Michael Sean Winters, who knows an awful lot about Puerto Rican politics (and blogs here), has chimed in with some pre-primary analysis. Hillary Clinton is headed back to Puerto Rico this weekend after a new poll shows her leading Barack Obama 51% to 38% in the June 1* primary. If those numbers hold, they would represent a great storyline for Obama, who has consistently lost Latinos by margins of more than two-to-one to Clinton.
Israel does not need the accolades of other dreamers.
LAT: Obama arrived at Congregation B'nai Torah to sustained applause, and several people wore buttons with his name in Hebrew. But some tensions quickly emerged. The first questioner praised Obama, then noted that a friend had said: "If Barack Obama would change his name to Barry, I would vote for him." Obama replied that as a child he was nicknamed Barry. He is named after his Kenyan father, and as a young man he chose to use his full first name to acknowledge his heritage. "Let's be honest, part of what raises concerns is you've got a black guy named Barack Obama," he said.
The American Conservative -- that wonderful publication founded by Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos -- has a thought-provoking, unsigned item in its current issue (not available online). It's entitled, "Sect's Crime," and concerns the April raid launched by Texas officials on the Yearning For Zion Ranch, a polygmous sect operated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The purpose of the raid, unsurprisingly, was to prevent the abuse of young women (girls, really) who were being married off to adult men.
Everybody knows that Hillary plays rough, and this morning's New York Times tells you now that she is also ruthless. Down in the body of the story there's a little riff from one Max Brantley, "an old friend of the Clintons from Arkansas," in which he contrasts Hill and Bill. "He never stops trying to convert people. She's much more clear-eyed, recognizing the imperfectability of people." So that's her calculation: if you disagree with her you are a sinner. This ruthlessness is also a promise about how she'd behave in office. She doesn't sign her autograph on red boxing gloves for nothing.
Nadine Gordimer is, at 84 years, still an elegant lady. She is also a Nobel Laureate in Literature and so some people hope that she does and others hope that she doesn't come to a writers's conference or not. Especially if the conference is in Israel and coincides with the 60th anniversary of its independence. Frankly, I couldn't care less whether she chose to attend the conclave. Israel's literary reputation does not hang on her participation. It has enough moral spirits who write with incandescent words to do without her.
I suggested in my last posting that the blessed Reverend Wright was actually doing harm, deliberately doing harm, to Barack Obama's candidacy. The pastor, for all his love of Jesus, has little love for Obama, one of Jesus's truly humble servants. Only the Right Reverend Bill Moyers (no, he was not always a TV celeb or LBJ's hatchet man either) could sit down with this rough social gospel screamer and find theology and sensibility and spirituality in the persona.
I thought Obama put the distance he needed to between himself and Wright just now. Key passage (and this is a rough, contemporaneous transcript): His [Wright's] comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate. They do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my attitude and beliefs. If Reverend Wright thinks that’s political posturing, then he doesn’t know me well.
The power of the preacher is an unmeasured force in American life. Of course, now that it has become an issue in a political campaign, we are focusing on the one minister and the one candidate whose lives at church have been intertwined both in fact and in the public eye. The two men are each charismatic in their own ways, different ways, as anyone who has seen them speak (if even just on television or on syncopated and, thus, distorted YouTube clips) can attest. Barack Obama speaks in a professorial manner in which the logic of his argument, calmly laid out, is the drama of the oration.
Democrats who want Hillary Clinton to be the nominee and Democrats who want Barack Obama to get the nod both have trepidations about the August convention in Denver. My own sense is that there has been more blood shed before other Democratic conventions, like in 1948 and 1960 and that the ultimate presidential candidate did not suffer as a result. Of course, no primary season has witnessed such feigned outrage between the candidates and among their followers.