Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 2008


from I Drew This.

Here's a round-up of what I think is interesting in the election.
> The Return of Rasputin. Karl Rove is back as an informal advisor to John McCain. Makes sense that the his involvement would be kept on the down low. I dislike Mark Penn and I despise Dick Morris, but those guys are peanuts compared to this bastard.

> Geraldine Ferraro is an Idget. Geraldine Ferraro, former Democratic VP candidate and Hillary supporter claimed that Obama got where he is because he is black. Then, when she was rightly criticized, she claimed that the Obama campaign always charges racism when it is criticized (plainly false), and said she was being attacked because she is white. Watch this video.
By the way, if you think a lot of politicians are saying stupid things about race now, wait till the GOP runs against Obama.

>Electability. Recently, the Clinton campaign has been arguing that her candidate is more electable. This is based on two arguments, first that she has won more big states, and second that many states he won aren't going to be for grabs in the general election. The first claim is true but not very important. The second claim is true, but is equally true of her campaign. Indeed, several of the big states she points out having won- Massachusetts and California, are locks for Democrats anyway.
The only credible part of the electability claim is that she would have an easier time winning Ohio (which was the deciding state in 2004). Nevertheless, I'd say Obama is more electable. The fact that he has almost certainly beaten her in these democratic contests (demographic more favorable to Hillary than the country as a whole because the democratic party is mostly women) is evidence of this.
Meanwhile, Mark Penn says that Pennsylvania will show Obama is not electable. Really? Weren't there a number of previous contests that showed why he is electable? Didn't Penn spend most of last month spinning silly excuses as to why those states don't count? Perhaps his "only Pennsylvania counts" is a natural outgrowth of this strategy of writing-off places that won't vote for you.

> Canada's Fault. Previously, I suspected the "NAFTAgate" scandal was cooked up by unscrupulous Canadian conservatives. Well, I am vindicated. Mark Kleiman has the story.
Naturally, the lie about what Austan Goolsbee is supposed to have said to the Canadian government has gotten around the world seven times by now, but at last the truth has managed to lace its boots on. Neil Macdonald, the Washington correspondent for the CBC, has the entire timeline.

The whole flap started with a political operative for Canada's Tory Prime Minister telling reporters that Clinton — not Obama, Clinton — operatives had passed the word to the Canadian Ambassador in Washington that her stance on NAFTA was just for show. But when a reporter for CTV called the Canadian Ambassador in Washington (also a Tory political appointee) the story changed: suddenly the conversation was said to have involved an Obama staffer.

Obama's folks denied any discussion with the Ambassador, for the excellent reason that it didn't happen. But then someone leaked a memo about a meeting between Austan Goolsbee — not a staffer, but an unpaid academic adviser — and the someone in the Canadian Consulate-General in Chicago (not the Embassy in Washington).

That meeting did take place. Most of what the supposed "smoking gun" memo says is perfectly consistent with Obama's public stance: that he wants to renegotiate NAFTA to strengthen labor and environmental standards, which of course is much less threatening to Canada than to Mexico.

But there is one paragraph in which Goolsbee is described as saying that the Canadians shouldn't mistake political posturing for policy. That paragraph contains no direct quotation. The memo was written five days after the meeting. No one has found any contemporaneous notes. Goolsbee says, and the consulate now agrees, that the memo misrepresents his presentation.

Prime Minister Harper has refused to mount any investigation; he's happy to leave the stronger Democratic candidate damaged and his fellow Tory, John McCain, correspondingly benefited. Moreover, apparently Harper hates career diplomats as much as his friend President Bush does, so he's happy with the damage he has done to his own country's foreign service by getting it in the middle of a political food-fight.

But the Clinton and McCain press operations have managed to make the false story — that the Obama campaign reached out to give Canada a wink-and-nudge on NAFTA — the official narrative recited by any reporter who refers to the affair, and of course Clinton herself is happy to keep repeating the lie which, by repetition, has become the truth.

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