31 January 2008

Political potpourri

Having a few varied comments on the current state of political events, I thought I’d use this entry to share those random thoughts.

Issue #1: Politicus interruptus

The past two weeks have seen a bevy of withdrawals from the Presidential race. Fred Thompson’s was not particularly surprising, after his dismal showing in South Carolina. Rudy Giuliani’s was a little more surprising, if only for the heights from which he had fallen earlier in the campaign - remember when he was the inevitable front-runner, and prognosticators (including yours truly) expected him to roll to the GOP nomination? His endorsement of John McCain could be somewhat helpful, but I don’t think that brings a huge block of voters to McCain who would have otherwise supported one of his remaining opponents. And I would be remiss if I didn’t note Dennis Kucinich’s withdrawal. So there, it’s noted.

Perhaps the most surprising was the sudden announcement yesterday by John Edwards that he would be suspending his Presidential campaign. Now that word “suspending” is a bit of legal jargon, and I believe he used it rather than “withdrawing” or “abandoning” so that he can continue to receive federal matching funds for the quarter and pay any outstanding debts. I think he does plan to release his delegates, however.

Edwards’ withdrawal surprised me because I expected him to continue on to the convention, collecting delegates here and there in an effort to become a powerbroker at a split convention. Now that he’s out, that leaves only two candidates, but surprisingly that doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have a clear winner by the time of the convention. Why? Because on the Democratic side, there are a whole bunch of “superdelegates” chosen not by the electorate but by virtue of their standing in the Party. These superdelegates can vote for whomever they choose, even if they’ve “pledged” themselves to one candidate ahead of time.

I can now invite my friends and readers who have been ardent Edwards supporters to come over and join me in backing Barack Obama. Edwards did not endorse either of the remaining candidates in his withdrawal speech. Would his endorsement make a big difference? Perhaps, but perhaps not. It might help Obama more than it would Clinton, because of Edwards’ strength with labor unions. In this regard, Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama earlier this week might have as much influence as Edwards’ would. Which brings me to…

Issue #2: Whither the Gore-acle?

If there is one political luminary out there whose endorsement would actually make a measurable impact on the race, I think it’s Al Gore. He has stayed out of the fray so far, and despite the pipe dreams of many Dems, I don’t think he’s waiting around to be chosen by acclamation at a brokered convention. What if Gore threw his support behind one of the two remaining candidates before next Tuesday? Given his demiurge status in the Party after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, I have to think he could wield some influence. Much has been made of the acrimony between Gore and the Clintons, and it seems unlikely that he would endorse Hillary. That leaves Obama as Gore’s potential endorsee. How would Obama benefit from a Gore endorsement? I think Gore’s endorsement could sway some undecided voters, but more importantly I think it could firm up support about those who are leaning toward Obama but have lingering doubts. If Gore is going to make an endorsement, however, he needs to do so very quickly – announcing over the weekend wouldn’t have the same impact on the news cycle as would a weekday announcement.

Issue #3: Fantasy debate lines

The two remaining Democratic candidates, Clinton and Obama, have a head-to-head (I’m resisting using the phrase mano-a-mano) debate in California tonight, to be broadcast on CNN. Chances are that some of the exchanges will get a little testy, as it’s the last chance for either one to score rhetorical points in this setting before Super-Duper-Tsunami Tuesday.

If I were scripting a fantasy debate, I’d have the following tongue in cheek paragraph ready to go for Obama in response to any question that even remotely brings up the issue of Bill Clinton’s involvement in Hillary’s campaign or in a future Clinton Administration:

This is a question that many Americans want the answer to: What role will Bill Clinton play in a Hillary Clinton Administration? With all that time on his hands, what will he have his hands in? Will he be involved in foreign affairs? Will he be involved in domestic affairs? Will he be involved in internal affairs? The voters deserve to know – what affairs will Bill get himself involved in if Hillary is President?

Alas, Obama will probably not go down that road, but it sure would be fun to see if Hillary could control herself if he did.


Pam said...

I'm becoming increasingly more frustrated with this primary process where the few get to have the say of the many. No doubt, John probably would have done pretty much the same on Super Tuesday as he has done up until now, but I feel, as does Peter, that our voices have been taken away by all the special voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. I feel that the media decided John wasn't in this race from the start. Hmm.. Also I wonder if he didn't follow his principles and choose not to "limit" himself to a publicly financed campaign.. would his numbers be better?
I'm leaning about .1 percent towards Obama now. Actually, I feel like he's all talk. Something is holding me back from supporting him fully.. what will he really be like in office? When has he shown strong leadership during this campaign? Why doesn't he stop bickering with Clinton? Why is he taking money from lobbyists? How does he prove his principles? Please, enlighten me. I know I haven't been following him very closely and therefore.. many of those questions might have answers. I hope they do. I hope I can really feel my vote counts on Tuesday. Dems for Mitt.

Dan said...


A couple of brief replies:

What would Obama be like in office? I think that can be answered by examining his character in public service, in the Illinois State Senate, in the U.S. Senate, and in his work organizing folks and helping fight poverty and other awful social conditions in some of the roughest neighborhoods of Chicago.

Why doesn't he stop bickering with Clinton? Which one? Seriously though, if he let Hillary toss out invectives and completely ignored them in an effort to take the high road, he'd wind up just like John Kerry did four years ago. Politics is rough, and you have to be willing to throw a few elbows without letting the barbs become your entire raison d'etre.

Why is he taking money from lobbyists? I suppose because everyone does, including Edwards (trust me, trial attorneys' action groups count as lobbyists). Although I'm not sure what you mean by saying that he's taking money from lobbyists. You can check out this page for more of his ethics proposals as they relate to lobbyists, federal contracts, earmarks, and other special interest influences:

Hope that answers a few things...or at least keeps you away from Romney...

Ken L. Hagler said...


I appreciated reading your insights on the Democratic side of things. As one pretty much surrounded by Republicans and talk radio, it is hard to get a true balance in conversation. As a pastor, I declare independent and feel (in most instances), my vote is for me to make in the booth - not for public knowledge.

One thing I find discouraging in this is comments from the press regarding Obama. Salon recently called Obama a "hope monger." If there is one thing I can say, Obama has been the most hopeful candidate I can remember in a while. He has done this as well, by not tearing down the country. Gee, that is a bad thing?

Regardless of how things come out this election cycle, Obama has established himself as the next leader of Democratic Party. If Obama continues to carry himself as he has so far, he will be better positioned in the future to make a run and win.

Dan said...


Yeah, I just don't get the whole "hope-monger" thing. I suppose having hope is a sign that one is not totally cynical, which is apparently a requirement to enter political life these days.

Although I don't agree with several of his policies, I think Huckabee has managed to do some of the same thing on the GOP side, bringing a more genuinely Christian perspective to questions of poverty and creation care. I'm surprised he hasn't managed to maintain more momentum post-Iowa.

Michael said...

I think both Clinton and Obama looked really good during the debate on Thursday. I believe they would both be a great President. I voted for Obama earlier this week (advanced voting is pretty cool) for several reasons. 1) He is inspiring and his hopeful message is welcome, 2) I believe he is more of a uniter than Clinton and would be able to bring the country together more easily than she would, 3) I think he probably has a better chance of winning the general election than Clinton.
It will be exciting to see either of them elected as our next President.

Cecilia Dominic said...

LOL at the fantasy Obama question.

Still undecided as to whether to vote for or against on Tuesday,


Dan said...

Michael, I concur, although I am waiting until the actual primary day to vote (I do happen to live across the street from my polling place).

Cecilia, if you have the choice, always vote "for" rather than "against". Not sure what that translates to for you, but vote your hopes, not your fears.

Cecilia Dominic said...

Good advice, Dan. I'm still trying to figure out what that translates to for me, too. :)