“Obama’s one-month tally is the most ever reported for January of a presidential election year, Federal Election Commission reports show…Plouffe said the Obama campaign counted 170,000 new donors in the last month, bringing its total to 650,000.” Whatever happens Tuesday and thereafter, it looks like Sen. Obama has the money to play. “‘Our strongest day of the whole month was the day after the New Hampshire primary,’ which Obama lost to Clinton, Plouffe said. ‘We took a lot of encouragement from that because it showed the resolve of our donor base.’” Update: As TNR’s Christopher Orr deadpanned, 32 million? Pff. Bill Clinton can make that over dinner.
“Only two senators marched for immigrant rights on May 1, 2006, one in Washington and the other in Chicago. I marched in Washington and Barack Obama marched in Chicago. He was not afraid to stand up when others wouldn’t.” Ted Kennedy pitches Barack Obama for 20 minutes on the El Piolín radio show, which happens to be the most popular radio show in America. Notes the article: “You simply cannot pay for advertising like that, nor underestimate its impact on the vote next Tuesday particularly in California.”
Since the New Hampshire debacle, I’ve been trying to swear off on posting poll information around here. Still, if you’ll forgive one lapse, the trend lines are looking surprisingly good for Senator Obama right now. Recent polls put Obama down 6 nationally (he was down 16 last week), down 6 in Massachusetts (a poll had him down 37 last week), down 12 in New York (a poll had him down 28 a few days ago), and down only 3 in California. Particularly given the proportional allotting of delegates, he’s right in there.
Granted, the political landscape has proven nothing if not volatile of late, none of these polls factor in Edwards’ exit, and there’s a big debate tonight. But, like I said, we definitely seem to be moving in the right direction. Update: Make that down four nationally. Ok…no more polls.
“I’ve been tested. I’ve been vetted. I have been in the political arena in our country very intensely for 16 years. There are no surprises.” Ah. But, Senator Clinton, what about your husband? A front-page story in this morning’s NYT — a paper so resolutely anti-Clinton it recently endorsed her for president — unearths what look to be some murky political dealings in Kazakhstan involving Bill Clinton and a top donor, former uranium-mining entrepreneur and Lions Gate Entertainment founder Frank Giustra. (He’s the fellow at right.)
It’s a long, convoluted article, but this seem to be the essence of it: Clinton said nice things publicly about the freedom-suppressing dictator of Kazakhstan — in contradiction of US policy, the views of human rights groups, and even Senator Clinton’s professed stance on his government — so his buddy Giustra could land a lucrative exclusive mining contract. A much wealthier man as a result, Giustra later repaid Clinton in absurdly large donations to his Foundation, to the tune of $131 million. Both denied any quid pro quo, and both seem to have lied about at least some of the meetings that took place. This is all explained in more detail below:
And here’s probably the most serious kicker, regarding a Clinton return to the White House. “Mr. Clinton has vowed to continue raising money for his foundation if Mrs. Clinton is elected president, maintaining his connections with a wide network of philanthropic partners.“
I must say, at the very least, this does not sound like change.
There is a reason that Obama recently spoke of Reagan. Reagan understood that you win elections by drawing support from independents and the opposite side. He understood what unified the country so that he could lead it according to his vision.
Obama understands the importance of values, connection, authenticity, trust, and identity.
But his vision is deeply progressive. He proposes to lead in a very different direction than Reagan. Crucially, he adds to that vision a streetwise pragmatism: his policies have to do more than look good on paper; they have to bring concrete material results to millions of struggling Americans in the lower and middle classes. They have to meet the criteria of a community organizer.
The Clintonian policy wonks don’t seem to understand any of this. They have trivialized Reagan’s political acumen as an illegitimate triumph of personality over policy. They confuse values with programs. They have underestimated authenticity and trust…
This nomination campaign is about much more than the candidates. It about a major split within the Democratic party. The candidates are reflecting that split. Here are three of the major “issues” dividing Democrats.
First, triangulation: moving to the right — adopting right-wing positions — to get more votes. Bill Clinton did it and Hillary believes in it. It is what she means by “bipartisanship.” Obama means the opposite by “bipartisanship.” To Obama, it is a recognition that central progressive moral principles are fundamental American principles. For him, bipartisanship means finding people who call themselves “conservatives” or “independents,” but who share those central American values with progressives. Obama thus doesn’t have to surrender or dilute his principles for the sake of “bipartisanship.”
The second is incrementalism: Hillary believes in getting lots of small carefully crafted policies through, one at a time, step by small step, real but almost unnoticed. Obama believes in bold moves and the building of a movement in which the bold moves are demanded by the people and celebrated when they happen. This is the reason why Hillary talks about “I,” I,” “I” (the crafter of the policy) and Obama talks about “you” and “we” (the people who demand it and who jointly carry it out).
The third is interest group politics: Hillary looks at politics through interests and interest groups, seeking policies that satisfy the interests of such groups. Obama’s thinking emphasizes empathy over interest groups. He also sees empathy as central to the very idea of America. The result is a positive politics grounded in empathy and caring that is also patriotic and uplifting.
For a great many Democrats, these are the real issues. These real differences between the candidates reflect real differences within the party. Whoever gets the nomination, these differences will remain.
It is time for the press, the pundits, the pollsters, and the political scientists to take these issues seriously.
Linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff — also the recent author of Don’t Think of an Elephant — attempts to explain what he sees as the crucial differences between Clinton and Obama.
|Honolulu is no utopia; its socioeconomic climate is far from Edenic. However, Honolulu’s complexity and diversity are great gifts for a reflective future leader. To grow up in Hawaii is to see the United States from the inside and the outside. The inside view comes from pride in statehood and military tradition. Long before September 11, residents of Hawaii knew what foreign attack was like and valued American protection–Pearl Harbor remains a vital piece of Hawaiian history. The outside view of the United States comes from geographic distance. The Hawaiian islands stand as tiny meeting points for immigrants from Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, and the far reaches of Polynesia. Hawaii is an outpost among many nations, not a state connected by highways to other states. As a meeting place, the islands are cosmopolitan. As an isolated island chain, the islands are also parochial. The haves in Hawaii travel and see the world. The have-nots, many of them native Hawaiians, lack the means to get away. To grow up in Hawaii is to envision the future of a multiracial society, and also to view up close the disappointment of those left behind.|
In TNR, Allegra Goodman makes a case for the importance of Barack Obama’s Hawaiian youth. “To envision a world where racial identity is more fluid, where men and women are more mobile, and where segregation is a thing of the past is not to envision a post-racial world. Obama knows this, as anyone who has lived in Hawaii must.”
The whole thing, really, is a fairy tale.
I mean, give me a break: The guy gives a good speech. Yes. Give him that. But are we electing a toastmaster or a president of the United States? Let’s look at his record to see what qualifies him for the highest office in the land:
Eight years in the Illinois legislature? He was a party loyalist and a temporizer who too often put politics ahead of principle and was cautious rather than bold when it came to controversial issues.
Two years in Washington? Yes, he pontificated about how he opposed the war, but at crunch time he voted to fund it. And his legislative record on Capitol Hill is thin.
Other accomplishments? The enthusiasm for his candidacy was sparked by one big successful speech and is carried along by his gift for uplifting rhetoric.
Consider, in contrast, the senator from New York who is his top rival for the nomination: A history in public life going back 30 years. Solid reform credentials. Clearly far more ready for the Oval Office than the younger, audacious Mr. Slim Silver-tongue from Illinois.
Take that, Lincolnbots. The Chicago Tribune‘s Eric Zorn makes the “experience” case for William H. Seward of New York.
“Obama’s no Abe Lincoln. But, as I observed last February…Abe Lincoln was no Abe Lincoln at this stage of the game either. I point this out simply as a reminder that Lincoln and history went on to make fools of those whose obsession with his shortcomings and failures blinded them to the singular promise of his gifts. Not often, but fairy tales do come true.”
“It’s hard to speak out for change when you feel like your voice is not being heard. But I do hear it. We hear it. This Democratic Party hears you. We hear you once again.
And we will lift you up with our dream of what’s possible: one America — one America that works for everybody; one America where struggling towns and factories come back to life, because we finally transformed our economy by ending our dependence on oil; one America where the men who work the late shift and the women who get up at dawn to drive a two-hour commute and the young person who closes the store to save for college, they will be honored for that work; one America where no child will go to bed hungry, because we will finally end the moral shame of 37 million people living in poverty; one America where every single man, woman and child in this country has health care; one America with one public school system that works for all of our children; one America that finally brings this war in Iraq to an end and brings our servicemembers home with the hero’s welcome that they have earned and that they deserve.
Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. But I want to say this to everyone: with Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a mill worker is going to be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine.“
Senator John Edwards calls it quits. [Transcript, Obama response, Clinton response.] As I’ve said a few times now, Edwards has run a quality campaign focusing on the important and neglected issue of poverty’s persistence, and he should be applauded for it. And, if nothing else, he’d make a great attorney general in the next Democratic administration. And, now, there are two…
While he left the race on his own terms this morning, my guess is Senator Edwards will endorse Obama sometime in the relatively near future (although perhaps after Super Tuesday.) Even if calling Clinton “the candidate of the status quo” in the New Hampshire debate a few weeks ago didn’t telegraph his preference, I’m guessing Clinton’s anti-Edwards robo-calls in South Carolina probably rankled. (And Edwards campaign manager Joe Trippi is on the record as no friend of Mark Penn.) So, let’s hope he comes out for Senator Obama sometime relatively soon.
That being said, I’m not sold at all on the notion that Edwards supporters will now drift into the Obama camp. True, a sizable amount of Edwards voters are likely anti-Clinton votes. But, I’m guessing an equally sizable number were drawn to Edwards’ “I’m a fighter” message, in which case they might prefer Clinton’s recent pit bull tactics over Obama’s message of unity. And, of course, Edwards’ base was mostly white working-class and rural voters, and — while Obama did well with this demographic in Nevada — thus far said group has leaned toward Clinton. So, it’s an open question.
If nothing else, though, a 2-person race should help to mitigate the Florida-Michigan delegate issue. And it should make tomorrow’s debate that much more interesting…
“What has not been widely reported or discussed is how this decision by the Democratic Party changes the dynamics of the nomination process. They have reduced the total number of available delegates by 341 from 4049 to 3708. If they keep the required magic number of delegates to win the nomination at 2025 (50% +1), they have effectively required a successful candidate to garner 55% of the available delegates to win the nomination (2025/3708).“
Uh oh…A commenter over at Salon explains why the Michigan-Florida delegate issue might not go away anytime soon. Indeed, it may ensure — and determine the fate of — a brokered convention. “As explained above, in the democratic race, Edwards is siphoning off enough delegates to prevent either Barack or Clinton to sew up the nomination. The 341 unseated delegates from Michigan and Florida (8% of the total delegates) strengthen this effect considerably. The combined total of Edwards and the unseated delegates from Michigan and Florida is roughly 22% of all delegates leaving only 78% for Clinton and Obama to split. The loser will have to fall to 28% to leave 50% remaining for the winner.“
If this math is correct, and the race stays close in the weeks after Super Tuesday, it sounds like Michigan and Florida may well have to schedule do-overs. Or there’ll be blood on the floor at the convention, no matter how the MI-FL controversy shakes out. Update: This math, of course, is now moot…for obvious reasons.
“I am a gutter-ball bowler.” — Sen. Hillary Clinton, observed while (not) campaigning in Florida last Sunday. Hey, Sen. Clinton, you said it. The WP‘s Dana Milbank puts her comment in context: “The remark…was no doubt meant literally; she was standing outside Lucky Strike Lanes in Miami Beach. But in politics, too, Clinton has recently been putting some questionable rotation on the ball.” (As partial evidence, Milbank points to Clinton’s “ersatz victory party” in Florida last night, which he deems “a political stunt worthy of the late Evel Knievel.”)
“My friends, as I said the other week in South Carolina, there is nothing in our country that is inevitable. We can overcome any challenge as long as we keep our courage, and stand by the principles that have made our party and our country great.“
Florida votes, and Arizona Senator John McCain is the big winner and — arguably — now the prohibitive frontrunner for the Republican nomination (much to the consternation of the conservative base.) Given that he’s easily the GOP candidate with the most crossover appeal, that’s bad news for the Democrats, particularly if we decide to get behind the one person on this earth (well, two people, counting her husband) who could manage to reunite the abysmally fractured GOP.
Speaking of which, Senator Clinton handily won on the (meaningless) Dem side — prompting much rejoicing and e-mailing by the Clinton campaign. (Although, in a bit of a shocker, it turns out she actually tied the delegate count with Mike Gravel.) Seriously, though, given that Florida is particularly choice demographic territory for Clinton, she’d probably have won the Sunshine State in any event. (As George Will and Slate have both recently pointed out, Florida is known as “God’s Antechamber” for a reason, and, as has been the norm, voters over 60 — 39% of the voting Dems — went for Hillary 59%-24%.) But, given that this ended up being basically the name-recognition primary, and that no delegates came of it, I’m not too concerned about the results. On to Super-Tuesday.
Update: Looking over the CNN exit poll numbers for the Dem side, this would seem to be the key stat in viewing both tonight and the road ahead:
When did you decide who to vote for?
Today: (10%): Clinton 34%, Obama 30%
Last 3 Days: (7%): Obama 46%, Clinton 38%
Last Week: (7%): Obama 39%, Clinton 31%
Last Month: (16%): Obama 47%, Clinton 40%
Before That: (33%): Clinton 63%, Obama 27%
Absentee/Early Voter: (26%): Clinton 50%, Obama 31%
So, among voters that have decided since the campaign took off in Iowa, Obama does rather well. It’s the long-time deciders and absentees — 60% of the electorate — where he seriously fell behind. This would indicate name recognition definitely played its part today, and that actual campaigning in Florida could’ve made a significant difference. Good to know, as we move forward.
“We ran a [9/11] campaign that was [9/11] uplifting. The responsibility of [9/11] leadership doesn’t end with a single [9/11] campaign. If you believe in a cause [9/11], it goes on and you continue to fight for [9/11] it, and we will.” Apparently, 9/11 nostalgia doesn’t extend into the sixth borough….Florida also marked the end of the road for Rudy Giuliani (or Rudy 9iu11iani, as he’s sometimes known.) The mayor is expected to endorse John McCain tomorrow. Can’t say I’m sorry to see him go, although the prospects of Giuliani as McCain’s AG are sorta frightening in their own right.
“‘Obama’s campaign has been extraordinary and titillating for me and my family,’ Mr. Carter said…’He has an extraordinary oratory…I think that Obama will be almost automatically a healing factor in the animosity now that exists, that relates to our country and its government.’“
Former president Jimmy Carter compliments Barack Obama, although he also says he will not be endorsing anyone before the nomination is decided. “Mr. Carter also said he talked by telephone at length on Monday with former President Bill Clinton, who was ‘trying to explain that he was not raising the race issue’ on the campaign trail…Mr. Clinton ‘has said a few things that I think he wishes he hadn’t said,’ Mr. Carter said. ‘He doesn’t call me often, but the fact that he called me this morning and spent a long time explaining his position indicates that it’s troublesome to them, the adverse reaction.’”
“The feeding frenzy begins this week at the Senate Finance Committee. At least that’s the hope of dozens of interests eager to get a free ride on the first must-pass piece of legislation of the year: the economic stimulus package.” As the House passes its bipartisan economic stimulus package 385-35, lobbyists make a mad dash across the Capitol to get their hooks into any Senate tampering with the legislation. “That’s why every lobbyist worth his e-mail address has trained his sights on the marble floors and wood paneling of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, home to the powerful finance panel.“
“Link describes Obama as a ‘calculating’ cardplayer, avoiding long-shot draws and patiently waiting for strong starting hands. ‘When Barack stayed in, you pretty much figured he’s got a good hand,’ former Senator Larry Walsh once told a reporter, neglecting to note that maintaining that sort of rock-solid image made it easier for Obama to bluff.” Poker writer James McManus reports on Barack Obama’s card style, and gives a brief overview of presidential card-playing.
“‘I think he represents the kind of leader that we need for the future of the country,’ Sebelius told The Associated Press. ‘I think he brings the hope and optimism that we really need to restore our place in the world, as well as to bring this country together and really tackle the challenges that we have.’” Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius endorses Barack Obama for president. (Sebelius also gave the Democratic SOTU response last night, and her upcoming endorsement was one of DC’s worst-kept secrets last week.)
And another intriguing endorsement via the Daily Dish: Obama gets the support of 80 volunteer lawyers of Gitmo detainees: “Some politicians are all talk and no action. But we know from first-hand experience that Senator Obama has demonstrated extraordinary leadership on this critical and controversial issue.” (Their full statement is here.)
So, as you may have heard, George W. Bush delivered his final (a lovely word, isn’t it?) State of the Union address last night. [Transcript.] I actually saw it two and a half times, as I had CNN running in the background while I websurfed well into the evening. And, maybe I’ve been getting ruined by the recent slew of memorable Obama-related speeches but, for the life of me, it didn’t make an impression at all. Right around the time Dubya made that goofy and somewhat undignified joke about the IRS accepting checks and money orders, something in my brain went *click*, and all I could hear was a lame duck quacking. So, if Dubya actually managed to say anything of substance, or discuss a program that might actually happen this year, please let me know. Update: Sen. Obama’s response. Update 2: James Fallows offers his usual worthwhile post-mortem.
“Courting voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, last August Sen. Hillary Clinton signed a pledge not to ‘campaign or participate’ in the Michigan or Florida Democratic primaries. She participated in both primaries and is campaigning in Florida. Which proves, again, that Hillary Clinton is a liar.” Back in New Hampshire, the Manchester Union-Leader isn’t too happy about Clinton’s breaking of her Florida pledge. “Clinton coldly and knowingly lied to New Hampshire and Iowa. Her promise was not a vague statement. It was a signed pledge with a clear and unequivocal meaning…New Hampshire voters, you were played for suckers.“
“[T]he closest comparison I can find for this season is Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove‘ — if, that is, Kubrick cared even one-tenth as much about humanity as Simon and partner Ed Burns so obviously do.” So said Alan Sepinwall in his Season 5 preview, and it’s definitely playing out that way. The masterful and gut-bustingly funny Wire 55 is now available On Demand. And, now that we can talk about it — don’t scroll over the link if you’re at all behind — a remembrance of last week’s fallen.
“Obama can help this nation move forward…In the minority party for all but his final two years in the Statehouse, he tempered a progressive agenda with a cold dash of realism…Racial profiling, death penalty reform, recording of criminal interrogations, health care — when victory was elusive, Obama seized progress. He did so by working fluidly with Republicans and Democrats. He sought out his ideological foes. He listened closely to them. As a result, many Republicans in Illinois have warm words for Barack Obama.” One I missed earlier: Sen. Obama’s hometown paper, The Chicago Tribune, endorses him for president.
“Her arrival is Sarasota was timed so that she could be photographed with palm trees behind her. ‘It is a perfect day here in Florida,’ declared a bemused candidate who officially was not campaigning in Florida as she posed for the classic Florida campaign photo.” According to The Nation‘s John Norris, Hillary Clinton has broken the spirit of her pledge and is now actively campaigning in Florida. (“She arrived in Sarasota taking care to abide by the details of the agreement, because events in Sarasota and later in Miami were not open to the public. With a wink at the deal, Clinton carefully staged her arrival so she left her airplane with palm trees in the background for photographers.”) As Matt Yglesias brilliantly put it, once again the Clintons — like the GOP — have shown they think elections in America are just a no-holds-barred game of Calvinball.
“[T]oday I see across the generational divide the spirit, excitement, energy and creativity of a new generation bidding to displace the old ways. Obama’s moment is their moment, and I pray that they succeed without the sufferings and betrayals my generation went through. There really is no comparison between the Obama generation and those who would come to power with Hillary Clinton, and I suspect she knows it. The people she would take into her administration may have been reformers and idealists in their youth, but they seem to seek now a return to their establishment positions of power. They are the sorts of people young Hillary Clinton herself would have scorned at Wellesley. If history is any guide, the new ‘best and brightest’ of the Obama generation will unleash a new cycle of activism, reform and fresh thinking before they follow pragmatism to its dead end.“
In The Nation, SDS co-founder, author of the Port Huron Statement, and longtime progressive Tom Hayden endorses Barack Obama for president. “Barack Obama is giving voice and space to an awakening beyond his wildest expectations, a social force that may lead him far beyond his modest policy agenda. Such movements in the past led the Kennedys and Franklin Roosevelt to achievements they never contemplated. [As Gandhi once said of India's liberation movement, 'There go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.'] We are in a precious moment where caution must yield to courage. It is better to fail at the quest for greatness than to accept our planet’s future as only a reliving of the past. ”
“Few filmmakers have the cachet that del Toro has, as well as a deep love for the source material, an assured grasp of fantasy filmmaking and an understanding and command of geek culture as well as its respect.” In a realm blissfully removed from the political fight engaging these lands, Guillermo del Toro seemingly gets the nod for The Hobbit. That works. I might’ve preferred Alfonso Cuaron, or a more adventurous pick, such as Peter Weir. Still, del Toro has proven he can probably do The Hobbit justice, and he seems just as Hobbity as PJ, in his own right.
“Clinton, who arrived in the U.S. Senate four years before Obama, has tried to make experience the issue…But if she wants to highlight her White House experience as a defining difference, then it’s only fair to point out that two of the projects she was most deeply involved with produced a debacle (health care) and scandals (fund raising). Especially in recent days, her campaign has shown the sharp elbows that evoke the ugly underside of the Clinton years, and the (Karl Rove inspired) Bush years that succeeded them: the reflex to scorch the Earth, to do what is necessary to vanquish political adversaries … all is justified if you are left standing at the end.
The San Francisco Chronicle endorses Barack Obama for president. “America deserves better than these cycles of vengeance and retribution. Its possibilities are too great, its challenges too daunting, for partisan pettiness.”
“This letter represents a first for me–a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.“
Author and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison endorses Barack Obama for president. “In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can’t train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace — that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.“
Also, since Toni Morrison’s invoking of Clinton as “the first black president” has been getting a lot of run lately, it helps to remember it in context. “Morrison was not saying that Bill Clinton is America’s first black president in a cute or celebratory way, nor was she calling Clinton an ‘honorary Negro.’ Rather, she was comparing Clinton’s treatment at the hands of Starr and others with that of black men, so often seen as ‘the always and already guilty “perp.”‘”
“It’s not so much that women aren’t ready for a woman president. We are. But there’s something about last week’s spectacle of Bill Clinton crashing through South Carolina like the guy poised to drag her back to his cave by the hair that reminds us that Hillary has some stuff to work out in her marriage before she works it out with the rest of us.” Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick ponders what feminists should make of President Clinton’s newly increased role in his wife’s campaign. “It hasn’t helped that this Clinton campaign has also reinvented itself almost weekly since January: We’ve had Falling to Pieces Week; Finding Our Voice Week; Unloading a Carton of Whupass Week; and then Heh, Heh, That Bill Is a Maniac Week. Is it just me, or is it true that when it comes to issues of character, you don’t necessarily want a candidate who seems to be testing out new ones for each new crisis?“
And, also in light of Bill Clinton’s hogging of the spotlight — and Dick Cheney — historian Garry Wills surveys the serious problems involved in a co-presidency. “We have seen in this campaign how former President Clinton rushes to the defense of presidential candidate Clinton. Will that pattern of protection be continued into the new presidency, with not only his defending her but also her defending whatever he might do in his energetic way while she’s in office? It seems likely. And at a time when we should be trying to return to the single-executive system the Constitution prescribes, it does not seem to be a good idea to put another co-president in the White House.“
I feel change in the air.
Every time I’ve been asked over the past year who I would support in the Democratic Primary, my answer has always been the same: I’ll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country’s best days are still to come.
I’ve found that candidate. And it looks to me like you have too…
I believe there is one candidate who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history.
He understands what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “fierce urgency of now.”
He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past. He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view.
He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to ‘the better angels of our nature.’
I am proud to stand here today and offer my help, my voice, my energy and my commitment to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States…
We know the true record of Barack Obama. There is the courage he showed when so many others were silent or simply went along. From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq.
And let no one deny that truth.
There is the great intelligence of someone who could have had a glittering career in corporate law, but chose instead to serve his community and then enter public life.
There is the tireless skill of a Senator who was there in the early mornings to help us hammer out a needed compromise on immigration reform — who always saw a way to protect both national security and the dignity of people who do not have a vote. For them, he was a voice for justice.
And there is the clear effectiveness of Barack Obama in fashioning legislation to put high quality teachers in our classrooms — and in pushing and prodding the Senate to pass the most far-reaching ethics reform in its history.
Now, with Barack Obama, there is a new national leader who has given America a different kind of campaign — a campaign not just about himself, but about all of us. A campaign about the country we will become, if we can rise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another.
I remember another such time, in the 1960s, when I came to the Senate at the age of 30. We had a new president who inspired the nation, especially the young, to seek a new frontier. Those inspired young people marched, sat in at lunch counters, protested the war in Vietnam and served honorably in that war even when they opposed it.
They realized that when they asked what they could do for their country, they could change the world.
It was the young who led the first Earth Day and issued a clarion call to protect the environment; the young who enlisted in the cause of civil rights and equality for women; the young who joined the Peace Corps and showed the world the hopeful face of America.
At the fifth anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps, I asked one of those young Americans why they had volunteered.
And I will never forget the answer: “It was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country.”
This is another such time.
I sense the same kind of yearning today, the same kind of hunger to move on and move America forward. I see it not just in young people, but in all our people.
And in Barack Obama, I see not just the audacity, but the possibility of hope for the America that is yet to be.
What counts in our leadership is not the length of years in Washington, but the reach of our vision, the strength of our beliefs, and that rare quality of mind and spirit that can call forth the best in our country and our people.
With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion.
With Barack Obama, we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay.
With Barack Obama, we will close the door on the old economics that has written off the poor and left the middle class poorer and less secure…
So let us reject the counsels of doubt and calculation.
Let us remember that when Franklin Roosevelt envisioned Social Security, he didn’t decide—no, it was too ambitious, too big a dream, too hard.
When John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn’t say no, it was too far, maybe we couldn’t get there and shouldn’t even try.
I am convinced we can reach our goals only if we are ‘not petty when our cause is so great’– only if we find a way past the stale ideas and stalemate of our times – only if we replace the politics of fear with the politics of hope – and only if we have the courage to choose change.
Barack Obama is the one person running for President who can bring us that change.
Barack Obama is the one person running for President who can be that change.
I love this country. I believe in the bright light of hope and possibility. I always have, even in the darkest hours. I know what America can achieve. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it — and with Barack Obama, we can do it again.
I know that he’s ready to be President on day one. And when he raises his hand on Inauguration Day, at that very moment, we will lift the spirits of our nation and begin to restore America’s standing in the world.
There was another time, when another young candidate was running for President and challenging America to cross a New Frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic President, who was widely respected in the party. Harry Truman said we needed ‘someone with greater experience’ — and added: ‘May I urge you to be patient.’ And John Kennedy replied: ‘The world is changing. The old ways will not do…It is time for a new generation of leadership.’
So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now.
I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we do not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we together will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future.
My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey — to have the courage to choose change.
It is time again for a new generation of leadership.
It is time now for Barack Obama.
Word leaks that Senator Ted Kennedy will endorse Barack Obama tomorrow. “The announcements also come on a weekend when the House’s highest-ranking Latino, California Rep. Xavier Becerra, also announced that he is backing Obama.“
“I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.“
In a moving editorial, Caroline Kennedy endorses Barack Obama for president. “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”
“In a McCain vs. Billary race, the Democrats will sacrifice the most highly desired commodity by the entire electorate, change; the party will be mired in déjà 1990s all over again. Mrs. Clinton’s spiel about being ‘tested’ by her ’35 years of experience’ won’t fly either. The moment she attempts it, Mr. McCain will run an ad about how he was being tested when those 35 years began, in 1973. It was that spring when he emerged from five-plus years of incarceration at the Hanoi Hilton while Billary was still bivouacked at Yale Law School. And can Mrs. Clinton presume to sell herself as best equipped to be commander in chief ‘on Day One’ when opposing an actual commander and war hero? I don’t think so.” The NYT’s Frank Rich sees a Clinton v. McCain contest as tantamount to political suicide for the Dems. I’m inclined to agree.
“Thus did Barack Obama, in his campaign book ‘The Audacity of Hope,’ touch on a fundamental problem in today’s American politics: It’s too much about yesterday’s American politics. In too many ways, it’s still about Vietnam. It’s still about hardhats and hippies. It’s about Watergate and Iran-contra and Whitewater. It’s about the past. Barack Obama is aware of yesterday, but he is about today and tomorrow and next year. In a strong field of Democratic presidential contenders, he offers the best hope of transforming the debate and moving on to what America can be in the 21st century.“
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorses Barack Obama for president. “Comets don’t come around that often. In January of 1961, Ann Dunham Obama was six weeks pregnant with Barack Obama Sr.’s child when President Kennedy said at his inauguration that ‘the torch has been passed to a new generation.’ It’s that time again.”
“Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice in ’84 and ’88…” Uh, but Bill, nobody mentioned Jesse Jackson. President Clinton tries to race-card it up until the last dog dies. But, hey, shame on the media for injecting race into the campaign, right? It is time…for them…to go.
Update: The Atlantic‘s Matt Yglesias had a pretty great line about this: “After all this time being told by the Clinton campaign that Barack Obama is some kind of closet Reagan-worshipping right-winger, it’s a bit confusing to be told that he’s the second coming of Jesse Jackson, too.“
Update 3: If you were perusing politlcal sites on Sunday, you may have heard many angry Clinton supporters claim that they’d watched the full exchange, that the President was asked directly about the “first black president” prior to the clip — hence, “that’s just bait too” — and that the media was distorting his remarks because they hate Clinton. Not surprisingly at this point, this all turned out to be a pack of bald-faced lies.
In South Carolina, Barack Obama wins in a rout, beating Hillary Clinton by 28 points and winning more votes than Clinton and Edwards combined. (And, as Andrew Sullivan noted tonight, Obama also scored more Palmetto votes than McCain and Huckabee combined…something to consider for the general election.) Some of the interesting numbers:
So now, we move to Super Tuesday, and the main demographic problem facing Senator Obama — the generation gap among whites — remains. (How the generation that coined the term “Don’t trust anyone over 30” became so distrustful of Obama’s Kennedyesque appeal remains, frankly, more than a little depressing.)
But, hope remains, while the company is true. I’ve been volunteering at Obama events over the past week and expect to continue to do so over the next nine days. Let’s each of us do what we can. The stakes are too high not to give it our all…And, if South Carolina is any indication, the times are definitely a-changin’.
Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you, South Carolina. Thank you. Thank you, South Carolina. Thank you to the rock of my life, Michelle Obama…
You know, over two weeks ago we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country’s desire for something new, who said Iowa was a fluke, not to be repeated again. Well, tonight the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.
After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates — and the most diverse coalition of Americans that we’ve seen in a long, long time.
You can see it in the faces here tonight. There are young and old, rich and poor. They are black and white, Latino and Asian and Native American. They are Democrats from Des Moines and independents from Concord and, yes, some Republicans from rural Nevada. And we’ve got young people all across this country who’ve never had a reason to participate until now.
And in nine days, in nine short days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business as usual in Washington. We are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again.
But if there’s anything, though, that we’ve been reminded of since Iowa, it’s that the kind of change we seek will not come easy. Now, partly because we have fine candidates in this field, fierce competitors who are worthy of our respect and our admiration — and as contentious as this campaign may get, we have to remember that this is a contest for the Democratic nomination and that all of us share an abiding desire to end the disastrous policies of the current administration.
But there are real differences between the candidates. We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington. It’s a status quo that extends beyond any particular party. And right now that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got, with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care that folks can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.
So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re up against. We’re up against the belief that it’s all right for lobbyists to dominate our government, that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we are not going to let them stand in our way anymore.
We’re up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor and judgment and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose, a higher purpose.
We’re up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner. It’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea, even if it’s one you never agreed with. That’s the kind of politics that is bad for our party. It is bad for our country. And this is our chance to end it once and for all.
We’re up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. But we know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics. This is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore. This is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.
But let me say this, South Carolina. What we’ve seen in these last weeks is that we’re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation.
It’s a politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a bludgeon, a politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us, the assumption that young people are apathetic, the assumption that Republicans won’t cross over, the assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor and that the poor don’t vote, the assumption that African-Americans can’t support the white candidate, whites can’t support the African-American candidate, blacks and Latinos cannot come together.
We are here tonight to say that that is not the America we believe in.
I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. Because in the end, we’re not up just against the ingrained and destructive habits of Washington. We’re also struggling with our own doubts, our own fears, our own cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and great sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.
So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. Change will take time. There will be setbacks and false starts, and sometimes we’ll make mistakes. But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope, because there are people all across this great nation who are counting on us…
So understand this, South Carolina. The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old, and it is not about black versus white.
This election is about the past versus the future. It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today or whether we reach for a politics of common sense and innovation, a politics of shared sacrifice and shared prosperity…
Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can seize our future. And as we leave this great state with a new wind at our backs, and we take this journey across this great country, a country we love, with the message we’ve carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire, from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast, the same message we had when we were up and when we were down, that out of many we are one, that while we breathe we will hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words: Yes, we can.
– Sen. Barack Hussein Obama, hopefully the next president of this great nation. My home state came through big. Now it befalls many of the rest of us, on February 5, to spread the word from coast to coast. Yes, we can.
I must say, I’m feeling proud to be a South Carolinian tonight. (But why is Bill Clinton delivering the concession speech on CNN right now?) More to come…
“Barack Obama is the best Democrat to lead this nation past the nasty, partisan, Washington-as-usual politics that have blocked consensus on Iraq; politics that never blinked at the greedy, subprime mortgage schemes that could spawn a recession; politics that have greatly diminished our country’s stature in the world. Obama inspires people to action. And while inspiration alone isn’t enough to get a job done, it’s a necessary ingredient to begin the hard work.” The Philadelphia Inquirer backs Barack Obama for president. “[T]he Illinois senator has shown on the campaign trail that he offers more than pretty words. In debates and speeches, he has provided details of a White House program that, with adjustments, could produce the outcomes this nation needs.”
“The point is not that experience is pointless but that it needn’t be in politics to be useful. John McCain’s years as a P.O.W. gave him an understanding of torture and a moral authority to discuss it that no amount of Senate hearings ever could have conferred. In the same way, Mr. Obama’s years as an antipoverty organizer give him insights into one of our greatest challenges: how to end cycles of poverty.” LIke Tim Noah, the NYT’s Nicholas Kristof argues Clinton’s claims of superior “experience” don’t hold up. “[T]he presidential candidate left standing with the greatest experience by far is Mr. McCain; if Mrs. Clinton believes that’s the criterion for selecting the next president, she might consider backing him.To put it another way, think which politician is most experienced today in the classic sense, and thus — according to the ‘experience’ camp — best qualified to become the next president. That’s Dick Cheney. And I rest my case.”
Another column update, as per yesterday:
TNR’s Jonathan Chait examines the “vast left-wing conspiracy” emerging against the Clintons. “Something strange happened the other day. All these different people — friends, co-workers, relatives, people on a liberal e-mail list I read — kept saying the same thing: They’ve suddenly developed a disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think we’ve reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons…Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational.“
The American Prospect‘s Paul Waldman agrees with the assessment that the Clintons are running a thoroughly Rovian primary campaign: “Three weeks ago, I wrote that Clinton was working to make voters uneasy, utilizing just enough fear to encourage them to stick with the known quantity in the race. But in the time since, her campaign has begun to appear more and more as though it’s being run by Karl Rove or Lee Atwater. Pick your tired metaphor — take-no-prisoners, brass knuckles, no-holds-barred, playing for keeps — however you describe it, the Clinton campaign is not only not going easy on Obama, they’re doing so in awfully familiar ways. So many of the ingredients of a typical GOP campaign are there, in addition to fear. We have the efforts to make it harder for the opponent’s voters to get to the polls (the Nevada lawsuit seeking to shut down at-large caucus sites in Las Vegas, to which the Clinton campaign gave its tacit support). We have, depending on how you interpret the events of the last couple of weeks, the exploitation of racial divisions and suspicions (including multiple Clinton surrogates criticizing Obama for his admitted teenage drug use). And most of all, we have an utterly shameless dishonesty.”“
Vanity Fair‘s Bruce Feirstein has had just about enough of Bill Clinton: “Clinton’s response offered an unusual lens into the powder-keg that is our former commander-in-chief: Starting with an almost jocular dismissal of the accusation, he then proceeded to wind himself up into a finger-pointing fury, attacking Barack Obama, painting himself as the victim, and generally blaming the press for everything, before walking away with the taunt, ‘Shame on you.’ It was not, well, presidential.“
It’s getting hard to keep up with the Clinton outrages these days. (I’ll leave Bill Clinton deciding to praise Obama as ‘articulate’ alone for now, as — perhaps — that was just a poor choice of words.) As telegraphed by their moves after Michigan, the Clinton campaign is now explicitly trying to change the rules and get the Michigan and Florida delegates seated (a move which has brought Bill Nelson into the Clinton camp.) Says TPM’s Josh Marshall: “[Y]ou don’t change the rules in midstream to favor one candidate or another. This is no more than a replay, with different factual particulars, of the attempt to outlaw the at-large caucuses in Nevada after the Culinary Union endorsement made it appear they would help Barack Obama.” Adds the Prospect‘s Ezra Klein: “This is the sort of decision that has the potential to tear the party apart.”