The 3 A.m. President
February 29, 2008

Chait is bemused by Hillary's new ad envisioning a scary international crisis which precipitates a 3 a.m. phone call to the president. (The ad has been the subject of fierce dueling between the campaigns today, giving it a guaranteed free-media punch beyond its actual viewership.)   I don't find the ad remotely comparable to LBJ's (once-aired) "Daisy" ad, which essentially depicts a little girl being anhilliated by a nuclear explosion. I do agree with Jon that it's a bit substantively puzzling. The White House gets lots of calls in the middle of the night about foreign crises.

Uncle Sam, Shorthanded
February 29, 2008

Ryan Grim reports in the Politico that a number of federal agencies are severely undermanned because the White House and Senate Democrats can't agree on mutually acceptable nominees to fill the positions: At the height of concern over product safety and lead-tainted toys, the Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn’t have enough members to meet. The nation is facing the prospect of a presidential contest with no referee, because the Federal Election Commission is too short-handed to call a quorum.

It's 3:00 Am, I Must Be Lonely
February 29, 2008

Wow, Jason, you're right: what a strange ad for Clinton. (See below.) The narrator tells us, twice, that "it's 3:00 AM and your children are asleep" when a call comes to the White House. From this we're supposed to conclude that we need a Tested and Ready president in Hillary Clinton, who as First Lady was apparently answering these calls, perhaps because her husband was shacked up at the time. Okay, fine. But isn't pretty much everybody asleep at 3:00 AM? And what do my kids have to do with it?

The Clang-fest In Cleveland
February 27, 2008

About two-thirds of the way through the debate, Barack Obama took a question about Louis Farrakhan's support for his campaign. He gave a sufficient, if not quite stellar answer--saying he'd repeatedly denounced Farrakhan's anti-Semitic statements, that he'd long been a supporter of Israel, etc. At that point Hillary asked to weigh in.

February 26, 2008

Readers can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that for the first time Clinton just apologized for her Iraq war vote. She has parsed this issue before, but tonight's answer seemed somehow different. If so, it is very interesting that she waited until now. ("Interesting" is a euphemism...) Update: Here is what she said: Well, obviously, I've said many times that, although my vote on the 2002 authorization regarding Iraq was a sincere vote, I would not have voted that way again.

Mark Penn's "old School" Politics
February 26, 2008

Via Ben Smith, this New York Observer interview with Leon Panetta is sort of worth your time. Most interesting portion: Mr. Panetta, who served as chief of staff in the White House from July 1994 to January 1997, and who has contributed $2000 to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, complained that Mr. Penn “is a political pollster from the past.” ”I never considered him someone who would run a national campaign for the presidency,” he said. He asserted that Mr.

A Rotten Poem
February 25, 2008

I don't who Elinor Lipman is. But I was reading the Boston Globe this morning only to find her snotty little column, "Get me to the ranch on time," on the op-ed page. Lipman is distraught because Jenna Bush and her intended are not having their wedding at the White House but at the ranch in Crawford, Texas. I actually think it's a sign of moral restraint that she and her beau, Henry Hager, decided not to have a big splash at the executive mansion at a moment when so many people in the country are being squeezed financially.

Bill Kristol, Independent Voice
February 25, 2008

On Saturday, Mike flagged an AP report saying "conservatives are gearing up to go after [Obama's] patriotism. (Michelle + lapel pin + no hand over heart photo.)" Here's my favorite part of the AP piece: "First he kicked his American flag pin to the curb. Now Barack Obama has a new round of patriotism problems.

The Vindication Of Al Gore
February 24, 2008

 The most trying experience for me, a Gore loyalist, after the Supreme Court gave George Bush the election in 2000 (and for years thereafter) was to sit and listen to the autopsies of the oh, so smart people who knew just how Al had screwed up. So what did the wise people say?  "He should have used Bill Clinton more."The fact is that I have never discussed, post-election, this particular matter with Gore. And neither did I discuss it with him during the campaign. But I was sure then that it was wisdom.

His Mother's Son
February 22, 2008

He actually brought tears to my eyes. "I was born to a teen-aged mother," said Barack Obama, thereby locating his origins in poverty, which is true and also relevant. He told the nation that in the Austin debate, as he had told his listeners in many appearances during the campaign. He did not say, however, "to a white teen-aged mother," unspoken and unnecessary.  After all, everybody knows that fact, and the fact is symptomatic of our whole society.  Teen-aged motherhood is not just an attribute of black girls.