Carol Platt Liebau: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Find Me Here

The address of the Townhall blog where I'll be posting is:

Hail and Farewell (at least for now!)

For almost four years, I have posted to this blog almost every day. I have loved every minute of it, and it has been an honor and a pleasure to have the opportunity to persuade, entertain, correspond with and hear from you.

But professional and family commitments have been making it increasingly impractical for me to continue a largely single-person blog. For that reason, I have accepted the kind invitation of the thinkers and writers at Townhall to join them on the main blog there, at least through the election in November. My main focus will be on cultural issues, and if there's any topic that you think merits comment or discussion, please do email me and let me know.

I hope that all of you -- yes, even those of you who disagree with me loudly and regularly -- will come over and continue to comment on my posts there. I am posting the blog's address immediately above.

Finally, please accept my warmest thanks and most grateful appreciation for the blessing of your readership. I hope I'll continue to hear from you, both in the comments to my Townhall posts, and through the contact information listed on this page.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


William F. Buckley has died.

He was the quintessential man of ideas, whose brilliance and vision helped establish the modern conservative movement. His obvious intellect put the many radicals he debated over the years to shame and his work had the kind of influence of which most writers can only dream.

He was also a gentleman and a person of deep and abiding religious faith.

May he rest in peace. God bless -- and thank you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Final Showdown

No doubt understanding that it's tonight or never, Hillary Clinton has apparently gotten over the "honor" of debating Barack Obama, and decided instead to rough him up -- with limited success.

Having nothing to lose, she has clearly decided she's got to play tough . . . worrying about her likability hasn't gotten her too far against Obama, so the tough-as-nails version of Hillary Clinton has re-emerged. The problem for her, of course, is that her grievance mentality has, too.

What, after all, was that strange allusion to Saturday Night Live and getting Barack a pillow? Does she understand how profoundly uninterested most people are in whether the press has been asking Hillary the first question in the debates? (Apparently not -- never underestimate the self-absorption of a Clinton).

Most of the debate was just a spicier stew of accusations and counter-accusations -- edging further and further to the left. Things got interesting when Russert started asking Barack some tough questions about his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and Louis Farrakhan. Too bad he didn't bother to press Barack on Wright, and even let him practically rework the question before answering it.

If I were a Democrat primary voter hearing all this for the first time, I'd maybe start to get a leeetle nervous. Makes you wonder what other shoes might drop for Barack Obama if the press ever got aggressive, doesn't it?

But what's remarkable is that -- showing the keen political savvy that's lost her her frontrunner status -- Hillary couldn't let it go. She had to jump in to try to get a cheap advantage, and ended up looking foolish when Barack simply went along and acceded to her request to "reject" as well as "denounce" Farrakhan's support.

In fairness to Hillary, it does seem as though she gets the grilling first. Wouldn't you have liked to know if Barack knew about Putin's successor? And isn't Russert seeming to get just a bit more in her face than Barack's?

That's My Old Boss

Kit Bond calls the Democrats on their shameful refusal to reauthorize the Protect America Act.

Don't believe that it's not hurting national security -- and this piece explains how.

More on the Obama Photo Affair

It's all at Sweetness and Light.

Apparently, there's controversy over whether the picture of Barack Obama in Somali (Sunni Muslim) garb is genuine or a fake. Why doesn't a hardworking member of the press just ask him whether he ever donned the clothes -- that is, if s/he can get access to him to ask a question at all (see immediately below)?

Here's the nub of the issue: There's nothing wrong with dressing like the locals when one travels. The reason the Obama people are so incensed at the picture, however, is because they fear that Barack Obama looks more "authentic" in the garb than an older white male (like George Bush, Dick Cheney or, say, John McCain) would.

That's true, it's a downside, and it's unfair. But then again, the fact that Barack Obama isn't your typical older white male presidential candidate has also helped him plenty (it's hard to believe that an ordinary-looking, older white male with a resume as thin as Obama's -- even if an inspirational speaker -- would be beating Hillary at this point and causing voters literally to swoon). So, like so much else, there's an upside, and there's a downside.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reticent & Removed? Get Used to It!

This story details Barack Obama's inaccessibility to the press -- remarkable, especially given the almost uniformly glowing coverage he's received.

Well, the press had better get used to it. Barack the glad-hander may give the impression that he's a warm, fuzzy, accessible guy. But his style of leadership -- at least once he has the job -- is anything but. He was a largely absentee President of the Harvard Law Review, and approachability was never his strong suit. When the New York Times' Michael Powell described him as possessing a "Barcalounger manner about him these days, padding about those campaign stages like a man commanding his den," it was all too reminiscent of his style at Gannett House (home of the Review) during his law school days . . . at least when he showed up. Barack was famous for "working from home."

That being said, whatever Barack does, don't expect the press coverage to become too critical. GOP'ers aren't the only ones afraid of coming across as racist -- and no good liberal reporter will want to be accused of having crippled the campaign of the first African American with a real shot to be President.

Not Counting Out a Clinton

There's always the chance that Hillary Clinton could come back, as this AP story makes clear.

The one fact that explains everything that Americans will see from Clinton is her gaping, yawning need to hold political power. It's something she feels not just motivated to do -- but entitled to.

She will never go away gracefully unless there is something in it for her -- whether, as speculated here by my co-blogger, it's a Supreme Court seat or a realistic chance to run again another day.

The fact that she continues to launch increasingly desperate attacks suggests that she knows that this is her big shot, and that no deal is in the works. That's good news for Republicans.

Perhaps the biggest problem for Hilary is that Democratic voters want to "feel good" about whom they're supporting. She doesn't have the coolness factor of Obama -- and in liberal circles, women aren't generally considered to have been as "oppressed" as African-Americans have been (they've never been a "discrete and insular minority," for one thing). Those two factors will do more than anything to doom her chances.

Law of Unintended Consequences

My Townhall column (here) notes that The New York Times' evidence-free rumor-mongering about John McCain and Vicki Iseman has real life consequences for women in the working world.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Clinton "Legacy"

Mark Steyn tells some hard truths about the vaunted Clinton magic; that is, with husband and wife alike, there was no "there" there -- aside, of course, from a heaping helping of chutzpah.

As Hillary's looking ever less likely to emerge as the inevitable nominee she was supposed to have been, it's worth pausing a moment to remember that the supposed "good old days" of the Clinton presidency weren't, it appears, as beloved by normal Americans as the Clintons and the press perhaps thought.

The American public gave its seal of approval to the Reagan presidency when it elected George H.W. Bush for "four more years" of the same. Eight years after throwing him out of office (in large part for failing to follow in Reagan's footsteps), weary of Clintonian scandal, voters acknowledged the essential decency of Bush pere and elected his son to the presidency in what has to count as one of the oddest apologies (or greatest acts of buyers' remorse) in history.

Now contrast. Bill Clinton's vice-president didn't get the gig despite eight years of peace and prosperity. They can blame it all they want on Gore's supposedly lackluster campaign skills, but recall that George H.W. Bush was no ball of fire on the campaign trail, either, and he still managed to win. And now, what was supposed to have been the Clinton Restoration -- the electoral expression of soulful yearning for a return to the good old days of the '90's -- isn't, to all appearances, going to happen.

Perhaps no one should have been surprised that Bill Clinton's shadow wasn't longer -- after all, he never succeeded in winning a majority of the vote even (as Mark Steyn points out) against a remarkably weak opponent in 1996.

Vote counts don't lie. It's looking like Bill's supposed political legacy (like the dreaded Clinton "machine") was just another Clintonian sleight of hand where not-too-much was dressed up as oh-so-much-more -- until it became evident that the emperor (and empress, for that matter) had no clothes at all.

Pay no attention to the couple behind the curtain!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A "Profound Effect" Indeed

When pro-choices discuss how many women die with "back alley abortions," somehow deaths like these never seem to be counted.

An English artist hanged herself after her twins were aborted. The coroner is quoted as saying "It is clear that a termination can have a profound effect on a woman's life."

Indeed. And on the lives of her unborn children. May this poor woman's soul rest in peace.

Does The Tide Turn?

This story from The Washington Post points out the rising number of irreverent Obama web sites. Obviously, they're a reaction to the quasi-religious veneration of Obama's "followers" -- and the refusal of the MSM to treat him with anything but raw adoration.

But the sites also point to a law of political gravity. The fact is that no man can sustain the degree and kind of support, verging on worship, that Obama has received -- especially when so much of it is based not on his policies, but on some kind of cult of personality.

The Hillary people know this. But what must be frustrating for them is to wonder whether, by the time some of the air comes out of the Obama balloon, it will be too late.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Strange Company

Is anyone in the MSM willing to ask Barack Obama about some of the company he's kept?

Back in the High Life . . .

If Hillary Clinton were going to be the Democratic nominee for President -- a circumstance that looks more unlikely with every passing day -- issues like this would deservedly take center stage.

According to the linked report, the Clintonistas have spent donor money like water, enjoying nights at the Four Seasons, $100,000 party trays, and so much, much more.

First, if Hillary's campaign management skills are emblematic of the management skills she'd bring to The White House, it's no doubt a blessing that it's not looking like she's going to get there. The spending and management seems like what we might expect from people who have never had to worry about the kind of expense management that's expected in most parts of the private sector. And if the Clinton people are so free-spending with donor-raised money that the candidate has to work for, just think of how they'd treat taxpayer money!

Second, it strikes me as entirely fair for her donors to be outraged. No doubt, as the article points out, the Hillary people expected that the money would simply continue to flow in and so their outrageous spending wouldn't matter. But that doesn't excuse their profligacy.

Hillary has solicited money from people of even modest means, who have probably been asked to send what they can "spare" so that she may run for President of the United States. When she and her staffers live like pashas on those peoples' dimes, it's not just unseemly -- it's wrong.

When I worked on the Bond and Ashcroft campaigns, it was always made very clear even to senior campaign staff that expenses were to be carefully watched -- not just because it's hard to raise money, but because that money wasn't really ours . .. it had been donated by people who had worked hard for it in order to advance a specific cause, ie., the election of a candidate.

Justice Rodham-Clinton?

This is guest blogger wile e coyote.

I smell a rat.

Hillary's life has been spent in the pursuit and enjoyment of power. She will not go quietly into that good night.

If she withdraws short of the convention and throws her support behind Obama, it's because there was a juicy backroom deal.

Vice Presidents don't have legacies, but Supreme Court Justices sometimes do.

I would like the media to ask Obama if he will/would/might nominate Hillary to the Supreme Court. Hammer this issue until Election Day.

Given a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Democrat in the White House, Senate rules could be suspended to avoid a filibuster. Republicans considered just this tactic when they last controlled the Presidency and Senate.

With the prospect of Hillary on the Supreme Court, McCain's efforts as part of the Gang of 14 don't look so foolish, or un-conservative, do they?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Filling in for Hugh Hewitt

I will be guesting hosting the Hugh Hewitt Show tomorrow.

A Status Quo Debate

It's elementary that, when you're the candidate behind, you have either to hit the ball out of the park, or force (at least hope for) a huge error on your opponent's part. Tonight, Hillary Clinton did neither.

Her performance was solid, as usual -- as was Barack Obama's, as usual.

A few observations:

(1) The whole issue came up again about willingness to negotiate with "America's enemies." Hillary would insist on preconditions, Barack wants only agenda and "preparation." That may work for him in a Democratic primary, but can you blame the rest of America for wanting to know what, exactly, is the difference between "precondition" and "preparation"? And also for wondering whether it's really a good idea for the President of the United States to dignify the world's tyrants by sitting down to talk to them about human rights? Anyone who remembers the Jimmy Carter administration and its debacles had to have been experiencing a cold chill.

(2) Hillary has obviously made the decision not to attack Barack, at least in the spotlight. Despite the controversy about this, it's probably a good choice, judging from how badly her pre-prepared line about "change we can xerox" flopped.

(3) It will be interesting to see how Barack Obama handles criticism if it ever comes in any quantity from the press or the GOP. It's obvious that he's thin-skinned and he gets a rather unattractive "how dare you" look when someone takes him on.

(4) It's remarkable that Barack Obama is running for President being unable to answer a question about a crisis he addressed. The problem, of course, is that he's never confronted a crisis. Are Americans willing to let that happen to him for the first time when he's sitting in the Oval Office?

(5) Pundits were congratulating Hillary on her final statement -- call it the "hill of beans" conclusion (remember in Casablanca, when Rick tells Ilsa "I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world"?). And it would have been effective -- but the problem with Hillary Clinton is that it's so obvious that she's desperate to win that there's not a shred of authenticity left. Does she mean what she says? Perhaps. But she's said so much, it all seems so carefully calibrated and calculated that it's impossible for a normal person to really get a warm glow even from a skilful delivery on her part of undoubtedly noble sentiments.

Strange New Respect Moment

I can't stand Hillary Clinton's politics, and as readers of this blog know, I'm not a big fan of Hillary herself. But tonight I will concede that it takes guts for her to show up to this debate, knowing that her lifelong dream may well be in tatters and that millions of Americans are tuning in tonight to gloat about it.

The thought of Hillary Clinton as President is absolutely repugnant, but I think it's clear that she is no wimp.

The Clinton/Obama Matchup

The New York Times outlines Hillary Clinton's problems. Here's, perhaps, one of the biggest:

Polls suggest that Democrats now view Mr. Obama as more electable than Mrs. Clinton.

That fact is what allowed Democrats to vote with their hearts and desert the Clinton machine in droves. The problem, of course, is that many of the Democrats making this calculation resemble many of the Republicans who thought McCain was the most electable. This impression has been formed in large part because -- as with McCain until today -- the positive press coverage has lulled some voters into thinking that there's nothing negative to report, because nothing negative has been reported.

Of course, the press will never turn on Barack ferocity comparable to what just the NY Times has unleashed on McCain. But the time will come when the press needs a new angle on Barack to write about, having covered every single one of the "Obama messiah" stories it can handle. And then the Democrats had better hope that there's nothing negative worth knowing about a candidate who, on the national stage, is still basically an unknown quantity.

Even the Lefties Agree . . .

When it comes to the New York Times story, there's nothing there, says Greg Sargent of TPM.

Here's the quote:

The suggestion that the relationship might have been sexual, which is made at the top and towards the end of the story, basically amounts to an allegation that anonymous sources said there was concern that the relationship might have become romantic. Anonymous sources say McCain acknowledged behaving "inappropriately," but the story doesn't say how. Again: How would we react to this if it were written about Senator Dem Presidential Hopeful?

How great that there's something that liberals and conservatives can agree on: Given what's out there now, the NY Times stooped to publishing a content-free hit piece on McCain.

Nice Irony

In the pre-Clinton days, a story that could be summarized like this would never have been published:

Mr McCain and Ms Iseman both denied to the newspaper - which has been sitting on the story for several weeks - that they had ever had a romantic relationship.

So the story is what, exactly? That John McCain wrote letters on behalf of the interests of this woman's clients? Is there any evidence that he did so for any improper reason? And if not, is there anyone out there who's unaware that that's what senators do routinely?

How ironic it would be if the Times' clear partisan game-playing and overreaching actually turned out to be a bonding moment between conservatives and McCain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dealing from the Bottom of the Deck

It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the MSM would turn on McCain. It didn't take a genius to understand that the Keating Five scandal would return, just as it's pretty likely that the terms "temperament" and "gender gap" are going to become staples of press coverage (all of which I predicted here).

What is surprising, however, is how quickly The New York Times has turned on McCain, and how ugly it's become. What the Times has done is despicable.

This is the "Seinfeld" of news articles -- a report about nothing. Its purported point? That because of his sponsorship of ethics laws, John McCain himself must be purer than Caesar's wife. But the real agenda behind the story is twofold: To acquaint a new generation with Keating Five, and even more damaging, to report gossip that John McCain allegedly had an affair.

First, The Times is treating John McCain, this woman, and their families unfairly. Note that the woman named as the supposed involvement denies anything improper, as does the senator. So on what basis does the Times run with the story, which will tarnish both reputations? Two unnamed sources have asserted that McCain admitted to something "imrproper" (whatever that means). That sounds like something a low-grade tabloid would do. It's pretty sleazy.

No doubt we're supposed to trust the Times that the sources are reliable and free of any conflicts of interest. Ha. Times and trust just don't go together when it comes to politics. Aren't they the ones who ran this story about Nancy Reagan's affair with Frank Sinatra, based again on unnamed sources, that time Kitty Kelley's?

As a side note, some of the details don't even make sense. If something improper happened, as the Times suggests in reporting the suspicions of its unnamed sources, why was John Weaver meeting with woman at Union Station and asking her to stay away from the senator? The report clearly indicates that, if there was an affair, it wasn't the Clinton-style "wham bam" kind -- McCain and this woman clearly knew each other well. So why would a staffer be breaking it off with her, instead of the senator himself? McCain and his staff would have realized, had he behaved improperly, that it was important that he and the woman part on good terms.

In any case, had The Times followed a policy to report any presidential dalliance about which two unnamed staffers were willing to speculate, they'd have had no time to cover anything else during the Clinton years. Amazing how standards change.

Second, the Times has poorly served the American people, or really, the Republican Party -- not that it cares. Its editors clearly have had this story in the works for some time, and they had to have known it would be of great interest to the GOP voters who were trying to decide, at the end, between Romney and McCain. But because McCain was the paper's favorite Republican, it held off until there was no danger of a more conservative contender winning the nomination.

Now, with the Democrats engaged in Obama-Clinton internecine warfare, The Times doubtless thought it unwise to let the GOP coalesce around McCain too easily.

Finally, it's an example of how eight years of Bill Clinton has degraded the political culture. Pre-Clinton, a paper would have thought a little harder about reporting this kind of anonymously sourced, denied-by-all-named-parties type story. But the fact that, between 1993 and 2001, these stories turned out to be both numerous and true, has eroded what is a normal, natural and healthy caution on the part of the media to sling around damaging accusations with abandon.

Especially where, as here, there's just no real story to report. Unnamed sources allege McCain behaved improperly with lobbyist. Both deny it. One doesn't have to be a big McCain fan to ask: Where's the beef?

The empress has no clothes

This is guest blogger wile e coyote.

With blood in the water, even some liberal media sharks have started to admit that Hillary Clinton has no business being President.

Her efforts to portray Obama as a charismatic person without achievement only highlight the fact she is an uncharismatic person without achievement.

What has she ever accomplished on her own? The efforts she had direct responsibility for (travel office turnover, healthcare reform, her Presidential campaign) have gone disastrously.

Obama, at least, is self-made and used to playing first fiddle. Hillary has ridden Bill's coattails her entire adult life, serving as his super-ego, hatchet (wo)man and enforcer.

Democrats have at long last come to the realization -- or admission -- that the Empress has no clothes, and it ain't a pretty sight.

The Death of Identity Politics

. . . or at least of the Democratic coalition as we know it, in the scenario outlined here by John Derbyshire, in which a deadlocked Democratic convention decides to go with Al Gore to avoid the divisions precipitated by a Barack/Hillary slugfest.

Can you imagine? The party of racial and gender "diversity" passes up the first woman or the first African American with a real shot to become President in favor of a "white male"?

The Liberal View of Government

Here it is. With Hillary as President, the government will be like Santa Claus (at least, that is, if he starts jacking up your taxes to pay for your gifts).

For liberals generally, here's the way it works: They take your money, create programs, and actually believe that they (not the taxpayers) are the ones bestowing gifts on the American people like a thousand little Lady Bountifuls. Remarkable.

An Unlikely Argument

Byron York is reporting that Hillary Clinton is going to mount a "commander-in-chief offensive."

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. But say what? Isn't this a little bit like John McCain launching a "Miss Congeniality" offensive? Or Barack Obama arguing that he's the candidate of substantive accomplishment?

The biggest hill any woman running for President -- and especially a liberal, with a reportedly anti-military streak -- has to climb is convincing voters that she can be a credible commander-in-chief, not just for Americans, but for the rest of the world. Does Mrs. Clinton really think that a few years on the Armed Services Committee does the job?

The only conceivable reason she might even be going this way is that she's picking something up in her polling about an undercurrent of concern about a 46 year old, not even five years out of the Illinois state Senate taking on the job of Commander-in-Chief and primary protector of the free world.

Surely she can't be planning to carry this line of attack forward were she to win the nomination. How ridiculous would she sound mouthing this stuff against John McCain? It woul require, oh -- you know, a "willing suspension of disbelief."

Ain't Seen Nothing Yet?

John Heilemann of New York magazine writesthat the Clinton people have given up hope of getting a message like "ready on day one" to stick, and are therefore pursuing a different strategy:

That they have more arrows in their quiver to fire at Obama, charges they believe will cast doubt on the hopemonger, raising the specter (terrifying to many Democrats) that John McCain and the Republican machine will make mincemeat of him. Trust me when I tell you that you ain't seen nothing yet.

As the situation grows more dire for Hillary, we will finally have the chance to see who was right all along about the character of the Clintons. Conservatives have long thought that they're ruthless, ambitious street-fighters, willing to put their own advancement above any other consideration. Liberals have, for the most part, believed that the Clintons are flawed but nonetheless sincere and patriotic warriors for a number of worthy (liberal) causes.

If it becomes clear after Ohio and Texas that the nomination will become nothing but a fight over super-delegates (that, in essence, Obama has the mandate of the Democratic masses), will Hillary gracefully concede, thereby sparing the party months of infighting and possibly a schism along racial lines? Or will she decide (Huckabee-style) to fight until the last dog dies, knowing that it's her best (and perhaps last) chance to justify all the compromises and petty humiliations she's endured in her long quest for the ultimate prize? Finally, we will learn whose interests are more important to Hillary: Her own, or those of the Democratic Party (and, in her view, the country).

At this point, going negative on Obama is less a "choice" for Clinton than a necessity. The problem for her, of course, is that where there are few policy differences between them, it comes down to likability -- which is a plus for Obama. Where there are policy differences between them, his policies are much more left -- which again, among a lefty Democratic primary electorate, is a plus for Obama. There's nothing in her arsenal that will help her beside attacks on Obama that are essentially about character (which will, in turn, raise her own negatives even higher).

Hillary is paying the ultimate price for Clintonian arrogance in having pursued a more moderate "general election strategy" too early. And the effort to have her husband step in as a surrogate attacker obviously haven't worked. But then again, who would ever have guessed at the rise of a phenom like Barack?

That very question has a fair number of Republicans privately quivering in their boots. They needn't. So far, Hillary's attacks on Barack have necessarily been limited to the petty and personal because, as noted immediately above, any policy differences work to her disadvantage. John McCain, a moderate who has to appeal to a general election electorate, won't have that problem.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Another Obama Victory

Barack Obama has won Wisconsin -- a white, blue-collar state that should be perfect for Clinton -- and among a broad demographic. In fact, he's won or tied every demographic group.

Democrats may well take all this as yet another go-ahead signal that it's safe to make Barack their nominee. That's bad news for Hillary, increasing the chances that her surrogates are going to have to continue to try to make race-based arguments against an Obama nomination.

The Press Did It!

The Clinton campaign is asserting that the press (not her campaign) uncovered evidence of Barack's "plagiarism."

Well, that could be. But it's worth pointing out that one of the clips of Deval Patrick used to "prove" the Clintons' case features Patrick orating with -- you guessed it! -- Bill Clinton standing right next to him. Is there a chance, just maybe, that when the ex-President heard some of Barack's speeches, he might have remembered the Deval speech?

And is it ever possible, just maybe, that when a campaign wants to attack a rival without leaving any fingerprints, they just point a friendly reporter in the "right" direction, and then stand back and claim they're simply not involved?

A Non-"Working Person" "Worked the Night Shift"

CNN reports that in a recently released Hillary Clinton ad, the narrator assures the (presumably blue-collar) viewer that Hillary "understands. She's worked the night shift, too."

Well, not exactly. As her spokesman clarified, "the reference is to her working late at night at her desk."

But in what world is working late at a desk comparable to working a real night shift in a hospital or factory? By the Clinton measure, every professional in America with a demanding job has "worked the night shift" -- including me, when I was in peonage at a law firm.

Don't forget that Democrats are the ones who reserve the moniker of "working people" for those being paid less -- as though the more highly compensated aren't really working. Can you have it both ways?

Can someone really "work the night shift" when she isn't, by her own measure, even a "working person"?

Hillary's Fashion Sense

Townhall's Mary Katharine Ham has tape of "Project Runway's Tim Gunn knocking Hillary's fashion sense (when it rains, it pours, doesn't it?).

His comments contrasting Hillary's style to Nancy Pelosi are absolutely true. But in Hillary's defense (and how often do you read those words on this blog?), it's also true that it's much easier for Nancy Pelosi to find stylish clothes that will have a flattering fit -- because she's thinner.

Check out Hillary's pant suits, which I'm pretty sure are (literally) tailor-made for her. With the long jackets and pants rather than skirts, they actually do a pretty good job in hiding her most prominent figure flaws (and yes, we all have them!). Now try to imagine Hillary pulling off the short skinny skirts and thinner cut jackets that are a staple of Pelosi's Armani-laden wardrobe. Not a pretty picture.

He's right about the fabric of a lot of Hillary's pantsuits. It often looks cheap to me. But I think that high fashion mavens are too prone to overlook the fact that for women who have a "normal" middle aged woman's shape, high fashion clothes are simply unbecoming, and often impractical, as well.

Some Fair Questions

David Brooks has some eminently fair questions for those high on the man he calls "The Pope of Hope."

How is a 47-year-old novice going to unify highly polarized 70-something committee chairs? What will happen if the nation’s 261,000 lobbyists don’t see the light, even after the laying on of hands? Does The Changemaker have the guts to take on the special interests in his own party — the trial lawyers, the teachers’ unions, the AARP?

The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out. Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions. Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no. And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?

Oh yes, and my favorite: His Hopeness tells rallies that we are the change we have been waiting for, but if we are the change we have been waiting for then why have we been waiting since we’ve been here all along? Now that's one to ponder.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Foot in Mouth Disease?

Silly charges of plagiarism aren't going to damage the Obama campaign, but incidents like this just might.

Michelle Obama said the following:

What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud.

In other words, Michelle Obama seems to be saying that she has been ashamed of being an American for about twenty years or so. Really? When she saw Americans rally around in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, she was ashamed? When she saw them send billions of dollars for tsunami relief, she was ashamed? Even the day that the Iraqi people realized they were free, and pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein, she was ashamed?

Maybe she didn't really mean it. Either Mrs. Obama got carried away in the heat of the moment, or she is a serious radical. The problem is that -- when people think about it -- one knows so little, really, of what the Obamas' concrete plans are and what makes them tick, that what might otherwise be seen as small, insignficant incidents become windows into the wannabe President and First Lady. Does Barack agree with her?

And if one really dissected the remarks with an unfriendly eye, they could be construed as signalling an arrogance that is extraordinary. Surely she didn't mean that she's now proud of America because finally, America agrees with her and Barack. There is so much to love and admire in America's grand and glorious heritage that it should be impossible not to be proud of it every day -- whether or not voters at one point or another agree (or disagree) with one's own policy preferences.

A Fitting Conclusion

Gene Nichol, the president of William and Mary -- the one who tried to have the cross removed from Wren Chapel, even as an annual Sex Workers Art Show was allowed on campus -- has resigned after learning that his contract won't be renewed.

The whole sorry episode illuminates the jurisprudential struggle over the First Amendment when it comes to religion. Given that William & Mary was founded in 1693 and the cross remained in the Chapel during and after the Constitution's drafting, it's clear that Nichol wasn't an originalist --rather, he was clearly of the "living Constitution" school that believes that it's okay to reinterpret the Constitution to conform to prevailing ideological fashions of the day.

Lefties like Nichol interpret the constitutional admonition against the establishment of religion to mean that all areas of William & Mary should be denuded of any religious symbols simply because it's a public university. In his formulation, the Constitution can be interpreted to mean that keeping a cross in a Christian chapel constitutes an "establishment" of religion -- motivated, it seems, by an underlying ideological agenda of making sure that students of other faiths don't feel "uncomfortable."

Obviously, everyone of any faith or none at all should be welcome to attend William & Mary University. That's why the First Amendment forbids invidious distinctions imposed by the government based on a religion (for example, "Only Protestants may attend a public university"). But how can anyone imagine that this worthy principle extend so far that it somehow becomes unconstitutional for a cross to remain in an on-campus chapel? If there were a Jewish temple on campus, would a Torah have to be removed? Or Muslim holy icons from a mosque? How, exactly, does the presence of such icons come to be viewed as a government endorsement of a particular faith so great as to be invidiously discriminatory against other religions or atheists?

How silly. It's time for the left to understand that recognition of a religion -- particularly that which animated the nation's founding -- doesn't constitute an establishment of it.

Hardly a Biden/Kinnock Moment

Hillary Clinton's campaign is trying to make hay of the fact that there are decided similarities between Barack's rhetoric and that of Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.

But much as the Clinton campaign no doubt wishes it, this is hardly a Biden-Kinnock moment. For one thing, Deval Patrick is willing to make it clear that he and Barack share ideas and language -- thereby suggesting that Barack isn't plagiarizing him; rather, presumably, the language is the fruit of their discussions.

What's more, it sounds as if Patrick was coming close to copying Obama, back in 1995.

If Obama and Patrick didn't know each other (and Patrick weren't willing to make it clear that the issue isn't a problem for him), and Patrick had used the language much, much earlier than Obama, maybe it would have the Clintons' hoped-for effect of undermining Barack's image as a great orator and bringer of hope. As it is, it just makes the Clinton campaign seem desperate.

Finally, it's hard not to wonder whether -- even if Barack had engaged in Bidenesque plagiarism -- it would even matter anymore. The standards for behavior for presidential candidates (and presidents themselves) have fallen immeasurably over the last 20 years, thanks mostly to the behavior and the scandals of Hillary's own husband. So there's something a bit ironic about Hillary expecting everyone to have a nervous breakdown about plagiarism allegations in light of the many examples of Bill Clinton's verbal dishonesty.

Oh, and wait a minute! I thought Hillary Clinton thought that speeches don't matter. Apparently, in some contexts, they do.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Prude on My Space

By the way, Prude is one of the featured books on My Space (see it here.

The comments are illuminating.

Big Government Health Care

This report from the UK is a perfect example of what happens when the government takes over health care:

Seriously ill patients are being kept in ambulances outside hospitals for hours so NHS trusts do not miss Government targets.

Thousands of people a year are having to wait outside accident and emergency departments because trusts will not let them in until they can treat them within four hours, in line with a Labour pledge.

The hold-ups mean ambulances are not available to answer fresh 999 calls.

You can see what happened. The Labour government obviously campaigned on the idea that no one should have to wait in an emergency room for longer than four hours. Sounded great, of course.

This is the type of outcome that's worth remembering when presidential candidates start touting health care plans that include more and bigger government mandates, and an enhanced role for the government in overseeing health care. As in the UK, the chances increase that it all becomes about looking good on paper -- and there's not an overwhelming amount of concern for the real world impact on those the system is supposed to "help."

This is what happens when the government runs health care. Keep that in mind when you think about the fact that Barack's first choice would have been single payer health care -- in other words, government run.

The One-Way Ratchet

Frank Rich works hard to make sure race (and gender) are injected into the presidential race:

What distinguished [McCain's] posse from Mr. Obama’s throng was not just its age but its demographic monotony: all white and nearly all male.

Let's think about this for a moment -- and consider exactly what that means for race relations in America. If it's okay to put down McCain's "posse" for being all white, is it likewise okay for those of a particular (bigoted) turn of mind to hold it against Obama if he ever shows up with a "posse" that's all black? If a lefty feminist like Rich sees it as a shortcoming that there aren't enough women around McCain in the photo ops, does that make it all right for the chauvinists in America to vote against Hillary Clinton just because she's a woman?

There's an inherent inconsistency with the identity politics the Democrats have loved unleashing against the Republicans all these years. For lefties, there's just a one-way ratchet -- you can take race and sex into account if, and only if, it makes you more likely to support the woman or minority. And, of course, if that woman and minority is a Democrat.

No doubt the focus on race and gender can make for some pretty huge inconsistencies. Think of Lynne Martin's Senate bid in 1990 (when NOW supported her male opponent), Clarence Thomas (smeared and attacked primarily because he was a black conservative), or even Hillary Clinton (who has watched NARAL superfeminist Kate Michelman back Obama).

Rich writes:

There are no black Republicans in the House or the Senate to stand with the party’s 2008 nominee.

Well, where was Rich when Michael Steele was seeking Maryland's US Senate seat last year against white male Ben Cardin? Did he support Rep. Ann Northrup of Kentucky last year when she was up against the "handsome" Jack Conway? Or Ken Blackwell, up for governor of Ohio against Ted Strickland? Of course not. Does that make him a racist or a sexist? Certainly not. But it likewise doesn't make him a principled advocate of the supposedly "inclusive" politics he's discussing here.

For too long, identity politics have been little more than a way for Democrats to try to gain a political advantage over Republicans -- at whatever cost to relations between the races or sexes. In their world, "diversity" is supposed to be about skin color (at least when that benefits Democrats), not thought (as Condolezza Rice could no doubt testify).

The only way out? Color-blindness. But until the majority of women and minorities become Republicans, don't look for Democrats to be fighting for that concept any time soon.

A Selling Point for Obama

Even the most out-of-it Democrats know, or will know soon, that as things stand now, there is likely to be a very tough choice for the superdelegates come the Democratic convention, as this piece by Adam Nagourney points out.

Obviously, it would require some delicacy in how to frame the appeal, but it strikes me that Barack Obama -- now ahead in the delegate count -- could actually use fears of a brokered convention to bolster himself in the states ahead, at least with party faithful, by asking for a large enough margin of victory to put him decisively over the top so that superdelegates aren't in the position of deciding the nominee.

No doubt a populist appeal would be suicide -- how offensive it would be to the party bigwigs for Obama to criticize political decisionmaking by the "backroom dealers"?! But a more respectful approach -- where he appeals to voters to avoid a situation where the "deeply respected" leaders, "following their consciences," aren't "forced" to make decisions "that will divide us" -- might have some resonance.

I know, I know, the best calculations forecast that a situation that requires a decisive choice by the superdelegates may be unavoidable. But it could be a strong argument by Obama nonetheless. Given how hungry Democrats are for victory, it must be excruciating to have to worry that the bitterness of an intraparty split could give the Oval Office again to a Republican. And most crucially, it gives former Clinton people who want to vote for Obama a psycbological fig-leaf ("it's for the good of the party"), so that they can avoid the cognitive dissonance problem that would come with having talked up Hillary and then voted for Barack.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Going McGovern

Bob Novak notes that Hillary Clinton is trying to find a way to identify Barack with the McGovernite wing of the Democratic Party.

Well, there's a problem with that (several problems, to be precise). For one thing, Hillary herself was part of the McGovernite wing of the party back in 1972, at least -- when she organized for him!

The larger difficulty, of course, is that Hillary's negatives are so high already -- and Obama so untouchable in Democratic circles -- that she's having a hard time finding a way to go negative on him. Bill Clinton was supposed to do it, but his supposedly deft political touch and legendary charm deserted him, and he came across as something of a race-baiter.

The Clintons' real problem may be that Democrats have decided that they've simply overstayed their welcome -- and now that there's a very viable alternative to putting up with another Clinton regnant (where, not incidentally, Democrats at all level of government lost support), there's really not much she can do, negative or not, to stop the Obama train.

Even More Disquieting

Have you seen the blog Obama Messiah? (HT: commenter Chris Arsenault).

Clinton & Cruise

It's funny. Watch it here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Confusing Government and Religion

Via Best of the Web Today, James Vicevich points out an unsettling side of Obamania -- the fact that some seem almost to experience Barack as a quasi-messianic figure.

Earlier today, on his show, Hugh Hewitt played a clip of a speech by Michele Obama, who said:

Barack Obama is the only person in this race who understands that -- that before we can work on the problems we have, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation!

Back in December, Rich Lowry quoted Michele Obama from an earlier address:

We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls. Who’s going to make us feel differently about one another. Who’s going to remind us that we are one another’s keepers. That we are only as strong as the weakest among us.

Is she talking about Jesus -- or about her husband? (Note to the unitiated: It's the latter).

The phenomenon is unsettling, at best. Is it that the Obamas are so radical that they truly believe that a political figure, promising bigger government, has the power to fix peoples' souls? Or are they, despite their impressive educations, confused about the importance -- and the proper role -- of religion in a free society?

Liberals often worry that religion will encroach on government. Instead, Americans should perhaps worry that an Obama government would try to replace the needs properly and uniquely met by religion with government . . . a disaster for both.

At this point, we may need even more than someone "who's going to touch our souls" is someone who will remind us to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's -- and render unto God that which is God's. I stand second to no one in my devotion to Ronald Reagan, but as the Gipper would have been the first to tell you, he's not Jesus. And, in fact, I suspect he would have been horrified had anyone, even Mrs. Reagan, tried to sanctify him.

It was easy to see that Ronald Reagan recognized a higher power than his own. It's not quite so easy to see that humility in the Obama candidacy, is it?

Tells you a lot about the difference between the two men's philosophies of government. And certainly, there have been through the ages a good share of big government radicals of all stripes that have sought to replace religion with government. It's vaguely disquieting, however, to see people in some sense looking to a man to fill needs that are spiritual in nature, even when the man is one as accomplished and eloquent (and as radical) as Barack.

A Democratic Disgrace

Anyone who wonders about what Democrats' priorities are now knows: House Democrats have taken a recess without approving an intelligence bill to protect America.

One party is serious about national security; one party isn't.

That's really all you need to know.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Veep for McCain

Quin Hillyer outlines the attributes of an ideal McCain veep, and comes up with this oh-so-modest compendium of virtues:

McCain needs a solidly "full-spectrum" conservative, reformist, youngish, cool, well-rounded, brainy, all-media-respected, articulate, telegenic, border-state/constituency-challenging, non-party-weakening, executive-experienced, running mate who can handle the presidency at a moment's notice.

Add to that someone who is an expert when it comes to economic matters -- because Barack's already hitting McCain over the head with McCain's comment about the economy not being his strong suit.

All that, of course, calls Mitt Romney to mind. He has many of the qualities Hillyer lists -- although he's not "all-media-respected" (what Republican is?!). And he's not terribly "cool" -- although it remains to be seen how well the Obama "coolness" continues to play over the long haul. But he may be able to bring Michigan to the Republicans, and has garnered a lot of good will in GOP circles.

What Huckabee's Doing

Over at Salon, Mike Madden speculates about what Huckabee's doing remaining in the Republican race.

Certainly Huckabee isn't angling for the VP slot. Anyone as politically shrewd as Huckabee obviously is knows that McCain can't choose him, even if he wanted to. Given that McCain has already alienated important conservative constituencies in the economic conservative community by voting against the President's tax cuts, the last thing he needs is a veep who calls the Club for Growth the Club for Greed -- and who's infuriated all Mitt Romney's supporters by double-teaming with McCain to knock Romney out of the race.

As I noted in my Townhall column:

[Huckabee]'s remaining in the race for another reason. By raising his delegate count above Mitt Romney’s, second only to McCain’s, Huckabee may well hope that he is establishing himself as the putative frontrunner the next time a Republican presidential field assembles.

Along with that status, of course, comes a lot of other goodies -- perhaps, as Madden mentions, a show on the Fox News Channel . . . and certainly more well-paying speaking gigs. No one can begrudge Huckabee trying to enhance his earning potential, but at what price? His decision to fly to the Caymans to deliver a speech is an implicit recognition on his own part that he isn't going to capture the nomination.

Anyone Surprised?

RINO former Senator Lincoln Chafee intends to endorse Barack Obama. GASP! It's as shocking as if -- as if -- Joe Lieberman endorsed John McCain!

Then again, it's good news for the Obama campaign, because for those who haven't been fully aware of just how liberal Lincoln Chafee is, it feeds the perception that Barack will be able to generate support across party lines.


Kathryn Jean Lopez kindly conducted a Q&A about Prude that's running here.

One common misperception about the book is that I'm somehow encouraging girls and women to declare themselves to be prudes -- or that I'm doing that myself. Not so much. As I point out in the interview, in today's world, the term is a pejorative -- and I'm not into talking myself down or encouraging others to do it. If it's a term of praise, as its derivation from a French word would suggest, well, I'm not into self-glorification, either.

The title actually came easily when I found that young girls nowadays are willing to call each other "sluts," but the term "prude" remained a terrible term of denigration. And it's not even a political thing. As Page Hurwitz and Katha Pollit note in a 2003 piece in The Nation:

It's a strange day when Hot Topic's "Pay up, sucker!" thong (the words, in bubble letters, encircle a dollar sign) seems a better option for girls than the padlock one, because it smacks less of sexual puritanism.

It's not necessarily the most romantic Valentine's Day topic going, but there's a problem here that needs to be addressed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Evasive, or Empty Suit?

Over at National Review, John Derbyshire wonders about the significance of the absence of an Obama paper trail:

Either O'B made a long-strategic decision very early on in life that he was going to climb the political ladder, and that therefore the less of a trail of opinions he left behind him, the less trouble he'd get into; or he really is a quite exceptionally empty suit. Which is it?

It is certainly the former, and perhaps the latter. First, it's worth noting that, as President of the Harvard Law Review, Barack wouldn't have been entitled to write a Note (i.e., a signed piece on a topic of a third year law student's choosing) in the Review. That being said, it was obviously Barack's mission not to take any position he could avoid taking. I liked him personally, but it was patently obvious that he saw himself as a "Man of Destiny" even back then. As someone who had his eye on something infinitely bigger than the Harvard Law Review, he wasn't about to jeopardize his ambitions by laying a controversial opinion on the line if it could possibly be avoided.

Of course, after a lifetime of that, it's quite possible that he is an empty suit. If you never lay it out there, how is anyone to know one way or another? The only reason I tend to doubt Derbyshire's second theory is because he was beloved by some of the far left professors on Harvard's faculty -- particularly Laurence Tribe. And unlike some of the other left-wingnut professors (including, to his credit, Duncan Kennedy), Tribe isn't the kind of guy who befriends people who haven't signaled in some way their understanding of and agreement with his "living Constitution" approach to the law. He's 67 now, but if he were a little younger, I would be confident in asserting Tribe would be on an Obama Supreme Court short list.

Finally, keep in mind that Barack was a lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago. That's not a tenure track position, but it's pretty remarkable that someone as ambitious as he clearly is wouldn't have published anything -- plenty of ambitious academic empty suits routinely generate piles of worthless articles that are sagely nodded over by other academic empty suits.

Even teaching a class where it's almost impossible not to deduce a professor's own personal biases, Barack still held his cards close to his chest, as his former students testify:

A lot of time with faculty members, you know what point of view they're coming from. He would rarely say, 'This is what I think.' He kind of had a mysterious air to him because you didn't know what his position was on all these issues.

Certainly, that's a refreshing change from a lot of the left-wing proselytizing that routinely takes place in schools across America. But it's remarkable no one could even guess what he thought; I was taught con law by Professor Kathleen Sullivan, a Tribe protegee who went on to become dean of the Stanford Law School. She was a straight shooter, and an excellent teacher who never mixed politics and law in the classroom. It was still clear, however, what her own views were.

He's not an empty suit, in my judgment. He's just evasive.

It's Our Birthday!

Mine and my twin brother's, that is.

And because that means that all kind of fun events are on tap, my daily fun event -- blogging, of course! -- may be a bit lighter than usual.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Too Young In Spirit?

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic,
has some serious reservations about Barack Obama.

The question is whether Obama's supporters -- and Democratic leaders (including even the Speaker of the House) -- are too blissed-out by Obamania, the Kennedy comparisons, and even the Reagan analogies (will the Clintons now inaccurately start accusing Obama of being Ronald Reagan, rather than just supporting his policies?) to listen.

But they'd be well advised to think twice. Little details like this may well have resonance with lots of people in the heartland states Obama's now bragging about having won.

And you can dislike the source, but Hillary's right: Barack's never really had even one negative ad run against him, any time in his career. Note that right now -- at the height of Obamania -- Barack leads McCain only by six.

Obviously, the GOP has plenty of problems of its own, but that's got to be a sobering thought for the Dems who have so long assumed that the White House would be theirs by divine right in 2008.

A Very Public First Lady

Hot blog buzz over at Sweetness and Light asserts that, if Hillary had actually engaged in the foreign policy activities her husband is now crediting to her, she'd be in violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from engaging in foreign affairs.

It does seem to be a tantalizing charge, of course. But remember back in the 90's when there was "sunshine law" litigation over the First Lady's health care task force? Justice Department lawyers argued, in fact, that Hillary was a public citizen, which would place her outside the reach of certain disclosure laws.

Luckily for the Clintons, the three judges who heard the case -- all Reagan appointees, mind you -- found that she was, in fact, a public employee for purposes of the law.

No doubt that's what the Clintons would argue again when it comes to Hillary and foreign policy.

Girls Growing Wilder?

This piece discusses rising trends of risky behaviors among girls -- not focused so much on sex (as in Prude) but rather, when it comes to drinking, smoking, drugs and the rest.

The gals over at Feministing condemn pieces like this for blaming bad behavior on "equality".

But that's actually missing the point. "Equality" isn't the problem. The problem is "equality" as the feminists have envisioned it -- that is, as sameness. For too long, any behavior stereotypically engaged in by men has been deemed to be the standard -- so that when women engage in it, they're just being "liberated" and "empowered."

Rather than themselves urging girls not to behave in ways that conform to the "bad boy" stereotype (and which, objectively, are destructive), feminists instead label those who do so as enemies of female liberation. It's "girl power" run amok.

How silly -- and how wrong. Isn't feminism, and empowerment, supposed to mean something a little better than having the "right" to behave like the worst kind of boys or men?

Last Days of Pompeii?

Thomas DeFrank articulates what everyone is feeling -- a certain "last days" vibe in the Hillary campaign.

Obviously, it's not over 'til it's over. And anyone who knows the Clintons understand that they're not likely to go gracefully, even if it means ripping the Democratic Party asunder.

But there are signs that all is not well in Hillaryland, and two headlines today should be making the campaign particularly unhappy:

"Women 'Falling' for Obama"

"'Super' Latino Slams Clinton"

Obviously, that sounds like Hillary is losing two of the core constituencies upon which she is relying to defeat Obama. The stories might not even be true -- but in politics, as with sports, there's a certain "winner psychology" . . . and it becomes difficult to convince voters, donors and supporters that Hillary's still "in it to win it."

If one wanted to pinpoint a huge contributing factor to Hillary's problems, it might be summed up in this duo of headlines: "Clinton Not Ready to Release Tax Returns" -- and, of course, "Clinton: No Possibility of Scandals".

In a "change" year, it sounds just like back to the future when it comes to the Clintons. If that's not enough, their desperate attacks on Barack Obama have given good liberals the justification they must have wanted all along to abandon Ship Clinton.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Don't Take the Bait

Andrew McCarthy astutely points out a strange and disturbing phenomenon: The penchant of McCain supporters to antagonize the conservatives McCain must win over in order to have any shot at the presidency.

Some, it seems clear, are simply national-security-before-all-else people, and for them, McCain's serial apostasies on campaign finance, immigration, the Bush tax cuts, treatment of terrorists and the rest don't matter. They can't seem to wrap their heads around the fact that good people might sincerely and vociferously object to elements of the McCain record that seem largely immaterial to them. Those people just need to wake up and realize that they're doing their man no favors by questioning the good faith of those who disagree with him, and them.

But I suspect there are a fair number of others who are not only supporting McCain, but trying to use him to win an internecine struggle within the Republican Party -- and those people are antagonizing conservatives on purpose. They are the segment of the party that is uncomfortable with the power of the conservative (and/or religious) wing of the party especially when it comes to social issues, and they are delighted to have the opportunity to try to reassemble a moderate GOP coalition composed of McCain types, old time northeast Republicans, and independents. They are delighted to have a chance to drive a wedge between talk radio listeners and the hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity and Ingraham.

And they are the ones conservatives are going to have to grit their teeth and ignore. The GOP is by far the best vehicle conservatives have for enacting their agenda, and leaving the party (as some no doubt hope they will) is a recipe for marginalization when it comes to national security, judges, and conservative cultural issues ranging from gay marriage to embryo stem cell research.

Don't take the bait and let those who want conservatives out of the GOP have their way. That would spell destruction for the Republican Party -- but even more sadly, for the conservative movement.

Welcome Back, Maggie Williams

As Thomas DeFord points out, Hillary's new campaign manager and longtime aide, Maggie Williams, isn't afraid to crack heads.

She also has a quality that's no doubt equally attractive to the Clinton campaign: She's willing to do what's expedient, even if it means engaging in activity of debatable legality.

Williams is a formidable person, and it speaks to the depth of need in the Clinton campaign that she's been named to the top job.

Small But Revealing

As Newsbusters reports, one of Barack Obama's campaign headquarters has a Cuban flag and a picture of Che Guevera.

Obviously, Barack himself is too smart to pull a stunt like this, presumably. But it tells you something about the mindset of the campaign -- which is, itself, a reflection of the candidate.

Yes, he is a radical.

Time to Go

Here is my Townhall column discussing Mike Huckabee's behavior throughout the Republican primaries -- behavior I've not found particularly admirable.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Coming Democratic Battle

The closeness of the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spells danger for the Democratic Party, as Larry Eichel of the Philadelphia Inquirer acknowledges.

The problem is that the superdelegates are going to have to decide who wins the Democratic nomination. If the race had come down Dennis Kucinich vs. either Clinton or Obama, the choice would be easy. Kucinich doesn't attract mainstream Democrat support, whereas both Clinton and Obama do.

The difficulty here is that both candidates can lay a strong claim to the nomination -- Clinton through her machine's hold with the superdelegates (if they favor her), and Obama if he continues to capture the greatest number of state delegations.

And in the aftermath, the Democrat Party will be left to cope with the losers, who have learned all too well the lessons of racial or gender grievance the party has stoked to gain an edge on the supposedly racist, sexist Republicans all these years. Inconsistencies will be rife -- for a foretaste, think of long-time pro-choice feminist and newly-minted gender-blind meritocrat Kate Michelman can attest.

Any hope that a deal could be brokered to persuade Obama to go away quietly and try again another day must take into account the reaction in Black America to such an overture. And why, after all, should Barack wait for another election where historic tides might not run so strongly in the Democrats' favor?

For once, Frank Rich gets it -- at least in part. The Clintons are prepared to win ugly, whatever the cost to the long-term future of the Democrat Party. For Republicans coping with their own internecine warfare, they can, at least, be grateful that their disagreements are over matters of ideas, not gender or skin color. For ideological disagreements can be discussed and resolved -- but in a Democratic Party bound together in large part by identitiy politics, and which ahs tried to teach that biology or race is destiny, the breaches may be much more difficult to repair.

Who Needs Whom

There's a lot of media chop-licking over conservative discontent with John McCain. See this Newsweek article, for example.

Obviously, many conservatives ignored the entreaties of Rush, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and others, and voted for John McCain. Well, Rush Limbaugh has told us for years that, contrary to the MSM spin, his audience is not a group of "mind-numbed robots" -- and, as with so much Rush says -- the media is shocked to find out that it's actually true!

The MSM would love to see this as a vindication of their dismissive attitudes toward talk radio -- evidence that right wing talk show hosts lack the influence that so many on the left resent their having. And they'd love to whip the controversy into a matter so divisive that it does, actually, drive a wedge between popular hosts and their legions of listeners.

No such luck. The influence of Rush, Sean, Laura -- and others, like Hugh Hewitt and Bill Bennett -- is alive and well. If anything, their listeners simply made a different calculation: That is, that notwithstanding McCain's apostasies, they believed he was the candidate best-positioned to keep Hillary or Barack out of The White House and (whatever the hosts said) none of the other Republican contenders were likely to do so. That calculus may be wrong, but it certainly doesn't represent a repudiation of conservative talk radio or a significant diminution of host influence.

Dismissive broadsides from New York Times-approved Republicans aren't going to change the facts. Contrary to the high-minded denunciations from those supposedly on the same side, talk radio hosts will be more important and relevant than ever in the upcoming election -- necessary as never before when there's a danger that flagging morale on the right, and a surge of enthusiasm on the left will result in disaster for the McCain ticket.

There's an argument that John McCain is relying more heavily on conservative concern with the potential of an Obama or Clinton presidency than he is on his own policies and persona in order to drive supporters to the polls. Who, exactly, will he be relying on to explain in detail to conservatives what a Clinton or Obama victory would mean? Tim Russert, Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer? Not so much . . .

Before writing an obituary for the talkers' power and influence, the naysayers had better think about who needs whom more. Rush, Sean and Laura will have their jobs and their influence with millions of Americans intact in January of 2009, whoever wins The White House. John McCain, of course, can't necessarily say the same.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

How Revealing

Mike Huckabee is resisting calls that he pull out of the presidential race.

There's no doubt that Huckabee has the right to stay in until the convention. But having the right to do something doesn't make it right to do. By staying in, Huckabee delays and makes more difficult the very serious task John McCain has ahead of him of unifying the Republican Party.

Especially with Mitt Romney out of the race, Huckabee can now become the sole vessel for unhappy Republicans to vent their discontent with the McCain candidacy. Certainly, Huckabee can continues to rack up wins. Perhaps Huckabee believes that by continuing to win delegates to the point where he comes in "second" to McCain, he is reserving a place for himself as the putative frontrunner the next time a Republican presidential field assembles.

But he may be playing it too clever by half. He's already managed to stir the resentment of many conservatives for the way he worked in conjunction with McCain to knock Romney out of contention. Now, he may earn the enmity of moderates for hassling McCain. That doesn't leave a huge constituency for the smooth-talking governor, whose candidacy is already crippled by the perception that he's a regional candidate whose appeal is primarily restricted to evangelical Christians.

Finally, the contrast with Mitt Romney couldn't be stronger. In his withdrawal address, Romney said:

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

Those scruples apparently don't burden Governor Huckabee. How revealing -- of both Romney's and Huckabee's characters.

Shuster Should Apologize

MSNBC's David Shuster has apologized to the Clinton campaign for having used a prostitution metaphor in discussing Chelsea Clinton's role in her mother's presidential bid.

Well, he should apologize. Not because the substance of his remarks was wrong (after all, it's been obvious for years that the Clintons' tendency to showcase their daughter is inversely correlated with their political fortunes) -- but because it's needlessly vulgar, unnecessary and wrong to associate any woman of good character with prostitution.

When people resort to cursing or swearing, they're really just emphasizing their inability to communicate in a more intelligent, coherent way. Similarly, when David Shuster resorts to analogizing a former First Daughter to a prostitute, it reveals a certain gratuitous vulgarity -- and incompetence at conveying a sharp, punchy point in a less unsavory way.

Couldn't we please keep the sexual references out of political reportage and dialogue?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Abortion Clinic Outrage

Here is an LA Times story about the frighteningly corrupt and immoral way a chain of abortion clinics in California have been run.

How strange . . . haven't we always been told that the reason to keep abortion legal is that it will keep the procedure safe (at least for the mother, that is)?

Confirm Mark Filip

Dick Durbin has finally lifted his hold on Judge Mark Filip of Chicago to serve as Attorney General Mukasey's deputy. Mark is a friend from my law school days -- a person of brilliant intellect and first-class character.

America is lucky to have men like Mark in government service.

How About a Little Respect?

Michael Gerson is a first-class speechwriter.

But he gets it horribly wrong in his Washington Post column.

He's not mistaken in asserting that some conservative voices have gone over the top in attacking John McCain. Rather -- as people so often do when they try to discern the motives behind others' actions -- he misdiagnoses the reason . . . even as he provides a glowing example of the reason McCain is so disliked in so many corners of the party.

Gerson seems unaware that many conservatives' "issue" with John McCain isn't primarily policy-based. Lots of the same people speaking out most vociferously against McCain are those who would have embraced Rudy Giuliani, although some of his views are no more orthodox than McCain's.

The difference between the two is that Rudy made it clear that the disagreements weren't personal -- that he respected conservatives even when he thought they were wrong. In contrast, with John McCain, everything is personal -- and those who don't fall right in line with his views aren't just wrong, they're really not good people.

This attitude sticks in the craw of conservatives because they've encountered it too often on the part of the MSM and Democrats. Ironically, in his column, Gerson falls into it, too.

For example, Gerson insists that a campaign that takes a tough line on immigration would carry with it the "taint of intolerance" -- and that people who believe in a strict policy either aren't willing or aren't capable of making elementary moral distinctions. He instructs his readers that "a young woman who dies in the desert during a perilous crossing for the dream of living in America is not the moral equivalent of a drug dealer." Who knew?

He goes on to attribute opposition to McCain to dislike of "Bush's democracy agenda [which] was criticized by some traditionalists and realists as 'utopian Wilsonianism' and 'as un-conservative as it can be.'" Well, somewhere (perhaps in the Ron Paul area) there may be some elements of the party that feel that way -- but hasn't Gerson been paying attention? Every conservative who is coming to support McCain is doing so because of his foreign policy views, not despite them.

No doubt Gerson intended to defend and assist McCain. But for those of us who have opposed him in the primary yet intend to support him in the general, this kind of moral condescention flicks in the raw.

For too many years, conservatives have been told by the press and by Democrats that their views are small-minded, unenlightened, even immoral. John McCain has played that game, too -- but now may be understanding the unnecessary damage it caused him among the base he must now woo.

High-minded critiques like Mike Gerson's only set back McCain's cause, and delay the process of unification that's so necessary to stop a Democrat from winning The White House.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sharia Law In Britain?

In yet another poorly-thought-out comment, the Archbishop of Canterbury (head of the Episcopal Church) called for the recognition of sharia law in Britain.

The ignorance of such an approach is breathtaking -- clearly, the Archbishop is so open-minded that his brains are falling out.

What he obviously doesn't understand is that western society -- and the values of equality, tolerance and other values purportedly cherished by liberals like him -- is the legacy of Christianity. As Dinesh D'Souza, author of "What's So Great About Christianity" has pointed out eloquently,

Consider finally modern notions of human rights — the right to freedom of conscience, or to property, or to marry and form a family, or to be treated equally before the law — as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The universalism of this declaration is based on the particular teachings of Christianity. The premise is that all human lives have equal dignity and worth, but this is not the teaching of all the world's cultures and religions.

He's right. By entertaining the notion of moving away from a western legal system that is based on (but not ruled by) Christianity, the Archbishop not only undermines the faith he has supposedly devoted his life to; he also endangers the liberal convictions that seem in his case to take precedence before any religious beliefs.

A Fine Address

John McCain addressed the Conservative Political Action Committee today. Here is the text.

I have not been a fan of McCain's, but I do believe him when he says that " I am not in the habit of making promises to my country that I do not intend to keep." He went on to assure conservatives that he is, for the most part, one of them.

He ended on a note of much-needed humility (for his problems with conservatives have been as much ones of tone as of substance), calling himself America's "imperfect servant" and conceding that "I have made many mistakes."

Nicely done.

Mitt Romney Is Out

Governor Romney has suspended his campaign. Now, the task for John McCain will be figuring out how to unite a party largely dominated by conservatives -- whom he's spent the last eight years poking in the eye.

With Romney's withdrawal, the larger task for the GOP will be figuring out how to keep focus and interest on Republicans as the race between Clinton and Obama enjoys the overwhelming majority of press coverage -- and, perhaps, voter involvement.

One very welcome component of Romney's campaign was his focus on social issues. In his speech today, he noted that

The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960’s welfare programs created a culture of poverty. . . Dependency is a culture-killing drug—we have got to fight it like the poison it is!

The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography—even celebration of it—and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today’s grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out-of-wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children, and 25% of White children. How much harder it is for these children to succeed in school—and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.

The development of a child is enhanced by having a mother and father. Such a family is the ideal for the future of the child and for the strength of a nation.

He is right. The threat being posed by leftist culture warriors is great, it is pressing, and it is worthy of discussion.

Let's hope that the voice being silenced today isn't the only one that will be raised in defense of timeless moral truths.

A Decent Man, But A Radical

There is much to like about Senator Barack Obama -- as I pointed out here.

But missing from all the quasi religious fervor surrounding the Obama candidacy is any examination of what, exactly, he stands for.

The fact is that Barack is a radical. As this piece in the Washington Post pointed out, he has the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate. That means he's to the left of Teddy Kennedy, Pat Leahy, and even Bernie Sanders -- the "independent" (who used to identify himself as a socialist) from Vermont.

Take abortion. Obviously, people of good conscience can disagree on the life/choice issue, but Barack actually opposed the Infants Born Alive bill in the Illinois state senate -- a stance much more radical than the typical pro-choicer. Take health care. In a recent Democratic debate, Barack conceded that "What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn't have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system." In other words, in a perfect world for Barack Obama, there would be nationalized, government-run health care.

Obviously, none of this means that he's not a nice person and an inspirational speaker. His ability to uplife and inspire people is little short of amazing -- and that's a gift in a world where, too often, politics seems like a dreary little set of arcane policy prescriptions and backroom deals.

But even nice people can be wrong -- terribly wrong -- when it comes to their policy goals, their beliefs, and their visions for America. Barack falls into that category.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

HRC's Ethics Issue

Hillary Clinton's former boss on the Watergate impeachment committee staff speaks here -- and he didn't hold then-Hillary Rodham's ethics in high regard (ht: The Corner).

The Day After . . .

This morning, it's hard to look at yesterday's results and conclude that John McCain will not be the nominee. I wish it were otherwise, but facts are what they are.

If McCain is the nominee, I will support him and vote for him. As much as I respect many of those who now say they will follow another course, I continue to believe that (almost) any Republican is better than (almost) any Democrat.

In particular, take foreign policy. For years on this blog, I have written about the dangers of Islamofascist terrorism and what's clearly either the inability or the unwillingness of Democrats to understand the true nature of our enemies, coupled with their clear reluctance to confront or combat them. I've believed every word I wrote. So it would make no sense for me to sit out the election or support a Democrat -- indeed, if I were willing to do so, what would that say about my sincerity in arguing that there's a real and serious difference between the two parties when it comes to the war on terror, and that the difference matters?

There's also the issue of pork in the budget. John McCain has fought hard against it -- neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama would, because it's consistent with their ideology and in their interest to promote a view of government as a provider of all things to all people. That's a difference, and it matters to me. It doesn't take long for government programs to be put in place . . . programs that quickly gain a constituency and become almost impossible to eliminate. Again, either Obama or Clinton would embrace such programs. There is at least a chance that John McCain would be slower to do so.

Finally, there's the issue of judges. McCain may not be perfect, but Ted Olson and other conservatives have his ear. The same isn't true for Clinton or Obama, who are certain to appoint judges committed to fashioning the laws in conformity with current left-wing thought, rather than in accordance with the Constitution. This matters, of course -- because, as with new government programs, it's a lot easier to get bad precedent onto the books than it is to remove it. And for better or worse (in my view, for worse) many of the issues that matter most in American life -- including abortion, religious controversies and the like -- are settled by judges. Even judges like Anthony Kennedy -- who rule properly at least on occasion -- are a sight better than those like Ginsburg, Breyer or Stevens.

Last, a note about party solidarity. Moderates in the Republican Party have long promoted a model for winning that envisions outreach to independent voters, at the expense of conservative principles. I have long been skeptical of that approach, because in an effort to generate broad appeal, pretty soon one has reworked the party's principles to where they're unrecognizable. That being said, it seems that a moderate Republican is well on the way to winning the nomination. We will finally have a chance to test the moderate vision for electoral dominance. We shall, perhaps, soon see whether the "independent outreach" model is a sustainable one for the Republican Party.

If John McCain wins, we'll also have a chance to test the moderate vision of "governance." In my experience, "compromise" with Democrats doesn't lead to a wonderful world where we can all sit in a circle holding hands and singing kumbayah. Outreach to Democrats of the sort long practiced by McCain rarely results in worthwhile "consensus" legislation -- in my experience, Democrats end up taking most of the pie and then calling it "compromise" (Exhibit A: Arnold Schwarzenegger in California). But we shall see . . .

Time and time again, I have called on moderate Republicans, in the spirit of party loyalty, to vote for Republican nominees from the conservative wing of the party. Now it is their turn, and I will support the nominee.

Conservatives who fear that their principles will be undermined or obliterated have no rightful cause for alarm. If they're worth anything, great ideas and core convictions can survive a season in the shade. It's a time for those who hold them not to be co-opted by the blandishments of a President, a MSM or a Washington establishment -- but rather to hone their beliefs, and find ways to articulate them across-the-board to an American public which, at its core, wants a strong America, loves freedom and believes whole-heartedly in personal responsibility.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday Wrap Up

Since it's too early to call my new home state, California, let's start with my old home state, Missouri. Mike Huckabee did well in the southern part of Missouri, because he was governor of the neighboring state -- Arkansas. In a sense, southern Missouri is in many ways like northern Arkansas -- rural, Bible belt voters tailor made for someone like Huckabee. Mitt Romney did well in the upscale, traditional Republican counties attached to the cities (St. Louis county and Jackson County, outside Kansas City). McCain did well in the northern and middle of the state, rural and slightly less affluent than Romney territory.

Along with the northeastern states, McCain won only the "traditional Republican" states of Arizona and Oklahoma. Let's hope that all the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Delaware Republicans can bring their states into the McCain column this November if he ends up being the nominee. Possible, of course, but likely? What's more, it's hardly great news for McCain (or for conservatives nationally) that he lost conservatives even in his home state of Arizona -- it could suggest that for those on the right, to know McCain well is not particularly to love him.

Huckabee did well throughout the south. Is it because people there really felt an affinity with him, is it because the voters never felt comfortable with the much ballyhooed Romney "flip flops," or did Romney's Mormonism play into the equation somehow?

On the Democratic side, what a bitter night this must have been for Hlllary Clinton, who for so long thought she'd be claiming the nomination tonight. Barack Obama has performed well, and comes across as very, very likable.

It strikes me that on the Republican side, it all comes down to California. It's hard to see a way forward for Romney if he loses California to McCain, and hard to see how McCain loses the nomination if he wins California. If Romney wins California, he may have a chance to pull it out -- but McCain would remain the clear frontrunner.

As for the Democrats, a system that was designed to allow them to coalesce early around a candidate -- and start attacking the Republicans -- has seemed to do little but guarantee that a potentially divisive and bitter primary season drags on.

Huckabee Wins West Virginia

It happened on the second ballot, after -- it seems -- McCain's people threw their support to Huckabee to prevent a Romney win.

Mike Huckabee claims to be a solid conservative, and no doubt he wants a future in the Republican Party. It seems he's gambling everything he has on McCain. If, for any reason (the nomination goes to Romney, or McCain chooses someone else) he is not selected as the VP on a McCain ticket, he'll have done himself a great disservice among the conservative base by his continued willingness to play "spoiler" and his efforts to throw the nomination to someone who, emphatically, is not a conservative. Even if he is chosen as VP and McCain-Huckabee goes down in a landslide, he's creating a difficult path for himself.

It will be interesting to see the impact his choices today have on his options in the future.