June 11, 2007
Occasionally, the presidential primary debates serve as a forum for substantive exchanges on important issues. Most of the time, however, they feature rants and raves from the talented and crazy alike. Take this clip, for example, from the first Democratic debate, in which former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel harangues the top-tier candidates (and Joe Biden) about pre-emptive nuclear strikes: The key to winning the "debates" is not to present nuanced or reasonable arguments about policy. It's about getting in the best soundbite.
June 04, 2007
One candidate seems to have emerged as the consensus winner of last night's Democratic debate: Hillary Clinton. Here's a sampling of opinion from around the Internet. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish "There were times when her robo-lecture act began to wear down my ear-drums, but, in general, Senator Clinton bestrode the debate as an authoritative figure. In fact, I've never witnessed a U.S. political debate in which a woman clearly dominated as she did tonight... It kills me to admit it. But there you are. And as it sinks in, a dreadful specter emerges. Think June 2008. Think Romney vs Clinton.
The XX Factor
May 21, 2007
KATE MICHELMAN is struggling to carry on a phone conversation without crashing her car as she barrels east across New Hampshire on her way to yet another campaign appearance with Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. This morning, Michelman, who for almost 20 years served as president of NARAL, was in Manchester with Edwards for the official opening of the campaign’s state headquarters.
Theme Song Contest
May 16, 2007
Hillary Clinton has announced a gimmicky online contest whereby people can vote to choose her campaign theme song. Most of her nine pre-selected nominees are familar campaign boilerplate ("Beautiful Day," the dreaded "Right Here, Right Now")--all totally sterile and devoid of possible controversy. So let me propose another gimmicky online contest: Plank readers are hereby invited to suggest a truly apt Clinton theme song--anything you want, definitely not limited to her official list of nominees. The winner will be unscientifically chosen sometime in the next few days.
May 08, 2007
Donald Trump told the New York Post that he was endorsing Rudy Guiliani for the Republican nomination and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic one. I understand why he might like Rudy. But Hillary? Maybe it's his commitment to "the politics of meaning," that phony pseudo-religious dispensation she was peddling early in her husband's first term. Now either Guiliani or Clinton would be better than Trump. You do remember, though--don't you?--that he has often threatened a presidential race himself.
The Left's New Machine
May 07, 2007
Most political activists can point to one catalyzing event, an episode in each of their lives (or, more often, in the life of their country) that shook them from their complacency and roused them to change the world. You can find many such stories if you troll through the netroots, the online community of liberal bloggers that has quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics. But the episode that seems to come up most often is the Florida recount.
Mark Penn's Day Job
May 07, 2007
Huh, I wonder if any labor unions have a problem with the fact that Hillary Clinton's chief political strategist is the CEO of a firm that engages in union-busting. Here's a tidbit from Ari Berman's new Nation piece on Clinton's inner circle: [Burson-Marsteller, where Mark Penn is CEO] has a highly confrontational relationship with organized labor. "Companies cannot be caught unprepared by Organized Labor's coordinated campaigns," read the "Labor Relations" section of its website (until it was scrubbed after Mark Schmitt of The American Prospect quoted the language in March).
Hillary's New Language
April 30, 2007
Apropos my posting on our multi-lingual presidential candidate, a correspondent of mine writes that Hillary Clinton will soon be speaking in tongues.
Who Do Moderate Democrats Favor?
April 26, 2007
Tom Schaller takes note of a poll showing that Hillary Clinton is unpopular among independents, and then concludes, "What's interesting about this finding is that voices from the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, who incessantly emphasize the importance of independent voters in general elections, find that their favorite daughter candidate is the one most struggling with the very voters they deem pivotal." Favorite daughter? It's certainly true that Clinton is running as a moderate, but is she the favorite candidate of moderate Democrats? I've never thought so.
A Star Is Born
April 26, 2007
With 3725 votes cast in a DailyKos poll asking who won tonight's debate, Mike Gravel is ahead of Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and (of course) Hillary Clinton. Update: At about 6000 votes Edwards is the clear winner, a shade ahead of Obama. (And Hillary has edged ahead of Gravel...) --Michael Crowley