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  • February 11, 2010

    Happy *@%&! Valentine's Day

    Posted by: Chris

    Rahm emanuel valentines day card
    After three years in exile followed by eight months apart from my partner due to this country's discriminatory immigration and marriage laws, and not particularly caring for the current White House Chief of Staff (and I'm not particularly alone in that view), this GOP valentine just about summed up my sentiments.

    I'm not saying Rahm's the R-word or anything, but his Clintonian brand of political arrogance and screw-the-base triangulation is everything Barack Obama ran against in the primaries and does not serve his presidency well.

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    January 28, 2010

    You can tell he worked for Clinton

    Posted by: Chris

    Richard socarides bill clinton gay liaison
    Richard Socarides, who was apologist-in-chief for the disastrous two terms of Bill Clinton for gay civil rights, attempts to rewrite that history even as he takes a swipe at the current Democrat in the White House:

    "In 1999, Bill Clinton became the first president ever to talk about gay rights in a State of the Union address. Eleven years later, not much has changed. [Talking again about ending the policy] without a moratorium on the witch hunts and expulsions and without even a plan for future action, just won't cut it. Look, we are not second-class citizens and our rights are not second-term problems."

    Not much has changed? Let's see. Bill Clinton abandoned his gays in the military pledge like a hot potato in the first months of his first year of his first term, and by 1995 had signed both Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act into law.

    If Socarides really wants to talk about empty rhetoric, let's look at Bill Clinton's coded support for gay rights in his 1999 SOTU address:

    Discrimination or violence because of race or religion, ancestry or gender, disability or sexual orientation is wrong and it ought to be illegal. Therefore, I ask Congress to make the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act the law of the land.

    No mention of the dreaded "G word" and a tepid request of Congress to back two inoccuous pieces of legislation that -- nudge nudge, wink wink -- only the gays knew were for our benefit. Clinton's throwaway reference contained no time commitment and one of those two bills still languishes in Congress, despite a supermajority in both chambers.

    I'm all for keeping the Democrats feet to the fire on gay issues, but rather than whine about a president who actually did something meaningful, let's hear from Socarides and other FOB/H's about the MIA congressional leadership.

    (Pictured with then-President Bill Clinton: "awkward old maid" Janet Reno (far left) and gay liaison Richard Socarides (holding red notebook)).

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    January 17, 2010

    The lawsuit that could change everything

    Posted by: Chris

    Ted olson david boies proposition 8 suit
    Ever since Ted Olson and David Boies, who were on opposite sides of the infamous Bush vs. Gore case, announced they were marshaling forces to challenge the federal constitutionality of Proposition 8, I've been mightily encouraged by their prospects of success.  It's so effective and utterly refreshing to see two straight men, one of them with unquestionable credentials as a conservative, who "get it" so completely.

    Take for example this exchange from an entertaining profile of the two men penned by Maureen Dowd for today's New York Times:

    I asked the lawyers if they were disappointed that the president who had once raised such hope in the gay community now seemed behind the curve.

    “Damned right,” Boies snapped. “I hope my Democratic president will catch up to my conservative Republican co-counsel.”

    Olson added: “I’m not talking about Obama, but that’s what’s so bad about politicians. They say, ‘I must hasten to follow them, for I am their leader.’”

    Yes you were, Ted, along with Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid and dozens and dozens of others.

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    January 23, 2009

    A switch in time saves Gillibrand?

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATES: At the end of the post.


    However you felt about Caroline Kennedy's precocious non-campaign campaign to be the new junior senator from New York, she would have represented improvement over Hillary Clinton on marriage equality. For whatever reason, Kennedy made support for marriage equality one of the few controversial issues on which she took a specific stand. Hillary, of course, insists she's not there yet -- in public or in her heart of hearts.

    Now that we know New York Gov. David Paterson has selected Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, it appears that all the time that he took to make the decision did not result in a better gay rights outcome. Gillibrand aligns with Hillary against marriage, though she does back federal civil unions.

    In an interview with the gay-sounding non-gay publication Inside Out Hudson Valley, she elaborated:

    What I’d like to do legislatively, on the federal level—and I think we’ll be able to do this with the new president—is actually make civil unions legal in all 50 states, make it the law of the land. Because what you want to fundamentally do is protect the rights and privileges of committed couples, so that they can have Medicare benefits, visit in the hospitals, have adoption rights.

    All [the] things that we give to married couples, committed gay couples should be eligible for. And then the question of whether you call it a marriage or not, what you label it, that can be left to the states to decide.

    [It’s] so culturally oriented. My mom’s generation, they want their gay friends to have every right and privilege that they should be eligible for as a married couple, but they feel uncomfortable calling it marriage. To them, a marriage is a religious word that they learned from the Catholic Church: It’s a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. So they feel uncomfortable with the word. But they don’t feel uncomfortable with the rights and privileges.

    I think the way you win this issue is you focus on getting the rights and privileges protected throughout the entire country, and then you do the state-by-state advocacy for having the title.

    You can roll your eyes right along with me on why we are deprived a basic human right because the senior generation is "uncomfortable" with us exercising it, but Gillibrand is right that the issue is largely one to be decided at the federal level anyway.

    There are other areas of concern about Gillibrand. She missed the mark on 4 of the 11 issues on which the Human Rights Campaign scored her first term in Congress, scoring an 80 out of 100 (yeah, I don't get the math either).

    She got three checkmarks for ENDA -- voting twice for the compromise version and co-sponsoring the trans-inclusive version -- another two for the hate crimes bill, one for backing needle exchange in the District of Columbia and one for an obscure vote against an amendment to the Head Start program.

    But Gillibrand failed to sign on as a sponsor for four important measures:

    1. Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (146 Democrats sponsoring)
    2. Uniting American Families Act: equal immigration rights (118 Democrats sponsoring)
    3. Equal tax treatment for D.P. benefits (116 Democrats sponsoring)
    4. Medicaid funding people with HIV (140 Democrats sponsoring)

    Hillary had been a co-sponsor of the Senate versions of those last two, and committed to supporting UAFA and repealing DADT though she had not signed on to sponsor.

    Perhaps Gillibrand just needed more than her first two years in office to warm up to UAFA and DADT, and perhaps she'll be more ready to sign on now that she represents the whole state and not just upstate New York. Either way, her support for federal civil unions makes the glass at least half full, and is an excellent place to start.

    UPDATE #1:

    It appears Governor Paterson may have insisted on a commitment on marriage equality from Gillibrand before giving her the nod. So says the Empire State Pride Agenda:

    Last night likely Senate pick Kirsten Gillibrand spoke to Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle about issues important to New York's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

    "After talking to Kirsten Gillibrand, I am very happy to say that New York is poised to have its first U.S. Senator who supports marriage equality for same-sex couples," said Van Capelle. "She also supports the full repeal of the federal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) law, repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) and passage of legislation outlawing discrimination against transgender people. While we had a productive discussion about a whole range of LGBT concerns, I was particularly happy to hear where she stands on these issues."

    None of this explains why she fell so short of the mark before now, but it's still great news. We'll have to see whether the "whole range of LGBT concerns" included equal immigration rights, equal taxes on D.P. benefits, and early treatment of HIV.

    UPDATE #2:

    HRC has also chimed in with its own "clarification" of Gillibrand's gay rights views, claiming she supported repeal of DOMA and DADT, even if she didn't co-sponsor, begging the questions: (1) why didn't she co-sponsor? and (2) why doesn't HRC release this kind of information more generally? The reason for both, no doubt, is that members from moderate and conservative districts often will promise only quiet support, wanting to avoid controversy until such time as an actual vote occurs (if ever).

    However understandable politically, it hardly engenders much confidence in a politician like Gillibrand's courage under fire. And to claim she supported marriage equality runs directly contrary to what she herself said publicly.

    Here's the HRC "clarification":

    "There has been some discussion about the record of Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Governor David Paterson’s pick to replace Hillary Clinton, regarding her stance on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and additional LGBT issues. In particular, we’d like to clarify references to the Human Rights Campaign Scorecard for the 110th Congress. Although Kirsten Gillibrand did not co-sponsor legislation to repeal DADT, non-cosponsorship does not mean support for the policy or opposition to repeal. In fact, in conversations with her office the Human Rights Campaign has confirmed Gillibrand is in favor of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and supports full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples."

    Additionally, HRC confirmed with Gillibran’s staff additional points regarding her LGBT record:

    • Supports marriage equality
    • Co-sponsored and voted in favor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act
    • Co-sponsored inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and supports enactment of inclusive bill
    • Voted in favor of ENDA
    • Supports repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
    • Supports repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act
    • Supports equal tax treatment of employer provided domestic partnership benefits
    • Voted against allowing discrimination in hiring for the Head Start program
    • Voted in favor of allowing Washington, DC to fund needle exchange programs with local funds
    • Voted against procedural attempts to derail ENDA and hate crimes
    • Endorsed by HRC PAC in 2008
    • Supports the Early Treatment of HIV/AIDS Act (ETHA) to allow states to provide Medicaid coverage for HIV-positive persons

    (Photo of Kirsten Gillibrand and Hillary Clinton circa 2006 via New York Times)

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    January 14, 2009

    Obama's gay marriage closet (II)

    Posted by: Chris

    Some have reacted to news that Barack Obama unequivocally supported gay marriage when he ran for the Illinois state Senate in 1996 by saying they've always assumed that leading gay-friendly politicians were closeted supporters of marriage equality, despite their public opposition.

    Others, myself included, reacted by giving Obama a bit of a pass because we perceive the political climate on gay marriage, while improving, as too hostile except in certain geographic pockets.

    Advocatehillary In reality, both sets of assumptions may well be wrong. For one thing, there are generational and faith-based reasons why even the politicians we assume are our closest friends continue to resist full marriage equality. Hillary Clinton, for example, shot down one reporter's concerted attempt to get her to send some sort of signal along those lines:

    We’re supposed to be convinced that this brilliant Yale-educated lawyer and lifelong feminist, who hobnobs in Martha’s Vineyard and Malibu with her well-heeled friends from the business and entertainment worlds -- who famously declared that women’s rights were human rights at the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing while China was on lockdown -- is having trouble with the concept of same-sex marriage? Could [Hillary Clinton] perhaps be a closet supporter of marriage equality? …

    But when I suggest that her “personal position” is actually not her position at all, she quickly interrupts me, sitting up in her chair with a start.

    “I don’t think that would be fair,” she says. “Because, you know, I would tell you that. This is an issue -- I’m much older than you are -- and this is an issue that I’ve had very few years of my life to think about when you really look at it, when you compare it to a whole life span. I am where I am right now, and it is a position that I come to authentically. But it is also one that has enormous room and support both in my heart and in my work to try to move the agenda of equality and civil unions forward.”

    I'm as cynical as the next guy -- OK, even more so -- about Hillary's ability to give a straightforward answer about pretty much anything. But I also think she could have signaled that she was further along personally if she had wanted to, much as Obama did and much as Bill Richardson did during the primaries.

    Evan_wolfson As for giving politicians something of a pass in today's political climate, a new report by Evan Wolfson's Freedom to Marry organization "unequivocally" showed that "voting to support the freedom to marry and opposing anti-marriage measures helps rather than hurts politicians":

    A review of all of these votes from 2005 to the present shows that legislators who vote to end marriage discrimination for same-sex couples are consistently re-elected.  The success of more than 1,100 state legislators who voted to support the freedom to marry stands in bold contrast to the commonly held belief that supporting marriage equality ends political campaigns and careers.  In fact, these legislators are re-elected no matter what party they represent or if they changed their vote from opposing to supporting marriage equality.  Even better, legislators who run for higher office win after voting in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.

    The study, which included votes over the last four years from 21 different states taken in each of the country's four major regions of the country, is available for download here.

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    January 12, 2009

    A coda to the Rick Warren flap (II)

    Posted by: Chris

    Billclintonpodium I came across an additional irony from all the misplaced upset over the selection of Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation next week. Of course among those most harshly critical of President-elect Obama are quite a few Hillary Clinton backers who still can't let go of the Democratic presidential primaries of last year.

    When I pointed out that Bill Clinton invited legendarily anti-gay evangelist Billy Graham to give the invocation at both of his inaugurations, a couple of commenters pointed to Warren's alleged support for Peter Akinola, the homophobic Anglican Bishop of Nigeria, as proof that his sins are worse than Grahams -- and hence Obama's worse than Clinton's.

    It's certainly true that Warren has been generally supportive of Akinola, who has led the schism effort over Gene Robinson's selection as the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire. (The single citation I've seen to Warren backing Akinola's views on legal mistreatment of gays is from the English-language publication the Kampala Monitor, which quotes him an awkward speaking style that is anything but convincing.)

    Saniabacha2But the Clinton version of Warren-gate doesn't end with Billy Graham. It turns out that Bill Clinton has his own Nigerian ties -- and these are to Sani Abacha, the now-deceased, notoriously anti-gay despotic ruler, himself:

    It appears from the donor list of the Clinton Foundation that there is barely an oligarch, royal family, or special-interest group anywhere in the world that does not know how to get the former president's attention. Just in the days since the foundation agreed to some disclosure of its previously "confidential" clients—in other words, since this became a condition for Sen. Clinton's nomination to become secretary of state—we have additionally found former President Clinton in warm relationships with one very questionable businessman in Malaysia and with another, this time in Nigeria, who used to have close connections with that country's ultracorrupt military dictatorship.

    The Nigerian example is an especially instructive one. Gilbert Chagoury is a major figure in land and construction in that country and has contributed between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as arranged a huge speaking fee for President Clinton at a Caribbean event and kicked in a large sum to his 1996 re-election campaign. In return for this, he has been received at the Clinton White House and more recently at Clinton-sponsored social events in New York and Paris. This may have helped to alleviate the sting of Chagoury's difficulties in Nigeria itself. As a close friend of the country's uniformed despot Gen. Sani Abacha, he benefited from some extremely profitable business arrangements during the years of dictatorship. …

    The point here isn't so much to compare Rick Warren to Bill Clinton, but to point out that the Clintons are involved in setting actual policy for the U.S. government, and yet we waste our attention on an ambitious evangelical who's saying a prayer. There is simply no comparison.

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    December 07, 2008

    Hillary as president = no Prop 8?

    Posted by: Chris

    Prop8bigtentlarge_2 An interesting op-ed in today's New York Times engages in some familiar analysis concerning the growing cracks in the progressive coalition opened up by the passage of Proposition 8:

    Left-leaning California’s horror about this newly revealed schism between two of its favorite sons is a situation that cries out for a villain, but the one that liberal white Hollywood has chosen for the role probably won’t make it all the way to the third act.

    “It’s their churches,” somebody whispered to one of us not long after the election; “It’s their Christianity,” someone else hissed, rolling her eyes. Apparently the religion espoused by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is now the enemy, at least among the smart set, and if this sounds like a regional issue, it’s not.

    But this intriguing little notion was news to me:

    Many gay activists have begun quietly to suggest that had Hillary Clinton been the Democratic nominee, Prop 8 would not have passed.

    I'd say that's a hard case to make stastically and smacks of never-ending bitterness that even Clinton herself seems to have admirably gotten over. Considering that black voters were only 6% of the total in California, it would have taken more than depressed turnout of their numbers to have brought down Prop 8, which passed by 4 percentage points.  Remember that black voters alone were not responsible for the gay marriage ban's margin of victory.

    That said, I can't help but chew on the question. Which would you prefer: President-elect Obama and Proposition 8 (e.g., what we have now), or Hillary as president-elect and Prop 8 voted down?

    To read Kevin's repent (which I am as thrilled as you to see), I am guessing he'd pick Hillary/No 8, despite his antipathy for all things Clinton. I share many of those same sentiments -- multiplied by years of exposure due to my Arkansas roots -- and probably as a result I'm happier with what we got.

    For one thing, the activism unleashed by the combination of Obama's empowering victory and anger over Prop 8 has the potential to transform a movement that has badly needed it for years. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but I would also expect Prop 8 to live a very short life, whether gutted next year by the California Supreme Court or rejected by voters in 2010 or 2012.

    Of course, President Obama could still bitterly disappoint us the way the Clinton I administration did in the 1990s, but despite early worries I like our prospects -- and certainly more than under a Clinton II regime.

    (Prop 8 illustration via New York Times)

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    August 11, 2008

    Mark Penn: Obama not fundamentally American

    Posted by: Andoni

    "I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values."

    What the fuck? This is an email from Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's chief strategist and pollster, planning ways to attack Senator Barack Obama during the Democratic primary. Talk of the politics of personal destruction, this is it and from people within his own party. (An article containing hundreds more internal emails from the Clinton campaign will be published by The Atlantic magazine tomorrow.)

    What does Penn's quote mean? How do you measure thinking and values? The fact that Clinton and Obama had nearly identical positions on the issues and as well as nearly identical voting records tells me this is not really about thinking and values - at least objectively. Objectively there is very little difference between the two candidates. So what does Penn mean? Penn is using code claiming that Obama is different, not like us. As gay people we should understand this message perfectly well because we have repeatedly been accused of not having the same values as straight people. It's disgusting as well as untrue.

    Saying Obama "is not at his center fundamentally American" is a clear attempt to paint Obama as un-American. What proof can they produce that Obama's thinking and values are different from Clinton's? None. The differences are that Obama had a foreign born parent and his skin color is black. Does this make his values and thinking different and un-American? I guess if you keep repeating that claim you will find some fertile ground in a sub-section of the electorate who will believe it.

    If you're thinking, oh, but what about Reverend Wright.... let me respond that there is not one shred of evidence that Obama ever repeated, internalized or proposed any of Wright's outlandish ideas. So you cannot use Reverend Wright to say that Obama is not "fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values."

    I cannot tell you how contemptible I find Penn's actions. It's disgusting and reflects very poorly on Senator Clinton and her campaign. I believe public apologies are in order by both Clinton and Penn.


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    June 18, 2008

    Lowering standards for both HRCs

    Posted by: Chris

    It's a bit depressing to see Kevin Naff, my former colleague and successor at the Washington Blade, lowering the bar even further for the two HRCs: Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign.

    Hillarygayprideparadenewyork2000 Kevin endorsed Hillary back in January -- based not on her gay rights superiority but on her supposed general election prowess -- so I guess it's not surprising that he still had her back as she bowed out last weekend:

    [Clinton] delivered her belated concession speech, promising her full support of Obama. And, contrary to the Obama camp’s claims during the primary campaign that she shies from mentioning gay issues in front of non-gay audiences, Clinton referenced her gay supporters, not once, but twice. 

    “Eighteen million of you from all walks of life — women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-American and Caucasian, rich, poor and middle class, gay and straight — you have stood strong with me,” Clinton said.

    She continued, “We all want an America defined by deep and meaningful equality — from civil rights to labor rights, from women’s rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families.”

    Kevin never explains why exactly we should be impressed that Clinton waited until she was withdrawing from the race to remember her gay and lesbian supporters. Color me less than impressed. If anything, it suggests her conspicuous failure to mention gays in literally thousands of campaign appearances was a calculated ploy not to risk her support among "working, hard-working Americans, white Americans."

    Now that she's out, Hillary pivots and remembers the gays, just as she frequently forgets her maiden name when running for national office and then remembers it when she's not.

    Nancypelosijoesolmonese_2 Kevin's defense of the other HRC is even more curious to me because I know he knows better. Kevin takes a shot at Andrew Sullivan and Michael Petrelis for pointing out that the Human Rights Campaign leadership supported HRC the candidate far more than Barack Obama, now of course the nominee.

    Mostly, Kevin seems put off that aspects of Andrew and Michael's posts had already been reported at various times by the Blade. When he gets down to substance, Kevin points out that some HRC board members also gave money to Obama. A stronger counterpoint, made by HRC Board member and lobbyist David Medina, is that Obama refused donations from registered lobbyists.

    Regardless, Kevin ignores the weight of evidence -- pointed out by Andrew, Michael and your's truly (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here) -- that HRC has had more than its thumb on the scale for Hillary throughout the primary season. Crediting HRC as he does with not out-and-out endorsing Hillary does not a sound rebuttal make. Are we measuring fairness by such low standards these days?

    Finally, it's disappointing to see Kevin dismiss as silly Andrew's point about HRC's obsession with commercializing the movement; selling trinkets of equality -- like its latest, a T-shirt designed by Christian (I'm sorry for my "hot tranny mess" tagline) Siriano -- over and above the actual hard work of passing gay rights legislation.

    Instead, Kevin credits HRC with the House passage of ENDA this session. To the contrary, there is no greater condemnation of HRC's ineptitude and "Dems or bust" "strategy" than the debacle over trans-ENDA and the failure to get either that bill or the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act through both houses of Congress -- despite majority support in both chambers.

    Have we really lowered the bar so far that we thank HRC for so little, so very late? The movement does not need more apologists for either HRC. We need more pressure not less on the organization, the candidate, as well as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, to once and for all deliver on the long-delayed promise of federal gay rights protections.

    Kevin is usually at the forefront of doing just that; I hope he'll "find his voice" again soon.

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    Filed in: Hillary , HRC , Media

    June 16, 2008

    HRC money and mouth go to HRC

    Posted by: Chris

    Hrcclintonsolmonese Gay and HIV activist-blogger Michael Petrelis is the best in the gay biz at following the money. This week he compiled a few data points about the Human Rights Campaign and Hillary Rodham Clinton that are as disappointing and they are not-surprising:

    FEC records show which 2008 Democratic contenders were lucky enough to take in dollars from the top people at HRC:

    Hillary Clinton: $4,300
    Chris Dodd: $3,000
    John Edwards: $ 750
    Bill Richardson: $ 500
    Barack Obama: $ 0

    Zero dollars for (and zero leverage with) the Democratic nominee is just about right from an organization that has made almost no effort to hide its siamese-twin (or should I say 'conjoined'?) relationship with the other HRC.

    HrcequalsAndrew Sullivan brings it home:

    Meanwhile, [Joe] Solmonese's record on Capitol Hill is, despite his breathless promises a while back, non-existent. They still haven't passed their hate crimes bill; the employment non-discrimination bill is still in limbo (they were insisting it should be the priority over marriage and the military two decades ago!), Don't Ask, Don't Tell still stands, and HRC didn't even ask the presidential candidates what their position was on the HIV immigration and tourism ban on their election questionnaire.

    One reason the US still has the same HIV immigration and tourism policies as Saudi Arabia and Yemen is because the US chief gay lobby group is more interested in selling tchotchkes than standing up for gay people or people with HIV.

    But fear not: they have persuaded Christian Siriano to design a "fierce, fabulous, flawless" t-shirt for the summer. This is what the suckers still give them money for.

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    Filed in: Hillary , HRC

    June 15, 2008

    The Pinocchio's on "Meet the Press"

    Posted by: Andoni

    PinocchioToday’s “Meet the Press” was devoted to remembering Tim Russert, NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief and host of the show since 1991, who died Friday.

    Over the years, one of Tim’s favorite questions was to ask aspiring politicians who came on the show if they were going to run for president. Today there was a fascinating montage of Tim asking this question to prominent guests and most of them denying it. Tim was skilled in trying to pin these people down with a yes or a no, and most of them said no. The clip included former Representative Richard Gephardt, Senator John Kerry, former California Governor Gray Davis, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain, and Senator Barack Obama.

    It was very amusing to see many of these people give a “no” answer, knowing that they later ran for president. Their answers varied from “I have no plans to run” to “I do not intend to run.”

    Of note, Senator Clinton responded to Tim’s “Do you want to be president?” with “No.” Pressed further, Senator Clinton replied, “I have no intention of running for president. I do not intend to do that.”

    Senator McCain dismissed the question with a laugh and said, “You’ll hear it here first.” It came across as a don’t be silly, but if I do decide, I tell you first. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When McCain announced his candidacy, he did it on Letterman’s “Late Show” instead of “Meet the Press.”

    To their credit both Ralph Nader and Senator Barack Obama gave the most direct and honest answers. Nader told Russert, “After careful thought…… I have decided to run as an independent candidate for president.”

    Senator Barack Obama did not play games either.

    Russet: “But it’s fair to say you are thinking about running for president in 2008?”

    Obama: “It’s fair, yes.”

    It’s refreshing when a politicians give straightforward answers.

    If a video of this montage becomes available, I will try to add it to this post.



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    June 11, 2008

    Both HRCs reluctantly back Barack

    Posted by: Chris

    Clintonsolmonesereport Both of them waited until the very bitter end, and oh yes was it bitter. They waited until alternative had been exhausted; until they had tried the patience of pretty much everyone except those with a permanent address in Hillaryland.

    Then, and only then, at the end of last week and the end of their rope, did both HRCs -- Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign -- reluctantly endorsed Barack Obama for president.

    HRC the gay group actually came first, with a statement issued minutes after the campaign of HRC the candidate announced she would end (actually "suspend") her campaign the next day at a rally in Washington, D.C. For an important moment like announcing a presidential endorsement, you would think HRC would pull out all the stops -- something we know the resource-rich organization usually revels in doing.

    Instead, this is how the Obama nod got announced on HRC's Back Story blog:

    The following is from Jason Boeckman, HRC Communications and Marketing Intern. Jason is a senior at Miami University of Ohio in Oxford, OH.

    Today the Human Rights Campaign announced its support for Barack Obama in his bid for the presidency.

    That's right, the Obama endorsement was communicated by an HRC college intern. The weekly message by HRC chief Joe Solmonese was likewise lukewarm, barely containing his disappointment that candidate HRC wasn't the nominee:

    Although Senator Hillary Clinton will not be the nominee, her historic campaign inspired a nation.  Before joining the Human Rights Campaign as president, I served as chief executive officer of EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to electing women to public office. To me, Senator Clinton’s extraordinary bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination was awe-inspiring, energizing, and a signal of all the progress our nation has made over my lifetime.

    After that kind of orgasmic praise, Solmonese comes off like he's already smoking a cigarette and cleaning up the mess by the time he gets around to the senator from Illinois:

    Senator Obama’s support for protecting our entire community from discrimination, his belief that the federal government should treat our families equally, and his conviction that patriotism—not sexual orientation—is what qualifies a person to serve our country in uniform, show promise that in our time, the dreams and hopes of our community will be shared, valued, and promoted from within the White House.

    Regular readers of this blog know that HRC the candidate was always the candidate for HRC the organization (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here). So there was no chance that HRC would endorse Obama at a time when it might actually gain some leverage with his campaign -- the type of courageous move we saw from NARAL Pro-Choice America, which endorsed Obama in mid-May.

    Even still, you would think HRC and Solmonese would get over their "anger and grief" long enough to do their jobs.


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    Filed in: Hillary , HRC , Obama

    June 04, 2008

    Raise the Titanic! cont'd: The monstrous Clinton ego and its wake

    Posted by: Kevin

    Raise_the_titanicSo, as the Clintons do their worst to continue shitting all over the historic nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States, I ask all you gay Democrats out there:

    Do you GET it, now?  Do you UNDERSTAND what this pair has always been made of, since the days of Arkansas?

    They say it's about you, and they mean it's about them.

    They said way back it was about us -- the gay community -- but it was always about them.  They promised change, and they delivered "don't ask, don't tell."  They promised to "fight until hell freezes over, and then fight on the ice" for our rights, and they delivered the Defense of Marriage Act and the HIV visa ban codified into law.  In every case, it was about their priorities, i.e. them.  I always thought it was poetic that Bill Clinton made his historic crocodile-tear speech in Los Angeles in 1991 ("I have a vision of America, and you're a part of it") at a fundraiser.  History tells us that this basically said it all about what the Clintons had to offer.

    At least Hillary didn't have the charms of her wily husband.  She never really hid her unease for the gay community, or her lack of interest in our issues.  That's been evident since her 2000 Senate campaign.  But now it should be clear to everyone that the Clintons were at best really good liars.  Their worst is about to show itself, I'm afraid.  Because even though the world knew that this primary election was over months ago, and that she couldn't win it, now it's clear that she only kept running in order to amass enough support to wound Barack Obama as much as she could and step all over the significance of his victory.

    Last night she talked about fighting to make sure the 18 million people who voted for her are "respected and heard."  Huh??  Exactly what about her positions and Obama's positions are so divergent that she can claim some sort of insurgency status now?  What exactly do they need to be heard about?  The fact is, Obama was the insurgent and she was the establishment at the beginning of this whole thing.  And she simply needs to make her lies stick in order to change that reality and cling ferociously to the snapping lifelines at the water's surface and, at some point, win the day.  Since no one thinks she is certifiably insane, that must mean 2012 or 2016.  And that means she wants Obama to lose this election, or be a failed president.

    And let's not forget, both Clintons played the race card in this election campaign more than once, and now Hillary seems to claim she's the voice of white, lower-class Democratic voters, and of white women especially.  God knows you couldn't see that coming in January.  So what, again, needs to be "heard and respected" by the black nominee?  All I can say is that in her selfish and incredibly galling reach for power, Hillary Clinton is willing to sink to the level of Pat Buchanan, but with none of the convictions.  That's pretty low.

    I say to my gay Democratic friends who were so deluded during the messianic Clinton years in Washington simply this: we told you so.  Look at the Clintons now, and see what we all saw the whole time.

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    June 02, 2008

    Hillary's end game

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillaryprotesters Hillary Clinton managed to close the gap some on Barack Obama with two primary events over the weekend and even succeeded in moving the goal posts a bit on the total needed to clinch the nomination. And yet despite those successes, the mathematical odds of her capturing the nomination are all the more improbable.

    The party's Rules & Bylaws Committee vote on Saturday netted Hillary some 24 delegates -- 19 from Florida and 5 from Michigan -- and moved the "magic number" needed to clinch the nomination up to 2,118. Then Clinton's convincing win in Puerto Rico on Sunday yielded another 38 delegates for her and 17 for Obama.

    As a result, Obama's total delegate count stands at 2,070, just 48 shy of clinching; and Clinton is at 1,914, still 204 less than needed to win. There are only 31 pledged delegates up for grabs in tomorrow's Montana and South Dakota contests, the last on the primary calendar. Another 202 superdelegates remain unpledged.

    To clinch, Obama needs only 20 percent of those remaining delegates, while Hillary would need 88 percent. Even if Obama gets just half (15) of the 31 delegates out of Montana and South Dakota, he'll need only 33 of the remaining 202 superdelegates to win.

    There are all sorts of signs that the Hillary camp is finally ready to accept Obama as the nominee, including Politico's report that Clinton advance staffers are being let go, as well as Hillary's decision to speak Tuesday night from her home state of New York, rather than in Montana or South Dakota.

    "It does appear to be pretty clear that Senator Obama is going to be the nominee," acknowledged Clinton campaign national co-chair Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor. "After Tuesday's contests, she needs to acknowledge that he's going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him."

    Party leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have also spoken out, making clear they will do everything in their power to end the contest this week, presumably by pressuring superdelegates to make their selections one way or the other.

    Even Clinton herself is said to have "come to terms over the last week with the near certainty that she would not win the nomination, even as she continued to assert, with what one associate described as subdued resignation, that the Democrats are making a mistake in sending Mr. Obama up against Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee."

    The only remaining question of significance relating to Hillary, then, is whether she will (a) truly work to unify the party, (b) do the minimal necessary to preserve herself as the alternative should Obama stumble this year or lose in November; or (c) actively undermine Obama with an eye toward 2012.

    John Heilemann of New York magazine says the answer to "What Hillary wants" is clear:

    Whenever this query is put to me — which only takes place, oh, on the order of 100 times a day — my response is simple: She wants to be president. Duh. And if it ain’t gonna happen this year, then her central objective is to make it as likely as possible in 2012.

    I think that's exactly right and explains her aggressive campaign long after the math was clear, and even the divisive jeering encouraged by Hillaryland at Saturday's RBC meeting. Whenever and wherever possible, the not-so-subtle message to her supporters is to help sink the Obama ship, so that Hillary can try again in 2012.

    If Obama does lose and if Hillary does run again in 2012 (as could Obama), she may well find that the scorched earth campaign she and her husband ran this year has poisoned the well for her in 2012 (or even 2016).

    (Photo of Clinton protesters outside RBC meeting via New York Times)

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    Filed in: Hillary

    May 25, 2008

    Hillary's long-awaited game changer

    Posted by: Andoni

    Hillaryclinton One reason the Clinton campaign had been giving behind the scenes for continuing its mathematically impossible quest for the Democratic nomination is they were waiting for Barack Obama to perhaps make a game-changing gaffe that would convince superdelegates to turn against him. It’s ironic that it was Hillary Clinton, not Obama, who has made that long-awaited gaffe, and it will most likely hasten a stampede of superdelegates the opposite direction.

    Of course I’m talking about Clinton’s now infamous reference to Senator Robert Kennedy’s assassination, in response to a question about why she was still campaigning.

    I am an Obama supporter who has come to view both of the Clintons with much less respect than I had for them only a year ago. That said, I agree both with Keith Olbermann "special comment"  and Maureen Dowd's "All About Eve" column with regard to Hillary's statement invoking RFK's assassination as a reason for her staying in the race. 

    Last night, I had dinner with a friend who is a news editor for CNN, and he shared his belief that this whole RFK assassination episode was simply an unfortunate choice of words by Clinton and has been taken out of context by the media and her opponents. He likened it to Barack Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” statement.

    Rfk If indeed this is simply a gaffe equivalent to Senator Obama’s, then I hope the Clinton campaign suffers the same prolonged period of intense negative media publicity that Obama did, stoked by Hillary Clinton herself, as a result of his remarks.

    However, I really believe this is much more than simply an unfortunate choice of words. I think Hillary's comment gave us a candid glimpse into her innermost soul and private discussions within her campaign, and I didn’t like the darkness that I saw. I would bet that in discussions with Bill and her closest advisors, the likelihood of political assassination was explicitly stated as a reason for her to remain well-positioned as a substitute nominee, or to make sure she became vice president so she could wait out the possibility of Obama wins in November. 

    Hillary Clinton and the people in her campaign know how much damage has been done by her statement. A report  by Katharine Seelye of the New York Times details how "Friday might have been one of the worst days of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political career."

    I agree and predict the RFK statement will be much more damaging to her career than most outsiders realize right now.

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    Filed in: Hillary

    May 21, 2008

    It's almost time, but not yet

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillarybillclintonkentucky I don't spend a lot of time reading "rah-rah" blogs, where those posting and commenting seem always to agree on everything, but I do like the Jed Report because there's a lot of substance amidst the "Amen, brother!"-ing. After Barack Obama clinched the pledged-delegate majority tonight with his win in Oregon and loss in Kentucky, there was another call for Hillary Clinton to step aside.

    Actually, it wasn't so much aimed at her as it was the still-undeclared superdelegates, who have it in their power to finally end The Long Flat Seemingly Endless Bataan Death March to The White House by putting Obama over the top in overall delegates.

    Here are the numbers as of last night, according to NBC News:

    Pledged Delegates: 3,253
    Majority: 1,627
    Obama: 1,639
    Clinton: 1,502

    Total Delegates: 4,050
    Majority: 2,026
    Obama: 1,954 (needs 72)
    Clinton: 1,783

    Clinton claims the magic number overall is 2,210 because she's (somewhat delusionally) counting Florida and Michigan, but Obama is only 256 shy of even that target. There are still about 400 undeclared superdelegates, and the Jed Report argued that now is the time for them to step in:

    Tonight, Hillary Clinton signaled that as long as superdelegates stand on the sidelines, she isn't getting out of the race, and as long as she's in the race, she'll do whatever it takes to win, even if that means undermining Barack Obama's legitimacy.

    So the time has come to push her out the race, and the only people who can do it are the undeclared superdelegates. They are the ones responsible for this mess, and they are the ones who must end it.

    I feel their pain, really, but at this point, I think Hillary ought to stay in until June 3, when the last primary votes will be cast. It's only three weeks, and it will satisfy more of her supporters. So long as she keeps the tone largely positive, as she has for the last week, then I don't really see the harm.

    It's possible that a wave of superdelegates will follow Obama's clinch last night of the pledged delegate majority, since it is the most important metric -- the voters have chosen. My guess is that the Obama camp actually won't allow then, but instead keep them trickling out four or five a day, as they have for weeks now. There's too much risk in alienating Hillary supporters if it appears she's being pressured to quit.

    (Photo of Bill and Hillary Clinton in Louisville, Ky., via New York Times)

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    Filed in: Hillary

    May 17, 2008

    Let's count the states . . .

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillaryclintonsd Hopefully you didn't miss Jon Stewart nailing the shifting criteria by which Hillary Clinton is (still) claiming she deserves the Democratic presidential nomination. After showing several clips from early in the campaign in which she says "voters will decide," Stewart serves up more recent Hillary, haltingly saying, "Voters are an important part of the process." 

    If you missed it, the clip is at the end of the post; with the Hillary switcheroo about 1:50 in.

    Another Clinton tactic, of course has been to push the Democratic Party to seat the delegates from Florida and Michigan, which held primaries in violation of party rules. Both candidates agreed, of course, not to campaign in either state, and Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan.

    Nonetheless, Hillary's latest formulation of the argument surfaced in her Indiana victory speech:

    "It would be a little strange to have a nominee chosen by 48 states," she argued.

    This week, Katie Couric asked, "If Barack Obama declares victory, Senator Clinton, once he reaches that magic number of 2,025 [delegates], will you still hold out if Florida and Michigan have not been counted? "Absolutely," Hillary said.

    Because that's not the right number.  How can we have a nominee based on 48 states?

    And yet that very same day, her excitable campaign chair Terry McAuliffe announced she was officially ahead in the "popular vote." How did he arrive at that conclusion? After noting that Clinton actually trails in four different methods of calculating the popular vote, CNN concluded:

    The only scenario in which Clinton would appear to the lead is a fifth scenario that only counts primary states –- including both Florida and Michigan –- and excludes any votes cast in the party’s caucuses. In that count, Clinton currently holds a lead of about 225,000 votes.

    Ahh yes. It would be "a little strange" to have 48 states pick a nominee, but perfectly valid to have 35 states pick the nominee, since the Clinton camp is excluding the 15 states that held primary caucuses.

    And now, your Moment of Zen (with the Hillary switcheroo 1:50 in):

    (Photo of Hillary Clinton in Bath, S.D., via Associated Press)

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    May 14, 2008

    Hillary, time to 'reject and denounce'

    Posted by: Andoni

    Clintonwvorderingcrowley Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton pressured Barack Obama to "reject and denounce" Louis Farrakhan because of his views that most Americans find detestable. The interesting thing is that Farrakhan had simply stated that he supported Obama -- Obama had not asked for Farrakhan’s support. Nonetheless, Obama was forced to “reject and denounce” him.

    Obama repeatedly tried to distance himself from Farrakhan by denouncing Farrakhan’s views, but that wasn’t enough for Hillary Clinton. In the Cleveland debate, she made him publicly reject Farrakhan’s support as well.

    We now learn that a large percentage of Hillary Clinton’s supporters in West Virginia consider race as an important factor in their decision to vote for her. Exit polls show that at least 25% of Hillary’s votes came from people who felt race was important in their vote. The media even quoted Clinton supporters saying they could never vote for a black man.

    Others may quibble, but I consider these people to be racists. I also believe that just like Farrakhan’s views, most Americans find this sort of thinking to be detestable.

    In contrast to Obama's distance from Farrakhan, however, Hillary actively courted the support of these people. She rewarded them with her presence and supportive words, praising their values and calling them good, hard-working Americans. I wonder, knowing what we know now about so many of her supporters from the exits polls, are they really good Americans? In my opinion, there is not a substantial difference between them and those hard working “good Germans” in the 1930s with their detestable views of racial superiority. Today we actively condemn those good people as well as the politicians who used those people to gain political power.

    I believe Hillary knew very well the views of many of her West Virginia supporters. Still, she actively courted these people. This puts her in a category far more deplorable than Obama, who by chance got the support of Farrakhan.

    This is a year where the pundits, media, and candidates have tainted candidates by association -– however loose and casual. This happened to Obama with respect to Farrakhan, and it was Hillary who pressured him to reject Farrakhan’s support because of his views. It's only fair to apply the same standards of association to Hillary herself, especially since she actively courted the support of people with these views.

    Personally, I don’t think guilt by association is a valid campaign issue, but to give Hillary equal treatment as well as some of the same flak she gave Barack, I have a question for her: 

    "Senator Clinton, it’s been demonstrated that a lot of your West Virginia supporters are racists. The American people overwhelmingly find these views abhorrent. Will you now publicly denounce the views of these people as well as reject their support for you?"

    (Photo of Hillary Clinton campaigning in West Virginia via New York Times)

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    Filed in: Hillary

    May 08, 2008

    Don't cry for her, Democratic Party

    Posted by: Kevin

    Clintonx_2The festering Clinton boil is finally being lanced within the Democratic Party, at least for this election cycle.  It's a tremendous bit of luck not only for the party -- despite its idiotic blindness to this fact.  It's a relief for the country, given the brand of politics that this couple would practice if it regained control of both the party and Washington.

    I haven't written much since Hillary Clinton entered the fatal win-at-all-costs phase of her doomed presidential campaign a couple months ago, frankly because there wasn't much more to say.  The ship would inevitably sink, it was just a matter of whether enough of the remaining idiots in her camp would get into the lifeboats and save themselves in time from the wake of her titanic disaster.

    A lot of tripe is thrown around about gay Republicans in the gay media, and has been for over a decade.  But not enough has been written about the toxic impact that Clintonism has wrought on the gay community and its political leadership.  The cravenness of it, the poisonous combination of raising hopes with glistening promises, and dashing them at the first sign of political risk -- all the while shifting the blame to others -- has done more to destroy what was once a potentially powerful movement than anything a small band of hapless, closeted gay Republicans on Capitol Hill (now "cleansed" for the most part) could ever have done.

    And if the rich content of her presidential campaign was any indication, Hillary Clinton would have been even worse for us as president than her husband.  Unlike him, she didn't have the touch when it came to using the charming lie on gay rights.  She speaks in half-tones, half-measures and platitudes with little heart in it, and made it fairly clear by the way her campaign did gay outreach that it was all about hack-o-rama appointments and personal ambition within the gay political community.  Basically -- get on board, or be cut out.  Very Karl Rove, and very lethal for those who sign up for it.  I can attest to that personally, as can nearly every Republican of every stripe in politics right now.

    Indeed, her brand of politics seems to have divided the gay Democratic camp into two clear factions -- those who envy the Republicans so much that they want to emulate them (all the while bashing and personally destroying gay Republicans, interestingly enough, to cover their own shame), and those who are fed up with calculation and ruthlessness in politics that they are willing to try almost anything that is new and different.  (A third, unregistered group simply has walked away and taken up new interests in frustration.)

    From my vantage point here in South America, it is amazing how parallel the Clintons are to the political couple that is running Argentina at the moment -- Néstor and Cristina Kirchner.  He was president last, and now she's president, while he is about to take the chairmanship of the main Peronist party.  They, too, rail at big business, count on labor unions and blue-collar workers as their base, and spin all sorts of webs to scapegoat, capture and destroy all political opponents, from inside their movement or outside it.  They, too, deflect any and all blame for their policies that do harm, and refuse to even acknowledge reality at most junctures.  (Sound familiar?)  They came from a backwater province in the south of the country, which Néstor ran as governor, and Cristina launched her own presidential campaign last year from a Senate perch she'd recently captured outside Buenos Aires city.  But Argentina is sinking into, perhaps, its worst social, economic and political crisis since the nervous breakdown it suffered in 2001 -- completely at the hands of this self-obsessed, knuckle-breaking political machine government that the Kirchners are running.  And Cristina, pig-headed to the end (The Economist says she lives "in the land of make-believe") is mobilizing unions to beat down protesters in the name of fighting big business.  The galloping 25% inflation rate is something she blames on "greedy rich corporate owners" who won't voluntarily lower prices, raise wages, and pay for it all out of their profits.  (It has nothing to do with her, of course, nor market economics.)   She answers the new crisis with gimmicks (hello, gas tax holiday?) and populist rhetoric, not because she's incompetent.  It's because the entire raison d'etre of Peronism - like it's North American cousin in Clintonism - is to win at all costs.  To say anything, do anything, blame anyone, and never surrender to win out in the end, at the expense of anyone outside the walls of their marital union.  Over the last half-century, it has destroyed a once powerful country, probably for good.

    Ask any gay Hillary supporter to say, in plain words, exactly why Hillary would be best for the country.  You will never -- I repeat, never -- get anything in response but platitudes mixed with venomous stabs at either Obama or the GOP or both.  ¡Que peronista!  And all her most prominent gay defenders are lifetime gay Democratic hacks simply hoping for a job.  Period.  They defend the Clintons in the face of the Defense of Marriage Act and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and stand ready to defend them again to the teeth -- and the do-nothing Democratic Congress, and the "fight-on-the-ice" DNC -- should four or eight years pass without any movement on either under their watch.  ("It wasn't the {lying, hypocritical} president's fault! It was [insert blame here]!") They are the worst detritus of the Bill Clinton era of gay Washington, and would bring a sense of blind loyalty to power more dangerous and insidious than the paradoxical, circus-freak brand that has been trotted out in hit pieces on gay Republicans who still love George W. Bush.  Because it would have the air of respectability, and could not dare be questioned without reprisal.

    So breathe easy, gay Democrats.  Hillary is finally being shoved out the door by the length and breadth of the selfishness she represents.  Whether it's soon, or after the inevitable rejection of her 900th attempt at game-changing party rules on May 31st (nuevamente peronista), it's been in the cards since February. 

    Whether you realize it or not, it's good for you.  Embrace it.  And get back to work in making your party something other than a gigantic waste of money, hope and effort.

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    May 07, 2008

    Stay in, Hillary

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: Marc Ambinder offers seven reasons for Clinton to stay in the race. No. 2 and No. 7 are similar to the points I make here; No. 3 and No. 5 make good additional arguments; No. 1 and No. 4 made me vomit a bit inside my mouth.

    Also, Ben Smith reports that Clinton stayed positive in her West Virginia appearance today. Know hope?

    Hillaryclintonindiana After Barack Obama's impressive victory margin last night in North Carolina and a near-win in Indiana, it seems almost everyone not residing in Hillaryland has concluded the Democratic presidential race is over. I will even admit mild surprise (shame on me) when I read the Clinton campaign claimed today there had been "no discussions" about her dropping out, despite the prohibitive delegate math.

    Late last night I actually thought Hillary might drop out, especially when Tim Russert (who flatly declared the race done in his view) reported that she had canceled morning talk show appearances so she could huddle with advisers. I was surprised by my reaction to that possibility, which was much more relief than glee. My reservoir of goodwill for the Clintons was sapped weeks ago by their duplicitous, scorched-earth campaign to build her up by tearing him down -- especially given her odds of success were already so long.

    But I also know her candidacy has been as important and inspirational for many of her supporters as Obama's has been to his. Whenever this "long slow bataan march," as Jon Stewart called it, finally comes to an end, one side or the other -- ok, we know which side at this point -- is going to be deeply disappointed. Whatever I think about the Clinton campaign, and it isn't much, I respect the impact a loss is going to have.

    The other reaction that surprised me is that, now that the nomination is a lock for Obama, I don't really see the urgency for Clinton to quit the race. Obama will have sown up the pledged delegate majority by May 20, after the Oregon primary, and the superdelegates should follow in short order.

    There is a big "if" to that sentiment, however. If Hillary could manage to stay on a largely positive message like the one she delivered last night in Indiana, she could run out the clock with dignity in much the same way that Mike Huckabee did on the GOP side. She would still preserve the possibility of an Obama meltdown, lobby behind the scenes to seat Florida and Michigan, and make all the fear-based, subtly racist, overtly classist arguments she wants in private to the superdelegates.

    But she would have to step back from the onslaught of negative advertising and speechifying that paints Obama as an elitist Dukakis clone out of touch with average Joe. Otherwise she's establishing once and for all that she places her own ambition and sense of entitlement outweigh the good of her party or the very common folk she talks so often about wanting to help.

    Yeah, I know, there's about as much chance of that happening as Hillary pulling out the nomination.

    (Photo of Hillary Clinton giving Indiana victory speech via New York Times)

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    May 04, 2008

    On the radio

    Posted by: Chris

    Through the magic on modern technology, I'll be on the radio tonight, joining the good folks at OutLoud Radio between 10:30 and 11p.m. (Eastern Time) to talk about gay issues in the Democratic presidential primary. Info about tonight's entire show is available here.

    That means I'll be in Rio De Janeiro using my Internet-based Vonage telephone to talk with the hosts in San Francisco while the show is broadcast live on the Net as well. Nifty. If you miss the show, no problem; it'll also be available on podcast.

    If you get the chance, tune in. Even better, call in (1-866-365-4758) and put me on the spot.

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    Filed in: Hillary , Obama

    May 01, 2008

    More Obama-Clinton on gay rights

    Posted by: Chris

    With the pivotal (aren't they all?) North Carolina primary just days away, the gay paper there tried a different tactic for getting answers from the candidates on gay rights. Rather than press for phone interviews, Q-Notes apparently sent questions to both campaigns and published the answers.

    I say "apparently" because the stories don't say so specifically, but they're credited to "Q-Notes staff" rather than a particular reporter and the answers (especially Hillary Clinton's) read very much like the work of a campaign staffer. This isn't the first time a prominent e-mail/fax interview in the gay press masqueraded as the real thing, and Q-Notes really should have said so explicitly.

    That point aside, there are some new nuggets there. In the Clinton Q&A, I was struck how plainly the answerer dodged two direct questions I hadn't heard before. First "she" spoke in generalities when asked whether she would personally introduce legislation to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act -- both wreckage from the first Clinton presidency -- should she lose the nomination and return to the Senate. She also stayed vague about whether she would commit to appointing an openly LGBT cabinet member.

    The Obama Q&A broke less new ground, though he also dodged the question about personally introducing bills to repeal DOMA and DADT. Andrew Sullivan did took note of an interesting contrast. Asked to explain how he will keep our interests at heart, Obama turned the tables a bit:

    I have always said that I don’t think that the LGBT community should take its cues from me or some political leader in terms of what they think is right for them. Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.

    Andrew liked what he heard:

    This is a core difference between Obama's and Clinton's philosophy, it seems to me. Clinton believes government can save people and she, as the benign representative of government, can bestow equality on minorities. You just have to vote for Democrats, give money to the Democratic party interest groups (like the Human Rights Campaign) and your equality will come eventually (but always later than they say). I prefer an approach that tells gay people that they need to get off their asses, talk to straight people, build their relationships, support their community, empower themselves and win the argument for inclusion and integration.

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    Filed in: Hillary , Obama

    April 18, 2008

    Trolling for Catholics, dissing gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Popebush385_317573a Pope Benedict's visit to the U.S. this week coincides with the closing days before the crucial Democratic presidential primary in Pennsylvania, where Catholics are expected to cast about one-third of the votes. Many of those Catholics are the same working class whites that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are competing so vigorously to win over.

    As a result, you would expect both candidates to do a bit of papal pandering, looking for whatever edge they can find going into next Tuesday's ballot. That said, neither candidate even acknowledged Benedict's aggressive political role in challenging any sort of legal recognition of gay relationships, not to mention his vocal opposition to abortion rights and the Vatican's maddeningly unethical challenge to condom distribution in the fight against HIV.

    Both statements are in the jump to this post in full, but these excerpts are representative.

    First, Obama:

    At a time when American families face rising costs at home and a range of worries abroad, the theme of Pope Benedict’s journey, "“Christ Our Hope," offers comfort and grace as well as a challenge to all faith communities to put our faith into action for the common good.  It will not only be Catholics who are listening to the Holy Father’s message of hope and peace; all Americans will be listening with open hearts and minds.

    Now, Clinton:

    We are blessed to receive a visit from His Holiness, Pope Benedict, to the United States this week. Not only is he the spiritual leader of America's great Catholic community, he is a strong and effective voice for the cause of peace, freedom, and justice as well as the fight against poverty and disease. … His apostolic journey is built on the theme of Christian hope, and as he has said, the Gospel message is 'deeply rooted' in our country. We all pray that he will have a safe and successful visit to America, and that everyone will find inspiration in his presence and his words.

    Of the two, Clinton's is particularly appalling, with the astonishing acknowledgment of this pope as "a strong and effective voice for the cause of … freedom and justice," not to mention praising his "fight against … disease."

    Even setting aside the Vatican's shockingly immoral handling of thousands of child sexual abuse claims -- covering up claims, shuffling pedophile priests to new dioceses, then blaming homosexuality when the scandal blew up -- the Catholic leadership, and this pope in particular, is hardly a champion for peace or a warrior against disease.

    Shame on Hillary Clinton for saying so.

    (Photo of Pope Benedict XVI and George Bush via Times Online)

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    April 13, 2008

    Hillary's 'bitter' faux pas

    Posted by: Andoni

    Barack Obama has gotten a lot of heat for telling a San Francisco audience that when he was in Pennsylvania’s small towns he encountered voters who were bitter. He attributed that to their repeated disappointments from politicians and the government making promises but never following through.

    Sensing a gaffe, Hillary Clinton jumped, accusing Obama of elitism and saying he was belittling and out of touch with the working class. Clinton was playing the same old game of politics that she and Bill perfected.

    As someone from Pennsylvania, I would argue that Clinton’s move was a big faux pas. What she has shown is that she is the one who is out of touch with these people, not Obama. Should she lose Pennsylvania, we will look back upon her move as the turning point for this happening.

    I am from Western Pennsylvania, returning home several times a year, so I know this area well. It is impossible for someone to visit the small towns in Pennsylvania, such as Altoona, Johnstown, Greensburg, and Beaver Falls, and not detect bitterness, anger and disappointment. If you miss these things, you are either deaf and blind --- or simply not listening to the people.

    What’s surprising is that Hillary Clinton is supposed to be the candidate of these blue collar workers, the ones who have seen their jobs and health insurance disappear. If she has been through these small towns and all she sees are strong, hardworking people with a rosy outlook, she isn't attuned to what they are saying.

    How can someone who claims to be for these people visit with them and talk with them and not pick up on their anger, bitterness, and hurt. I think Pennsylvanians will soon wake up to the fact that she hasn’t been listening to them, and when they do that they are going to conclude that she really isn’t fighting for them and that she is phony.

    Obama's response  to her “out of touch” criticism is remarkably good. Score another round for the “new politics” of honest discussion as opposed to the old attack politics of triangulation and obfuscation.

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    April 11, 2008

    The Clintons' pants on fire again

    Posted by: Andoni

    I’m so over the Clintons and their followers making politics nothing but a series of purposeful misstatements and lies. That seems to be the only way they know how to do business, and I don’t want to go back to those days with them in the White House.

    Here are some the latest examples of the Clinton modus operandi. Yesterday Bill Clinton was trying to defend by revision his wife’s various statements on her sniper fire visit into Bosnia. In the course of his revisionist statement, he euphemistically makes eight false statements … or in plainer English... he tells eight lies. ABC’s Jake Tapper exposes them here.

    Just a few of the lies: Bill claims Hillary only told the Bosnia story once, that it was at 11 p.m. (she was tired), and she quickly corrected the story -– all whoppers! Then he goes straight to victimhood, claiming that the media is picking on her.

    Increasingly desperate Clinton surrogates are every bit as willing to engage in “bend the truth” politics, repeating something untrue or unproven often enough so that people eventually think it is true. Take the  column by Peter Rosenstein in today's Washington Blade:

    Rosenstein’s topic sentence/thesis is, “It is amazing that Barack Obama supporters continue to excuse his connections to anti-gay figures, yet attack Clinton for hers.” As apparent proof, he cites two previous Blade opeds: "It's still the audacity of hope" by David Pitts, and "An unfair assessment" by your's truly. The trouble is neither of these cited articles says anything attacking Hillary for her anti-gay supporters (his thesis). And Rosenstein says nothing in the rest of his essay to support his opening claim.

    The politics of misstatement and lying certainly  flow downhill in Hillaryland. How do these people think they can get away with this? Don't people remember Bill Clinton wagging his finger saying, “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”

    Repeating a lie often enough and authoritatively enough, hoping people think it is true, is no way to run a country. After 15 years of this type of dishonest, duplicitous politics, I look forward to a new era of forthright leaders.

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    April 09, 2008

    Clinton's future 3 am phone calls

    Posted by: Andoni

    Apparently the Clinton campaign is having trouble paying its bills. In fact, the University of California-Davis says the campaign still owes $5,496.75 from January. Other California universities report the campaign owes them money, too. UC Davis says that if the bill is not paid by May 10, it will turn the account over to a collection agency.

    Keith Olberman wryly suggested that Hillary's 3 a.m. phone calls might start coming from collection agencies.

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    April 03, 2008

    Hillary's latest gay press chat

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    P1clintonhillary Hillary Clinton has once again granted an interview with the GLBT press, and the Philadelphia Gay News has done everything it could to reward her for the effort -- from a redesigned website that features the interview before the rest of the site, to a front page print edition that includes a segment of blank white space to reflect Barack Obama's failure to face questioning.

    Unfortunately, like the Blade and Gay People's Chron before it, PGN did not come to the table with completely clean hands. The interview -- and all the website and print trimmings -- were the handiwork of PGN publisher Mark Segal, who has already donated $1,000 to the Clinton campaign. Has the gay press joined Fox et al in completely abandoning the idea of neutrality? At least the Blade editor's endorsement was public record; Segal doesn't disclose his Clinton ties to readers.

    Pgn_obama The interview itself makes little news, asking two or three different ways whether gay couples should get equal federal legal recognition, something Clinton (and Obama) has been on record supporting for almost a year now. I was pleased to see that one of those repetitive questions was pegged to immigration rights, to which she responded:

    I think that that’s one of the biggest problems that we’ve got to contend with. Even states that have civil unions, domestic partnerships or even marriage laws are running into roadblocks with the federal government when it comes to federal benefits and privileges. Of course, immigration is a federal responsibility and I am going to do everything I can to eliminate any disparities in any benefits or rights under our law at the federal level so that all people will have available to them every right as an American citizen that they should, and that would include immigration law.

    There was no follow-up about why, if she feels that way, that Clinton (like Obama) has failed to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, which would do just that. Despite all the questions about federal recognition, Segal and his co-questioner also failed to ask why Clinton supports repealing only half of the Defense of Marriage Act, when Obama supports full repeal. Considering it's the only actual policy difference between the two on gay rights, the omission is pretty glaring.

    Several of the questions displayed a poor understanding of the law, like asking if she could simply wave away "Don't Ask Don't Tell" with an executive order or a "signing statement." No, she explained patiently.

    In a humorous aside, Hillary backed away from promising she would march in a Gay Pride parade as president -- do we really still crave affirmation that much? -- blaming it on the Secret Service, as if the Commander in Chief answers to them. The questioner praises her for marching in our parades as First Lady, though she only did so once -- in June 2000 in New York City -- when she was kneedeep in her campaign for the U.S. Senate there.

    The highlight of the interview, and the only real news, was an excellent question about what Clinton would do as president in response to governments -- from allies like Egypt and Iraq to enemies like Iran -- that treat their own gay populations brutally. Her answer was strong:

    I would be very strongly outspoken about this and it would be part of American foreign policy. There are a number of gross human-rights abuses that countries engage in with whom we have relations and we have to be really vigilant and outspoken in our total repudiation of those kinds of actions and do everything we can, including using our leverage on matters such as aid, to change the behavior so we can try to prevent such atrocities from happening.

    The State Department already documents human rights abuses against gays around the world and it is the basis for asylum claims under existing law. But a proactive president like Clinton describes could be of incalculable benefit to gays abroad.


    Mark Segal, the PGN publisher, is digging himself deeper into the credibility hole.  Here's an exchange of an interview he gave to the Philly Daily Examiner:

    You guys seem to really be behind Hilary …
    I did not say we are behind Hilary. I’m personally on the fence. The space was left open to show that we are willing to feature him equally.

    You could cut the suspense with the knife, trying to figure out who Segal/PGN will endorse -- there is no separation between editorial and sales since Segal runs roughshod over both. The only real question is whether he'll come clean with readers that all his shenanigans this week were behind a ruse of objectivity, given his previous $1,000 donation.

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    March 26, 2008

    An apple falls close to the tree

    Posted by: Chris

    Her father's reckless philandering wrecked his second White House term and crushed the hopes of countless progressive legislative initiatives -- not to mention costing the Democrats the 2000 election and giving us eight years of George W. Bush.

    Her mother may not have been to blame, except he was enabled by years of her turning an obvious blind eye; part of a political marriage that has paid off for her personally, even as it screwed over the rest of us. (Not to mention that both her parents oppose our marital equality, a haughty stance considering their own unconventional "arrangement.")

    And yet there was Chelsea Clinton, taking personal umbrage when a college student had the temerity to ask whether the Lewinsky scandal hurt her mother's credibility:

    Far be it from us mere voters to ask whether putting her parents back in the White House risks a scandal-plagued repeat.

    Clearly, the arrogance apple did not fall far from the tree.

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    March 25, 2008

    Bill to gays: Who loves you baby?

    Posted by: Chris

    The video is out on Bill Clinton's angry pushback when a college journalist had the temerity to challenge his record on gay rights -- specifically Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act:

    It's classic Clinton for sure, and couldn't resist passing on this priceless analogy from Robbie over at The Malcontent:

    The Clintons truly were the Ike Turner of the gay community during the 90s. After knocking out a few GLBT teeth with the Defense of Marriage Act, he sent his wife to a pride parade - the great proof of how supportive they truly are. “I’m sorry for braggin’ on all those religious radio stations, baby. Here, I bought you a march. Forgive me? You know I had to do it. Sometimes you make me so politically vulnerable! Why do you do that to me, baby? Why?!”

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    March 20, 2008

    Say anything, do anything (IV)

    Posted by: Chris

    Bayhclinton Just when you think the Clintons will engage in any tactic, no matter how sleazy, or make any argument, no matter how sneaky and specious, they set new lows -- almost by the hour. As the mathematical impossibility of Hillary's nomination effort sink in, the growing desperation is resulting in a whole host of tactics that alternatively make me laugh, shake my head or vomit a little inside my mouth.

    The latest from Hillaryland:

    • Because the Clinton campaign knows that they will lose the pledged delegate count and must convince the superdelegates to overturn that result, they've settled on two arguments both of which are fundamentally race-based. The first is that Obama can't win white working class voters. The analysis suggests Obama trails in this demographic because of some failing of his, and no doubt some white working class males simply don't like him. But there's also no doubt that racism is at play here, and defaulting the Democratic Party nomination, despite the majority of pledged delegates and popular vote, is unconscionable. That the Clinton campaign would explictly use race to argue against Obama's candidacy is abhorrent.
    • The second argument is also explicitly racial, based on Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright. You won't hear Hillary Clinton or anyone on her campaign talk about it openly -- campaign chief Maggie Williams has issued a stern edict against any such utterance. Instead, it's the focus of behind-the-scenes arguments made to superdelegates: "Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said they had spent recent days making the case to wavering superdelegates that Mr. Obama’s association with Mr. Wright would doom their party in the general election. That argument could be Mrs. Clinton’s last hope for winning this contest." (New York Times)
    • Asked today in Indiana if her surrogates were using the Wright controversy to sway superdelegates, Clinton responded coyly: "Well my campaign has been making the case that I am the most electable." A follow-up question about whether the Wright flap was an example of Obama's unelectability, she ignored the question.
    • As part of swaying superdelegates, Clinton must overtake Obama in popular votes because she cannot in pledged delegates. Keep in mind that the "popular vote" measure is itself a misnomer because it only includes primary states, ignoring voters in caucus states entirely. Even still, winning the overall popular vote mathematically requires a re-vote in Michigan and Florida, and that both be won handily by Clinton. As a result, Clinton ratcheted up the (ridiculous) rhetoric.
    • Failure to conduct a re-vote in Michigan would "disenfranchise" voters there and be "un-American,"  Clinton claimed in a quick trip to Detroit that cast the re-vote issue in civil rights terms, citing the barriers to office she faced as a woman. This is the same Hillary Clinton who said last October, "It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything." The difference? Last October she was on a New Hampshire radio call-in show, reassuring voters there that their primary's early influential status wasn't threatened.
    • To make the case yesterday, Clinton claimed in Michigan that "when others made a decision to remove their names from the ballot, I didn't, because I believed your voices and your votes should count." Back on in New Hampshire last October, in addition to saying those votes weren't "going to count for anything," she claimed she left her name on the ballot to protect Democrats in the general election.
    • Chastising Obama for removing his name from the Michigan ballot, the Clinton campaign argued, "There aren’t many second chances in life but Senator Obama has one now and should ask the people of Michigan for their vote." How Orwellian is that? The January primary was invalid under DNC rules, as Clinton herself acknowledged, and it is Clinton -- not Obama -- who is pressing for a re-vote to preserve any semblance of her viability in the race for pledged delegates and popular vote.
    • The Obama campaign has challenged any Michigan re-vote that disqualifies everyone who voted in the GOP primary there in January, given that voters generally knew the Democratic primary was invalid and the only vote they could cast that would matter would be on the GOP side. The Clinton response? Simply to cite the DNC rule against allowing double-voting in both parties' primaries, as if that answer the concern.
    • The Clinton campaign also dismissed out of hand the Obama campaign's argument that a June primary is unfair to college-age voters because school will be out of session and Michigan law does not allow first-time voters to cast absentee ballots.

    Is it a surprise to anyone that Gallup finds this?:


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    March 18, 2008

    SLDN schools Bill Clinton

    Posted by: Chris

    43541 The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, created back in 1993 after Bill Clinton signed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" into law, has released an open letter to the former president, calling him out for his recent misrepresentations (here and here) of the policy itself, the politics that led to it, and the way it was enforced. In the letter to Clinton, SLDN director Aubrey Sarvis writes:

    Over the last several months you have been asked by reporters and others about the passage and implementation of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.' You have stated the law was not implemented as you understood at the time it would be.

    I gather from your comments that when 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' became law you intended for the Department of Defense’s implementing regulations to protect service members’ private lives. Unfortunately, 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s' implementing regulations are by in large consistent with the statutory language of the law itself and effectively prohibits service members from engaging in any actions seen as homosexual conduct. This includes simply telling others that you are lesbian, gay or bisexual.

    It's rather than charitable of SLDN to believe that Clinton actually buys his own B.S. about the intended effect of DADT's implementing regulations, considering how clearly they proscribe any type of "homosexual acts," whether or not the soldier or sailor is in private or wearing a uniform.

    Kudos to SLDN for speaking out, since it has become almost unthinkable for the current crop of Beltway gay groups to publicly criticize anyone generally considered "pro-gay. Will we see a similar statement from the Humarn Rights Campaign or the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, whether on this issue or Bill Clinton's revisionist history of that other twin pillar of anti-gay discrimination from his administration: the Defense of Marriage Act.

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    More Bill Clinton revisionism

    Posted by: Chris

    Clintonsgores The Clinton campaign is having one heckuva time keeping "the big dog" on the porch, and almost every time Bill Clinton barks, it's his wife's candidacy that ends up getting bitten. Thus far he hasn't been as divisive on gay issues that he has been on race -- probably because conventional wisdom says Hillary is doing better among gays -- but he has repeatedly rewritten his own political history.

    You can't blame him, really, considering that two of his wife's central promises to LGB voters are to repeal the discriminatory anti-gay laws he signed as president. So first two months ago and then again this week, the former president rewrote the history of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and even the substantive policy himself.

    Jennifer Vanasco at Logo's Visible Vote notes that in the same interview this week with college journalists, Clinton was also asked to respond to Melissa Etheridge's memorable comment in the HRC-Logo forum that the Clinton administration "threw gays under the bus" -- in particular because of the Defense of Marriage Act.

    In response, the former president once again threw facts to the wind and scribbling his way through the history books:

    There was at the time a serious effort to argue that the Congress ought to present to the States a constitutional amendment on gay marriage. The idea behind the Defense of Marriage Act was not to ban gay marriage, but for them to simply to say that if a marriage was…just because Massachusetts recognized the gay marriage. …

    All [DOMA] said was that Idaho did not have to recognize a marriage sanctified in Massachusetts. That seemed to be reasonable compromise in the environment of the time and it’s a slight rewriting of history for Melissa, whom I very much respect, to imply that somehow this was anti-Gay.

    Once again, the history and the substance are wrong. DOMA was not a defensive measure in response to a federal marriage amendment. It was a pro-active measure meant to "protect" other states from having to recognize marriage licenses issued to gay couples in Hawaii, where the state supreme court had signaled it was going to require.

    What's more, it's flat wrong to suggest that "all DOMA said was that one state did not have to recognize a marriage sanctified in another state." For one thing, state laws don't "sanctify" marriage; churches and synagogues do. For another, DOMA has two provisions and the one Bill Clinton cites would remain on the books if Hillary Clinton has her way.

    DOMA's other provision -- which has a much greater real-life impact -- is to define marriage under federal law as a heterosexual-only institution. One of the college reporters even tried to make that point, saying "people see this as an equal opportunity problem at the federal level, not just at the state level."

    But Clinton bulldozed his response, turning the tables on his interviewers. "Will there be more or fewer gay couples free of harassment if the law is that every gay couple in America could go to Massachusetts and marry and didn’t have to be recognized in Utah?" he asked.

    Got that? Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law, depriving bona-fied married gay couples from hundreds of federal rights and the portability of recognition in other states, but only to protect us from a backlash. The subtext is clear: Stop badgering our champions, the Clintons. Just say thank you for your inequality and wait for enough change so that it's politically expedient to support you. (See Kerry, John)

    Bill's final point on DOMA:

    The only point I was making is that I think that the attack that Melissa Ethridge is raised is a slight rewriting of history and doesn’t take a good account of where we were at the time and the fact that the Republican Right thought if they could just have a national referendum on gay marriage and make the Democratic Party about nothing but that they could bury the progressives in the country.

    Got that? Lesbian and gay Americans' claim to equality threatened the Democratic Party politically, so DOMA was a necessary evil to preserve viability. So yes he threw us under the bus, but at least he had a good political reason.

    The full excerpt relating to DOMA is available after the jump:

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    Continue reading»

    March 16, 2008

    Obama doing well with gay voters

    Posted by: Chris

    Hilaryb_1 Former Blade editor Lisa Keen has an interesting analysis this week that shows Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are closely splitting the vote in districts with large gay populations:

    Counting almost 34,000 votes in 39 heavily gay precincts across eight cities, Clinton has won 52 percent of the vote, compared to Barack Obama’s 48 percent. The neighborhood precincts surveyed included those in Boston, Dallas, Key West, Los Angeles County, Northampton, Mass., Provincetown, San Francisco and South Beach.

    Vote counts from those precincts in Houston considered to have large LGBT populations were not yet available.

    Obama was the preferred candidate in the heavily gay neighborhoods of Boston, Northampton, San Francisco and Chicago; Clinton won in Dallas, Key West, Los Angeles County, Provincetown, South Beach and New York (the latter based on exit polling).

    The numbers offer a striking contrast to those gay exit polls from California and New York purporting to show Clinton with the overwhelming advantage among lesbian, gay and bisexual voters: 63-29 in California and 59-36 in New York. I've already offered some reasons for why these exit polls provide a distorted view of LGB support, but another is relevant when they are compared to the voting in gay districts.

    Exit polls -- like the Knowledge Networks online survey that surfaced during the transgender debate over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act -- are general public surveys that include anyone who self-identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual. These surveys include large numbers of people -- mostly bisexuals -- who don't necessarily self-identify as a part of the "LGBT community" and are not active participants of it.

    Putting aside the more incendiary question of which is the more valuable measure, it's clear given the various disparities that they measure two very different things.

    (Table of gay voting districts via Dallas Voice)

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    March 14, 2008

    Who'll be the next Spitzer?

    Posted by: Andoni

    Hilllaryhallway By now everyone is familiar with the fact that New York Gov. Eliot "€get tough on prostitution rings"€™ Spitzer was actually patronizing one himself. We remember Ted Haggard railing against homosexuality and homosexual acts, only to discover that he himself was hiring homosexual prostitutes and engaging in homosexual acts on the side.

    Today we learn in the New York Times that one of China’s leading anti-drinking crusaders, Guo Shizhong, mayor of Xinyang, died -- you guessed it -- in a bar drinking alcohol. Yesterday Chris noted that Oklahoma state senator Sally Kern, with all her anti-gay ranting, may have a gay son.

    What's going on with these public figures who go on crusades against what they consider evils or inappropriate conduct in others when they themselves are participating in the same conduct? Freud called this type of behavior "reaction formation." It's a defense mechanism caused by inner anxiety from doing something we think or have been taught is wrong, which is then balanced or defeated by lashing out externally at the very thing that is causing discomfort.

    We can each point to countless past examples of this phenomenon at work. But what about those currently in the limelight, but whose hypocrisy remains hidden? Is anyone who goes out of his way to condemn conduct in others justifiably suspect for that very activity? It's a fair bet for a good percentage of these crusaders.

    Consider the three finalists in the presidential race: John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What do these people crusade about most often -- and does that hint about what they may be compensating for internally?

    Mccainhandskae For McCain, the first thing that comes to mind is his very aggressive opposition to lobbyists and special interests. And yet his campaign is being run by lobbyists. Is his strong stance against lobbyists a reaction formation to his heavy reliance on them? Could he be in bed with them more than we know?

    Senator Clinton never forgets to tell us she has 35 years of experience and will be ready to make those tough decisions on Day One, lashing out at Obama for not being ready . Could it be that she is really covering for her own insecurity about lacking much firsthand experience. Is she compensating for this internal unease?

    I'€™m not sure I can think of any examples of where Senator Obama goes overboard crusading for something. I need your help on that one. Any suggestions?

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    March 12, 2008

    Should delegates be proportional?

    Posted by: Andoni

    Because the Republicans have winner-take-all primaries and caucuses and the Democrats don't, the GOP already has a nominee and the Democrats don't, right? Not really.

    A number of my Clinton-supportive friends are bemoaning how Jesse Jackson talked Michael Dukakis back in 1988 into changing the party rules and assigning delegates by proportional vote. If only we had winner take all, they claim, Hillary would be the nominee because she won all those big states. Not true.

    Using the Obama campaign's delegate chart posted today by Marc Ambinder, I went back and assigned delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Texas presented a problem because they have two separate elections, a primary and a caucus on the same day. Since Clinton won the primary, I gave her all the delegates from the primary, and since Obama won the caucus, I assigned him all the delegates from the caucus.

    The total pledged delegate count under the current rules assigned proportionally are:

    • Obama    1,411
    • Clinton    1,250

    If it had been winner take all, Clinton would have a very slight lead, but certainly not the nomination:

    • Clinton     1,363
    • Obama     1,324

    Under winner-take-all rules, they would be separated by only 39 pledged delegates. Going forward, Obama is likely to close even this hypothetical gap. Most importantly, it would be impossible for either to get to the magic number of 2,025 to get the nomination -- without superdelegates, anyway.

    So even under a winner-take-all system, the nominee would be decided by superdelegates. After the nomination is finally decided and you hear calls for Democrats to change to winner-take–all system like the Republicans to avoid a repeat of this year, remember that it would not have made a difference.

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    'Gerard' Ferraro v. 'Barackla' Obama

    Posted by: Chris

    Ferraroclinton Aside from the obvious race-baiting in Geraldine Ferraro's pronouncements about the reason for the success of Barack Obama, she's also just plain wrong. Originally, Ferraro said that the reason for Obama's success is that he's black. She's quick to add, as in this Fox News clip, that she has long said that the reason for her nomination as vice president in 1984 was that she is a woman.

    "In 1984, if my name were Gerard Ferraro instead of Geraldine Ferraro," she said, "I would never have been the nominee for vice president."

    Maybe so, considering she got the nomination based on one vote (Walter Mondale's), but what does that have to do with Obama? If all it took was being black, then Jesse Jackson would have been the Democratic Party nominee in 1984, not Mondale (and again in 1988 rather than Michael Dukakis).

    Then there's this absolute gem from Politico's Ben Smith: Who said this in April 1988: "If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race." That's right; Geraldine Ferraro. So being black was the primary reason Jackson was able to run and yet somehow for Obama it explains not only why he's running but beating a candidate with enormous built-in establishment advantages? The identity politics explanation for everything.

    The real reason that Obama has succeeded is that his candidacy is about much more than his race or, as the Clintons like to claim, a speech he gave in 2002. It's about a "new politics" that eschews the fear-mongering and sleaze of the past by appealing to the best in people rather than their worst. It's also about a candidate whose positions on the issues jive with voters and who has run a far more effective campaign than the ultimate pros, the Clintons.

    The second reason Ferraro is wrong is about Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama. Because Hillary Clinton's gender has far more to do with her candidacy than Obama's race has to do with his. I don't say that because I think Hillary's success is because women and male feminists are enamored of the idea of a woman president -- which would be the sexist equivalent of Ferraro's jaw-dropper. I say it for the simple reason that being the wife of the president eclipses by a mile all other reasons for her political starpower, subsequent Senate career and White House run.

    Ferraro's has things bassackwards, just as Gloria Steinem did before her.

    (May 2005 photo of Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

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    March 11, 2008

    Calling the Clintons out on their 'ole okey doke'

    Posted by: Chris

    Obamaveep First Hillary Clinton and then Bill floated the trial balloon that if nominated she might select Barack Obama as her running mate. The cynical ploy was intended to seduce those who like Obama into thinking they could vote for Hillary and get "two for one," much like she and Bill both have argued about how their marriage offers voters a nudge-nudge, wink-wink "two for one" co-presidency.

    Well yesterday, Barack Obama has laid waste to the claim, calling it "the old 'okey doke'" and an attempt to "bamboozle" voters. Good for him, and in the process he showed some of the "toughness" that pundits like Maureen Dowd (N.Y. Times registration required) are forever demanding of him:

    “Now first of all with all due respect, with all due respect," he said here during a town hall meeting. "I won twice as many states as Sen. Clinton. I won more of the popular vote than Sen. Clinton. I have more delegates than Sen. Clinton. So I don’t’ know how someone in second place can offer the vice presidency to someone in first place. If I was in second place I could understand but I am in first place right now.

    He referenced comments from Bill Clinton in 1992 that his “most important criteria” for vice president was that person must be ready to be commander in chief.

    “They have been spending the last two or three weeks” arguing that he is not ready to be commander in chief, Obama said.

    “I don’t understand. If I am not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president?” Obama asked the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation during his defense. “I don’t understand.”

    “You can’t say he is not ready on day one, then you want him to be your vice president,” Obama continued. “I just want everybody to absolutely clear: I am not running for vice president. I am running to be president of the United States of America.”

    I happened to catch Obama make these remarks live on CNN and some yelps of "yes" could be heard throughout Shaw, the D.C. neighborhood where I'm staying for my month long visit back in the States. But to be honest, the first argument (I'm the frontrunner here) came off a bit cocky, which is a danger for Obama at times. The second (either I'm ready on Day One or not) is a home run, as far as I'm concerned.

    Here it is on video if you prefer to watch:

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    March 08, 2008

    Say anything, do anything (III)

    Posted by: Chris

    Following up on my post yesterday about Hillary Clinton's cynical ploy for Obama sympathizers by floating a "dream ticket" with the Illinois senator as her vice president, it now appears that Bill Clinton is officially in on the act. Campaigning in Mississippi, a state Obama is expected to dominate, Bill pulled the same schtick as Hillary had in the state the day before, tantalizing voters who like Obama with the idea they could vote for Hillary and still see Obama on the ticket:

    She said yesterday and she said the day after the big wins in Texas and Ohio and Rhode Island that she was very open to that and I think she answered the explicitly yes yesterday. I know that she has always been open to it, because she believes that if you can unite the energy and the new people that he's brought in and the people in these vast swats of small town and rural America that she's carried overwhelmingly, if you had those two things together she thinks it'd be hard to beat. … If you put those two things together, you'd have an almost unstoppable force.

    The Clintons know full well, of course, that their hints carry absolutely no obligation, and we know full well that the suggestion runs contrary to the weeks' long barrage of attacks on Obama unprepared, untested and unready to be in the White House.

    Credit Obama for having no part in this "dream ticket" parlor game:

    You won't see me as a vice presidential candidate -- you know, I'm running for president. We have won twice as many states as Senator Clinton, and have a higher popular vote, and I think we can maintain our delegate count -- but you know, what I'm really focused on right now, because all that stuff is premature, is winning this nomination and changing the country.

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    March 07, 2008

    Say anything, do anything (II)

    Posted by: Chris

    Clintonrendell For awhile Hillary Clinton let surrogates float the idea that she might tap Barack Obama as her running mate if she wins the Democratic nomination -- creating the type of "dream ticket" that many (extremely unrealistic) voters apparently want. Yesterday it was Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; today it was Hillary herself:

    Speaking to voters in Mississippi, where Sen. Barack Obama is expected to do well in next week's primary, Clinton said, "I've had people say, 'Well I wish I could vote for both of you. Well, that might be possible some day. But first I need your vote on Tuesday." It is the second time this week that she has hinted at a joint ticket with the Illinois senator; he has not ruled it out but says it is premature to be having those discussions.

    This really is the height of cynicism. She goes into a state that Obama is expected to win handily and makes a play for his supporters by suggesting -- with absolutely no obligation -- that they can vote for her guilt-free and she might bring him on board as veep.

    It's not the first time she's used the wink and nod to suggest to primary voters that supporting her is a two-for-one deal. The active role of her husband, the ex-president, in her campaign has sent the not so subtle message that electing her would create a co-presidency in a very real sense.

    It's symptomatic, of course, of her willingness to say anything and do anything to win, even when she knows that it's mathematically next to impossible.

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    March 06, 2008

    Draft Gore … or salute President McCain

    Posted by: Andoni

    Algore The Democratic Party appears to be in an out-of-control death spiral. As Kevin pointed out yesterday, it is impossible for Hillary Clinton to surpass Barack Obama's pledged delegate count in the remaining primaries and caucuses, yet she continues in the race. As I’ve said before, I see a coming trainwreck.

    The problem is that neither Obama nor Clinton can reach an outright majority of delegates based solely on pledged delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses. Either will need superdelegates to be over the top.

    Hillary Clinton's problem is that even if she wins big in all the remaining primaries, she will still trail Barack in pledged delegates. To win the nomination, she would have to convince superdelegates to overturn the will of voters, just as the U.S. Supreme Court did in appointing George W. Bush president in 2000.

    That result would poison the Democratic Party. Young people and African Americans would be angry, and the party would split in an ugly convention scene that would likely propel John McCain to victory. There is not enough time in the eight weeks between the convention and the November election to heal wounds and win. The irony is this is supposed to be a Democratic year -- and yet the Democrats are on a certain path to blow it.

    Barack Obama’s problem is that even though he will have the most pledged delegates at the convention, he is having a hard time tapping into the traditional Democratic base to close the deal. Additionally, Americans are showing once again that they can be stampeded by fear.

    Senator Clinton’s closing "3 a.m" ad was very effective, and Senator McCain is guaranteed to use the same tactic, probably just as effectively. And while Obama and Clinton battle each other for six months, McCain will define Obama however he wants to, so if the superdelegates nominate Obama, he will be so beaten up by Clinton and McCain, I think he will fail in the fall.

    Additional bad news is that exit polls show that Clinton and Obama divide the Democratic Party along lines of age, gender, race, education, and class.

    As an Obama supporter, of course I want my man to win. But if Senator Clinton continues to pursue the nomination when she has no way to win -- except by overturning the will of the voters -- Obama and the party will be the casualties. Although I want Obama to win, I want more for the Democrats to win in November.

    The only solution I see is for a group of wise superdelegates to begin a "draft Gore" movement, placing his name in nomination at the convention, and try to organize a large enough bloc of delegates to deny a majority to either Clinton or Obama ballot after ballot. After it becomes apparent that neither will get the nomination, I would hope Obama would throw his delegates to Al Gore, giving him the nomination.

    Gore is someone that the followers of both Obama and Clinton could get behind. Each faction would rather have Gore as the nominee than feel they had lost to their primary opponent. Feelings are that hard between these two camps. Gore just may be able to bridge these feelings as well as the fault lines in the party created by the two candidates.

    As a reward for throwing his delegates behind Gore, I hope Gore chooses Obama as his VP.

    Al Gore won the popular vote for president in 2000 and was denied the presidency by the Supreme Court. Americans would be ready to restore him to the office to which he was justly elected by voters, but denied by what some consider a coup by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

    Hillary Clinton often says it takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush. But when you think of it, wouldn’t it be poetic justice for the person who cleans up after George Bush to be Al Gore -- the person who should have been in the Oval Office in the first place?

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    February 28, 2008

    The politics of rejection

    Posted by: Chris

    Farrakhan Mcclurkin In the Cleveland debate earlier this week, Tim Russert pressed Barack Obama on whether he would reject the endorsement he recently received from Louis Farrakhan, who is of course famous for his anti-Semitic fulminations.

    Obama tried simply denouncing the Nation of Islam founder for his anti-Semitism, but that didn't satisfy either Russert or Hillary Clinton. For her part, Clinton related how she actively "rejected" support from a New York political party controlled by anti-Semites and demanded Obama do the same. Obama ultimately caved to the impossible politics of the moment:

    I have to say I don't see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word "reject" Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word "denounce," then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.

    "Good. Good. Excellent," nodded Clinton.

    Of course there is a difference between denouncing a view espoused by a supporter and rejecting all support from that source. Remember this is the same Barack Obama who refused to reject the support of Donnie McClurkin, a black gospel singer who claims to have been "cured" of his homosexuality? Back then, Obama saw the practical impossibility of combing the views of his supporters for those he finds objectionable:

    One of the things that always comes up in presidential campaigns is, if you’ve got multiple supporters all over the place, should the candidate then be held responsible for the every single view of every one of his supporters? And obviously that’s not possible. And if I start playing that game, then it will be very difficult for me to do what I think I can do best, which is bring the country together.

    That struck me as exactly right. Once a candidate starts "playing that game," then there's a slippery slope about which views among which supporters are so beyond the pale that denouncing the views isn't enough, and the supporter has to be "rejected."

    But now Barack Obama is "playing that game," goaded or not, and the slippery slope between Farrakhan and McClurkin begs for some sort of explanation.

    The same questions could be asked of Hillary Clinton, of course, who pushed Obama into not just "denouncing" but "rejecting" Farrakhan. Why, then, did Clinton accept the endorsements of African-American ministers like Bishop Eddie Long and Rev. Ralph Mayberry, who like McClurkin preach that homosexuality can be "cured"? And yet unlike Obama, Hillary has never "denounced" their anti-gay rhetoric or "rejected" their support.

    Just last week, Hillary gave an interview to CBN News, the "news department" of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, even though Robertson has a long history of being virulently anti-gay, even blaming gay Americans for hurricanes in central Florida and the 9/11 attack. Does anyone doubt how the Clinton camp would have reacted if Obama had sat down for a chat with Farrakhan's Final Call newspaper?

    Then today, when Clinton learned that prominent Dallas Hispanic supporter Adelfa Callejo had said some very intemperate things about why Hispanics won't support black politicians like Obama, Clinton's initial response sounded very much like Obama talking about McClurkin:

    You know this is a free country. People get to express their opinions. … You can’t take any of that as anything other than an individual opinion.

    Later, after confirming Callejo's remarks, the Clinton campaign issued a statement saying, "After confirming that they were accurately portrayed, Senator Clinton, of course, denounces and rejects them." Notice that, like Obama on Farrakhan before Hillary pushed him, Clinton has denounced and rejected the views she finds repugnant, not the endorsement or support from Callejo.

    John McCain has his own denouncing and rejecting to do, according to Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo. The presumptive GOP nominee appeared on stage yesterday with Christian Zionist Pastor John Hagee, who Kleefeld said "considers the Catholic Church to be the Anti-Christ, and has said that Jews brought their own persecution upon themselves."

    And last year, McCain famously gave the commencement address at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, the same Falwell who joined Robertson in blaming 9/11 on gays. Liberty also treats students in gay relationships the way Bob Jones University treats interracial couples, expelling all involved. And unlike Obama (with McClurkin and Farrakhan) or Clinton (with Callejo), McCain hasn't done anything to distance himself from Hagee, Falwell or Liberty.

    My point here is that this particular "political game" will ultimately sting anyone running a nationwide campaign, and Obama was right the first time that politics really ought to be about addition, not subtraction. It's ultimately pointless to pressure presidential candidates into "rejecting the support" of even their most extremist supporters. So long as the candidate denounces the offensive views, in clear and uncertain terms, then ultimately it's up to the supporter to decide whether to stick with the candidate.

    Personally, I am tickled pink that unreconstructed types like Donnie McClurkin or Eddie Long are supporting presidential candidates like Obama and Clinton who are committed to a wide array of gay civil rights protections. I hope they do all they can to get them elected!

    So long as the candidate doesn't waver from denouncing their bigotry, that ought to be enough.

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    The experience argument

    Posted by: Chris

    I'm not sure it would have made the difference, but Tom Bevan at Time's Real Clear Politics has offered a much more effective way that Hillary Clinton could have framed the experience argument against Barack Obama than her "Ready on Day One" sloganeering:

    Clinton should have been reminding voters over and over that just four short years ago Barack Obama was in the Illinois state legislature (voting present, no less) and now he's running to be the leader of the free world. Put in that context, the magnitude of the jump Obama is seeking to make suddenly gains perspective, and Clinton has voters pondering exactly the question she wants: wow, is he really ready for this?

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    February 22, 2008

    Hillary's big gay snub

    Posted by: Chris

    Providence1 The decision by the Clinton campaign to ban Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline from attending her rally there this Sunday had nothing to do with the fact that Cicilline is openly gay. Cicilline, who has campaigned for Hillary in New Hampshire and locally, is embroiled in a drawn-out dispute with the local firefighter's union that was deemed too touchy. (Ironically, the call to Cicilline to stay away was made by Clinton's national political director, Guy Cecil, who is also gay.)

    Never mind that Cicilline restored the public trust in Providence government after a series of scandals stained his predecessors, or that he's a rising star in the party and possible candidate for governor in 2010 -- an election that would be a major victory for the gay rights movement. Regardless, a snub like this would have been unthinkable if Cicilline were African American or Hispanic and is the latest example of how the Clinton camp views gays as a captive clique already in her back pocket.

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    February 21, 2008

    Live-blogging the Dem debate

    Posted by: Chris

    SECOND UPDATE: It also turns out that Hillary Clinton's final answer also borrowed from a frequent riff from her own husband's '92 campaign:

    [Bill] Clinton, 92: "The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time."

    Hillary Clinton, tonight: "You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country."

    To see a side-by-side comparison between her final answer and Edwards' earlier debate remarks, check out this short YouTube video:

    All in all, I agree entirely with TPM's Josh Marshall about the significance of these "plagiarism" issues, whether aimed at Clinton or Obama:

    Just to be 100% clear, there's nothing in the least wrong with this. And it's a great line. But I think it shows the silliness of the 'plagiarism' charges based on a few borrowed lines. Politicians borrow good lines and catch-phrases. Happens all the time. There's nothing wrong with it.

    UPDATE: Whoa. CNN just reporting that the Obama campaign is sending out an email that points out Hillary's final, emotional statement is remarkably similar -- though not completely word for word -- to an earlier debate statement by John Edwards. If that gets widely reported, it could neutralize what was for her a very strong moment.

    All in all, I think Hillary was better on the evening, and it was a great move to talk out the clock and end on such a rousing note. But I don't think she came anywhere close to drawing the contrasts that could fundamentally change the campaign. Obama avoided any gaffes and succeeded in drawing contrasts as well.

    11:41: Hillary references almost jokingly to the "tests" she's faced, but she says they're nothing compared to the challenges she's seen Americans face. I always roll my eyes when politicians "feel the pain" of the people. When she returns to a more personal focus and her own motivations for being in politics and running for president it's a very strong moment for her. She's "honored" to be on the stage with Obama -- something he said about her earlier -- and reaches out for a handshake. "No matter what happens, we'll be fine."  She draws a standing ovation, but it was also the end of the debate. Did she find her "voice" again?

    11:36: Clinton ducks a question about superdelegates, saying the party will unify. Obama says the primaries should "count for something."

    11:34: Clinton has three times Obama's earmarks, and King contrasts that with McCain's refusal to use earmarks. Clinton turns the answer around by pointing out McCain's support for Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war. Deft but not answering the question.

    11:32: Jon King asks Obama about his pork barrel earmarks, claims he has refused to disclose them. Obama denies that and says he has.

    11:25: Obama draws a contrast, saying he's better positioned to debate John McCain on Iraq because he opposed the war from beginning. Clinton will be reduced to arguing tactics. Her attacks on the plagiarim issue and health care were more pointed, but he's drawing as many contrasts as she is. You would think these two candidates were still tied in the race for the nomination.

    11:23: Asked about the surge, which neither supported, Clinton repeats what she's said in the past about how the surge has succeed tactically but not in its primary goal, which was to give the Iraqi government the breathing room to make political change.

    11:20: Obama does the best he can on his answer, reminding voters that on the most important related issue -- whether to go to war in Iraq -- he was right and she was wrong.

    11:17: Asked again whether she thinks Obama's not ready to be commander in chief, Hillary returns to her own record, and makes a good case for her depth of experince -- although it always rankles me that she counts her eight years as First Lady.

    11:14: The debate over mandates in health care reform strikes me as a bit irrelevant since the form the legislation would take would go through a rigorous debate that depends on many players other than the president of the United States. But they've stuck to it because she thinks it's a good contrast for her.

    11:11: Asked whether when Clinton said, "One of us is ready to be commander in chief on Day One," does that mean he's not, she ducks the question, saying she would "leave that to voters to decide." Returns to health care and for the second time in the debate compliments John Edwards by name.

    11:08: Commercial break. Clinton waited an hour to go on attack. Given the state of the campaign and how tight the polls in Texas (and Ohio) have become, it's really surprising that she hasn't been more aggressive in drawing contrasts. Her attempt to make something out of the plagiarism charge was especially weak, I thought. Still, she does better than him on substantive policy discussions, so perhaps her campaign views that general contrast as the most important one to make.

    11:05: Obama claims she is attacking his health care plan only because he's ahead. He may be right but it's not an effective argument. He's much better sticking to the issues, rejecting her suggestion that his plan isn't universal also. Interesting contrast on her efforts on health care from the '90s, criticizing the lack of transparency and excluding interested parties. Nice point for him that fits his general campaign theme.

    11:00: Hillary smiles broadly and then says, "If your candidacy is about your words, then it should be your words." Uses a clearly pre-planned line (she even glanced down twice to her notes before she said it): "Using someone else's words isn't change you can believe it; it's change you can xerox." The line bombs; boos from the audience and no claps. Also attacks Obama's health care plan for not being universal, and mortgage foreclosures. Finally the aggressiveness that I'd expected. Returns to attacking Bush and says, "Some of us have been fighting for a long time."

    10:58: Asked about the plagiarism accusations pushed by the Clinton campaign, Obama says Massachusetts. Gov. Deval Patrick is co-chair of his campaign and gave him the line and suggested that he use it. "This is when we start getting into silly season in politics and people get discouraged about it," he says. Nicely done. I wish he had mentioned that the Clinton campaign when asked refused to say whether she had done the same thing -- borrowing lines without credit from other politicians.

    10:54: Obama responds by ticking off his accomplishments. Compliments Senator Clinton's record but focuses on "how change comes about." Gets a laugh line in response to Hillary saying in rallies this week that it's time to "get real" as if his supporters are "delusional." References his endorsement by every major Texas newspaper -- a great line for him. All these people and institutions haven't been "duped."

    10:51: Another great line from Hillary: "The next president should be a lot less hat and a lot more cattle." As close as she comes to a barb was repeating that an Obama supporter when asked on MSNBC couldn't come up with a single one of his accomplishments.

    10:48: Where are the contrasts? So far there's no evidence Hillary Clinton will go after Obama aggressively. Jon King clearly wants to rile things up. Asking each candidate about their attack lines abou the other.

    10:43: Asked about whether the U.S. should become bilingual, Clinton says she would encourage bilingualism (even though she doesn't speak a second language), but English should remain common language. Obama essentially agrees. I think it's a great idea to make learning a second language a requirement of primary and secondary schools. It's much easier at that age, trains the brain in much the same way as mathematics and helps expand horizons as well.

    10:40: Obama returns to enforcement in an employment context. Actually that's smart for him, because his voter base is more white men and blacks than Latinos.

    10:38: Asked about border security, Clinton is smart and focuses more on the absurdities of the Bush administration's approach than on what she would do. "Listen to the people who live on the border," she says, another great applause line.

    10:35: Obama talks more about anti-immigrant rhetoric and scapegoating than policy, although he does get to employer regulation eventually. He talks about hefty fines and going to the back of the line, a surprising emphasis given his audience. Makes the point that helping the Mexican economy should be a central part of immigration policy, a great point that could potentially result in fewer undocumented immigrants than more fences and border patrols.

    10:31: Clinton would support stopping raids on undocumented immigrants. A good position for the Texas Democratic primary but not for the general. (P.S. I couldn't agree more.) Ticks through her immigration policy points; no emphasis on securing the borders (surprise, surprise).

    10:27: Clinton takes a shot at Bush, saying the "wealthy and well-connected" have had a president looking after their interests for the last seven years. She's better so far at delivering the snappy applause lines. She also delivers an exhaustive list of policy proposals, including a 90-day foreclosure freeze and a 5-year interest-rate freeze. Popular proposals but extremely interventionist.

    10:24: Obama details his economic plan but hasn't answered the question from CNN's Jon King -- how would a President Obama manage the economy different than a President Clinton. The only contrast he'll draw isn't substantive. He can pull together a coalition and (implicitly) she can't. Will she take the bait?

    10:20: Obama says "extra step" of presidential-level meeting is justified to signal a marked change from the Bush administration's go-it-alone approach.

    10:19: Clinton emphasizes that "prepatory work" should be done first, something Obama also said. She does push diplomatic engagement, so the contrast here isn't so great. Good applause line: Era of unilateralism of Bush administration is over.

    10:17: Obama would meet Castro without precondition, as he said he would in a previous debate with the presidents of Iran and Syria. Human rights and democratic change would be on the table for the visit. No normalization of relations until changes happen. He's right that total isolation of Cuba has netted pretty much nothing to the U.S. except pacifying influential Cuban-Americans in Florida.

    10:15: Clinton is asked if she'll sit down with Raoul Castro, Cuba's new leader. She sets preconditions for direct contact, including democratic change and release of political prisoners. A presidential visit would be "eventual." So why does the U.S. president regularly meet and visit other world leaders who are dictators and even Communist?

    10:10: No historical connections to Texas from Obama, but he references locals he's met on the campaign trail. He seems a bit rundown, with less energy than her. "We both offer detailed proposals," he says, a subtle dig at her claim that he's all talk and no substance.

    10:07: Hillary's opening statement reinforces her ties to Texas, including friendships with Barbara Jordan and Ann Richard, both immensely popular figures. (Richard, by the way, was long rumored to be a lesbian and lived for many years in the same house with her longtime female assistant and close friend). She stays positive, and draws no contrasts -- a bit of a surprise. With the clock ticking, I expected her to come out with guns blazing.

    10:02: The audience in Austin loves both candidates, but they appear to love Barack Obama a bit more than Hillary Clinton. I predict more fireworks than there were in Los Angeles but not as derisive as the Myrtle Beach catfight.

    10:01 p.m.: I have never tried this before, but I thought I would try live-blogging tonight's debate. It could be good or it could be a complete disaster... ;)

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    February 20, 2008

    Too late for tears

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillaryclintonsad Even before Hillary Clinton lost two more primaries last night, Mickey Kaus was suggesting she make a play for the  sympathy vote, since it proved so successful after the tears episode in New Hampshire:

    Hillary does best when Democratic voters sense she's about to get brutally knocked out of the race, as in New Hampshire. That prospect taps a well of residual sympathy for a woman who has devoted her life to politics, etc. But when Hillary is triumphant she seems arrogant and unbearable, and voters feel free to express those perceptions at the polls. …

    If she wins Wisconsin, and holds a big happy victory rally trumpeting her newfound momentum, the result will be a another surge of support for Obama.

    As things turned out, Hillary lost Wisconsin in a 17-point landslide and held a big happy victory rally anyway. Rather than acknowledge she's on the verge of losing the nomination, she once again didn't reference the reason her speech was playing on national television.

    The suggestion of humility is a very good one, made earlier by Peggy Noonan, but last night would probably have been too late. The time to do it would have been a week ago, after the Potomac Primary blowout, perhaps gaining enough groundswell to win in Maine and be more competitive in Wisconsin. Instead, Hillary stayed in denial mode.

    Why? The Clinton campaign gambit is that if she wins Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania -- even by slim margins -- she will have the momentum and can make the case to superdelegates that the party should not nominate a candidate (Obama) who has lost the big states -- California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

    Mark Penn is already tipping their hand on this point, according to Politico's Ben Smith:

    "It would be hard to imagine a nominee from this party who didn’t win" any of a series of big states — New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. (I'm not sure whether he mentioned California, but obviously that's on the list.)

    Note that Penn is counting Michigan and Florida, where the primaries were disqualified, and New York, Clinton's home state. Conversely he's not including Illinois, Obama's home state, and populous states like Missouri, Virginia, Minnesota and Washington state, which Obama won. (And Georgia, a reader points out.)

    Of course should Hillary lose any of Ohio, Texas or Pennsylvania -- and Texas is already deadlocked -- then even this long-shot strategy is sunk. Would superdelegates really agree that big states are more important than small states, given how the electoral college works? Very, very unlikely.

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    February 19, 2008

    Say anything, do anything

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    If primaries, caucuses and superdelegates aren't enough, then the Clinton campaign will set its sites on pledged delegates elected by the people. After all, like presidential electors, they don't technically have to abide by their signed pledge.

    My guess is Hillary Clinton will find pledged delegates less willing to abandon their pledges than she was when she promised Iowa and New Hampshire voters that she would not support the Michigan and Florida primaries that violated primary rules.

    And one day after the Clinton camp tried to make hay out of the fact that Barack Obama has used uncredited lines by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in his speeches, Hillary aide Howard Wolfson refused to say whether she had ever done something similar:

    In fact, Wolfson seemed to say it wouldn't be as big a deal if it were discovered that Clinton had "lifted" such language. "Senator Clinton isn't running on the strength of her rhetoric," Wolfson said.

    Say anything, do anything.

    UPDATE: The Clinton campaign (followed by Obama) rules out poaching pledged delegates. Is this pledge more or less believable than Hillary's promise to Iowa and New Hampshire voters to abide by the DNC's decision to disqualify delegates from Michigan and Florida? My guess is that it's a perfectly valid pledge, unless circumstances dictate that it be abandoned.

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    February 15, 2008

    Closing the gap in Texas

    Posted by: Chris

    The polls are all over the place but they do suggest that Barack Obama is already succeeding in closing the gap on Hillary Clinton in the crucial battleground of Texas, as he has done in so many other states.

    Among the surveys:

    Andrew Sullivan notes another surprising data point from the ARG poll: Clinton only leads Obama by 2 percentage points among Latinos.

    Considering the unique Texas primary-caucus delegate system is weighted in favor of African American districts -- because they voted in greater numbers than Latino districts in the last congressional elections -- Obama's position looks very strong.

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    Good advice she won't take

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillarymike Conservatives love to give Hillary Clinton advice, even though they can't stand her. But Peggy Noonan had a suggestion today for the flailing former frontrunner that, unfortunately for Hillary, she'd never take:

    She has taken to raising boxing gloves and waving them triumphantly from the podium. Is this a fruitful way to go? It's her way, bluster and combat. … But imagine if she tried honesty and humility. When everyone in America knows you're in a dreadful position, admit you're in a dreadful position. Don't lie about it and make them roll their eyes, tell the truth and make them blink.

    As in: "Look, let's be frank. A lot of politics is spin, for reasons we can all write books about. I'm as guilty as anyone else. But right now I'm in the fight of my life, and right now I'm not winning. I'm up against an opponent who's classy and accomplished and who has captured the public imagination. I've had some trouble doing that. I'm not one of those people you think of when you hear a phrase like 'the romance of history.' But I think I bring some things to the table that I haven't quite managed to explain. I think I've got a case to be made that I haven't quite succeeded in making. And I'm going to ask you for one more try. Will you listen? And if I convince you, will you help me? Because I need your help."

    Noonan goes farther even than Hillary needs to.  I think this would be enough:

    "Look, let's be frank. A lot of politics is spin, for reasons we can all write books about. I'm as guilty as anyone else. But right now I'm in the fight of my life. I'm up against an opponent who's classy and articulate and who has captured the public imagination. I'm not the kind of person to give a speech that will stop the show. But I bring some things to the table that I think are even more important. I've got a case to be made, and I ask you to hear me out. Will you listen? And if I convince you, will you help me? Because I need your help."

    We've already seen how voters -- especially white women -- rally to Hillary's side when she shows humility and appears sympathetic. No tears are necessary, and would most likely backfire. But imagine how different that rally in Texas on Tuesday night, when Clinton completely ignored her Potomac Primary thumping, would have been if she had taken it down a notch.

    Instead of sounding shrill and a bit Howard Dean whoopish, Hillary could have reached out in a more personal way. Maybe that wasn't the occasion, since the crowd was so huge, but Noonan's idea is a very good one.

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    John Lewis switches to Obama

    Posted by: Andoni

    Obamalewis Civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.), who had endorsed Hillary Clinton last fall and is a superdelegate told the New York Times:

    I’ve been very impressed with the campaign of Senator Obama. He’s getting better and better every single day.

    And with that the Atlanta congressman said he was going to vote for Obama as a superdelegate at the Democratic convention in Denver. Lewis' congressional district voted for Obama over Clinton 3 to 1. Lewis said he still had high regard for Hillary Clinton and had not yet decided whether to formally withdraw his endorsement of Senator Clinton and give it to Senator Obama.

    My opinion is that the damage is already done. It doesn't matter matter whether he formally withdraws his Clinton endorsement and gives it to Obama. The message has been sent, and everyone knows where he stands.

    Also today, Christine "Roz" Samuels, a superdelegate from New Jersey  switched from Clinton to Obama. This is in addition to Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) who switched from Clinton to Obama. Two other superdelegates withdrew their endorsement of Senator Clinton today, but decided to remain neutral for the time being.

    This is the movement I predicted in my post the other day stating that if Obama won Virginia and Maryland big and started eating into Clinton's demographics (which he did), we would start seeing an erosion of Clinton support and a switch to Obama. Watch for more defections over the next few days. And if Obama wins Wisconsin, the trickle will turn into a steady stream.

    I don't think Obama has this won yet, but if he keeps on winning, the delegate numbers will take care of themselves as superdelegates decide to get behind a winner, and we avoid a floor fight at the convention.

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    February 14, 2008

    Buying off superdelegates

    Posted by: Chris

    As highly as I regard Barack Obama, this stinks to high heaven:

    Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been putting on a charm offensive of phone calls and personal visits to woo the undecideds among superdelegates, the 796 elected Democrats and party leaders whose votes may eventually determine the party’s nominee.

    Beyond that, both senators, through their political action committees, have already given some of the elected officials among the superdelegates a considerable sum in campaign contributions. Superdelegates have received more than $890,000 in campaign contributions from Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton in the last three years, according to Capital Eye, a newsletter published by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that analyzes campaign finance data.

    Mr. Obama’s political action committee, Hope Fund, has given more than $694,000 in contributions to superdelegates since 2005, the article said. And of the 81 elected officials who have committed their superdelegate votes to Mr. Obama, 34 received contributions from him in the past.

    Mrs. Clinton’s political action committee, Hillpac, has given $195,000 to superdelegates. Of the 109 superdelegates who have promised her their support, only 13 received contributions from her.

    Every campaign has its unsavory aspects, and I expect it of the Clintons. But not Obama, and especially to that extent.

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