The Wall Street Journal recently reported that last summer, Illinois Senator Barack Obama told officials in the Teamsters union that he favored ending the Independent Review Board (IRB) that was created in 1989 by the federal government to rid the union of organized crime.
In my cover story this week, "The Big Race," I mention that white women voters who have been backing Democrats should prove sympathetic to Barack Obama’s candidacy. I had a specific study of women voters in mind, but I didn’t want to exhaust readers’ patience with the description of another psychological experiment. I will describe the study here, because I think it has important implications for the 2008 election.
The Democratic primary is over. Hillary Clinton might still run in West Virginia and Kentucky, which she’ll win handily, but by failing to win Indiana decisively and by losing North Carolina decisively, she lost the argument for her own candidacy. She can’t surpass Barack Obama’s delegate or popular vote count. The question is no longer who will be the Democratic nominee, but whether Obama can defeat Republican John McCain in November. And the answer to that is still unclear. During the last two months, Obama has faltered as a candidate.
Hillary Clinton won a decisive ten-round decision over Barack Obama in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, but she didn’t score a knockout. The struggle continues. Clinton still has virtually no chance of overtaking Obama’s delegate lead or his edge in the popular vote. And the superdelegates will be loath to ignore this advantage. Meanwhile, Obama’s weaknesses as a general election candidate grow more apparent with each successive primary.
Some liberal commentators have downplayed the effect of Barack Obama’s fundraising speech at a San Francisco fundraiser last week. But that’s wishful thinking. Along with the revelations about Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright, his remarks in San Francisco will haunt him not only in the upcoming primaries in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia, but also in the general election against John McCain, assuming he gets the Democratic nomination.
In the weeks leading up to the March 4 primary in Ohio, a new insult entered the increasingly caustic vocabularies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: hypocrite. Hoping to curry favor in a state that has shed thousands of manufacturing jobs in recent years, each attacked the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the treaty that lowered barriers to commerce between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The labor movement once loomed large over American politics. If the nineteenth century was dominated by conflict with Indians and over slavery, the early twentieth center was dominated by what was called “the labor question.” But very few Americans outside Washington today know anything about the labor movement. I talked recently to a historian who was writing a book on liberalism who didn’t know that in 2005, a group of unions had split off from the AFL-CIO to form Change to Win.
In the last years of his life, William F. Buckley Jr., who died on February 27 at the age of 82, broke with many of his fellow conservatives by pronouncing the Iraq war a failure and calling for an end to the embargo on Cuba. He even expressed doubt as to whether George W. Bush is really a conservative—and he asked the same about neoconservatives. To Buckley's liberal admirers, these sentiments suggested that the godfather of the Right had, like Barry Goldwater, crept toward the center in his old age.
When Barack Obama announced a year ago that he was running for president, I scoffed. How could a black man whose middle name is Hussein and who looks like he is 25 years old win the White House? To be sure, he was a U.S. senator, but he had been elected largely on a fluke when his toughest Democratic and Republican opponents were felled by scandals.
Bill Buckley, who died yesterday, will, of course, be remembered as the man who was most singly responsible for the modern conservative movement. Before 1955, when Buckley founded National Review, there were disparate strands of an American right--from free market anti-New Dealers to traditionalists like Russell Kirk to anti-Semitic crackpots like Gerald L. K. Smith.