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.
February 13, 2008
In 2002, Barack Obama was an unknown Illinois state senator with long-shot ambitions of moving from the political backwater of Springfield to the big-time of Washington, D.C. But, before he acted on those ambitions, he wanted to get the blessing of another young, black––and far more famous––Illinois politician, one whom he essentially hoped to leapfrog on his way to the U.S. Senate. And so, one morning that year, Obama had breakfast with U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.
The Hillary-mccain Double-team?
February 13, 2008
How much aid might John McCain's increasingly tough shots at Obama offer Hillary?* She has already begun swiping him for being all rhetoric and no substance, and has a new ad up challenging Obama to talk more specifics in debates with her. And now McCain is pressing the very same themes. ("There's going to come a time when we're going to have to get into specifics.") Indeed, Hillary and McCain are starting to sound fairly interchangeable on this topic. If nothing else, this might goad the press to start giving Obama a harder time. *(And vice-versa?) --Michael Crowley
Obama's Best Speech Yet
February 12, 2008
It's been a week or so since I've heard Obama's stump speech, so maybe this is old news. But -- wow -- he is really going after John McCain. And he's doing a damn fine job of it. He started by honoring McCain's service, with all apparent sincerity, and then pivoted quickly to this line: "John McCain has the wrong priorities -- because they are bound to the policies of the past." He then promised "a clear choice," tying McCain to the Bush tax cuts and, in particular, the war in Iraq: "John McCain won't be able to say I ever supported this war in Iraq, because I opposed it from the start. Sena
Scenes From Today's Obama Rally In Maryland
February 11, 2008
A friend who attended e-mails: Just getting back from the Obama event at UMD. The crowd was the most impressive part. A police officer estimated the line to get into the building stretched over 2 miles. I waited 1 hour and 20 minutes to get into the basketball stadium, which felt like a concert and looked about 4/5ths full. I bet three out of four of the people headed to the rally were students. I spoke to a middle-aged African American woman who had come from Columbia, Maryland. We were in line together so we had a lot of time to chat.
Tnr Primary: Judith Shulevitz
February 06, 2008
In the newest issue of the magazine, fourteen eggheads and eminences wrote short essays announcing whom they'd be voting for and why. We'll be unveiling these responses on The Plank throughout the next two weeks. This is what Judith Shulevitz, a critic, had to say: My head says Obama, but my heart wants Clinton. I trust Hillary Clinton in my kishkes. I have the feeling I can count on her, the way I counted on a trustee in the town where I used to live.