“How absurd is that? Let us count the ways. First, even when the most establishment ‘journalists’ such as Rosen get caught engaging in patently irresponsible behavior, they still find a way to blame blogs rather than themselves (I thought I was just blogging, and reckless gossip is what bloggers do.) It wasn’t blogs that “reported” Saddam Hussein’s acquisition of scary aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons or that Iraq was behind the anthrax attacks; it wasn’t blogs that glorified Jessica Lynch’s nonexistent heroic firefight with Iraqi goons; it wasn’t blogs that turned John Edwards into The Breck Girl and John Kerry into a “French-looking” weakling; and it wasn’t blogs that presented retired military generals who were participating in a Pentagon propaganda program and saddled with countless undisclosed conflicts as ‘independent analysts.’“
Call it the State of Play fallacy: After TNR’s Jeffrey Rosen blames “blogging” for the obviously poor quality of his recent Sotomayor hit piece — and vows never to blog again — Salon‘s inimitable Glenn Greenwald sets the record straight about what can and can’t be pinned on bloggers. “Despite his efforts to blame ‘blogging’ for what he did, Rosen didn’t use journalistically reckless methods to smear Sotomayor’s intellect because of some inherent attribute of the medium. Instead, he did that because…that’s how the establishment media typically functions: ‘background reporting from people with various axes to grind, i.e. standard Washington reporting.’” (And, for what it’s worth, Rosen’s original article was hardly what you’d call blogging anyway — it was just a lengthy piece that ran online.)
“[I]t is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry…I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up — feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself.” So…Edwards. To be honest, I can’t say I’m surprised by this revelation — When the story first broke back in December, it just seem too detailed to be completely implausible, and I figured it was only a matter of time before the Enquirer closed the deal.
That being said, it seems clear we Dems clearly dodged a bullet by not backing Edwards’ candidacy, and he really shouldn’t have played roulette with us by trying to keep this under wraps. (Then again, diehard Clinton flak Howard Wolfson seems to think Edwards’ silence gave the nomination to Obama, which may or may not be true, so maybe he had an important part to play nonetheless.) I don’t think revelations of an affair would’ve necessarily been a ticket-killer this year, particularly given the shadier turns of McCain’s personal life. But it would’ve put us at an enormous disadvantage out of the box, honesty and character-wise, for no good reason whatsoever. (And, by the way, amiable southern white male narcissist who can’t keep it in his pants? Been there, done that.)
In addition, yesterday’s Edwards endorsement brings in 6 of Edwards’ pledged 19 delegates (so far), as well as the endorsement of the United Steelworkers. For those playing at home, the Thursday count thus far: Obama +10.
Update: It now looks like eight Edwards delegates have defected, and word is a recanvass in NC has given one of Clinton’s delegates to Obama. So, today’s new count: Obama +13, Clinton -1.
While I’ve been packing things today, a few more key endorsements: First up, three former SEC heads back Obama. “‘Each of us has been committed to prudent economic policy and effective financial regulation for many years,’ they said in a joint statement along with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, also an Obama supporter. ‘We believe Senator Obama can provide the positive leadership and judgment needed to take us to a stronger and more secure economic future.’“
Then, much to the consternation of Emily’s List, NARAL gets behind the senator: “Today, we are proud to put our organization’s grassroots and political support behind the pro-choice candidate whom we believe will secure the Democratic nomination and advance to the general election. That candidate is Sen. Obama.“
And, tonight in Grand Rapids, it looks like John Edwards will come off the fence at last and officially endorse Obama. (Edwards is not a super, but he does still have 19 pledged delegates credited to him.) Well, it’d have been nice to see this a few months ago, of course, and now that People pledge just looks ridiculous. But, hey, better late than never.
Update:: Hmm. No sign of Elizabeth. Also, Edwards’ best line tonight (although the crowd didn’t seem to get it): “I still want my jet-ski.”
As expected, Sen. Clinton wins the Mountain State handily, taking West Virginia 67%-26%, with 7% For Edwards. (Her main key to victory: The 71% of the WV electorate without a college degree broke for her 71%-29%.) But, alas for Sen. Clinton’s hopes for a miracle comeback, this is basically the equivalent of a garbagetime touchdown. And, worse still for Team Clinton, a new poll has Sen. Obama up 20 in the significantly larger state of Oregon, and the supers continue to move toward the presumptive nominee regardless. Today’s haul thus far: Obama +3.5. (Rep. Pete Visclosky (IN), DNC member Awais Kaleel, OK State Senator Mike Morgan, WI State Sen. Lena Taylor, and Dem Abroad Christine Marques against a Tennessee UAD for Clinton.)
The night’s big political news, however, happened down in Mississippi. In an upset that has stunned and demoralized the RNC, Democrat Travis Childers wins a special election going away, 54-46%, in a strong-conservative district that voted 62-37% for Dubya in 2004. Childers is not only the third Dem to win a safe-GOP district in recent months (following Bill Foster in IL and Don Cazayoux in LA), he was also explicitly painted as an elitist pro-Wright, prObama Dem by the Mississippi GOP. So how’s that for an electability argument? (To be fair, Dick Cheney also showed up to stump for Childers’ opponent…that might’ve helped us too.)
With all due respect to the Magnolia State, if the Republicans’ tired culture-war strategy didn’t play in the most conservative parts of Ole Miss, it’s not going to play anywhere this year…not even in West Virginia.
“Elizabeth Edwards likes Hillary Clinton’s plan for universal health insurance. Husband John Edwards doesn’t much care for Clinton’s ‘old politics.’ So goes the his-and-her debate in the Edwards household.” In a new interview with People magazine, John and Elizabeth Edwards announce they’re staying neutral. “Bottom line: the couple said they will not endorse either remaining candidate, saving their political capital for their own causes – his, fighting poverty; hers, fighting for universal health care.“
To which I feel compelled to ask: What political capital? Let me get this straight. On the one hand, we have Barack Obama, the “change” candidate who has had the nomination in the bag, mathematically speaking, for several months now. On the other, we have Hillary Clinton, the candidate whose campaign Edwards himself memorably deemed “the forces of status quo,” and who has left no GOP tactic untried to hack and slash a path to the nomination. And the Edwardses are neutral? That’s not statesmanship. That is political cowardice, pure and simple.
I mean, this isn’t a huge surprise: It’s been an open secret for awhile that the Edwardses would likely stay neutral, partly (if not mainly) on account of Elizabeth’s personal issues with the Obama candidacy. Still, I thought they’d eventually rise above their pique and get on board with the “change” they’d espoused for months and months on end. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve personally defended Edwards (usually from the children of doctors, who’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that malpractice lawsuits rank just below genocide on the list of Crimes Against Humanity, and thus that Edwards is merely some kind of rank profiteer living off their dear parents’ hard work.) I applauded his candidacy in 2008, and even voted for the guy in 2004. But, really, this is the kiss-off: If they still can’t manage to bring themselves off the fence at this late hour, I just can’t take either of them seriously anymore as leaders or progressives. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“Clinton is viewed as ‘honest and trustworthy’ by just 39 percent of Americans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, compared with 52 percent in May 2006. Nearly six in 10 said in the new poll that she is not honest and trustworthy.” Who’s bitter now? A new poll finds that a solid majority of voters now believes Sen. Clinton is dishonest. “And now, compared with Obama, Clinton has a deep trust deficit among Democrats, trailing him by 23 points as the more honest, an area on which she once led both Obama and John Edwards.” In other words, all the shenanigans of the past few months seem to have made her unelectable. Oops.
While Edwards donors have broken for Obama 2-1, current rumor has it that Edwards himself is inclined toward Clinton, mainly on account of his wife, Elizabeth. “‘She feels her husband should have been the man in the center of the presidential sweepstakes, rather than Obama,’ a source said.“
Well, if that’s true, it’s a remarkably petty reason to back the establishment candidate. Still, sour grapes or no, it’s hard to imagine Edwards coming out for Clinton at this late date anyway. Why would he obliterate all of his outsider-reformer cachet in one fell swoop, just to back a horse that’s already lost? If he endorses Clinton now, not only is his credibility in many circles effectively reduced to zero, but he’d be needlessly prolonging a primary battle that the rest of the party is trying to end ASAP. So, if anything, I expect he’ll remain neutral at this point.
Meanwhile, Al Gore reaffirmed he’s staying out of it for now, despite calls among some for him to break the deadlock: “‘What have we got, five months left?’ Gore told the Associated Press…’I think it’s going to resolve itself, but we’ll see.’” Well, it’s more like three months, if we go by the Dean standard. Still, I can’t say I’m surprised that Gore’s letting things shake out.
Which reminds me: There’s been some loose talk recently, most notably by TIME’s Joe Klein and Rep. Tim Mahoney, that the Dems could rally around Al Gore on top of a compromise ticket, a la John W. Davis in 1924. Now, maybe I’m in the minority these days in remembering that Al Gore was a thoroughly crappy candidate in 2000, one who — despite unprecedented economic good times — couldn’t even beat a congenial idiot like Dubya back in the day. Nonetheless, this notion of putting Al Gore atop the ticket is the Mother of all Dumb Ideas, redolent of the blatantly undemocratic, smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear, and if it happens, I’m walking. In fact, I’d rather have Sen. Clinton be our standard-bearer than Al Gore: At least, she actually procured a sizable number of votes this cycle.
At the Iowa county conventions today, as a result of Edwards and other candidate delegates switching their support, Sen. Obama picked up six additional delegates on Clinton (or, to be more exact, 7 to her 1.) “Edwards dropped 8 delegates to 6. Those six will be up for grabs, perhaps, at the Iowa Democratic Party state convention in June.” Update: Reports emerge that Obama’s Iowa take today could be seven delegates, or even as many as nine. That’s an Ohio-sized haul. Update 2: We’re going to need a bigger boat: Now, it’s Obama +10. Update: Also, +3 in California.
“At a private dinner that Mr. Edwards, a former senator, held at his home last Saturday for a dozen close friends, he said he had spoken recently with Mr. Gore about the benefits of neutrality, someone who was at the dinner said…Mr. Edwards said he intended to remain on the fence for the time being, the person said.” It looks possible no more major endorsements will be in the offing for either Democratic candidate. Perhaps noticing the daunting math that faces Sen. Clinton’s campaign, the big undeclared Dems seem to be envisioning themselves instead as much-needed brokers of the peace. “A number of senior Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and three candidates who have dropped out of the 2008 race, former Senator John Edwards and Senators Christopher J. Dodd and Joseph R. Biden Jr., have spoken with Mr. Gore in recent days. None have endorsed a candidate, although Ms. Pelosi made comments on Friday that were widely seen as supportive of Mr. Obama when it came to the process the party should use to make its choice of candidate.“
“Two senior Clinton advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the race candidly, said the campaign feels the New York senator needs to quickly change the dynamic by forcing Obama into a poor debate performance, going negative or encouraging the media to attack Obama. They’re grasping at straws, but the advisers said they can’t see any other way that her campaign will be sustainable after losing 10 in a row.” Last night was grand, but there’ll be no resting on laurels just yet. The Clinton campaign redoubles its efforts in Wisconsin, putting out a new ad attacking Obama for the debate schedule. (Of course, allegations of debate-ducking is usually the last province of the also-ran. TNR, for example, dug up this campaign ad by NY Dem Jonathan Tasini attacking Sen. Clinton for…refusing to debate.) Update: A new Obama ad responds with class.
In the meantime, AP’s Ron Fournier argues that many of the superdelegates are more than ready to balk the Clintons: “Some are folks who owe the Clintons a favor but still feel betrayed or taken for granted. Could that be why Bill Richardson, a former U.N. secretary and energy secretary in the Clinton administration, refused to endorse her even after an angry call from the former president? ‘What,’ Bill Clinton reportedly asked Richardson, ‘isn’t two Cabinet posts enough?’“
But if not Richardson, what of Edwards? While Sen. Obama delves into rhetorical Edwards/Feingold country (in Sen. Feingold’s hometown of Janesville, WI, no less), ABC News suggests the Senator from North Carolina might be leaning towards endorsing Clinton at this point. That’d be a surprise, to say the least.
“‘Sen. Obama has been talking about hope and change and improving the morale of this country,’ Mr. Anchia said. ‘Gen. Patton once said that 80 percent of leadership is improving morale. And right now the country is in a pretty demoralized state and looking to get out of it, and I think Sen. Obama has the most compelling message there.’” More recent Obama endorsements of note: Rep. Rafael Anchia (representing Dallas), Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (representing the San Antonio area), and Northern Virginia Rep. James Moran (this last one, it seems, might actually hurt Obama.) Sen. Obama also seems to have made fans across the aisle in former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Senator Lincoln Chafee. Meanwhile, checking in on the Big Three of remaining endorsements (that is, presuming Speaker Pelosi stays neutral until a candidate is decided):
Al Gore: Every few days a rumor circulates from the Clinton campaign side that Al Gore is set to endorse Obama. But, despite “unbelievable” animus reported between the Clintons and Gores, no word from the Nobel Prize-winner yet. Presumably, he’s waiting because either [a] he doesn’t want to endanger his post-partisan cachet or [b] he senses the Democratic Party might need people who seem above the fray to broker a pre-convention deal. Either way, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be getting involved anytime soon. Update: CNN reconfirms: Gore sources say he’s staying out of it.
John Edwards: Here’s where a lot of the attention seems to be at the moment, given that a Thursday meeting between Clinton and Edwards leaked, and a planned Obama-Edwards meeting today was postponed. At the moment, media speculation seems to be that Edwards’ endorsement is truly up for grabs, although as I said here, given his previous statements about Clinton’s “status quo” campaign, I’d think he’d have to be leaning toward Obama (or risk losing quite a bit of credibility.) In their report on the Clinton-Edwards meet, CNN said that two friends of Elizabeth Edwards said she preferred Obama. If that’s true, that would seem to clinch it, but one never knows, and now “sources close to the Edwards family flatly deny that she favors one candidate over the other.“
Russ Feingold: Sen. Feingold, whose endorsement may well carry more weight than that of Edwards (particularly in upcoming Wisconsin) has said he’s planning to endorse after the Feb. 19 primary. He’s previously been very critical of Edwards, and some see that playing a role in the Obama-Edwards discussions at the moment. Again, given the previous dust-ups between Feingold and Clinton, I’d think the Wisconsin Senator would be leaning Obama. But he’s spent a lot of time with both candidates, and he doesn’t look to be moving off the fence before the 19th, after which he may likely just follow the choice of his state.
In short, now that we’re past Super Tuesday, it seems the Big Guns mainly want to see how things will play out. Update: The Man Who Fell to Earth? Greg Sargent’s sources say Sen. Clinton is about to pick up a decently important endorsement in former Ohio Senator John Glenn. Hmm, that’s too bad. I’d have liked to have Sen. Glenn in our corner. Ah well, godspeed regardless.
“‘Barack Obama, like John Edwards, is redefining what is possible and in so doing he’s changing us, each one of us,’ she said in a letter released by Obama’s campaign. ‘Many who had given up on politics are re-engaging. Many who had grown tolerant of the intolerable are now ready to demand more – and not just from themselves but others. And many who had given up believing that the ideals of equality, dignity and justice would ever again be as politically important as money and power, now believe again.’” Former NARAL president Kate Michelman moves from Edwards to Obama (as, it seems, have many high-profile Edwards backers.)
“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.