension.''One board employee described the board as having ''the most negative, backbiting, unprofessional, juvenile and hypocritical atmosphere I have ever worked in'' and attributed this environment to Arshinkoff.

    • Affadavits filed by three Summit County judges related to litigation over the Oriana House Inc. correctional facility in which the judges said Arshinkoff ''attempted to interfere with the discharge of their official judicial duties and attempted to intimidate them.''

    • A partisan environment at the board ''where Republican board members have been intimidated from even talking to fellow board employees who are Democrats.''

    • Employees engaging in inappropriate partisan activity, ''such as recruiting precinct committee persons from the board office during the workday and preparing petitions for them.'' Brunner said this approaches or crosses ''the limits of legality.''

Elephant Wars: Brunner Drops Hammer on Alex

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has let Alex Arshinkoff know that he will not be reappointed to the Summit County Elections Board when his term ends on Feb. 29. According to Eric Mansfield, Brunner informed the embattled Republican Party that "I have reason to believe that, if appointed, you will not be a competent member of the Summit County Board of Elections."

Ya think?

Ohiodotcom, quotes Brunner noting "'There is credible evidence that there's inappropriate partisan activity' going on at the board."

Ya think?

New Summit Repubs wasted no time getting a Coughlin statement up crowing at Alex's latest misfortune.

More Later.

Are You Watching? Last Chance Until 2010

Here at the House of Pho, we are watching tonights total lunar eclipse tonight. The next total eclipse will be in 2010.

What? You thought I was talking elections? Why would you think that?

The image comes from NASA's Lunar Eclipse page which has plenty of other science geek goodies.

Now I'm a Believer

h, I've certainly believed in Obama's smarts, and eloquence and political acumen. And I've believed that some day he would be a great president. And I've believed that he could be a transformative political figure. And I've believed all along that nominating Hillary could be a disaster come November.

But until last night, I haven't really believed that Obama could actually get the nomination.

Partly I haven't believed because his inexperience genuinely is a negative, and early on in the race it showed. His Houston speech last night dramatized how much he's grown just in the short (by human standards, not by campaign standards) time he's been running.

Partly also, I haven't believed because my guy never wins. Literally, since I've been following politics, my choice even among the last two standing has not gotten to the November ballot. And my first pick over all? Forget about it. Starting with Mo Udall in 1976, I've had an unerring talent in rooting for the also-ran.1 While I was late-ish coming around to Obama2, I'm sufficiently excited about his campaign that it seemed likely the Pho Curse would victimize him as well.

And then there were the Texas and Ohio poll results. While Hillary's firewall strategy is now immolating around her, it was based on some sound ideas at the time. If she can sweep Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, she can pull something close to even with Obama in delegates. As the establishment favorite, Hillary is essentially the House. And if you've ever played blackjack you know ties go to the House.

So I haven't been optimistic.

Last night's 17-point drubbing was the low point in a Hillary Clinton campaign that has already seen deep lows and shows no sign of slowing its descent. She campaigned in Wisconsin, getting poll results showing that she was closing and prompted speculation that her latest charge -- Barack the plagiarizer -- might have traction.

All for naught. She got crushed by the Cheeseheads. The commentariat view last night was that Ohio is "just like Wisconsin" -- i.e. Midwestern and blue collar. That's not entirely true -- Northern Ohio is, but nothing in Wisconsin is like southern Ohio. Still, the exit polling showed Obama with some nice-looking demographics. The Wisconsin win came on the heels of a SUSA poll showing a decline in Hillary's support. That decline is within the MOE, but still, that's the sort of trend that Barack needs if he is to close Hillary's considerable lead here.

And if he does, it's over. If Hillary cannot close here, she's done. Plenty are saying she's done anyway, but she can't lose here where she has the support of the popular Governor and much of the rest of the establishment, where she has been campaigning hard while Barack was keeping fires stoked in the Potomac states, then Wisconsin, and where the demographics are as favorable to her as they will ever be. Even if she lets Obama close the gap, she has a tough time maintaining the argument that she's the stronger candidate to take on McCain.

1 In case you're interested, Gary Hart in '84 (yeah, I know), either Paul Tsongas or Paul Simon in '88, Bob Kerry in '92, Bill Bradley in '00.

2I really liked Bill "The Resume" Richardson before he started pandering on Iraq. If I could waive a magic wand, Joe Biden would be the nominee. Problem was, with three good guys (those two plus Dodd) in the second tier, none had a chance at the sort of close fourth that might have made for an interesting run.

Friday, February 15, 2008

BNN Now Has Education Blog Page

Blog aggregator BlogNetNews has a page devoted to education blogs. I can tell how long it has been up, but EduWonk pointed it out yesterday. It's the usual BNN format with a bunch -- not all -- of my favorite ed blogs, plus a bunch more.

Are Moms Moving Away from Clinton

TechPresident's Lisa Sabater offers an extensive post about a campaign-related blog phenomenon in progress. Erin Kotecki Vest, a mommyblogger and BlogHer contributing editor wrote an open letter post asking Hillary Clinton to step down for the good of the country. The TechPrez post details, using various measures, how wildly popular the post has become. She asks (in her headline as well as the body) whether this one post could result in a measurable shift in a key Clinton demographic.

An ancillary but probably more salient question is whether the post reflects a shift in the mom demographic. While blogs may influence opinion, I still think they are more interesting as windows into the zeitgeist. Vest's post could not have generated that degree of excitement if she wasn't tapping into something already their among her readers and fellow bloggers and their readers.

The post itself laments the division over Hillary without calling her out for the campaign tactics that have fomented the latest round of divisiveness. Nonetheless, her argument gives an exit for women who don't want to see Hillary's enemies succeed, but worry about what her candidacy will mean.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chelsea Clinton at the University of Akron

One-time and would-be First Daughter Chelsea Clinton appeared today at the University of Akron, looking fresh but sounding worn down. The event, sponsored by the College Democrats, took place in the food court of the student union. According to the statements from the podium, the turnout was far in excess of what the expected. At least a couple hundred students and faculty jammed the main hall, diverting lunchtime traffic to side corridors.

In addition to being obviously fatigued, Chelsea does not seem at ease at the mic. It either speaks well of her character or poorly of her mother's that she appears at such events. Let us assume she overcomes her obvious discomfort with speaking before crowds out of love and admiration for her mother and leave it at that.

In any event, no Clinton staffer appeared wearing a red velvet fedora and boots with goldfish in the plexiglass heels.

The event begins as Chelsea is introduced by College Dems mainstay Zach. He runs through the essentials of Hillary Clinton's platform -- universal health care, getting out of Iraq and and energy/environment/jobs program. Chelsea takes the mic before a blue, white and yellow banner bearing the legend "Hillblazers," suggests that Zach would be a better pick for the event than she would and reiterates the same baisc points. Then opens up for questions.

She is low key throughout. The catch in her voice suggests that she's tired. Still, it's hard not to think of the contrast between her father's folksy appeal and her mother's honking monotone. Few things this cycle have been more discomforting that watching Hillary stand before a raucous crowd and declare WITH THE ENERGY IN THIS ROOM WE CANNOT HELP BUT WIN.

Substantively Chelsea comes of much like Mark Naymik's description of her mother's endorsement interview at the PD. She's all about reciting facts, detailing proposals. It was low on human connection and devoid of applause lines or other pep-rally cues that usually punctuate events like this (at least the twenty minutes I was able to stay there.)

Each time she reiterates a question for the audience, she states it as "The question is what would my mom do about . . ." It's a good, well-coached touch. It stands out, but upon reflection is pretty much the only way she could refer to the candidate without sounding stilted.

Chelsea riffs on a few themes that Hillary would have done well to use earlier. In addition to the general theme of experience, she brings out specific instances of her mother working with conservative Southern Republicans on, for example, veterans issues. Where Hillary mocks Obama for raising "false hope" and "promises" of change, Chelsea calmly lays out the case for her mother's experience. Though she possesses few of her father's natural political gifts, Chelsea makes a more compelling case for her mother than her mother does.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Plusquellic Back on Hillary Wagon; Healy off for Now.

It turns out Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic objected to being on the released list of Hillary Clinton endorsers because he wanted to endorse her on his timetable.

How very Don Plusquellic of him.

And now he has. Tonight, hours after announcing he was put on the list prematurely, he formally announced that he is indeed endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. So glad we got that squared away. You can read his statement excerpted on ANN and the ABJ trying to make sense of all this.

Got all that? Now take a deep breath because . . .

The ABJ story also says Canton Mayor Bill Healy wants off the list.

Does anyone at Team Clinton possess a phone?

Battleground Ohio: Notes from the Ground in Akron

As Ohio increasingly looks like a pivotal state in the nomination process, both campaigns are starting to make their presences felt, though one more than the other. Here's what we've seen so far.

Team Hillary was the first to use the local party. The party sent out an email out Monday inviting folks to an organizing meeting tonight at Memorial Hall (the social hall adjoining party HQ. It's available for party clubs, campaigns etc for a rental fee.) Yesterday Team Obama had their turn with an email inviting supporters to an organizing meeting tomorrow night. Here are details for that:

Thursday, February 14th at 5:30pm
Alpha Center
662 Wolf Ledges Parkway, Akron

Unfortunately, Thursday night is always a busy one at the House of Pho, so I will be unable to attend.

Also, Chelsea Clinton, Hillary's daughter and uninterviewable surrogate will be at the University of Akron tomorrow. That event is being publicized through University Dems as well as the Party. I got a message through Facebook and through the PoliSci department.

Details on Chelsea:

1:30pm - 2:30pm (Though the Dem Party mailer says 1:15.)
Student Union Market Foodcourt

As it happens, I finish teaching at 1:15 about 50 feet away, so hopefully I'll be able to pop over and get some pics, though the time is tight against child pick-up schedules.

Finally, event wise, Team Hillary sent out an invite to donors (remember, $5 per campaign) for a rally in the Cleveland area Friday night:


Friday, February 15, 2008 at 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Charles F. Brush High School, John C. Wesler Gymnasium
4875 Glenlyn Rd.
Lyndhurst, OH 44124

Generally, Hillary is much stronger in Summit. This is not surprising. She's had Emma Lieberth on staff for months and, from the contact info, it looks like Emma is back home for the month. For those not from here, Emma is the daughter of Mayor Plusquellic's political guru Dave Lieberth. Needless to say, she has extensive contacts and from-the-cradle campaign experience, as well as solid political chops of her own.

In addition, Hillary has lined up some local heavy hitters on her endorsement list, including incoming party chair Wayne Jones. Note, however, that Mayor Plusquellic has announced that he should not have been put on the list.* He has not officially endorsed anyone yet.

Obama has landed here much more softly. He has some local politicos behind him -- City Councilmen Mike Williams and John Conti are listed as contacts for the Thursday meeting -- but we haven't heard much from them. I've gotten on the local mailing list, but the result so far has been a couple of generic appeals. I did not, for example, get an invite to the Thursday meeting from the Team Obama list.

Unlike Hillary, Obama is still actively campaigning in states with primaries between now and wants to have a chance to score a knockout blow here, the campaign needs to start making its presence felt.

*UPDATE: Plusquellic has "officially" endorsed, though confusion continues to reign elsewhere.

Carnival #104

Jill did the honors. Enjoy the linkety goodness.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama's S-USA Numbers Aren't Pretty

The new Survey USA Ohio poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama 56%-39% (h/t Taegen Goddard). Morning giddiness over the prospect of Ohio delivering Obama the nomination has disappeared in a bracing reality slap. This was the first poll taken since Edwards dropped out, and the first since Jan. 31.

S-USA notes that "Clinton's lead comes entirely from women, where she leads by 29 points." Fine, but to me the most salient -- and disheartening -- statistic is: Among the 69% of voters who feel they have firmly made up their minds, Clinton's lead beats the overall result -- 59%-39%. Furthermore, only 2% overall are currently undecided.

Obamaniacs were hoping to see more Edwards voters swing to Obama, or at least see softer support for Hillary.

Jerid offers the whistling-past-the-graveyard take that Obama gained 20% since Quinnipianc's December poll. Well, that's a happy thought. But Hillary gained 11%. More to the point, she expanded her lead from the January Dispatch poll. Much much more to the point, she maintains a double-digit lead, is six points in the black and has respondents voicing solid support for her. None of this is good news. (And, oh by the way, you are always on shaky ground trying to divine a trend by comparing different polls using different methodologies.)

Any good news? Well, Obama seems to have done better as they split Edwards support and undecideds -- just not well enough. And the poll only netted 11% independent likely voters whom Obama is winning 48-42%. So there is some room for persuading I's to get out and vote.

The poll would be great news if Obama was only trying to mitigate damage. But if Hillary sweeps Ohio and Texas, it seems unlikely Obama will persuade enough superdelegates to take a chance on him. He needs to turn some folks around, ramp up his GOTV, visit often and pray a whole lot. He may even need to choose either Ohio or Texas and set down some roots there. And yes, hopefully that will be here.

Everyone Agrees: Clinton Must Win Ohio

The New York Times reports today of a growing consensus both within and outside the Clinton camp that Ohio is a must-win (h/t Taegan Goddard)

    “She has to win both Ohio and Texas comfortably, or she’s out,” said one superdelegate who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to share a candid assessment. “The campaign is starting to come to terms with that.” Campaign advisers, also speaking privately in order to speak plainly, confirmed this view.

    Several Clinton superdelegates, whose votes could help decide the nomination, said Monday that they were wavering in the face of Mr. Obama’s momentum after victories in Washington State, Nebraska, Louisiana and Maine last weekend.

The superdelegate quote implies that if she fails to sweep Ohio and Texas she will lose a bulk of superdelegates.

For a few days I've been hoping the contest would go through March 4, but not much further. Cutting off voting before then would smack of backroom dealing. Carrying on through the summer or to the Convention would weaken the eventual nominee.

Happily, at least some superdelegates appear to be of the same mind. So the task ahead of the Obama campaign is clear: win Ohio and you should be able to wrap this up. Lose here and throw the decision to the superdelegates who will probably swing to Hillary.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hillary's Electiblity Argument

Chris Cillizza just went up with a post based on a conference call with Hillary's pollster/strategist Mark Penn on the issue of Hillary's superior "electiblity." Here's the nub of Penn's argument:

    "The Republican attack machine redefines the Democratic candidate," said Penn, pointing out that Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) both felt the sting of the GOP efforts during their respective national bids. Penn added that while Clinton is well known in national circles, Obama is less so -- a lack of name recognition that leaves the Illinois senator open to being defined by the Republican nominee. "Hillary has withstood this process and this will make a tremendous difference if she is the nominee," he said.
Also, she is allegedly superior on the issue of national security.
    Nominating Clinton would "block [Republicans] from playing the national security card," argued Penn, adding that Republicans have already begun to attack Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) on his foreign policy credentials. (In an interview yesterday with Fox New Channel's Chris Wallace, President George W. Bush had this to say of Obama's foreign policy bona fides: "I certainly don't know what he believes in.")
Cillizza summarizes the argument thusly:
    The central difference in the electability appeals by the two campaigns is temporal.

    The Obama campaign argues that the way to best understand who is the more electable is to look at current polling and past results to see who leads the likely Republican nominee and who is better able to lure crucial independents to the Democratic cause. The present is what matters, says Obama.

    For Clinton, it's the future that's the issue. Sure, they argue, Obama may be ahead right now, but Republicans have only begun to define him, a process that would strip away much of his independent support and leave him on the losing end of a race against McCain.

Really, I must put the blog down and get back to grading. But a few points first.

First, national security. Hillary's argument for neutralizing McCain on national security is that she was for the Iraq Use of Force resolution before she was against it. Seems to me that Dems have tried that argument before. Let me look up how that went and get back to you.

As far as Hillary "neutralizing" the attack machine, by what measure? A year ago Harris Interactive found that fully 50% of Americans would not vote for Hillary under any circumstances. This despite pluralities that approve of her track record. Why? Because of the neutralized Republican Attack Machine. Hillary hasn't neutralized it; she's merely found two venues (New York State and the Democratic Primary) where it doesn't have much sway.

Fact is, there are two Hillary Clinton's in the race. There is the cautious consensus-building centrist she has been in the Senate, and there is the shrill, child-emancipatin', Tammy-Wynett-bashin', Bubba-enablin', hyper-ambitious caricature drawn by the attack machine. The fact that the second Hillary remains in this race is big trouble for the first Hillary. And it's a problem generated entirely by the attack machine she has supposedly neutralized.

The argument really shouldn't be temporal, but geographic. Because of her negatives, Hillary constricts the electoral map. She will compete in all the swing states, but that's about it. Obama can compete in a broader array of states, particularly in the South. In a year when Dems will probably maintain an advantage in fundraising, a candidate who can force the Republican opponent to spend time in money in more states has a significant advantage.

Swing State Proj: OH-2 One of 18 GOP Seats Where Dems Hold $ Edge

Whether or not the Ohio Second contest is the worst on the map this cycle, it is noteworthy for another reason. Challenger Dr. Victoria Wulsin has a significant money edge over incumbent/presumptive nominee "Mean" Jean Schmidt. According to Swing State Project, "physician Victoria Wulsin has $344,315; Schmidt lags with $124,857."

By "has" I assume SSP means cash-on-hand per the latest round of finance reports. This makes the race one of 18 where a Democrat holds a funding edge for a seat currently held by a Republican. Further, only one Dem incumbent is behind a Republican challenger.

It's surprising that Ohio 15 (Mary Jo Kilroy v. Steve Stivers for Deborah Pryce's seat) or Ohio 16 (John Boccieri v. Kirk Schuring for Ralph Regula's) are on the list. They were noted for raising major jack last go-round. If I had time it would be a research project, but someone else will have to take it from here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

GrowthClubbers Clubbing Huck and Other Veep News.

In an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, Club for Growth President Pat Toomey throws cold water on talk of Mike Huckabee as McCain's running mate:

    Moving forward, Mr. Huckabee on the ticket would be a disaster. The former governor has a record of raising taxes and increasing spending. Picking him would only make it more likely that conservatives will sit on their hands come November.
This is as I suspected.

Toomey offers McCain a number of C4G-approved suggestions. Of these, So. Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is probably best. As a popular Southern governor he will help blunt any advantage the Dems get from an Obama effect. And as a governor he will be able to reassure people concerned about a senator's lack of administrative experience.

I find it most intriguing for another reason. Despite the following the Club's sure-fire prescription for Growth, South Carolina currently plays host to the nation's third-highest unemployment rate. Generally I would love to hear the GrowthClubbers reconcile that. Closer to home, it would be fun to watch, say, Ben Keeler explain how So. Carolina's economic troubles are just reflecting the nation's economy but Ohio's problems are entirely Ted Strickland's fault.

By the way, a new blog in town tracks the race for second chair. Veepstakes!, run by Cleveland-based moderate Paul, is off to an intriguing start. Such a mission has a necessarily short shelf live, so keep track of Paul's work while it lasts.

S. Rothenberg: Ohio Second District Race May Be the Worst Ever

Political Analyst Stuart Rothenberg reproduces on his blog a Roll Call article he wrote about the Ohio Second district race, calling it a "nightmare" and possibly "the worst Congressional contest I’ve ever witnessed."

To outline his observations:

  • Incumbent Jean Schmidt is intensely disliked on both sides of the aisle.
  • Primary challenger Tom Brinkman came into the race late, is a poor fundraiser and campaigner and chased out better-equipped challengers.
  • Dem front-runner Dr. Victoria Wulsin is somewhat "scattered" and is vocally liberal in a stone conservative district.
The whole thing is worth clicking through and reading.

After reading this from Bill Sloat, it certainly looks like Steve Black may be a better challenger. Time will tell if he will revive his campaign while grieving his father.

Where have you gone Chris Baker? Ohio's political junkies turn their lonely eyes to you.

Image from

State Sen. John Boccieri Launches New Website

The new url is JohnForCongress and the site looks nice. Good toolset including sign-ups for house parties and an events calendar. Links to Facebook and MySpace pages. A lot of the usual stuff, but well done all in all. Separate pages for news clips and blog posts.

I don't envy campaign web masters these days as the difference between a feature being cutting edge and de rigeur is about week and a half these days. Team Boccieri is pretty much on top of everything.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Democrats and the Consquences of Democracy

At Balkinization Prof. Sandy Levinson1 discusses the different effects of the different delegate allocation rules between the Democrats and Republicans. He notes that John McCain is able to, for instance, rack up the entire Missouri slate after eaking out a couple of percentage points over Mike Huckabee. Because it is a three-way contest, he has the full slate despite being rejected by two-thirds of Missouri primary voters.

The Democrats have done away with winner-take-all primaries and as a result, we have a much tighter race. How much tighter? First off, understand that it's difficult to say much definitively about the current delegate count except that it's tight. Check out, for example, this CBS News attempt at quantifying the current count:

    According to the CBS News delegate count, Super Tuesday was literally a draw, with both winning 715 delegates. (Note, however, that many delegates from those contests have yet to be allocated, so the math there could change.) When one factors in previous contests and superdelegates – the party leaders and elected officials who can back whichever candidate they want, and change their mind at any time – Clinton leads, 974-906. If superdelegates are removed from the equation, Obama leads, 778-763.
Then your click through to their running count page and find an entirely different set of figures: Clinton 1022, Obama 945.

Conclusion: It's tight.

So what if everything was winner take all. I put the contests and current projected results in a spreadsheet. Understand that, winner-take-all or not, there would still be idiosyncrasies in delegate allocation. Nonetheless, if all states followed strict w-t-a rules the current count would be: Clinton 1326, Obama 921. Clinton wouldn't be in a commanding lead, but certainly we would be talking about her as a clear favorite as opposed to being essentially tied.

This is not all good. As Levinson notes, and Open Left has quantified, the nominee will likely be decided by the superdelegates. That could get extremely ugly. Alternatively, Clinton may successfully lobby to have the Florida and Michigan delegations count after all. Neither would be a good outcome.

On top of that, it may benefit McCain simply to have the nomination sown up well in advance of the convention.

As this plays out, the party leadership will no doubt be watching and thinking about the wisest course. Democracy, especially proportional representation, is a fine ideal. But is it worth losing a general election for?

1As usually happens when trying to blog and watch kids at the same time, I went brain-dead. I called Prof. Levinson "Sandy Berger" in the original version of the post. Different guy, to say the least.

Carnival # 103

Thanks to Lisa Renee for the fine work this week. Good to see an infusion of lefty submissions.

Things I Do When I'm Not Blogging

My second ever freelance writing job is up on the Catalyst website. Once again I did the Notebook section which includes an interview with Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic.

Among the revelations, that the mayors are again attempting to reach consensus and offer a school funding reform proposal:

    Well we just reconvened. I was at the U.S.
    Conference of Mayors annual meeting and a
    number of Ohio mayors asked me to convene
    a meeting. We met there and made a commitment
    that I would reconvene a group. We
    did that with just mayors and brought an
    expert that we had used early on from Colorado.
    I understand [Governor Ted] Strickland’s
    reluctance to jump in as the first thing
    he did to try to solve this because I think there
    would have been major problems and I think
    he’s played this pretty well. But somewhere
    here in the next year and a half we’ve got to
    address this issue. This is a huge problem that
    I think may only get solved by constitutional
    amendment, and in a constitutional amendment
    you’ve got to keep it simple. And the
    simple way of dealing with it is to deal with the
    funding formula first, get off of the property
    tax, and shift to an income or sales tax base
By the way, in his State of the State address today, Gov. Strickland reprised the "What if we weren't afraid" trope he used in the cover interview last issue. It's great to be writing for a publication that's so easy to promote.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thoughts on Ultra Mega Tuesday

The lead story line is the lack of a lead story line.

  • The big surprise is Huckabee's surge. Three weeks ago I noted the possibility of a four-candidate race for the foreseeable future. Then Huckabee faded, Giuliani disappeared and McCain started running the table. Suddenly it's very much a three-man race again. Huckabee won't get close enough to win outright, but he could be a king-maker or he could benefit from a brokered convention.
  • I saw my first Ohio campaign commercial tonight. For McCain.
  • Barack needed to avoid a knockout blow. He certainly has done that. The trend line so far has been Obama gaining and Clinton maintaining pace. The longer he stays in the race the better his chances become.
  • Demographically Obama looks good.
  • Geographically Obama looks great. Obama's great strength in a general election is broadening the map of states in play. His overwhelming victory in Georgia, and Alabama, together with a similar result in South Carolina, suggests that he can compete in the south. He may win none of those states in a general election, but by mobilizing the black vote he will force the Republicans to spend time and money there. Hillary on the other hand will have to write off pretty much anything south of the Ohio River.
  • I'm not going near the delegate counts because I don't actually hold a Ph.D. in statistics. But it does look like Obama has come closer in the states he's lost than Clinton has in the states she lost.
  • Ohio's primary date is the second biggest prize, and the last big prize. We go along with Texas and a couple of New England state, with 444 delegates on the line. Only 810 delegates are available after that. March 4 could well be the end of the line for someone.
And I'm beat, so off to bed.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Huckabee's Veep Gambit

If any Presidential candidate has more blatantly campaigned for VP than Mike Huckabee, I'd like to hear it. Today NPR ran a piece including audio of his stump as he swings through the South in anticipation of SuperDuper Tuesday. He's campaigning only against Romney whom he calls out for, well, for not being a redneck. He is literally telling Southern Republican to vote for him because "I know how to make grits . . . I don't each fried chicken with the skin off, with a knife and fork." Thank God we can elect a President with greasy fingers.

Not only is Huckabee doing all he can to rip down Romney while not mentioning McCain, he's clearly playing up his credentials as a Southern vote-getter. The message is clear -- pick Huck as your running mate and run the table in the south. Speculation of Huckabee's second fiddle ambitions has been running hot for a while now, but the latest stumping makes it a dead certainty that's what he's after.

Which would be a disastrous strategy for McCain. McCain is a scary candidate for Dems because he plays so well among independents. Those same independents will grow increasingly nervous as Huckabee's borderline wingnuttery is run out in a general election campaign. And if McCain is elected as the nation's oldest President ever, his pick for Vice President matters a whole lot.

Coming Up For Air

Sorry about these little blackouts. The two-course load this semester on top of everything else is cutting seriously into my blogging time. When something else hits -- in this case a virus running through the House of Pho -- the blog is what has to give. I'm working on reviving my long-dormant time management skills and hopefully will get into a groove at some point this semester.