January 22, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela--After an extensive visit to the slums of this capital, I am convinced that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lost the recent referendum that would have extended the time he could remain in office not because his countrymen value democracy so much, but because his social programs are crumbling. In the barrios of Petare, Catia, Baruta and other places, the nationalist/populist model is collapsing. Through a network of "missions," the government has been using oil revenue to provide food, housing, cars, education and health care for millions of Venezuelans.
McCain in the Middle
WASHINGTON--John McCain is feared by Democrats and liked by independents. That, paradoxically, is why he may yet be rejected by Republicans, even though he has bent over backward to satisfy conservative demands.McCain exorcised the ghosts of South Carolina on Saturday, winning a critical primary in a state where he was viciously savaged eight years ago by George W. Bush. McCain's loss ended his chances in 2000, but the sheer ferocity of the campaign against him only burnished his legend as the brave independent willing to confront a Republican political machine that punishes free thinking.
It Takes One To Know One
According to Newsweek, Clintonista and Ilinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel is telling Bill Clinton to turn the temper down a notch (hat tip: Matt Continetti): Prominent Democrats are upset with the aggressive role that Bill Clinton is playing in the 2008 campaign, a role they believe is inappropriate for a former president and the titular head of the Democratic Party. In recent weeks, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, both currently neutral in the Democratic contest, have told their old friend heatedly on the phone that he needs to change his tone and stop attacking Sen.
It's Only Going To Get Worse
Bill Clinton dozed off at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem just as his wife was receiving the endorsement (or, more properly, the blessing) of Calvin Butts at Abyssinian Baptist Church, eight or so blocks away. This church had been the pulpit of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. -- "Mr.
Whatever you think of Obama's performance in last night's debate, his just-announced endorsement by The State, South Carolina's largest newspaper, could end up being just as influential if not more so in Saturday's primary. You can read the whole thing here. This passage is particularly interesting: On positions from Iraq to health care, the policy differences between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama are minute. Much of the debate between them has involved making these molehills look mountainous or clashing over who-shifted-when.
Fred Calls It Quits
This e-mail just came in over the transom from the Thompson campaign: "Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people." The obvious quickie analysis is that this helps John McCain, a longtime friend whom it wouldn't be hard to imagine Thompson endorsing. Having said that, Thompson's presence clearly hurt Mike Huckabee most in South Carolina.
One War Mccain Wouldn't Fight...
The University of Michigan's Rebecca Blank recently wrote a thoughtful piece (pdf) grading the various presidential candidates on their plans to tackle poverty. Here's her bottom line on the Dem front-runners: Obama, Edwards, and Clinton all have multifaceted and serious anti-poverty plans. Anyone concerned with poverty issues could happily vote for any of them.
Bill's "calculated" Anger?
There's been much talk lately about whether Bill Clinton is staging public outbursts for maximum media effect. (See Ben Smith's excellent piece on Bill's role.) One thing we know is that while in the past Clinton has generally suppressed his temper in the public eye, this side of the man hardly surprises who know him well.
January 21, 2008
It's the Economy, Stupid
After winning the New Hampshire primary two weeks ago, John McCain stumbled over a lengthy speech that sounded like it had been cobbled together from several drafts by different writers. Nonetheless, he communicated a message that cuts to the core of his character: the importance of serving “a cause greater than self-interest.” In his victory speech after the South Carolina primary Saturday night, McCain confidently delivered a coherent and tightly written text designed to appeal to his party’s conservative base.
Hillary Clinton's strategy in South Carolina has always been clear: stockpile as many endorsements from prominent African Americans as possible. She's done impressively. By November 27th, when she stood on stage with over 60 of the state's most powerful ministers--people like Reverend J.W. Sanders of Bethel Baptist Church in Gaffney, and Reverend Charles Jackson, Jr., of the mammoth Cornerstone Baptist Church in Spartanburg--it was clear that she had become the candidate of South Carolina's black establishment.