Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kicking the Buckley

Goodnight William F. Buckley, "scourge of liberalism."  What a life.  Would it be unfair to say he was a Kerouacian conservative, a romantic of the right?  He was a man of his era, and of several long before it.  I enjoyed his wit and respected his integrity more than the crumbs I saw in his comrades.  He may have built a Frankenstein movement, but he at least had enough sense to recognize the monster once it lurched.  No one on the right was interested in hearing from an anti-Iraq War prophet.  

In the coverage of his death, it has been much noted (as on NPR and the NYT link above) that he purged the conservative movement of the "kooks."  I've heard this line many times before.  And I can only ask, "Whaaaaaa???!!!"  Don't look now, Bill, but they're dancing on your grave.  They're the ones attending your funeral.  Buckley may have made conservatism look respectable to the chattering classes, but the nutcases not only didn't leave, they took over.  Coulter. Savage. Hannity. Malkin. Kristol. Cheney. Bush. The wingnut blogosphere.  The radicals are "on the road," and they're driving on the right.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Only Contest That Mattered

Big win tonight in a fight between bitter rivals. Vandy beat #1 Tennessee 72-69. This is the second time in two years that Vandy has beaten the #1 team at Memorial Gym. Last year it was an ass-whoopin' of the Florida Gators, then in between national championships. Maybe the Vols can take that as a good omen.

It really will be hard for the Dores to keep Coach Kevin Stallings after this season. He took them to the Sweet 16 last year, where they lost to G'town on the basis of an unwhistled take-six-steps-then-shoot last second basket. This year they're #18 in AP, #14 ESPN, and #10 RPI. The announcers on ESPN kept hyping Stallings for the Indiana job. If only Vandy had some money to throw around. . . .

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Did She Polish His Halo?

Rough day for Saint John. The defensive press conference with wife-in-tow cannot be a pleasant experience, and I felt a bit sorry for the man. Maybe he can commiserate with David Vitter and Larry Craig. Despite all his panders to the GOP wackadoos over Iraq, taxes, and now even torture, I can't help but see McCain as a man of basic decency and honor--one who seems to be cracking under the strain of having mortgaged his soul for a shot at glory. (Shhh, don't tell the FEC what he used as collateral!) He has not looked well, and today he looked awful. Also, not very convincing. I don't know that he had this affair (the others, during wife #1, that's "old news"), but he certainly sounded as if he were feeling guilty about something.

When in doubt, attack. Ignore that Drudge leaked this months ago when it might have merely elevated another winger to the nomination; the NYT did it today when the nomination was basically decided. This means war. The Post ran the story too? Who dey? And now Rush is calling for Saint John to come home and realize who his true friends and true enemies are. That's right, Johnny Mac, your enemies are the ones who officially endorsed you even after they had seen this story, and your friends are the ones who spent months trying to destroy you while speculating on your "anal poisoning" of Lindsey Graham.

An upside: the news coverage of this story has been highly entertaining. If Chris Matthews gets any angrier at the Times, he may pop a vessel. With his best boy Rudy out, he's only got one more man crush in the game. Gotta circle the wagons. Not to defend the Times. It is too early to know if they've really got a story here, but the early evidence is a tad weak. Strong enough to use against a Democrat. But against a Republican? What media universe have these guys been living in? I noticed that no one on Hardball bothered to bring up the Clinton precedent. I'm sure they were all tut-tutting those allegations back in the day, hoping desperately that the media would just let the Big Dog sniff.

The hard core denial strategy is a huge risk. Any slip and you're toast, and Mac doesn't exactly have a big margin of error to begin with. I'd also hate to see the saintly one brought down by something like this. Partly, I don't like this kind of takedown, at least not when it's aimed at someone without a flagrant record of sexual hypocrisy. Partly, because I think we're going to win this race big anyway, behind Obama, and I don't want to muddy the mandate water. If McCain loses, it will be thanks to Bush. Let's not lose that narrative.

Gutter Sound

It's a place! What a wonderful name, huh? Very interesting story about the last nine casualties of WWI. I'm gearing up for the debate, and expect to hear "gutter sounds" that are completely removed from the Scapa Flow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"We Need Solutions"

This is an argument aimed at low-information voters. Because many voters understand that the president can't really "fix the economy" or "solve the health care crisis." (I actually heard the former president say "fix the economy" in one of his campaign speeches a couple weeks ago.) The Obama campaign's rhetoric focuses on "the politics," i.e., putting together an actual governing coalition first, and then enacting policies. The politics requires speeches. Because a governing coalition needs to be a bout something--something other than solutions.

I've been thinking about the rhetoric of this Democratic nomination contest for awhile now, and I think that there's an interesting generational aspect of the criticism of the Obama campaign for not offering "substance."

If you've paid attention to politics, you know that stump speeches are stump speeches. They include a little of this (thank you's to local notables), a little of that (background stories, "I was born" crap), attacks on the other party/candidates, jokes, applause lines, and so on. Somewhere in there is the litany of policy proposals. These can be detailed, or not so detailed, but every stump speech includes something about policy. But a lot of other things, too. So, if you're a reporter, you can always say that a stump speech doesn't include much of this, or much of that. Because unless it's very short, it isn't mostly any one thing.

But reporters of a certain age cut their teeth in the 1980s, when Democratic politics really used to be what Lowi called "interest group liberalism." The Democratic coalition was made up of a number of interest groups, and the successful Democratic candidate (for the nomination--it was hard to actually win the White House with this approach) had to put together enough of those groups to win--usually some combination of black voters and labor. And to get there, you had to offer each group something.

Those promises to the groups making up the Democratic rump coalition of the 1980s were what passed for policy proposals in the 1980s and 1990s. Whether you call it interest-group liberalism, or neo-liberalism, or "micro-trends," what passed for policy substance was appeals to particular groups. Not big ideas, but small items on some interest group's wish-list.

If you're a reporter of a certain age, and you listen to Obama's stump speech, you don't hear any of that, or not much of it. The candidate doesn't seem to promise any group in the Democratic rump coalition anything in particular. He talks about "hope," and "change," but not about school uniforms, or assault rifle bans, or midnight basketball. No talk about child tax credits. If you understand politics in a certain way--and many, um, older folks do--then this is just talk. "Where's the beef?" as the paragon of this politics once asked.

This fits with the solutions point. I think. Obama is trying to do something very different from what previous Democratic candidates have done. He is not riding a "microtrend," and he isn't running a campaign aimed at the 3% of the electorate he needs to win to put the Democratic rump coalition over-the-top.

Will it work? Who knows. But I do know that a lot of the commentary out there isn't getting it.

Update: Of course, when Obama tries to respond to the "where's the beef?" line, he can play the game, too. For a contrary point of view, link.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Only . . . If

I can buy that the Clinton campaign can't win Democratic caucuses, because those are party activists, super-liburuls (!). I can buy that, like tonite, the Clinton campaign can't win open primaries, because she can't win independents or Republicans. But if she can't win either . . . if she can only win white women and low-information Democratic voters . . . in closed primaries . . . if that's all she can win . . . only white (Democratic) women . . . then what's the rationale?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Presidents Day

Officially, it's Washington's Birthday.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

There Will Be Barf

There was some coughing on the baby monitor last night as we lounged in the living room reading before bed. "Do you want me to check that?" I asked. "Not really," replied the Mrs., "she's been coughing like that every night this week because of her cold." A little while later I heard the same strange cough. "I'm going to go take a look," I said while the Mrs. half-opened a drowsy eye.

As I walked toward the stairs I remembered earlier in the day reading Josh Marshall's sweet paean to fatherhood at TPM. Yeah, parenthood sure is great. It has changed my perspective in dozens of unexpected ways, made me see the world differently, feel it more deeply. Hell, feel it at all. As many of you know, I've long prided myself on not being in touch with my emotions. Now I'm a big sap. Sad movies give me a tear, babies make me smile. Don't even have to be mine. Mine, of course, is the greatest frickin' baby ever, and if you don't follow that party line, I will kick your teeth in, you morally-degenerate-can't recognize-the-perfect-baby jackasses. How's that for emotional self-awareness? I can feel my EQ rising as I type.

Pulling back the sound curtain at the bottom of the stairs, I was hit by a distinct smell. "Is the crazier of our cats peeing in the stairwell again?," I wondered. No, this was different. Like the bathroom of a fraternity house at 3 AM on a Saturday night/Sunday morning. Pulling open the doorway to the Boo room, I peered into the pitch darkness and groped for the closet light to cast a soft diffused glow on the crib. I could tell that Lang was up. She had been whimpering but squealed with delight as I entered. Ah, the joys of fatherhood, to hear that little laugh and know it could only be for daddy. But. That stench was intense. Reaching to pick her up, I placed my elbow on the cushion we'd put over the crib railing after she had taken a beaver chomp out of the wood (no kidding--it could take her years to pass that much timber through her intestines). My elbow was wet.

Touching Lang, I could tell that her clothes were wet too. So I unzipped her sleepsack, which was dripping, as was her pajama shirt. I dropped them in the crib, knowing I would cause no damage because, well, it was a veritable river of puke, the Amazon of toddler spews. How does a 22 lb. baby have that much in her? I racked my brain--what did we feed her? Any wafer-thin mints? Did I spawn a mini Ms. Creosote? No such luck on the wafers. She had eaten a mixture of spinach, peas, and avacadoes, followed by blueberry/cranberry fruit in cereal, and topped off with apple slices. Probably now mixed with phlegm. All of it now oozed from the mattress and onto the floor. The chunks stayed put. Damned apples. Picking up my giggling child it was clear that merely removing her clothes had failed to eliminate her damp, pukey problem. Plus, it was caked in her hair and on her face like a yuke mask. My daughter was a performance artist and vomit was her chosen medium. A couple of days earlier when I had gotten her out of bed in the morning, I'd noticed (how could I not) that, thanks to her cold, she was wearing a fresh coat of mucus. "Look," I had said to the Mrs., "isn't that cute? Her first booger mask!" Tonight she was a tad less cute.

Parenthood gets you accustomed to these moments. Early on, you deal mostly with poop: the black molasses of newborn meconium, the drippy mustard goo of the pre-solid food era, the multi-grain pancakes of a growing toddler. You get used to blowouts ("poo-plosions," we called them), the stained toys and car seats. Then there's the spit up. Lang was a geyser in her day, so much that we had to sleep her tilted upright in her car seat for months rather than in a bassinet. But there's always something new, and this was my first true barf bath experience. I took that little girl downstairs, and we plopped her in the shower. Now she screams. Wallowing in a river of partially digested fruit and bile--fun. Getting a bath? Bloody murder. Typical. Luckily, after the full rinse, I get the easy job: watching Lang run around the house for the next 45 minutes while Mrs. TMcD scrubs the bedroom down. Hey, she volunteered!

Why do I tell this sordid tale? 'Cause it is true. Cinema veritas. I'm sure Paul knows how this works. And since Frances and #3 have chosen another route, they can be thankful for what they have escaped. Otherwise, such a tale might seem cruel, less cautionary than an exercise in fearmongering. But this is our moment. This is our time. We have seen the fear, and we have trusted instead in the power of hope. Not some sad cynicism passing as wisdom, but a dare to dream that laughter and joy can nonetheless swim free in a lake of bilious spew. Some wonder if we can survive. Yes, we can.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shooting Down a Spy Satellite?

So the Navy plans on "shooting down" a damaged U.S. spy satellite that is falling to earth, carrying dangerous Hydrazine fuel. I'm not sure about this plan. I know I'm not a physicist, but how does "shooting down" a spy satellite help? If it's going to enter the atmosphere and burn up anyway . . . why shoot it down?

The only "down" is the Earth--and it's heading that way, anyway. The Navy missile can't possibly "redirect" the satellite to "unpopulated areas," can it? So "shooting down" the satellite doesn't make much sense to me. It either blows up in orbit, or burns up on reentry. Right? How is the former better?

Of course, the real reason the U.S. government may want to shoot the satellite down is that they don't want the technology falling into the wrong hands. Maybe they think that it won't really burn up, enough, on reentry?

At least that makes sense. The news reports on this, the ones I've heard and seen on teevee, at least--don't make sense.

In Denial

Both Bernanke and Paulson are both vying to see who can play Cleopatra -- the Queen of de Nile. Both men say we won't have a recession in 2008? Hate to break it to these sage fellows, who also assured us that the subprime mess would neither be prolonged nor serious, but there is a very good possibility that we already are in a recession. The first step on the road to recovery is to realize that you have a problem.

O yes, #3, as for your old neighborhood, I took a drive down Silsby between Warrensville Rd. and Lee and it's doing fine (only saw four houses for sale in that entire stretch and no foreclosure signs). The subprime mess in the inner-ring suburbs is mostly limited to the predominately black neighborhoods.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Outline of the General Election?

From McCain's victory speech tonight: “To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope,” he said. “It is a platitude.”

This is, to put it mildly, not a well-turned phrase. I'm not even 100% sure I know what it means. Did a professional speechwriter actually write this line? Or did McCain make it up on his own?

But, doing the best I can to interpret this muddled thought: Is McCain's campaign against Obama going to be "tried and true conservative ideas" against "false hope"? In the wake of across-the-board conservative failure in governance, that is undoubtedly even a worse contrast than HRC's preferred narrative of "experience" versus "false hope."

Is this REALLY an outline of the general election campaign McCain wants to run?

P.S. Obama's victories in VA, MD and DC are truly stunning tonight. HRC's base was significantly narrowed - in Va. she was down to white women, the only significant demographic she won. That's a big constituency in the Democratic party, but it doesn't get you the nomination.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Huckabee in College Park

The Huckabee campaign made a swing through College Park yesterday, after his speech to the CPAC meeting in D.C. Saturday morning. (The CPAC folks gave him the 9 am Saturday slot, which shows what they think of him, I guess.) The rally was held in the "Grand Ballroom" at Stamp Student Union, and apparently drew a much larger crowd than the organizers were expecting--they had to open up one of the sides of the ballroom to accommodate the "overflow" crowd. I would peg the crowd at between 1,000 and 1,500 people. There were a large number of students, interested to see the candidate but probably not Huckabee (or GOP) voters. But there were a large number of genuine Huckabee supporters there, too. By the looks of it, with all the people with small children, home schoolers turned out, and there were folks with Huckabee shirts, etc.

It was a short rally. It started almost on time (I've never been to a Dem event that started close to on time.) The president of the College Republicans introduced two Republican members of the Maryland House of Delegates, who introduced Huck. This is actually an interesting problem in Maryland, where there aren't statewide elected Republicans to introduce the candidate. In the College Park area, not really even federal officials from the GOP. So delegates.

It was the standard stump speech Huck's giving right now. Huckabee seems to have decided that his personal background and experience at "making government work" are the keys to victory. He barely mentioned the faith issues, and pointed to his pro-life record almost in passing. That's not to say that there wasn't some "dog whistle" religious stuff in the talk. But I am saying that, unless you were paying attention, he sounded like a pretty secular candidate.

He's funny and can work a crowd--as a Baptist minister should be able to do. I think the stump speech is a little too long, but not by much. The whole event lasted about 45 minutes.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Feel the O-mentum

Obama gets his sweep tonight. Not just three wins, but it looks like three landslides in three very different parts of the country: LA, WA, and NE. Granted he was expected to win since these states fit his "profile": either a primary state with a large black population (LA) or caucus states in the midwest to west (NE, WA) with small black population. But as Jeff Toobin said on CNN, does it really disqualify the win if he was supposed to win? A win's a win, baby!

And, Go Huck! Landslide in KS, up in LA (still early), and a shot in WA. Let's keep this thing entertaining. The longer that Saint John's legitimacy as nominee remains in question the better.

Finally, MSNBC has easily the best team overall. I really like the panel of Rachel Maddow, Eugene Robinson, and Pat Buchanan. All super smart, and even though Pitchfork Pat is a little loopy, I have to admit I like the guy and respect his commentary despite my near perpetual disagreement. He's no hack, and that's a quality in short supply among GOP talking heads. And Maddow and Robinson are always first rate. All they're missing tonight is America's best political reporter, David Shuster. Free the Shu!!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Obama Central: 14th & U St NW

So, we went out to dinner tonight, on U St., not that far from our abode. Both on the way there and back, couldn't help but notice the Obama supporters, waving signs at passing cars, at both U St. & 13th and 14th. As you might guess, based on demographics, if Obama is going to win the DC primary Tuesday--and it's very likely that he will--then the U St. corridor is in his proverbial "wheel house"--African Americans and young white professionals. Indeed, there are very few obvious HRC voters in the 'hood.

Even a wino walking by on U St. was chanting "Obama, Obama . . . ." And he had a bottle in a paper sack.

In sum, there's a full-force mobilization on U Street. America, look out!

Pimped Out

MSNBC suspended David Shuster for his "is the Clinton campaign pimpin' out Chelsea" comment? This is the sort of thing that boggles my mind, but partly because (1) I am not offended by "salty" language and (2) have problems processing the hypocrisy of the modern world. As for (1), hasn't the word "pimp," and the verb, "to pimp," entered the 100% ironic lexicon by now? I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say "pimp" and mean it, um, literally? As in: "That dude Travis is a pimp, i.e., he has a stable of prostitutes he 'manages.'" (Hee hee, "manages." Like, with a pimp slap. Ooops. Maybe I'll get suspended now.)

As for (2), as many others have pointed out, MSNBC employs Chris Matthews. And Matthews steps over what shall ever hence be known as the "pimp" line on a regular basis. So to suspend Shuster, but let Matthews keep running his mouth . . . oh, lordy. Give me a break.

None of this is to "defend" Shuster's query. But the pimp did apologize.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Longest Road-Trip in Sports History?

Seems that the Cardozo High School basketball teams haven't played a game in their own (smaller-than-regulation) gym since 1954. I.e., the year Brown v. Board was decided, Ike was president, and four years before Sputnik. As a D.C. taxpayer, and neighbor of Cardozo High, I think that we should be able to do better than this.

"I was a camp follower in the Reagan revolution."

OK, second in a series. And I'm just getting warmed up.

Washington Is Broken . . . Still

This just the first in an intended series of Mitt Romney posts. But I must ask, now that the Rombot has dropped out, who can fix Washington? St. John? B.O.? The Huckster?

There is one [other] candidate who clearly cannot fix Washington. But she will remain nameless.

Thumb on the Scale

Looks as if the NYT endorsement of Hillary Clinton extends beyond the editorial page. I was curious when, on Super Tuesday and Woozy Wednesday, their front page map showed Clinton winning New Mexico, even though the contest had yet to be called and, once the link was clicked, you could see that Obama was still ahead if by a narrow margin (one that has now narrowly flipped, if still TBD). Why not just leave it uncolored? A minor matter, but one that gave visual impression of a stronger day for Clinton than warranted at the time. Then, they run a vacuous and highly misleading hit piece on Obama by Adam Nagourney, designed to show that Clinton was the big winner Tuesday.

Their delegate count is even more blatant in its dishonesty. Unlike all the other counters--who show a more or less even split--they devise a rather odd methodology, one that only counts 100% certain delegates--meaning no caucuses. So goodbye, Iowa, Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota, and all those other states that Obama swept. And, how about that, Alabama, which went Obama by 14 points in a primary magically gave HRC double Obama'a delegates. Well, well, Hill has a commanding delegate lead now, doesn't she? 892-716. Why don't we just dispense with all this voting nonsense and crown her now? It won't be the first time in this campaign she followed the Bush lead.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mabus I'm Amazed

I noted a few days ago that Ray Mabus, former Governor of Mississippi gave a talk here Friday pitching for Obama.  Looking back, he told me pretty much exactly how yesterday was going to go.  He said that, from what he had seen, Clinton would hold on for a win in California, but that Obama would rack up a lot of wins by going to smaller states like Idaho where he could pick up votes more easily.  

Although I was surprised Obama wasn't spending more time on CA (especially given some of the late polls), it turns out they had a good strategy.  An extra visit wouldn't likely have closed that 9 point gap or peeled off more Latino voters.  But Obama was able to claim more states (13-8-1), building space on the board and lengthening his list on last night's TV screens.  He also basically tied in national vote, which went 49-48% for Clinton, but 49-48% for Obama if you count by population of states won.  Which is pretty remarkable when you lose NY, CA, NJ, and MA.  But really, given the equivalent delegate split (50/50) in a proportional system, it doesn't seem to matter much where you get votes so long as you get votes.  

How went Tennessee?   Clinton won 54-41%, so +13.  Obama won Nashville big, along with Brentwood and Franklin (its most prosperous suburbs).  He also won Chattanooga, Memphis, and a handfull of other counties in the southwest.  Clinton pulled her biggest numbers in tiny rural counties, where she often won with 80% + of the vote.  In other words, pure name recognition in low information areas.  Obama didn't campaign here at all, but Clinton did, so no surprise.  She flew here straight from SC, and I got two robocalls from her vs. one from the victorious Huck and none from anyone else.  A final tidbit. More Dems turned out to vote in TN than Republicans: 617, 397 vs. 550,674.  Even finishing a distant second, Obama beat Huckabee by more than 62,000 votes.  

Wacky Wednesday (edited)

OK, that was fun. I have to say that only the Democratic party could design an electoral system so . . . perplexing. HRC wins most of the larger states, but splits the delegates with BO. BO runs up a string of victories in primaries and caucuses in western states--Colorado, Idaho (?), North Dakota--and in the south. There sure are a lot of Democratic voters out there who don't want to vote for HRC, no?

Does HRC really think more debates is the answer (for her)?

On the Democratic side, my big problem now is that there isn't polling in the next round of states, is there? I mean, no one polls states post-Super Tuesday, do they? If you're the BO campaign, which March 4 state is better--Ohio or Texas?

Will the nightmare vision going to come true?

On the GOP side, Limbaugh's nemesis continues toward the nomination. I've been hearing a lot of talk about how Huckabee takes just enough support from Romney to guarantee McCain's victory. There were some states where McCain won and where Romney + Huckabee > McCain. But it looks like they were mostly Border states--Oklahoma, Missouri, Delaware. Does Romney win those if not for Huckabee? The one exception is California, where Romney + Huckabee > McCain by three percentage points. But again, does Romney get all of Huck's votes if he's not there? I'm not seeing Huckabee as Romney spoiler in the results from last night. (This paragraph was edited.)

The talk now is that Romney drops out. If that happens, the GOP field would be the conservative chattering class's two least favorite candidates (apologies to Ron Paul). That's a weird result.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hope I'm Wrong

Ok, I'm going to take the risk and go on record with my predictions about tonight: significantly worse than expected for Obama. He loses all the most important swing states tonight, including MA, NJ, MO, and CA by decisive margins. HRC emerges from tonight with new momentum.

Part of this is just gut instinct, but I have a really bad feeling about tonight. I just don't think Obama has had enough time. It's like NH voters getting cold feet being forced to choose on such short notice. It's going to be time to go with the "safe choice" again tonight, I think.

The undecideds are going to go with HRC, I think. He just hasn't had time to make the sale, and they're going to stick with what they know. That's what I think anyway. I'd be glad to be wrong.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Day One

I promise to be ready to start blogging on "day one."

Seriously. Can you think of a significant presidential action or decision on "day one" of an administration? I ask, because both HRC and St. John are using this term in their campaigns. St. John says he's ready to be commander in chief on "day one." Hooboy.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


I guess now we know why Obama hadn't been spending as much on ads lately. I'd actually been wondering if he might take this chance. This ad will got a LOT of buzz. It's a good ad, but I wonder about the atmospherics. First, it's pitched very young. Second, it evokes a certain time and iconography. Where he's usually JFK or MLK, here he's pure RFK. Which means he makes it look like 1968. Is that a good image? Especially contra Tiger Cage Johnny?

Nightmare Vision

So, seeking wisdom, I took myself into the desert on a vision quest. (That explains the lack of posts.) And, after several days of starvation, I saw a nightmare vision . . . the Democrats' primary schedule.

Because, if Tuesday isn't decisive for the Democratic nomination, and it's becoming increasingly likely that it won't be . . . then this thing could go on for quite a while. Like on to the Pennsylvania primary , on April 22. Can you imagine if the race is still going on then? The pundits will be reduced to babbling . . . "Experience . . . inspiring . . . experience . . . help us! help us!"

And there are May, even June primaries.

If that happens, then a national primary becomes much more likely. Because no one wants to be discussing this in May. I know that the pundits think they want a "brokered convention." But that means we're still talking about the Democratic nomination in July!

Oh, why can't I have a happy vision?

Tsunday Tsunami?

Appropo of yesterday's poll discussion, here's the latest Gallup tracking poll, which has Obama closing the gap nationally to from 7 points to 2 points, 46-44%. Given margins of error, we're probably still somewhere in between, and some other polls have given HRC a bigger edge (Pew, Rasmussen). But USA Today has it at 1 point, ABC-WaPo puts it at 4, and Zogby has Obama taking a 4 point lead in California. Maybe the Teddy and Oprah show is working--or maybe it's just the oddity of Zogby polling, which can be very good or very bad.

My hope is that the Hillary weekend "surge" was the old problem of Friday night data: since Obama voters are much younger and cooler than HRC's, they're less likely to be at home chatting with the pollsters. There's also the problem of poll screens. Since Obama's voters are often first-timers, they may not make it through the "likely voter" questions. In the last couple of presidential races, "registered voters" has been a better guide than "likely voters." But I don't know that we have very specific information on methodology here. So it's hard for me to judge. Plus, since I'm an interested party, I may just be looking for what I want to see.

Here in Tennessee, I saw a lot of Obama ads two weeks ago, then a lull, and over the last week lots and lots of Hillary and only the scattered Obama ad. I wonder if, despite his prolific fundraising, he's holding back some cash from this week's races. FWIW, his ads are amazing and hers only OK, I think. She's good when she speaks to the camera, but the plunging parachutist is just a little too conceptual for my tastes. I also got a bland HRC robocall yesterday, but nothing from O-town. Other reactions?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Bellweather Watch

It's settled: Obama and McCain. I didn't vote, but this is a lucky restaurant for me and Mrs. TMcD: it's the place where two years ago we went for lunch so she could clue me in that she was preggers, and it's the place we were eating eight months later when she went into labor (although she didn't really figure that out until an hour or so after we left, meaning she had to call me at work with some vague story about needing a ride to her doctor's appointment: "Oh, you mean you wanted me to come home immediately?"). Great fried chicken and turnip greens, BTW.

Anyway, note the final tallies. I'm less surprised that O-man won than that the Dem slate so dwarfed the Pubies. Located on the square, this place is run by conservatives and haunted by all the local lawyers and pols. I saw Bob Corker there in 2006 scrounging for votes and getting warm fuzzies from patrons. Not exactly a liberal hotbed.

In other Tsunami-Tues news, I missed the California love-in, but I was struck by two things in the subsequent cable news coverage. First, although blog reaction suggested HRC won the first 1/2 and O-town took the second, all the talkie heads focused on was how Barry took her down on the Iraq issue. Second, Chris Matthews is obsessed with the celebrity audience. The funniest thing is that he acts like they were all retarded children, repeating comments like, "Do you think they really understood what the candidates were talking about?" and "How does Hollywood campaign money differ from the 'real' campaign money?" What, did Topher Grace bring poker chips? Does Matthews not royally and shamelessly kiss the ass of any celebrity who will slink onto Hardball (I'm lookin' at you, Affleck)? Criminey! Hey, Matthews, you're a preening B-list teevee celeb who gets skewered on SNL more than Britney. Stop acting like you're not the one who needs a safety helmet.