The group blog of The New Republic

September 19, 2007

Republican eminences like Newt Gingrich and Ken Mehlman are in The Washington Post this morning, bemoaning their presidential field's refusal to show up for a variety of forums sponsored by and/or targeting minority voters.

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Having "rocked the house" at SEIU Monday, Barack Obama put on another pumped-up performace at a rally in downtown Washington yesterday evening. It included a strikingly pointed riff that I didn't hear in Iowa last week, and which an aide tells me is a relatively new addition to his stump speech.

In it, Obama acknowledges that people who hear him talk about the politics of hope and transforming the culture of Washington may be thinking:

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I dunno, Mike. I concede that Obama is trying to sharpen his stump speech. But "people who think politics is a game" still strikes me as incredibly vague and abstract, at least if the audience is the average primary voter. Now maybe the hope is that people like us will pick up on it and make the connection in our coverage. (If so, then mission accomplished, I guess.) But at some point I think Obama's going to have to go right down the middle of the lane instead of settling for nifty bankshots.

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Amidst the kind words for the selection of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General, Josh Gerstein points out the Federal District Judge's controversial role in using the material-witness statute to hold terrorism suspects without charges and to conduct their trials in secret. He wrote about it for TNR in 2002:

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Speaking of Obama themes, here's his new Iowa ad if you haven't seen it. (I'll embed if I can figure out how to do it.)

--Michael Crowley

AP's Ron Fournier tackles the question. I think the critiques of what Fournier calls the "three Hs" ("haircut, house and hedge fund") are pretty bogus. It's the cautious-moderate-to-lefty-crusader evolution that I wonder about.

P.S. Ben Smith on a big letdown for Edwards--no SEIU endorsement (for now).

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Ross Douthat takes a swipe at TNR's editorial stance on the constitutionality of the D.C. voting-rights bill. He quotes our position on the issue:

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The Edwards campaign wants a criminal investigation into who leaked some nasty internal emails to the AP.

--Michael Crowley

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder has a delightfully Machiavellian explication of current Democratic donor behavior. He (very tentatively) predicts that Hillary might outraise Obama in this quarter by as much as $5 million:

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Apropos of Mike's post on John Warner earlier today, Warner did break away from the Webb amendment this morning -- with a particularly dramatic flourish. He informed Webb he would not only rescind his support but offer his own competing resolution moments before Webb was to introduce his legislation on the floor, leaving Webb to straggle to his podium in the Senate chamber with a look of shock still plastered on his face.

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