Did Barack Obama fail to close the deal with John Edwards by seeming arrogant and insufficiently committed to his policy agenda? New York magazine's John Heilemann seems to imply as much in a much-discussed article that appeared on Friday. My colleague Noam Scheiber respectfully disagrees. Noam has better sources within the campaigns than I do (as, I presume, does Heilemann). So I'm really in no position to say who's right on the overall issue.
A political afterthought on Clinton's health care interview: Reading about Clinton getting back in wonk mode is a reminder that, when her campaign focuses on policy, they actually make her--and her candidacy--seem very appealing. It's really the best card she has to play.
Hillary Clinton will make you buy health insurance you can't afford! You may recall hearing arguments along these lines, from Barack Obama, among others. And, although the polling on this question is a little hard to read, I know from inteviews that a lot of people find that argument compelling. It's not hard to see why. If the government suddenly requires everybody to get health insurance, won't most people be at the mercy of private insurers--who already charge more than a lot of people can afford? But, as readers of this space know, I've always thought the argument suspect.
I am grateful to Chris for the Tom Lehrer interlude. I also agree with Chris that, insofar as Evan Bayh's argument about electoral votes is a trial balloon from the Clinton campaign, it's both patently self-serving and ultimately self-defeating. Among other things, it's not clear that the candidate who wins a state's primary is actually more likely to win that state in the general election.
When it comes to arguments over how superdelegates should make up their minds about the Democratic nomination, the Clinton campaign has very little claim to the moral high ground, largely because their arguments have constantly shifted to fit their ever-changing political circumstances. Now I think this pattern is proving to be a major political liability, at least here in Michigan. For weeks and weeks, the Clinton campaign insisted that it wanted to seat the state's delegation based on the results from the tainted January primary. It was an absurd, virtually indefensible argument.
Barack Obama's great speeches have generally taken place in the same sorts of settings. His keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention, his victory speeches after South Carolina, Wisconsin, and the Potomac primaries--Obama gave all of the addresses before large, boisterous audiences. The speeches had a certain raw power, which Obama drew from the assembled crowds. They were memorable, yes, but as much for how Obama spoke as for what Obama said. Not today. This was a different, more unsettled political moment. And so Obama decided to give a different, more unconventional sort of speech.
When John McCain wants to sound like Teddy Roosevelt, he bashes the corporations that run U.S. health care with a vim and vigor that even a modern- day progressive could admire. He has railed against the tyranny of the HMOs who hold their customers "hostage." In January, during a Republican debate--a Republican debate!--he complained about the "power of the pharmaceutical companies." And, on more than one occasion, he has backed this rhetoric with action.
As Isaac notes below, Geraldine Ferraro was on national television the morning, defending her controversial comments about Barack Obama and race. Given that Hillary Clinton has officially disavowed Ferraro's statements, not once but twice, you may be wondering why Ferraro is still speaking for the campaign. It turns out that, officially, she isn't--at least according to Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer, who told me that Ferraro is speaking "on her own." Still, the Clinton campaign has not asked Ferraro to sever her affiliation with the campaign. (Ferraro is a member of the campaign's fi
As I write this, MSNBC is peeking in live at a Barack Obama rally in Mississippi. They're apparently hoping he'll speak to this "dream ticket" question--i.e., what he thinks about Hillary Clinton's suggestion that they run together, presumably with Obama as the vice presidential candidate. It's the topic that the talking heads on MSNBC--like the talking heads everywhere else--have been discussing for the last hour or so. So far, Obama isn't obliging.
Via the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Democrats are still trying to figure out how they'd finance a new vote, which they figure would cost around $10 million. But if they do find the money, here's how it would probably work, according to state party chairman Mark Brewer: Brewer said if there were a do-over, it most likely would be a party-run primary, but one in which he'd have to plan for a huge turnout.