A Review of Obama's Philadelphia Speech
March 19, 2008

I celebrate myself; And what I assume you shall assume; For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you. ... Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself? (I am large--I contain multitudes.)             Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass I attend a small synagogue in Washington DC. When my rabbi says something controversial, the entire congregation quickly learns about it. Members who are offended do not remain silent. They often reprove him. Some threaten to leave unless he apologizes and changes course.

The WSJ's Intellectual Dishonesty
March 19, 2008

Today's WSJ editorial about Obama's speech makes some decent points. But then there's this: He dwelled on a lack of funding for inner-city schools and a general "lack of economic opportunity." But Mr. Obama neglected the massive failures of the government programs that were supposed to address these problems, as well as the culture of dependency they ingrained. As Noam recently pointed out, Obama specifically criticized the welfare state's failures, and the culture of dependency they ingrained: "I thought the nod at the conservative intellectual's critique of welfare policy was very shrewd.

How Much Contempt Does Mccain (or His Speechwriter) Have For Obama?
March 19, 2008

Looks like it's time to add a new chapter to the McCain-Obama grudge that Mike wrote about in the current print issue.

Obama To Give A Speech On Race
March 17, 2008

Via Ben Smith, I see that Obama's going to give a big speech on race tomorrow. Here's what Obama told reporters just now, according to Ben: "I am going to be talking about not just Reverend Wright, but the larger issue of race in this campaign," he said. He added that he would "talk about how some of these issues are perceived from within the black church issue for example," he said. There are risks involved, of course, but I don't think he had much of a choice.

The '3 A.M.' Fight Continues
March 13, 2008

Sean Wilentz has just offered a new response to Orlando Patterson's response from yesterday--which was written to refute Sean Wilentz's response to his op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times.

Refereeing Wilentz V. Patterson
March 12, 2008

If you haven't seen it, there's a heated debate going on on our site between Sean Wilentz and Orlando Patterson over Patterson's NYT op-ed on the 3-a.m.-phone-call ad. You should read them yourselves, but, briefly: Wilentz says Patterson was wrong to see racist imagery in the ad and alleges that this is just another instance of Obama supporters playing the race card; Patterson says Wilentz is being obtuse. Who's right?

Obama By A Coin Flip
March 07, 2008

At 6 P.M. on Tuesday night, Crystal Viagran is standing on a street corner in East Austin, Texas, holding an Obama sign above her head. In less than an hour, she ditches the sign and walks toward Govalle Elementary School, the primary voting and caucus site for Precinct 426, and picks up a manila packet containing all the instructions for conducting that night's precinct convention. Crystal, 32, who works as a student adviser at the University of Texas, her alma mater, was elected precinct convention chair in 2006 by a total of three votes. That's how many people showed up to caucus.

The Exit Lever
February 28, 2008

Senator John McCain often attacks the two Democratic presidential front-runners for their soft stance on Iraq. “Senator Clinton and Senator Obama will withdraw our forces from Iraq based on an arbitrary timetable designed for the sake of political expediency," he recently said, "which recklessly ignores the profound human calamity and dire threats to our security that would ensue.” His critiques are clearly overstated.

Is Hillary The Better Closer?
February 28, 2008

Over at Real Clear Politics, Jay Cost tries to sort out whether Hillary or Obama is the better closer. His answer? It depends what you mean by "closer." Cost goes back and examines the "when did you make up your mind" question exit polls ask and finds that Hillary tends to out-perform her final, overall vote-share among people who made their decision more than a month out from Election Day and on Election Day, while Obama does better with those who decided in the last month, last week, and last three days.

Did Obama Play The Race Card?
February 27, 2008

Over on the home page, you can find Sean Wilentz's long brief trying to make the case that Obama has played the race card in his campaign--by accusing the Clintons of playing the race card. Or, as Wilentz puts it, by "deliberately, falsely, and successfully portray[ing] Clinton and her campaign as unscrupulous race-baiters." I'm unconvinced. To see why, let's take one of Wilentz's examples: On January 26, Obama won a major victory in South Carolina by gaining the overwhelming majority of the black vote and a much smaller percentage of the white vote, for a grand total of 55 percent.