Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hillary wins tonight's debate

Of the first-ever televised debate between presidential candidates, it is often said that people who watched it television thought that the cool, sweatless John F. Kennedy won. Those who listened to that debate on the radio were said to have called it for Richard M. Nixon.

Because of a prior commitment, was not able to watch tonight's debate, televised on CNN, but listened to it on C-SPAN radio. To my ears, Hillary Clinton won. Her knowledge of each of the issues was breathtaking, and her vocalization, modulation, and demeanor were all excellent. Barack Obama's disembodied voice annoyed me; there was a pushiness to it.

The television commentators all seem to be calling a tie.

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Natural resemblance feminism

I was born into a church that bars me from the priesthood on the basis of something called the "natural resemblance" theory: in other words, because Jesus of Nazareth possessed certain body parts that I do not, and because I have some that he did not, then I do not resemble him well enough to minister in his name.

Today, there are feminists who are demanding that I vote on the same basis; that a presidential ballot cast for anyone who does not possess the same bodily configuration as mine indicates a damning lack of sisterhood on my part.

I daresay, I have not waged my little wars for women's equality only be to be told for whom I must vote. To wit, this post on TAPPED:


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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not live-blogging the GOP Reagan Library debate
Talk amongst yourselves

Your blogstress wishes she wasn't quite so burnt out on live-blogging debates, of which there are far too many this election cycle. (There are some words I never thought I'd hear myself say.) Tonight's GOP debate features the bizarre spectacle of the four remaining Republican presidential candidates sitting at a dais in front of the "Air Force One" plane that went out of service with Reagan, being asked questions not simply by pop-culture newsman Anderson Cooper, but actual newspaper reporters, as well.

But given the general lack of charisma among the Republican candidates, and the fact that this is the umpteenth debate in as many weeks, your écrivaine asks her readers to fill her in in the morning. The debate takes place, even as she types, on CNN.

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White guy gone: John Edwards withdraws from presidential race

The Democratic campaign for the presidential nomination will endure a sad moment this afternoon, when John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, is expected to announce his withdrawal from the race. Yes, your blogstress has been rather hard on Edwards, having a natural aversion to his sometimes transparent displays of opportunism, particularly his attempt to capitalize on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan and his sexist response to Hillary Clinton's verklemptitude in New Hampshire.

But Edwards has brought something quite real to the Democratic debate, and without him, it's doubtful that the role of corporations in creating the hard times experienced today by so many Americans would have ever been brought to the fore. I am also moved that Edwards is returning to New Orleans to make his 1:00 announcement today; it was from that neglected and abused city that he launched his presidential bid.

Of course, the prognosticators are already placing bets on whom the Edwards withdrawal most benefits, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. My guess is that, if anybody gets a bump from the reduction to a two-candidate race, it's more likely to be Obama. Yet with ideology having so little to do with how people will choose their primary candidate, it's difficult to know.

In South Carolina, Edwards won the white, male vote, with some help from Bill Clinton, who made the campaign more racialized than it had already been. Where, now, go all of those white guys who are loath to vote for either a woman or a black man? You know, those good, liberal guys who keep whispering in my ear that they just don't think "America" is ready for a black or a woman as commander-in-chief. Will they transcend themselves, and stay with the party? Or stray to the other side, vote against their own interests, just to cast a ballot for someone who looks like themselves? Stay tuned, mes amis.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kicked out of Obamarama

Your blogstress did her best to be present for her devotees at the anointment of Barack Obama by the Kennedy clan but, alas, she found herself among the 100 or so journalists turned away from the event.

Of course, being your Webwench, yours truly was not about to take no for an answer, seeing as she had RSVP'd and assured ahead of time by Obama for America staffers that both she and her laptop would have no problem entering the hall at American University at which the rally took place. Would that it were true. So, eventually, your cybertrix did indeed make it into that hall, just as Uncle Teddy was saying that the senator from Illinois would be ready to lead on Day One.

And then they kicked me out. I had a laptop. Not allowed for those of us who were closed out of the magnetometer sweep of equipment, despite our having arrived in time for it.

Today I have the sniffles.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Obama in the general

Reader nrglaw left a long and thoughtful comment on an earlier post about Barack Obama's prospects for the general election. So thoughtful is the reader's post, mes amis, that your blogstress has granted it this thread of its own, as well as a respectful, if less than thorough, refutation. From nrglaw:

There was a lot of focus on one statistic leading up to the SC primary, namely that Black Democrats represented 52% of the state's democrats. That statistic seems have gotten forgotten since the Obama victory. Its clearly still very relevant, however.

I understand that Obama won 80% (my son says 82) of black democratic voters, which would account for 40% out of the total of 55% he polled. In the 18-29 year old group, he took 49 -- a push at best. Overall, he polled only 25% of the white vote. Apparently, the Latino vote was not very significant, because it isn't even mentioned in any of the MSM coverage of the results. This is a group where Hillary has done well.

So I have two points. First, the racial demographic in SC is unusual -- other than the District of Columbia (at 60%), only two states have higher black populations by percentage -- MS and LA. The largest state to come close to the SC percentage is MD. Generally, other states don't even come close. Of these demographics, presidential victories are not made. I am not echoing Bill Clinton's Jesse Jackson remark, but these are simple numbers that suggest that the SC racial demographic is much more different from other states than most folks realize. The numbers spell problems for Obama in the General Election if he is not pulling much better from white voters overall, even he is taking 50-60% of the non-black 18-29 year old group.

Four examples make the point more clearly: in CA, pulling 80% of the total statewide black population would only add 5.6% to Obama's vote total, assuming equal turnout across the board; in NY, it adds 12.1%; in Ohio, 8%; and in MI, 11.2%. This is miles away from the 40% figure in SC.

My second point is only that the SC news will really not have much meaning until the FL primary, because there is a very good chance that Obama will suffer the same kind of crushing defeat there that he administered to Hillary in SC. A big defeat in FL (which is what the polls are predicting) will likely overshadow a big win in SC.

I am skeptical that he will get much of a pop in FL from his win in SC.
Much to ponder here, indeed. But your cybertrix offers these obervations:

* Florida - If Obama gets trounced there, it will be largely because, at the request of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), he is not campaigning there. Hillary Clinton made that same agreement with the DNC, but she appears to have broken it.

* Remember Iowa - Our reader seems to be basing her or his argument on the notion that the South Carolina results are the only results that matter, and that they really don't matter in terms of any future trend, because, unlike that in most future nomination contests or the general election, the electorate was largely African-American. Yet, Obama won Iowa handily, an all-white state. He came close in New Hampshire, another virtually all-white state. White people *will* vote for Obama. He's more than just "the black candidate," no matter how hard Bill Clinton tries to paint him that way.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Live-blogging SC poll results
Obama: Make no mistake what we're up against

It's the status quo. (Read: the Clintons)

This is a transcendent speech. The Clintons may have given Barack Obama a gift with their negative, race-baited campaign against the candidate they sought to paint as "the black candidate." For in playing the race card, they gave Obama permission to address the race issue head-on, to no longer dance around the question of racial prejudice in America.

I do believe that their lies in the hearts of far more white people than anybody imagines a desire for redemption.

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Live-blogging SC poll results
Obama: playing the diversity card

Obama is pointedly asserting the diversity of his "coalition," exactly the right point to make, given the racialized nation of the South Carolina campaign.

But his tone, so far, is a bit more combative -- even angry. Be careful, Barack. The people turn to you for uplift.

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Live-blogging SC poll results
Michelle Obama looking very Jackie Kennedy the Obamas take the stage. Pink, Chanel-like suit, flipped hair. A departure from her sexier trademark body-conscious dresses and combed-back hair. Fitting, perhaps, in light of tomorrow's endorsement by Caroline Kennedy, Jackie's only daughter.

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Live-blogging SC poll results
Caroline Kennedy to endorse Obama!

In tomorrow's New York Times, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, constitutional scholar and all-round class act, will endorse Barack Obama. Wow.

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Live-blogging SC poll results
Bill Clinton: It's all about him

Speaking from Independence, Missouri, former President William Jefferson Clinton, even as the returns came in from the primary race he sought to sully in South Carolina, delivered what may be taking the place of her concession speech. However, what bit of the speech MSNBC showed was mostly about Himself: his AIDS activism, how he ran "a pretty successful presidency".

He's become quite nauseating.

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Live-blogging SC poll results
Obama wins plurality of young white SC voters

In the three-way contest between John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the O-man won 49 percent of white voters in the 18-29 age group. This is good news because it shows the limits of racializing the campaign.

Another interesting stat: Obama and Clinton won virtually equal numbers of white, male voters. Will provide those numbers as they become available.

And although the two white candidates won greater percentages of the white vote than did Obama, he won a good 15 percent more of the white vote than the 10 percent the polls had suggested he would won. And Obama's 24 percent total of the white vote come close to Edwards' 29 percent. Hillary Clinton won 36 percent of the white vote, mostly from older white women.

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Live-blogging SC poll results
Clinton succeeds in racializing the campaign

Here's Bill Clinton, speaking with reporters earlier today:

Another reporter asked what it said about Obama that it "took two people to beat him." Clinton again passed. "That’s’ just bait, too. Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88. And he ran a good campaign. Senator Obama's run a good campaign here, he’s run a good campaign everywhere."
Notice the non sequitur here, mes amis. What does Jesse Jackson have to do with the fact that it's taking two Clintons to beat one Obama? Oh yeah, he's black. Remember that, South Carolina. The man is black, black, black. Ya hear me, crackahs?

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Live-blogging SC poll results
MSNBC calls it for Obama a wide margin. Your blogstress just hopes that margin includes a good percentage of white voters.

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Live-blogging SC poll results
Clyburn predicts nomination contest could go to the convention

House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) just predicted, in a conversation with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, that Super Tuesday would not determine the Democratic presidential nominee.

He also said that "race had been injected into this campaign" to a degree that made him "uncomfortable."

One bit of good news: 70 68 percent of white voters stated in exit polls that they found Hillary Clinton's attacks on Barack Obama to be unfair.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Rudy's last stand?

It seems quite obvious that Florida is just that. Nonetheless, mes amis, you'll not want to miss this post by S.W. Anderson at Oh!pinion:

With the same leadership brilliance that caused hizzoner to put the Big Apple’s disaster communications center in the World Trade Towers, which a few years earlier had been the bombing target of Muslim terrorists, Giuliani has put all his campaign eggs in one basket: Florida.

Granted, Florida has plenty of ex-New Yorkers, along with lots of people from New Jersey, Connecticut and other Northeast states. Nonetheless, it seems an egotistical leap for Giuliani to believe a majority of them would just naturally flock to support him.

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Black women and liberal coalition

She's been there all along, the African-American woman, the most loyal and stalwart voter any Democratic politician ever met. You just didn't see her. So steadfast is she, exercising loyalty to her party, to her race, to her gender, to her country, that her support over the course of decades has long been taken for granted by Democratic politicians able to appeal to that set of loyalties.

Embodying the intersection of race and gender, the black woman voter was, in years past, rendered invisible, as the bloc known as "the black vote" took on, in the popular imagination, the face of the African-American man, and the one known as "the women's vote" was given a white face. What irony, then, that this time, in this primary season, when the two main candidates in contention for the Democratic party presidential nomination each wear the assigned face of one of those blocs, that the black woman is, for a moment, revealed as an entity in her own right -- and one who may ultimately decide the party's nominee in the coming general election. Nowhere is that more apparent than in South Carolina, where 50 percent of Democratic voters are African-American, the majority of them women.

As I watched the Democrats' testy South Carolina MLK Day debate, I found myself thinking, how does the liberal coalition manage to hold together when this is all over? Here you have three candidates, each of whom symbolizes in his or her very person a major constituency of that coalition, whether he or she chooses to or not. To many women's rights advocates, Hillary Clinton is a living symbol of a dream yet to be fulfilled. To many civil rights activists -- especially African-American activists -- Barack Obama likewise represents a dream. For many working-class people and labor movement members, John Edwards, with his millworker father and economic populism (and, yes, his trial-lawyer millions), embodies their ideal of a fair economy and upward mobility. With each of the candidates, especially Obama and Clinton, occupying the sacred places of icons, their warring holds great danger for the future of the coalition.

When it's all over, it will be black women who hold the key to drawing the coalition back together. They will be in the unique position of being the one group with the moral authority to forgive everybody, because all the mud that is thrown in this contest will almost certainly spatter on them.

As the president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Maretta J. Short, your blogstress's college friend, sits at the vortex of the swirl of race- and gender politics that define the 2008 presidential race. Short is the first only African-American to lead currently leading a NOW 's state-level chapter. She's also the first African-American to lead NOW-NJ and her state ranks in the top three in Democratic delegates up for grabs in the February 5th Super Tuesday contests.

Short is all for the effort to heal the coalition, and is quick to note that hers is an organization devoted to the concerns of all women. Nonetheless, she's urging African-American women not to bury the hatchet before they stake a claim. Given the bruising nature of the Democrats' 2008 presidential primary campaign, especially along lines of race and gender, she would like to see black women leaders from around the country, starting at the grassroots level, come together for a summit at which a political agenda would be devised, as well as a strategy for healing any wounds left by the primary fight.

"I think the sister in New Jersey may have a point," said Gilda Cobb-Hunter, one of three black women in the South Carolina state legislature, when told of Short's suggestion. "Listen, there are show horses, and there are work horses, and black women, quite frankly, are the work horses. We are the ones who are always there; all the crap falls on our shoulders."

Short envisions a feminist agenda arrived at by African-American women that encompasses economic and education issues, as well as healthcare access, reproductive health and health-privacy measures. But aren't those issues that are of concern to all women? Yes, said Short, but, for example, "the attack on reproductive rights usually is targeted at the African-American population, the poor population, first," she explained. "And then it sets a precedent for the movement to repeal our rights and our reproductive rights into other communities."

For more on this subject, go to your écrivaine's essay at The American Prospect Online:


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The New York Times endorses Hillary

Seems to me that they're coming out a bit early, considering we're still a week and a half out New York's Super Tuesday primary. But perhaps your blogstress's memory is a bit impaired.

Their argument for Clinton is her brilliance and policy experience; as for her bad vote on the war, the reasoning seems to be, "That was then, and this is now."

Obama gets written off rather lightly, with nods to his "gifts," but no appreciation of his brilliance.

The more legitimate critique of Obama is a sort of amorphous quality to his raison d'être. Still, to laud him for his "gifts" without applauding his intellect seems to fulfill the "magic Negro" narrative described by my colleague Kate Sheppard at TAPPED.


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Live-blogging the GOP Boca debate
McCain sucks up to Rudy

Moderator Brian Williams just announced the New York Times's endorsement of John McCain in the New York primary by reading the editorial board's pointed critique of Rudy Giuliani as a mean man. Asked to respond, Giuliani predictably derided the Times as a hopelessly liberal institution.

Then McCain stepped up to defend Giuliani. Looked to your blogstress like Romney and McCain were vying for Giuliani's affections.

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Live-blogging the GOP Boca debate
Romney: No religious test (except for Muslims)

Mitt Romney was just told by moderator Tim Russert that an NBC poll coming out tomorrow will show a majority of voters say they won't vote for a Mormon. Mitt replied with an eloquent speech about how the Founders specified that there be "no religious test" for office.

Of course, Romney told one audience that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet.

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Live-blogging the GOP Boca debate
Has Joe Lieberman returned to the fold?

McCain just referred to Lieberman as "one of my favorite Democrats." Yeah, that's 'cause he's not!

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Live-blogging the GOP Boca debate
Huckabee: blessed be the gunowner

Huckabee tries to go after Romney for the latter's support of a ban on "so-called assault weapons."

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Live-blogging the GOP Boca debate
McCain asks Huckabee about that weird sales tax

Okay, so McCain is trying to make Huckabee look less than sane by asking about the so-called "fair tax".

Isn't McCain's real competition Mitt Romney? Does he really expect the Coral Ridge Ministries types who will pull the lever for Huck to come to him over taxes?

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Live-blogging the GOP Boca debate

Romney asks Giuliani about China

Giuliani sees billions of consumers, and a reason to send billions more to the defense department.

What's going on here? By all accounts, Giuliani is poised to lose this primary. Is Romney looking for a Giuliani endorsement?

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Live-blogging the GOP Boca debate
Huckabee and FDR

Every now and then Huckabee scares the crap out of your écrivaine by saying something that makes a lot of sense to her. While Romney, McCain and Giuliani talked about how they would tinker with today's stimulus compromise, Huck suggested that the economy that would ultimately receive the stimulus from that package is China's. (We borrow the dough from them for the payout; then people go out and by Chinese goods.) So, how bout a big, ol' public works project, like adding two lanes of highway to the full length of I-95?

Note to Huck: In New Jersey, you would probably have to seize the homes of as many people living in Arkansas in order to add any more lanes to the New Jersey Turnpike.

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Live-blogging the GOP Boca debate
Well, kinda

First, your blogstress offers this disclaimer; she's only live-blogging this debate in a half-derrière-d kind of way. She's busy doing other things, really, but will occasionally sashay to the computer when something interesting so inspires her.

Sometimes a girl needs to give herself a manicure.

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Earth to Bill Clinton: Black women are women

The more former president cavorts about the Palmetto State, the less I like him. And the more I remember the damage he did to the feminist movement when he played fast and loose with a certain intern, leaving the leaders of the women's movement, a movement, at that moment, that had only enjoyed its own reconstitution for several years (thanks to the right wing's brilliant manipulation of the porn wars), caught between a philandering president and a misogynist Congress.

Thing is, I always liked his wife; admired her, really. But the more he steps out to ostensibly plead her case, the less warmth I feel toward her.

Yesterday, Bill Clinton characterized the South Carolina primary contest as one that Hillary will lose because voters will cast their ballots along race and gender lines, according to the Associated Press:

"As far as I can tell, neither Senator Obama nor Hillary have lost votes because of their race or gender. They are getting votes, to be sure, because of their race or gender — that's why people tell me Hillary doesn't have a chance of winning here," Clinton said.
Newsflash for Bill Clinton: Black women are women. In fact, black women account for the Democrats' historical gender gap. White women don't historically vote much differently than white men. Take black women out of the equation, and the Democrats have no advantage over the Republicans among female voters.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
Why would Dr. King endorse you?

This is the cloying question that Wolf Blitzer asked each of the candidates to answer. John Edwards took the bait, mentioning his meeting yesterday with "Martin the Third," offering a laundry list of Edwards' own efforts that King would hypothetically endorse.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, gave the exact right answer: that Dr. King "would not endorse any of us." He would hold the candidates to accountability, Obama said.

After that, whatever Hillary Clinton said just didn't register.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
The lobbyist trope

Thank goodness that Hillary Clinton called out John Edwards, at last, in his b.s. about how he's never taken money from Washington lobbyists.

Yeah, Hill essentially said, but you've taken money from the spouses of lobbyists, the children of lobbyists and people who work for lobbyists. Well said. This has always struck your blogstress as a bit of subterfuge.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
Obama: I am a proud Christian

Barack Obama just made a fascinating point about going after evangelicals for votes by asserting his own bona fides as a committed Christian. "If you don't show up" to church he said, you cede the ground to the right wing. Then he said he strongly embraced the "precepts of Jesus Christ," including making caring for the "least among us."

Yeah, but is Jesus your personal savior, Barack? Are ya born again? If not, you're not really one of them. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't reach out to them. Just be clear about who you are.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
The Bill pill

Suzanne Malveaux just asked Hillary about whether Bill shouldn't "tone it down" a bit, as suggested by Rep. James Clyburne, the African-American head of the progressive caucus. Hillary gave a very boring response about her appreciation of Bill's support. Barack took the opportunity to remind the viewers that Bill has been saying untrue things about him, not that he wants to go over that turf again. Somehow Edwards has turned it into how he can compete with John McCain "everywhere in America," not that that has anything to do with him being a white guy.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
The Kumbaya moment

Now everybody's in agreement about the challenges faced by blacks, women and poor people. After Barack made his speech about the disproportionate levels of incarceration between blacks and whites, Hillary chimed in with a reminder about "equal pay is not yet equal." Noted that women still make only 77 cents to each dollar made by men -- then pointedly said that for "women of color", the rate is 67 cents to the dollar.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
Is Bill Clinton the first black president?

Joe Johns just reiterated the famous Toni Morrison quote, and asked Obama to respond. That he did deftly, giving Bill perhaps more props than he deserves at the moment. Then the joke, the twist on the stereotype, "I would have to investigate Bill's dancing abilities in order to know whether or not he is actually a brother."

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
It's not about race

Obama raised the R war [telling typo, non?] word; intially blamed the media for making the primary contest about race, then said it's understandable, given how important race is in our society. However, he sounded great when he said that the more he went around South Carolina, he sensed a hunger among all people to rise above divisions.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
They're nicer on their butts

Gotta say, having the candidates sit down seems to help the tone of the debate. Opening question in this segment went to Barack Obama, who was asked to respond to remarks by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), one of Hillary Clinton's big supporters, who said that African-Americans shouldn't vote for a African-American because he's African-American; they should vote for whomever is best for the country. Obama retorted: "I agree with his principle; I just think he's miscalculated in his equation."

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
Can we also have a costume change?

Wolf Blitzer just announced that for the second segment of the CBC/CNN Democratic debate, there will be a "set change," and that everybody will sit down to have "an important conversation." Hope they're not serving food or drink. Already enough of a food fight.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
Edwards bashes Obama

John Edwards, who in the last umpteen Democratic debates often aligned himself with Barack Obama in going after Hillary Clinton, just threw his first real punches at Obama when he joined Clinton's criticism of Obama's many noncommittal "present" votes in the Illinois legislature. Out of some 4,000 votes Obama says he cast during his nine years in the state legislature, he voted "present" -- not "yea" or "nay" -- 130 times.

The "present" vote, Obama says, exists in the Illinois legislature in order for a legislator to indicate that he or she has problems with aspects of legislation that she or he might otherwise vote for.

Thing is, what's Edwards' game here? Oh yeah -- in South Carolina, Obama is the frontrunner.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate

Your blogstress now regrets the batch of chocolate-chip cookies, laced with cinnamon and crystalized ginger, that she made just before the debate commenced. So stressful is the watching of the churlishness on display, that your écrivaine stands ready to go to bed several pounds heavier than she was when she got up this morning.

If the liberal coalition survives in good health the sniping and low-down tactics being employed in this primary race, it will show itself to be, thankfully, stronger than your cybertrix believes.

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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
Obama takes on the Clintons

Comes out swinging at both Bill and Hillary Clinton for mischaracterizing his positions.

Then Hillary goes on to mischaracterize Obama's quote about Ronald Reagan, wherein he assessed the way in which Reagan changed politics.

Goes back and forth -- Barack reminds Hillary of her service on the Wal-Mart board when she was "a corporate lawyer;" Hillary comes back at Barack to mention his service as a lawyer with a client who was "a slumlord."

John Edwards see his opening, steps in the middle, and asks how many children will be fed by this "squabble."


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Live-blogging the Dem-Congressional Black Caucus debate
It's the economy, brothers

The opening question from CNN's Joe Johns was about the economy, straight to Hillary Clinton about her stimulus plan. This gave her the opportunity for a detailed, facts-and-figs answer, the kind of thing at what she excels.

Barack Obama seems ill-at-ease, which, at first blush, seems odd, given the extraordinary speech he gave this morning at Ebenezer Baptist Church. A few seconds in, though, we find why he feels uncomfortable. He's here to go on the attack -- not something that Mr. Above-the-Fray likes to do.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

McCain's refusal to surrender

It's got to be a sweet moment for John McCain, who eight years ago lost the South Carolina presidential primary to George W. Bush in one of the dirtiest campaigns in recent memory. Engaging in that dirty campaign was David Beasley, then the governor of South Carolina, who this year played a significant role in the campaign of Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Gotta say, McCain's 90-something-year-old mother -- whom he just called ma-MAH -- looks fabulous.

McCain just made the point, much trumpeted in recent days, that the winner of the South Carolina primary for the last 29 years has gone on to be the party's nominee.

"I'm running to keep America safe, prosperous and proud," McCain is telling his supporters. His speech is going all Reaganesque; it's all about making America a man again. Making people feel "proud" again. Your blogstress would argue for humility.

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Huckabee concedes: We didn't lose tonight

In his concession speech, Mike Huckabee congratulated South Carolina primary winner John McCain -- and himself -- for running "a civil campaign."

Said Huck: "I would rather be where I am and to have done it with honor, than to have won by attacking somebody else."

Interesting that former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley will be joining Huck elsewhere on the trail, according to the 2nd-place finisher. Beasley was the South Carolina Christian Coalition ally who worked with Ralph Reed, late of the Abramoff scandal, to get George W. Bush elected. More importantly for Huckabee, he helped get John McCain defeated.

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Huckabee loses to McCain in South Carolina

Looks like about a four-point spread; spin is that Fred Thompson pulled votes from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Chris Matthews suggested that Thompson is sticking around in the race in order to help his friend, Arizona Sen. John McCain. That sounds about right.

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South Carolina or South Africa?

On MSNBC, Tim Russert just mistakenly referred to South Carolina as "South Africa" in his discussion with co-hosts Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann of next week's Democratic presidential primary -- in which most of the voters are expected to be black. Oops...

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Fred Thompson whoopie-cushions MSNBC

Republican soon-to-be-also-ran Fred Thompson totally scammed MSNBC tonight, apparently teasing the guys -- and it really is THE GUYS -- with the allure of a possible withdrawal. So, Thompson, who appears to have barely registered was, at last look, battling Mitt Romney for third place in today's South Carolina Republican presidential primary, managed to get at least 10 minutes of free media, when MSNBC broke away from its anchor desk to (video) broadcast his speech, which was neither a withdrawal nor a concession. Once Thompson lowered his pants leg by way of his inconclusive conclusion, laughter from the MSNBC studio was audible. "What was that?" asked anchor Keith Olbermann.

To be clear about THE GUYS, your blogstress must, in fairness, say that the excellent Rachel Maddow was brought into the broadcast to take on Pat Buchanan's boosterism of Mitt Romney, who won the Republican Nevada caucuses, and reporter Andrea Mitchell was featured in the segment on Clinton's Nevada win. Then Peggy Noonan, the Reagan/Bush speech writer, appeared in a later segment about the Republican South Carolina primary. Basically, one chick per segment, giving a gender ration of three to four guys for every one female.

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Hillary wins Nevada -- and a New York heavy

So, Hillary Clinton has won the vote in the Nevada caucuses, though the jury is still out as to who won the greater number of delegates -- Barack Obama or she. Your blogstress does not pretend to understand why this is; just remember you heard it here next.

But the Nevada vote wasn't all good for the former first lady, who apparently lost the African-American vote in a big way. And so, tomorrow in earnest begins the fight for black voters. MSNBC reports that Hillary will travel to her home state of New York to pick up the endorsement of Rev. Calvin Butts, pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, and big man in the the real-estate politics of Harlem, the land called home these days by one former president. And what will he be doing tomorrow? According to Clinton adviser Ann Lewis, Bill will be going door-to-door in African-American neighborhoods in South Carolina, whose pivotal Democratic presidential primary takes place a week from today.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Hillary's night

Ever since Hillary Clinton asked us to imagine each of the candidates in the Oval Office, I keep seeing her at the desk. Tonight, seated between two younger men, and in full command of the facts and her emotions, she really did look like the boss.

Not that your blogstress liked all of her answers, especially the one about Bob Johnson, the BET founder, who took a rhetorical slap at Barack Obama yesterday with cryptic comments that seemed to refer to Obama's admitted use of drugs while in high school. On that issue, Mrs. Clinton clearly spoke from both sides of her mouth, claiming to accept Johnson's explanation that he was not referring to drug use when he mentioned what Obama "was doing in the neighborhood" while Hillary was making change, while saying that Johnson's remarks were "out of bounds."

On the other hand, your écrivaine was relieved to see the candidates tone it down, especially the tension between Clinton and Obama with regard to Clinton's insensitivity on matters of race.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Edwards on defensive regarding Musharraf

Tim Russert just asked John Edwards about whether his outreach to Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, just hours after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, was appropriate. Might it have given cover to Musharraf, whom nearly half of Pakistani people believe had something to do with Bhutto's death? I think we may be witnessing Edwards doing that special form of prevarication to which Andrew Cuomo referred last week, to much consternation.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
The politics of fear

Barack Obama just deftly turned a question about the the politics of post-9/11 fear into a referendum on her war vote. Will post that bit of transcript once it's available.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Barack chastises black fathers

In his call for accountability for black fathers, Barack Obama would, at first glance, appear to be playing to a white electorate. It's important to note, however, that the Democratic nominee may be decided by African-American women, who may welcome Obama's comments.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Speak freakin' English, dammit!

Under the immigration law suggested by John Edwards, your blogstress would never have come to exist. Your écrivaine, you see, descends, on one side of the family, from people who never learned to speak English. Edwards seems to be saying that English-speaking should be a contingency for citizenship.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Yucca Mountain: Hillary takes a swing

When Brian Williams asked the candidates how they would address the boondoggle known as the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility in Nevada, where the debate is taking place (and where Democratic caucuses will take place in a few days), Hillary took John Edwards to task for having voted to fund the building of the facility. Good for her. Another holier-than-thou ruse from Edwards is his waving around his opposition to nuclear power.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Great political theater--not

Edwards just can't keep that obnoxious best-boy-in-the-class attitude contained. He really grated with his contention that he, and only he, would promise to get all combat troops out of Iraq within a years' time. Any other talk about a withdrawal, he said, was little more than "great political theater."

Anybody who would promise what he's promising, I think, is bound to underdeliver.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Hillary asks Barack to assist

Hillary used her question time to ask Barack if he would co-sponsor her legislation to contain Bush's war effort.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Candidates' question time

Oy vey. They get to ask each other questions.

Edwards, after saying he wasn't being "holier than thou" in his question to Obama, promptly goes on to be holier than thou with his question to Obama -- about the oodles of dollars Obama raked in from pharmaceutical companies, now surpassing Clinton in that regard.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Bankrupcy law

Good question from Russert to everybody's favorite economic populist, John Edwards, son of a millworker, about whether he regretted voting for a 2001 bankruptcy bill that was the precursor to the current law, which is truly punitive.

Yes, he did regret it.

Same question to Hillary: She regrets making the same vote. But that bill did not become law (no thanks to Edwards or her), she reminds us, and she opposed the 2005 bill that ultimately became law.

We need to reform that law, now, she says.

UPDATE: Obama was asked if he, too, opposed those bills, but that's not exactly an even question, since he was not in Congress. Of course, he opposed them both.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Managing the bureaucracy

Somebody's got to do it; that's what Hillary said. In other words, inspiration isn't the end-all and be-all.

Barack used the question as an opportunity to critique the management style of George W. Bush (he was very efficient; always on time) for his failure to bring people together, failure of judgment on the war. Wait--he was critiquing the guy in the Oval Office -- not the senator from New York, right?

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Imagine (all the people, voting for me today)

Hillary has asked the audience to imagine each of the candidates in the Oval Office, doing presidential things. That's an interesting approach. Just in speaking it, she had me imagining each of those Democrats in that office. I don't know that it makes the decision any easier, though, among this crop.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Obama likes Clinton

In a question that started out to be about the women's vote in Iowa and New Hampshire, Brian Williams asked Barack Obama if he regrets his snarky comment to Hillary Clinton: "You're likable enough, Hillary."

He said indeed he regretted it because it came out the wrong way, but then said that at the end of the day this contest was not going to be about who has the "nicest smile" or "who you want to have a beer with" -- clear swipes at Hillary, who came out of the last debate in New Hampshire with accolades about her pretty smile when she she coyly answered the likability question. After feigning feminine wiles, she waved off the likability test by saying that most Americans cited George W. Bush in the last election as the candidate they would best like to have a beer with.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Bob Johnson lives

Despite his allusion today to Barack Obama's youthful indiscretion, Bob Johnson will be taken at his word, via his statement that he didn't mean to imply what he seemed to imply. That's what Hillary Clinton just said. When asked by Russert if Johnson's comments were out of bounds, Hillary said, "Yes, they were."

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Did New Hampshirites vote against the black guy?

Barack says no. Senator Clinton ran a good campaign, he says.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Pushing this story

Russert just fanned the pages of a document that he said was a story that Barack Obama's people had been pushing. What story?

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Opening question: race

Hillary: Barack and I agree that "neither race nor gender should be part of this campaign."

"We both have exuberant and uncontrollable supporters."

Barack: "I think Hillary said it well." We need "not to fall into the same traps of division that we have in the future."

Edwards: "We've made great progress, but we're not finished with that progress." He has an anecdote, of course: he saw "four young men sit down at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina" during the days of segregation.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Race and gender in the Democratic presidential primary

Your blogstress has spent the better part of a week examining the fascinating phenomenon of alpha-feminist participation in the top Democratic campaigns for the presidency. In fact, the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards each feature a leader in reproductive rights movement as senior advisers; in Clinton campaign, Ann Lewis, who once served communications chief for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is a top strategist. The Edwards campaign is graced by the presence of Kate Michelman, who ran NARAL for more than 20 years, and her predecessor at NARAL, Karen Mulhauser, is Barack Obama's senior advisor on women's issues.

This is truly amazing -- that each of the campaigns has taken up a feminist agenda, not just on reproductive rights, but an a range issues, including family leave and Social Security. But with a woman in the race, there is also a risk of division within the feminist movement between those who believe that the only true feminist choice is to vote for the woman in the race, and those who focus on the policy papers and specific programs. Throw race in to the mix -- unavoidable with the equally unprecedented candidacy of Barack Obama, and you have something volatile. It's a pivotal moment, for sure. From your écrivaine's piece today on the Women's Media Center site:

For liberals and progressives, the presidential primary season of 2008 is a breathtaking moment. Historic "firsts" are represented by the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; add in John Edwards and you have a race contested by three figures, each of whom depicts in an iconic way one of three core ideals that define the traditional liberal coalition in the Democratic Party: women's rights, civil rights and economic populism. Each of these candidates, of course, represents a far wider range of policy positions than that suggested by her or his iconographic status. Consequently, in a moment of great opportunity and challenge for the women's movement, all have drawn high-visibility feminists to their campaigns.
As a result of Gloria Steinem's provocative op-ed, which appeared in last Monday's New York Times on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, a major discussion has been taking place about the impact of race and gender on the Democratic contest. Today, Steinem appeared on Amy Goodman's show, debating Melissa Harris Lacewell of Princeton. Mandatory listening, mes amis.

On the front page today of today's Times, Adam Nagourney takes on the topic.

The success of the liberal/progressive agenda will rise or fall on how progressives deal with, along racial and gender lines, the fallout from the primary race.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rounding up primary coverage

Until she refreshes herself adequately for the next round, devotees of your blogstress may amuse themselves by reading coverage your ecrivaine provided to sites other than AddieStan:







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Huckabee deflects on wifely submission

Fox News is broadcasting yet another live debate with the presidential candidates, this one including Ron Paul.

As entertaining as the Texas congressman may be, the former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee just dazzled with a bob-and-dodge when asked to explain his signature on the Southern Baptist statement, passed at the denomination's 1998 convention, that "a wife is to submit herself graciously" to the leadership of her husband.

First, he deflected with a barb, saying it's interesting that "everybody" says that religion is off-limits as a campaign issue, except when it comes to him.

Then he made a little joke, saying that if this gathering was going to be a religious service, he'd like to pass the plate, since his campaign could certainly use the money. His slight stumble over the words revealed the rehearsed nature of the quip, which may have been written for him.

Then he said he would not apologize for his faith, and went on to say that that the passage in Ephesians on which the "wifely submission" statement was based meant that both husband and wife submitted themselves equally to Christ. Do note, mes amis, that the Southern Baptist statement only includes the word "equal" in reference to the value of both husband and wife in the eyes of God. It does, however, leave the business of submission to the wife, and likens that submission to the submission of the church to God. So, the husband is analogous to God. Nice.

Huckabee then made his answer about his wife. See, it couldn't be a sexist statement, since anybody who thinks that statement is about ordering one's wife around has "never met Janet Huckabee."

I wonder what her name used to be.

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Day off

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Your blogstress desperately needs some beauty sleep. Blog more tomorrow. So much has happened: Kerry endorses Barack. (Is this a good thing?) Richardson drops out of the race. (No more resume-reading in debates. Bummer!) Latest narrative from the boys: Hillary won because she cried. Get out!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Driving from New Hampshire to D.C.

MANCHESTER, N.H.--After having pulled two all-nighters in a row, your blogstress begins the long trip back to Our Nation's Capital. Thank goodness she does not have to do the driving herself, having had the good fortune of making a new friend who is younger and abler-bodied than she.

How 'bout that Hillary, huh?

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And Hillary wept (not)

MANCHESTER, N.H.--Your blogstress has published a piece at the Guardian Unlimited "Comment Is Free" blog on WaterworksGate -- the scandal of the welling eyes of a presidential candidate.


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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hillary-hater shouting behind me

photo (c) 2008 Talk Radio News Service

Your blogstress (left, of course) treats Mike Gravel the same way everybody else does.

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- I'm working out of the radio row hosted by Talk Radio News Service, and sitting behind me is a man screaming into his microphone, spewing an irrational hatred of Hillary Clinton. His name is Rusty Humphries, and he appears to have some women issues. He called the women who voted for Hillary "bigots," because to him, they voted for her solely out of gender loyalty. Said the "jihadists" must be having a party.

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Arnie Arnesen and her regular woman problem

photo © 2008
Talk Radio News Service

Arnie Arnesen interviews Elizabeth Kucinich on the Talk Radio News Service radio row.

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Deborah "Arnie" Arnesen is a lot of things: attorney, television producer, radio talk show host. Recently named by The Nation magazine as one of the country's Most Valuable Progressives, Arnesen was also the first woman to run for governor in the state of New Hampshire. In 1992, while facing off against Republican Steve Merrill, to whom she lost by a hair, Arnesen also helped shepherd a young presidential candidate around the state. His name was Bill Clinton.

Arensen has been broadcasting her radio show, Chowder in the Morning (WCCM 1110 AM in Southern New Hampshire), this week from the Talk Radio News Service radio row in Manchester, and I had the good fortune to get Arnie to sit down for an interview on primary night, in between interviews she was giving to media outlets as far flung as Australian TV and Al Jazeera.

One of Arnesen's great concerns is that, when challenging people to transcend their prejudices, it is done strategically. To make her point, she told me this story:

[As the] first woman to run for governor of my state, I never talked about being a girl. I never did, because I said -- you know why? They notice. I walk into a room, and they see two breasts. So I don't ever have to explain to them who I am. What they have to do is process whether I'm a leader...

About a year into my campaign, it was 1992; I hadn't won the primary yet. So, I had just given a speech on the economy and what we needed to do to dealt with some of the economic issues facing our state. It was at a Rotary Club, so it was predominately male. A guy comes up to me and says, "That was the most economically sophisticated speech I have ever heard." He said, "I am absolutely blown away by you." And I'm thinking to myself, I'm not that good.

And then he looks at me and says, "But it's too bad that I can't vote for you." And I said, "Excuse me? Why?"

And then he gets a little red in the face and he says, "Well, it's because of that woman problem." And I just said, "What?"

And now he's getting really red in the face, and says, "Well you know -- that regular woman problem."

So I looked at him and I said, "How did you describe my speech again?" And he said, "You are obviously very bright, you obviously know your policy issues, and you are very funny and very smart."

And I said, "Let me tell you something. You know that regular woman problem? Well, I'm having it right now." And I said, "If I'm so good at this time of the month, imagine me during the rest of the month." And that was 1992.

Do you know how excited I am that we have a woman [running for president] who is never asked a question about her period? But I was.

You know, I told that story over and over on the campaign trail. Because I knew that for that one person who asked me, there were a lot of other people thinking the same thing. That guy gave me a gift. I used that story over and over...I used it to educate all the men in the room.

Cross-posted at Real Women, Real Voices, the blog of the National Women's Editorial Forum

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Hillary rocks...then, well...

MANCHESTER, N.H.--This evening, unseasonably warm, finds your blogstress at a Hillary Clinton rally in the indoor track area of an airport health club. Hillary started strong, and her crowd was enthused. Bill and Chelsea are standing primly on stage. But a little more than halfway through the speech, she started getting too far down in the weeds with a laundry list of programs she wanted to start or amend.

Thing is, I have no doubt that she would get a whole lotta good things done. But it's a dark time, and the laundry list does little to make me feel better about the nation's future in the grander sense.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

An odd visit to Hillaryland

MANCHESTER, N.H.--Went to Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters today to get press credentials for tomorrow's campaign events, of which there are about six -- if you count Bill's solo appearances -- showing on her campaign Web site. Yet her campaign staff told me that her schedule had yet to be determined for tomorrow. Seems a bit odd. Don't want to read too much into it; after all some polls still show her neck-and-neck with Barack Obama, while the latest AP/UNH poll gives Obama a 12-point advantage among Democratic voters. But it does seem that some kind of reassessment is underway. Makes one wonder what the internals look like.

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Republicans boring tonight

MANCHESTER, N.H.--Your blogstress had a hard time staying focused when watching the Republican presidential candidates talk to Chris Wallace. Last night was a family feud, which offered some compelling moments. Tonight was more like a late family dinner where everybody's a little tired and cranky. Your ecrivaine did note, however, that Mike Huckabee stole Rudy Giuliani's line from last night about Ronald Reagan's amnesty bill. Huckabee told viewers of the Fox News debate that Ronald Reagan's amnesty for illegal immigrants was the reason we "have the mess we have today."

Fred Thompson seemed terribly condescending, and a bit clueless. John McCain had little fire. Mitt Romney seemed just as vapid as ever, but that didn't stop a Frank Luntz focus group from going whole-hog for him. The same group did not think that Hillary Clinton would be the Democrat's presidential nominee; they overwhelmingly chose Barack Obama as the nominee that their man, Romney, would face in November.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Live-blogging the Facebook debate
Squeezing her out

The debate has been substantive, but your blogstress has been a bit too weary to stay focused on the details. So instead, she'll play the MSM game of writing the sports narrative.

The strategery here seems united among the men: they want the broad out. Edwards seems to be hedging by not taking on Barack Obama, the party star, and Richardson seemed to cast his lot, as well, with the men. They'd all rather lose to a man than lose to a woman.

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Live-blogging the Facebook debate
Hillary fascinates

Hillary Clinton continues to fascinate. She can lull us to sleep with wonky policy descriptions, then suddenly lurch into an impassioned plea to be heard.

From Jonathan Cohn at The Plank:

was about to write an item suggesting that Hillary Clinton's angry response to John Edwards was going to become "the moment" of this debate, because the media -- which, regrettably, always focuses on theatrics more than substance -- would deem it evidence that she had lost control of her temper.

From Ezra Klein, herewith:
In the debate over health care mandates, rather than argue for his plan, or against Obama's, Edwards went after Hillary as a force "of the status quo" fighting those trying to bring about change. It backfired.

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates
Likeable enough

When asked to respond to polling showing that people do not find her likable, Hillary made a mock-sad face and said, "It hurts my feelings." And immediately seemed human and likable. (Barack Obama, in an ungracious moment, said, not looking her in the eye, "You're likable enough, Hillary.") She reminded the audience that the American people last elected a president that "they would like to have a beer with." But then she went on to argue that she is an agent of change, and it felt flat until she said that being the first woman president would makes a pretty strong statement of change.

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates

Obama tries to make John Edwards a compadre. Hillary tries to pull John Edwards to her side. Bill Richardson tries to make himself relevant by calling the other three uncivil.

That's because Hillary lost her cool after Edwards poked hard at her, by trying to squeeze her out of the discussion by counting himself as a change agent next to Obama, reminding viewers that he came in second in Iowa, next to Obama. In truth, he came in much closer to Hillary -- within one point -- than he did to Obama, with whom he had an 8-point spread.

This really ticked her off, prompting her to demand, rightfully, an opportunity to respond. But when she did, her irritation was apparent, something that could work just fine if she were a man, but she's not. And even for men, it's a risky course. Remember when Bob Dole demanded of a fellow Republican that he "stop lying about my record"?

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates

Charlie Gibson has asked Hillary Clinton to address why Barack Obama represents change. She just responded that the Associated Press wrote that Obama could have a pretty good debate with himself, having changed positions, she said, on health care. Obama says that the AP was quoting some of Hillary's people.

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates
How to respond to a nuclear attack on America

Everybody retaliates. Hillary goes after stateless terrorists in the nations that harbor them.

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates
The Democrats

Everybody seems really tired. Bill Richardson is advancing his simplistic and idiotic position that the U.S. should make Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf step aside, invoke a clause in the Pakistan constitution for a caretaker government, and call new elections.

Hillary Clinton gave a very smart answer about how to move with Pakistan with regard to following actionable intelligence to go after Osama bin Laden, reminding viewers that you can't lob missiles into Pakistan without considering the possibility of igniting a nuclear conflict in South Asia if India activates its arsenal.

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates
Why not Obama?

Scott Spralding, the moderator from WMUR just asked the Republicans to explain why people should not vote for Barack Obama. More revealing than their answers so far is the very fact of the question; it would appear to anoint Obama as the frontrunner, even though WMUR's own poll shows him tied with Hillary Clinton.

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates
Our grandparents got here; everybody else go home

That's pretty much the Romney plan. According to The Politico's Jonathan Martin, Romney's been dropping attack leaflets all over New Hampshire, going after both John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani on their immigration policies.

I hate to say it, but Rudy's sounding good on this -- talking about comprehensive immigration reform. McCain has the same plan. Romney is freaking out. Fred Thompson, in an attempt to come back from the dead, is playing prosecutor on this one, challenging Rudy, rhetorically making the point that, under Rudy's plan, undocumented immigrants would be "rewarded" for breaking the law by allowing them to stay in the country.

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates
Huckabee bares his teeth

Round one is over and Mike Huckabee has shown himself to be quite formidable, making short work of the hapless Mitt Romney. During one exchange, Romney got testy with Huckabee, telling Huckabee to let Romney describe his own policy postions, to which Huck responded, "Which one?"

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Live-blogging the Facebook debates
Republicans on foreign policy

Ron Paul: Islamists attack us because we invade their countries.

Rudy Giuliani: Ground Zero; 9/11. I gave a $10 million check back to a Saudi prince who gave it to me at Ground Zero (WHERE 9/11 HAPPENED) because he [like Ron Paul] said America needed to change its foreign policy.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Huckabee also made history

Given the grand sweep of history reflected in tonight's win of the Iowa caucuses by Barack Obama, it's easy to forget that, among Republicans, tonight's win by Mike Huckabee is also history-making. He's the guy the party didn't want, and he has precious little dough. This is what it looks like when the voters thumb their nose at the establishment. Unfortunately, on the Republican side, that's an even more scary prospect than their establishment guys.

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Hear the sound of pounding feet?

That's the sound of a lot of African-American people walking over to the Obama camp. You see, African-American voters are very pragmatic, and many were hesitant to declare for Barack Obama if they thought there was no way that white people would vote for him. Iowa has changed all that. And your blogstress thinks that's where Hillary Clinton really is in trouble. African-American women had been a mainstay of her support.

Obama capped his win in Iowa with a soaring speech. You had to be made of wood not to feel it. Tonight, I believe, he won a good deal more than Iowa.

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Obama: the change quote

"In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it."

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Obama is the man

"a president who won't just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know."

This is good stuff, well delivered.

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Obama speaks

And he is lifting us up. This is beautiful.

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Huckabee's code

While wags unfamiliar with the lingo of the religious right spoke with amazement of how soft and centrist he appeared to be, they totally missed the code that Huckabee spoke. No, he did not make only one reference to abortion -- he made several. That thing about "generations yet to be born"? About abortion. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? Yes, abortion. You have to do a little studying on that one. It has to do with "unalienable rights." And those 64 guys who signed the Declaration of Independence? They "gave birth" to an idea.

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Barack making us wait

A cruel tease...Make the speech, man!

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Huckabee speech - features Chuck Norris

Hillary Clinton approaches the podium with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright standing next to her; Mike Huckabee gives his victory speech with Chuck Norris, former Walker, Texas Ranger, standing next to him.

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Hillary gives a good speech

Congratulates Obama and Edwards, nods to all of her colleagues, and declares it a "great day for Democrats."

Makes a case for her candidacy. Looks swell.

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John Edwards gives strange speech

I'm watching this speech and I'm thinking, this is weird; this guy is just giving his stump speech. Okay, I think, so maybe not so dumb; he's got a national audience, so he's decided to use precious media to deliver his message -- not a raft of thank-yous.

But then Chris Matthews reminded me that he never congratulated Barack Obama, who won this contest. And that's just unsportsmanlike. Most unattractive.

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Obama wins!

You blogstress has always thought that Barack Obama has a real shot at winning the Democratic nomination for president, but she never thought it would begin in Iowa. Really thought that Edwards would pull this one out.

But what the Obama win tells us is that a narrative of hope can trump the division of race. Yes, racism still reigns in all too many places, but hope can prevail. Amen.

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Huckabee wins

As your blogstress predicted, the Christian Reconstructionist-friendly Mike Huckabee has won the Republican Iowa caucus. So, she's half right.

You'll recall that your ecrivaine predicted that John Edwards would win the Democratic caucus. Though Fox News and others have called the race for Barack Obama, your net-tete is not yet ready to concede her hunch. However, she can't say she would be unhappy to announce an Obama win.

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Dems still close

Fox News just declared Barack Obama the winner in Iowa, yet the percentages are quite close, and at least one big precinct -- Iowa City -- has yet to deliver. On the ground is Hans Johnson, the labor and LGBT activist, who texted me to let me know that that the Iowa City precinct turnout is up by 33 percent from 2004. Hans is a volunteer with the John Edwards campaign.

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Huckabee's internet-jammers

Great post by Amanda Terkel of Think Progress, here via AlterNet:

Huckabee urged the bloggers to "clog" up the wireless system in Des Moines so that reporters couldn't file any more "bad" stories about him.

Yesterday in Des Moines, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee hosted an event thanking "roughly 700 bloggers who, he said, were responsible for keeping his campaign alive."

Hat-tip to Tim C. for the heads-up.

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Iowa predictions

Your blogstress has read the entrails, and brings you this prognostication for the outcome of the Iowa caucuses:

Winner for Dems: Edwards
Winner for Repubs: Huckabee*

*Caveat: If Romney wins, but Huckabee comes within two or three points, the latter has effectively won, according to Marquess of Weehawken rules. More on this later.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Thank you, Jezebel!

If you don't know this wonderful blog, mes amis, well then, get thyself acquainted. It's Jezebel, and it was fabulous even before Anna Holmes and her team discovered your blogstress. But herewith, your ecrivaine's first sighting on Jezebel:

Lady Leaders: "Girly-Girl" Benazir Bhutto Loved Victoria's Secret

Hat-tip to Bro Spence for the heads-up.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Benazir Bhutto -- feminist?

In Pakistan, most women lead lives of peril. Laws are stacked against them. Nearly twice as many men can read as women. Girl children are often fed only after their brothers have eaten their fill. Maternal mortality is strikingly high.

Despite her feminist rhetoric, Benazir Bhutto did little to change any of that. Nonetheless, she remains a potent symbol of female empowerment to the women of South Asia.

Your ecrivaine offers more on this topic at The American Prospect Online:
Benazir Bhutto: An Imperfect Feminist

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How Edwards could win Iowa

Your blogstress's gut feeling has long been that, on the Democratic side, John Edwards will win the Iowa caucuses. While other prognosticators have come to similar conclusions, for which they have some educated rationale (usually based on the fact that Edwards never left Iowa after the 2004 presidential race), your cybertrix has contented herself by going with the gut.

Not long ago, your écrivaine spoke to a friend who is on the ground in Iowa, organizing for a candidate who is not Edwards. The friend predicted a win for Edwards, and, yes, the friend had a educated rationale.

"Hillary is not going to win," said the friend. "People doing her footwork are focused on the more populous counties. Meanwhile, Edwards is organized in all the rural counties -- places where an entire caucus may consist of eight people."

See, the results of the Iowa caucuses are not based on popular vote. They're a bit more complicated than the electoral college's winner-take-all construction, but work along similar lines.

Caucuses are meetings of the voters in a given precinct. Each precinct decides its top candidates after eliminating the "non-viables" who fail to meet a particular threshold (usually around 15 percent). Each of the top candidates is awarded a number of county delegates based on a formula that takes in the percentage of caucus voters and the level of that precinct's Democratic voter turnout in recent statewide elections. Bottom line, though, is that each of the viable candidates gets at least one delegate.

The winner of the Iowa caucuses is then determined by the tally of county delegates each candidate has won. Hence, the rural vote is more heavily weighted.

For instance, when I visited a caucus in Des Moines in 1996, that single caucus was at least 500 people, if not more; they packed a public school auditorium. It is conceivable that in such a gathering that one viable candidate could win, say, two delegates -- not a whole heckuva lot. But a rural caucus of eight people could also wind up winning two delegates for its big candidate. And, according to my friend, Edwards has those votes pretty well locked up.

Another twist on the Edwards story comes from your Webwench's former TAPPED colleague, Matt Yglesias, who now blogs at The Atlantic. Matt, responding to a comment by Stuart Rothenberg, chiding Edwards for "scaring the stuffing out of corporate America," writes:

[I]f Edwards wins in Iowa by running left and pissing people off, that'll be a good thing for the world. By contrast, while there's a lot I like about Barack Obama, if he wins Iowa it won't have been by running hard on the things I like best about him.

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