Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘Campaign 08’

Michelle Obama puts foot in mouth, Hillary wishes Bill more like Cindy McCain

Posted by Fred on February 20, 2008

Now that Michelle Obama has been quoted as saying that, for the first time in her adult life, the 44 year old is proud of her country, how much do you think Hillary wishes Bill hadn’t called Obama’s anti-war record a fairy tale, or that Obama would likely win in South Carolina because of his race, or that President Hillary would send Bill and George H.W. Bush on a mission to clean up George W. Bush’s mess?  You just know Hillary would love to have her surrogates come out hard (the way Cindy McCain did), but she doesn’t have much credibility on that front.


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McCain, Obama sweep to victory in Potomac Primaries

Posted by Fred on February 13, 2008


Yesterday’s so-called Potomac Primaries saw resounding victories for Barack Obama in DC, Maryland and Virginia.  The results in DC and Maryland were not surprising, as each has substantial African-American communities, which turned out in force for Obama.  The margin of victory in Virginia was a surprise, with Obama beating Clinton by 29 percentage points (pre-vote polls suggested a margin of more like 18%).

On the Republican side, McCain won in all three states as well.  Again, his victories in DC and Maryland were expected, as neither state boasts the sort of conservative, evangelical base that makes up virtually all of Huckabee’s support.  Neither state is even remotely in play in November, as either Obama or Clinton would beat the Republican handily.  In Virginia, early returns suggested that Old Dominion conservatives might be sending a message to McCain about his conservative credentials (or lack thereof), but in the end McCain managed to get half the vote in the open GOP primary.

On a county-by-county basis, both Huckabee and Clinton found their support largely in the rural Southwest corner of the state.

VA_counties_demObama’s support was solid in all counties east of Lynchburg.  Clinton picked up support in the SW, plus Shenandoah (50%), Warren (55%) and Page (59%) counties.

VA_counties_repMcCain, like Obama, did well in the more urban and suburban east.  Huckabee polled well in the SW and Cumberland, Amelia and Dinwiddie counties west of Richmond, plus the conservative parts of the SE (Charles City, Isle of Wight and Surry counties plus the cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk).

What are the lessons to be drawn from this?  First, Obama is clearly able to pick up support from rural whites, as David Weigel notes at Reason:

Highland County, which borders West Virginia, is 99 percent white, and it went 54-45 for Obama. Floyd County, deep in Appalachia, is about 97 percent white, and it went 49-48 for Obama. Virginia has 11 congressional districts, all but two of them with white majorities, and Obama only lost one of them, the ultra-conservative 9th, which looks more like eastern Tennessee than the rest of Virginia.

Second, the not-McCain vote is far stronger than the pro-Huckabee vote.  Look at where Huckabee did well, areas that are incredibly conservative and have as much chance of voting for a Democrat as choosing polo over NASCAR.  Listen to Huckabee’s supporters.  Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell said that McCain “has some work to do to convince Republicans and independents that he’s the man. . . . There are a lot of people still searching.”  Voters aren’t any more fired up about the Huckster than are the politicians:

In Loudoun County, Huckabee found support yesterday among some voters who said former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney had been their first choice, and among others who wanted to send a message. Former Romney supporter Mark Vayda, 82, chose Huckabee because he said McCain is weak on immigration.

Janice Schell, 45, of Purcellville, a self-described conservative Christian, voted for Huckabee even though she acknowledged that his chances are slim. “I’ll support John McCain if he gets the nomination. I guess it’s just to make a statement,” she said.

The conservatives are tilting at windmills, as McCain now has 821 delegates, needing only 370 to secure the nomination.  Upcoming primaries where McCain would be expected to do well include Wisconsin (Feb. 19: 40 delegates), Indiana (May 6: 57 delegates), Ohio (March 4: 88 delegates) and Pennsylvania (April 22: 74 delegates).  Huckabee’s chances to even be a gadfly until the convention will probably be determined by the March 4 Texas primary.  McCain victories in Ohio and Texas would give him another 228 delegates.  A McCain victory in Ohio or Texas would also make it mathematically impossible for Huckabee to win outright.

Momentum is now clearly with Obama, who has won eight straight contests over the suddenly-shaky Clinton, and McCain, who has broken a recent string of Huckabee protest vote victories.  It’s certainly far from over, at least on the Democratic side.  A President Huckabee would be a disaster, a strange amalgam of tax increases, statist policy and an ultra-conservative social agenda. You’d get an amendment to remake the Constitution in God’s image, policies to ban unapproved food, drink and other vices, and tax increases to pay for it all.  President Clinton redux would be equally bad; her aborted efforts at remaking the health care system the first time around show just what to expect, and the fact that her support comes from old-line Democratic interest groups suggests that she wouldn’t even be able to claim the centrist New Democrat mantle her husband tried to claim.  McCain and Obama may not be ideal (McCain’s anti-First Amendment campaign finance reform agenda comes to mind), but they look positively wonderful in comparison.

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Hillary’s Problems With the Truth

Posted by Fred on January 23, 2008

Bill Clinton was one of our more veracity-challenged Presidents, which is a notable accomplishment, given that politicians have a questionable relationship with the truth to begin with.  His wife is apparently no better, given her recent attacks on Barack Obama.

First Hillary said that Obama “really liked the ideas of the Republicans” over the past fifteen years as part of his general praise for Ronald Reagan’s dynamism.  What Obama actually said was

I think it is fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you’ve heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they’re being debated among the presidential candidates, and it’s all tax cuts. Well, you know, we’ve done that, we tried it. That’s not really going to solve our energy problems.

There’s nothing in there about liking the Republicans’ ideas, just a statement that it was the GOP, not the Democrats, pushing new ideas.  Given that the Republicans in Congress spent a long time out of power, it makes perfect sense that they would be the ones challenging conventional wisdom.  Obama’s wrong on tax cuts, in my opinion, but there is absolutely no justification for Bill and Hillary’s criticism.

Not content with one whopper, Hillary then tried to tie Obama to controversial developer Rezko, claiming that her opponent had represented a “slumlord” in Chicago.  A nice story, and a good way to counterbalance Hillary’s own service on the Wal-Mart board by arguing that she was misguided, but Obama was malicious.  Again, however, a complete fabrication:

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama received $168,000 in campaign contributions from Rezko and his associates after 1995. Obama has denied doing any legal work directly for Rezko or his companies. During Monday night’s debate, he said that he had done “about five hours’ worth of work” on a joint real estate development project involving Rezko and a Chicago church group.

William Miceli, Obama’s supervisor at the law firm, said the firm represented the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp., a nonprofit group that redeveloped a run-down property on Chicago’s South Side with Rezko. He called Clinton’s assertion that Obama represented Rezko in a slum landlord business “categorically untrue.”

“He was a very junior lawyer at the time, who was given responsibility for basic due diligence, document review,” said Miceli, adding that Obama did what he was told by the firm. According to Miceli, that was the only time Obama worked on a Rezko-related project while at the law firm.

Why politicians continue to think they can get away with this in the Internet Age is beyond me.  Fact checking is just too easy.  Maybe it all depends on what the definition of is is.

[via Hit & Run]

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Mike Huckabee is no conservative

Posted by Fred on January 16, 2008

Exit polls from Michigan suggest that Romney took the evangelical vote, with 35% to Huckabee’s 29%.  McCain was third in that group, with 22%.  This is good news.  Mike Huckabee is a lot of things, but he is no conservative.  He has some crossover appeal (taking 19% of the union vote in the Michigan GOP primary, an admittedly small group), but he’s not building a Reagan-style coalition.  He’s a Baptist preacher with a giant, throbbing soft spot for the nanny state.  And true conservatives should be scared of that, even if he says things you want to hear about abortion.

Take, for example, his position on obesity.  Huckabee is, of course, a Former Fat Guy.  So am I, but I’d never say this:

Changing the culture of obesity will require using public education campaigns, Huckabee said. He cited the 1970s seat belt campaign, the 1960’s anti-littering crusade, and the anti-smoking effort as models.

Seat belts were once an optional accessory when buying a car, but now seat belt use is mandatory and in some states stiff fines are imposed for not using them.

There’s no “culture of obesity” in America. There’s a bunch of people who haven’t made a decision to be healthy, and who are shielded from the consequences of their actions by a health care system largely funded by employers.  We don’t need to impose stiff fines on schools with junk food vending machines or parents who feed their kids McDonald’s on the way to Little League.  We need market-based solutions that make people pay more when their health care costs more.

Huckabee feels the same way about smoking:

At an August 2007 forum on cancer hosted by cyclist and activist Lance Armstrong and moderated by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Huckabee said he supported a federal smoking ban.

“If you are president in 2009 and Congress brings you a bill to outlaw smoking nationwide in public places, would you sign it?” Matthews asked.

“I would, certainly would. In fact, I would, just like I did as governor of Arkansas, I think there should be no smoking in any indoor area where people have to work,” Huckabee responded, triggering applause from the crowd. Part of the interview has been posted on and viewed over 2,500 times.

Calling it a “workplace safety issue,” Huckabee added that the “same reason that we regulate that you can’t pour radon gas into a workplace is the same reason that we shouldn’t allow people to pour the toxic, noxious fumes of a cigarette into a place where people have to work.”

Again, no.  An employment relationship is a voluntary transaction between employer and employee.  The employer offers a certain salary for work under certain conditions, and the employee agrees to accept the salary for the work.  If the employer allows smoking, the employee need not work there.  A large, large majority of workplaces are smoke-free without a law requiring them to be, because that is what employees want.  Employers allowing smoking may find they have a hard time recruiting staff or have to pay more for that staff.  Employees choosing to work in a non-smoke-free environment can be presumed to have made that choice voluntarily.  Don’t like the smoke? Leave.  Yeah, it’s harsh, but the workplace is private property, and it doesn’t belong to you.

Huckabee’s views on the Constitution are equally troubling:

“[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it’s a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that’s what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards,” Huckabee said, referring to the need for a constitutional human life amendment and an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Again, this is the approach of a big government, nanny statist, not a Reaganite conservative.  Mike Huckabee wants the government in the break room, the lunch room and the bedroom.  He wants to increase taxes to pay for it, and amend the Constitution if necessary to allow it.  Romney, McCain and Giuliani are no friends of liberty either, but Huckabee is scary. Media savvy and a plucky underdog, maybe, but scary.  I’d vote for him for Cheerleader in Chief, but never President.

[via Reason’s Hit & Run]

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Presidential campaign now even more annoying

Posted by Fred on January 8, 2008

993938happy-bunny-throw-up-posters.jpgThis year’s presidential contest is beginning to make me throw up in my mouth a little (yeah, I know how annoying that phrase is, but I can’t think of another one right now). On the plus side, voters in New Hampshire appear poised to stick another dagger in the rotting corpse of Hillary’s campaign.  Those tears the other day seemed about as real as Roger Clemens’ denials on 60 Minutes.  or more to the point, no more real than Hillary’s depressed and depressing appearance on 60 Minutes with Bill in 1992, or her emotional outbursts about the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, or her one and only appearance in a pink suit in 1994, or her swings from strong-woman-the-voters-don’t-get to victim and back again.  See Jeff Taylor’s rundown on the Reason blog.

That does, however, leave one with Obama, destined to be America’s next motivational-speaker-in-chief.  Not sure what to make of Obama, as there’s not a whole lot of there there (yet).

On the other side of the aisle, Mike Huckabee’s star rose after Iowa, but will almost certainly crash again after New Hampshire, whose voters are less impressed by evolution-denying, will-of-God baptist preachers who have compared homosexuality to necrophilia than are their comrades in the Hawkeye State.  Ron Paul has always said the right sort of things 9and I’ve never been adverse to throwing away my vote on actual Libertarian party candidates, so why not a libertarianish Republican?) but he never had any real hope of getting the nomination unless a meteor crashed into one of the GOP debates he wasn’t invited to. Plus, some of the seedier side of his newsletter screeds are starting to see the light of day. Old history?  Probably. The work of someone other than Paul himself?  Maybe.  But none of that is relevant to the average voter, who really doesn’t want a President even tangentially associated with claims that Martin Luther King “seduced underage girls and boys” or that “95% of the black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

So where’s that leave someone like me, a fiscally conservative, kind-of-libertarian Hayekian liberal? Rudy Giuliani? John McCain? Mitt Romney?  No thanks. It’s just depressing.

banana_slug.jpgObligatory update: so Hillary won in an “upset.”  Given that she had a 12 point lead in New Hampshire three weeks ago, that we’re calling this slim victory an upset is somewhat telling.  Of course, NH voters also picked McCain, so who knows what any of this means. I’d still vote for a banana slug over Clinton.

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Obama calls Internet accusation about his patriotism a ‘dirty trick’

Posted by Fred on November 9, 2007

Wow. Lots of people actually care that Barack Obama may or may not have put his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance and/or National Anthem.

The e-mail in question shows a photo of Obama, as well as rival candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson during Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s steak fry in September. Harkin’s wife, Ruth, is also pictured. Richardson, Clinton, and Harkin all have their right hands on their heart while Obama’s hands are at his sides.

Read the comments on the CNN story – commenters actually say that Obama not wearing a flag pin on his lapel or making a mistake during the national anthem should disqualify him from running for President.  I’m no Obama fan – he’s better than some Democrats, but he still plays too fast and loose with my money – but this is simply absurd.  Not wearing a tiny metal American flag on one’s lapel (that was undoubtedly made in a Chinese factory) no more makes one unpatriotic than wearing one makes one a patriot.  What this really means is that the American presidential campaign season is FAR too long.  The Iowa caucuses are still two months away and we’ve already run out of things to talk about.

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