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The Last Super Tuesday?

Keeping in line with what the polls suggest, most liberal bloggers believe Hillary Clinton will win IN and Barack Obama will win NC. However, there's little consensus of opinion regarding the candidates' respective margins of victory. While some bloggers are noting that Clinton has consistently won among late deciders (which could potentially give her a double-digit victory in IN), other bloggers are pointing out that Obama appears to have some momentum in the state.

Meanwhile, the recent trend of liberal bloggers attacking Clinton (over her gas tax holiday proposal, her remarks about taking on OPEC, and her GOP-sounding rhetoric) continues. The trend of conservative bloggers attacking Obama (over his wife's "bitter" attitude and his relationships with shady figures) also continues. Will today's primary results do anything to change these trends? We're guessing no.

 

DEM FIELD: Divining The Intentions of Tar Heels And Hoosiers

Several liberal bloggers think that Clinton's tendency to win late deciders will pad her victory in IN (as it did in TX, OH, and PA):

MyDD's Jerome Armstrong: "[In] the three most recent big races... [there was] a consistent 3:1 break of the undecided numbers to Clinton. [...] My guess is, that this is at least partly due to the continual under-polling of the gender gap that continues unabated, but it's more. Obama had previously closed many states much higher than his closing poll number -- the race has changed. Is it enough? Yes, most definitely it is for Indiana. Clinton has closed strong there, and a similar margin to Ohio and Pennsylvania seems doable for Clinton. The numbers I have are along the lines of a 54-46 margin for Clinton."

Open Left's fladem predicts a double-digit win for Clinton in IN: "On Friday I wrote about Clinton's ability to consistently win among late deciders. The last SUSA polling from Indiana suggests the pattern may be repeating in Indiana. The SUSA Indiana poll has Clinton up 54-42. If you look at the recent polling in Indiana, what becomes apparent is most of the volatility is around Clinton's number. Clinton ranges from a low of 42 (Zogby) to a high of 54 (SUSA). Obama, in contrast, ranges only between 42 (SUSA) and 46 (PPP). This repeats the pattern in Ohio where Clinton ranged in final polling from 56 to 44, but Obama ranged in all but one poll from 42 to 44 and in Pennsylvania where Clinton ranged between 46 and 54 while Obama polled within a narrower range (in most cases between 42 and 44). This polling suggests that the undecided in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania actually at some level lean to Clinton, something that the exit polling seems to confirm. This suggests Clinton is likely to win by at least 10 in Indiana. In fact, I would not rule out a Clinton win of 15 or more."

 

Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas, on the other hand, predicts a narrow Clinton victory: "Clinton: 51.1 percent, Obama: 48.9 percent. That's Clinton by +2.2. As much as it pains me to go against my homeboys SUSA who give Clinton a 10-point lead, I just don't see the Clinton blowout. [...] Clinton has been closing the undecideds in recent contests at the rate of 3-1. [...] But while all the recent elections have seen Clinton begin to expand her lead the two days prior to the election, in this case it's Obama who seems to be getting the late breakers. So rather than the usual 3-1 break, I'm going to guess (and it is just a guess) that the undecideds break 50-50."

Most liberal bloggers predict an Obama victory in NC, although they disagree about the likely margin:

fladem is less certain about NC: "As I also wrote last Friday, late deciders in southern states have broken for Obama and not Clinton. The intuition here is that in places like Indiana the undecided tend to be white and lower class (and break for Clinton) while in the South the undecided tend to be African American (and break for Obama). [...] If the pattern of Obama outperforming polling in Southern States holds in North Carolina, Obama could easily win by 10 or more. However...the tone of the race in fundamentally different now than it was in February. In the end I think North Carolina is fundamentally less predictable than Indiana."

Armstrong predicts a close win for Obama in NC: "It's true, as Todd [Beeton] pointed out, that the Obama of February, should wipe up in NC in similar numbers that [some of] his supporters [in the blogosphere] believe, but he won't. Why? Because since early in March, Clinton has been turning her ship, and is arguably running a better campaign than Obama has since April, and in the last two weeks that's become more and more obvious to Democrats nationwide. [Today], the damn may break open, but as I said, it depends on the undecideds. [...] Giving the undecideds at a 3:1 margin for Clinton, it closes it to about a 6 percent race, 53-47. Now, that should be off, and the race should at least, given the demographic favor, close 3:1 to Obama for a 56-44 advantage, but the environment doesn't seem to indicate that will happen (though the early voting points to it being a possibility)."

 

Moulitsas: "Obama: 56.1 percent, Clinton: 43.9 percent (Obama +12.2). [...] I'm going to say that the polls underestimate Obama's support, but not by as much as in previous contests in the region."

Meanwhile, Open Left's Matt Stoller offers his guess: "In keeping with my prediction of the most annoying outcome being the outcome, I'm going to say that Clinton wins Indiana 55-45, and Obama takes North Carolina by 53-47. Clinton will come out of this weekend with a net gain of five or six delegates."

DEM FIELD II: Back And Forth

Pro-Obama bloggers believe there is no compelling reason for superdelegates to give the nomination to Clinton when she is behind in both the pledged delegate and popular vote counts:

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Moulitsas: "Either candidate can win, so the notion of 'electability' is moot. They're both electable, and they would both beat McCain. Obama gets to play less defense and has more targets to stretch thin an outmatched McCain. Clinton would have more defense to play, and fewer places to play offense. But that's all keeping in character with a campaign that is committed to running the same six-state strategy from the last two cycles (OH, FL, MO, WI, PA, and MI). But I didn't do all this to show that Obama is 'more electable' than Clinton. Rather, I wanted to show, conclusively, that Clinton is not more electable than Obama. At worst, it's a wash. The Clinton campaign is asking the supers to stage a coup against the will of the voters predicated specifically on this 'electability' argument. For the delegates to dramatically spurn its voters, as well as its loyal African Americans, energized youth, and generous creative class professionals, there would have to be a dramatic disparity between Obama's and Clinton's chances this November. Clearly, that's not the case."

• Meanwhile, Daily Kos' DHinMI criticizes Rhodes Cook's New York Times op-ed, in which Cook argues that Clinton can overtake Obama's popular vote lead: "There's no way Hillary Clinton will come out ahead of Barack Obama in pledged delegates. Obama may soon pass Clinton in commitments from super delegates. It's quite possible that by the end of the primaries that Obama's combined total of pledged delegates and commitments from super delegates will exceed 2,025, the number of delegates required to secure the nomination in Denver. Obama will have won more states. He polls ahead of Clinton nationally, and he consistently polls better than Clinton among independent swing voters. [...] But, if Clinton does really well the rest of the way out, and if you don't count four states that that don't count caucus votes, three of which Obama won outright and the fourth one from which he won more pledged delegates, then maybe Clinton will squeak past Obama in what this author calls the popular vote. In other words, if you give Clinton a several state handicap, she might look better than Obama, but even then, only on one measurement, and not one that is anywhere in the rules for determining our nominee."

Pro-Clinton bloggers, on the other hand, are emphasizing the importance of counting FL and MI:

MyDD's Todd Beeton: "The inconvenient truth is that the lead that Obama currently holds in both pledged delegates and popular vote depends entirely on not counting millions of votes cast and in the absence of a remedy for Michigan and Florida, anyone truly advocating for superdelegates to reflect the 'will of the people' should be demanding that they take the true intent of voters in all 50 states and territories into account when deciding whom to support."

TalkLeft's Big Tent Democrat thinks the Clinton camp is making a mistake by not forcefully asserting that the "magic number" is 2209 delegates (which includes FL's and MI's delegates) and not 2025 (which doesn't include FL or MI): "I must say that the [Clinton camp's] answers on this issue were not coherent. [...] Nor is it politically smart. Right now, MSNBC is discussing the Magic Number as 2025, stating that Obama will need only 38% of the remaining delegates if the delegates are split [in IN and NC]. And the Clinton Camp seems unwilling to push back on this."

DEM FIELD III: Debating Operation Chaos

On the right side of the blogosphere, the American Spectator bloggers are having a debate about Rush Limbaugh's 'Operation Chaos', which encourages GOP voters to temporarily cross over to the Dem party in order to vote for Clinton (in an effort to prolong the Dem race):

Conor Friedersdorf objects to Limbaugh's approach: "Were [Limbaugh] to assert that Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama will make a better president I'd not object to his working to secure that person the Democratic nomination, even if he preferred John McCain to either. But his stunt so far suggests that it's worth the risk of ending up with the poorer potential president on the Democratic side to marginally increase the chance that a Republican wins in the fall. This seems insane to me, partly because electability is so uncertain a quantity -- who actually knows whether Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama is better on that metric -- and largely because there's a significant chance that the Democratic nominee will win regardless of who the candidate is. My own risk-averse approach would be to hope that the best Democrat wins the nomination not because I want a Democrat in the White House, but because I want two candidates squaring off either of whom will serve the country best if elected."

Robert Stacy McCain

defends 'Operation Chaos': "Policy-wise, either Democrat would be a disaster, and it's impossible to guess -- based purely on their biographies, political histories, and rhetoric -- which would be worse. Thus, Limbaugh's 'Operation Chaos' idea: Stir up such a primary fight that, even if the Democrats are able to get their candidate elected in November, their party will suffer long-term damage in the process. A damaged Democratic Party would be less likely to hold the White House for two terms, or withstand a midterm backlash in 2010. Given the dismal course of John McCain's campaign, Limbaugh's strategy seems the best available option, which is not the same as saying it's a good option."

Paul Chesser has a separate quibble with Limbaugh's plan: "I don't have a problem with the motives behind Operation Chaos in general, but I do wish that Rush had recognized it could have negative (for conservatives) down-ballot effects in important state races. Here in North Carolina we have a very tight gubernatorial primary race on the Republican side between state Senator Fred Smith (he represents my district), who is both a social and economic conservative, and the more moderate Pat McCrory, the mayor of Charlotte. Any encouragement by El Rushbo for conservatives to vote in the Democrat primary would likely mean less votes for their likely preferred candidate for governor."

On the left side of the blogosphere, The Huffington Post's Terry Leach argues that 'Operation Chaos' may have had a greater impact than previously thought: "What if Democratic voters and the uncommitted superdelegates come to learn that Rush Limbaugh had a greater impact on Hillary Clinton's victory in Pennsylvania, and maybe Texas and Ohio, than say, the Reverend [Jeremiah] Wright, and the so-called 'bitter' comments? Would such a finding influence how voters view the Pennsylvania 'victory?' [...] I have observed one common characteristic of authentically disillusioned Republicans. [...] In almost all cases, and I've helped hundreds of voters re-register -- they leave their Grand Old Party by first going to Decline to State -- and then, after placing their newly liberated toes in the water by voting Democratic several cycles in a row -- they take the plunge and re-register Democratic. Very few Republicans boldly go all the way to Democratic in one fell swoop if they are serious about their voting. [...] I believe that Rush's Operation Chaos is at play here and authenticity has nothing to do with too may new Democratic registrants in the last contests."

CLINTON: Blowing Smoke

Liberal bloggers continue to criticize Clinton's aggressive advocacy of the gas tax holiday:

The Huffington Post's Jonathan Diamond: "It was bad enough that Sen. Clinton signed on to the plain-as-day-pander to suspend the 18 cent-per-gallon federal gas tax for the summer months, but her continued allegiance to an idea that has been universally (except for her and Sen. McCain) derided offers a couple disturbing insights. In the face of overwhelming evidence that the suspension would suck anywhere from $9 billion to $10 billion from the treasury, encourage more driving -- which leads to greater pollution and an increase in demand that would drive prices back up to pre-tax suspension levels -- and deliver even more obscene profits to the oil companies, she was back on TV today saying she didn't hold much truck with economists. [...] It's the Iraq war resolution vote all over again -- and it's a page out of the George Bush playbook: make a mistake, and by God I'm gonna stick by that mistake because I'm resolute. [...] And the subtext to the whole gas tax suspension -- critics-be-damned, she knows better and she's going to take care of all of us working folks out there -- strikes me as more than a little elitist, frankly. A pat on the head and 30 bucks in the wallet might sway a few folks, but the truth is it's more of the same misleading, elitist, top-down Beltway nonsense that's gotten us into the mess we're in."

TAPPED's Scott Lemieux: "I would find the gas tax stupidity considerably less objectionable if [Clinton] had a non-trivial chance of winning the nomination. Given that Obama is nearly certain to actually be the candidate, agreeing with John McCain to not only endorse a bad policy bit reinforce GOP frames about the party's nominee is pretty odious."

Firedoglake's Eric de Place: "Why is [this idea] stupid? For starters, there's the math: shaving the federal tax rate of 18.4 cents off the price a $4.00 gallon isn't even a 5 percent cut. It's simply not a lot. Plus, gas prices are rocketing up so fast right that the one-time cut would barely register as a blip. [...] Perhaps most annoyingly, it's precisely the wrong 18.4 cents to cut. Together with state gas taxes it's the only portion of your gas bill that comes back to you. The rest of it -- the stuff that's not public revenue -- goes to line the pockets of oil company execs and shareholders. [...] The whole thing would be funny if the stakes weren't so high."

AMERICAblog's John Aravosis: "[Clinton] basically told members of Congress that she was going to force a vote [on the gas tax holiday] and try to embarrass them -- embarrass Democrats in Congress on a vote that Republicans could use against our own members of Congress in the fall elections -- if they didn't support her kooky GOP political stunt of a proposal. So Hillary's plan to foment a civil war in the Democratic party moves along as planned. Now, in addition to disenfranchising blacks and alienating the Netroots (and its messaging and fundraising potential), Hillary is now starting a civil war between herself and Dems in Congress."

Meanwhile, liberal bloggers are circulating a petition (created by ex-Google employee and political organizer David Alpert) asking Clinton and McCain to "stop insulting the intelligence of the American people with pointless gas tax scams":

Stoller: "This is a great organizing opportunity to build awareness around our failed transportation policies oriented around cheap gasoline. It's a Presidential contest where fake promises around cheap oil have come to the fore. Next year, the internet-enabled smart planners are going to mount their first real attack on our cheap oil-centric policies through lobbying on the transportation bill. Fighting on the gas tax is the an organizing step to rally a base on behalf of that fight. So if you can, Digg the GasTaxScam Petition."

Ezra Klein: "Lots of organizing against the gas tax holiday today, as the sensible urban and environmental types have their say at GasTaxScam.com and the economists -- 221 of them so far, including a couple Nobel laureates -- make their displeasure known at Gas Tax 2008."

Jerome Armstrong differs from his fellow liberal bloggers in his support of a gas tax holiday: "I've said all along that, politically, Obama was on the wrong side of the tracks in opposing Clinton's move to accept the gas tax in conjunction with a windfall profits from Oil companies. Obama, having voted 3 times for a similar gas tax holiday in Illinois (without hammering the Oil companies), said it failed. Well, it turns out it didn't fail in Illinois, as George Frost writes on Salon, 'Obama is wrong about the gas tax' [...] Unfortunately, what gets lost in the whole 'protect your candidate' mode of discourse is that Clinton['s] move, in her linkage of the gas tax to oil profits, significantly moves the debate to a more progressive landscape, by being able to link a popular stance that Republicans traditional[ly] club Democrats on, with way more accountability of the Oil companies."

CLINTON II: Blowing More Smoke

Several liberal bloggers are confused by Clinton's threat to break up OPEC:

"'We're going to go right at OPEC,' [Clinton] said. 'They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world, they decide how much oil they're going to produce and what price they're going to put it at,' she told a crowd at a firehouse in Merrillville, IN.

'That's not a market. That's a monopoly,' she said, saying she'd use anti-trust law and the World Trade Organization to take on OPEC."

TPM's Josh Marshall: "What is Hillary talking about? She's going to break up the OPEC oil cartel? Because we have such a strong hand to play now with the OPEC member states? And isn't the main issue here a matter of rising demand, principally for rapidly expanding economies in Asia, not monopoly pricing? Hillary is certainly not the first candidate to bash the oil producing states or oil companies around election time. And the polls seem to show it's working for her. But I'm concerned about the widening gap between reality and her campaign trail statements. First with the pledge to obliterate Iran if they attack Israel, then the rebellion against economists and now this. Where are we going here?"

The Atlantic's Matthew Yglesias: "This Clinton campaign idea of somehow busting up the OPEC cartel not only seems impractical (how, exactly would this get done?) but it also bespeaks a real ignorance of what's happening with the price of gas. It's just not the case that the current price escalation is driven by OPEC-induced supply restrictions -- all indications are that everyone's producing as much oil as they possibly can. After all, with prices this high how could you afford not to pump as much oil as you could? It's just that demand for oil is high and rising, so the price goes up."

The Carpetbagger Report's Steve Benen: "For low-information voters, this might even move a few votes in Clinton's direction. But it's the follow-up where Clinton runs into trouble. First, the U.S., no matter who's president, simply isn't in a position to dictate that OPEC 'no longer be a cartel.' I'm not exactly enthralled with OPEC, either, but we don't have the ability to just break up this monopoly. Second, OPEC's structural flaws notwithstanding, the rising price of gas isn't exactly OPEC's fault. [...] I would assume that Clinton knows this, which is why it's disappointing to hear her suggest 'going to go right at OPEC' might help consumers at the pump. It won't. And third, all of this gave Obama yet another opportunity to characterize Clinton as a candidate who'll say anything to win."

CLINTON III: The Clinton-McCain Link Grows Stronger...

Several liberal bloggers are criticizing Clinton after Daily Kos diarist Parisgnome unearthed the following quote made by Clinton during a 2005 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation:

"Senator McCain made the point earlier today, which I agree with, and that is, it's not so much a question of time when it comes to American military presence for the average American; I include myself in this. But it is a question of casualties. We don't want to see our young men and women dying and suffering these grievous injuries that so many of them have. We've been in South Korea for 50-plus years. We've been in Europe for 50-plus. We're still in Okinawa with respect to protection there coming out of World War II. You know, we have been in places for very long periods of time. [...] If we were to artificially set a deadline of some sort, that would be like a green light to the terrorists, and we can't afford to do that."

The Huffington Post's Sam Stein: "Three years ago, during an appearance on CBS, Sen. Hillary Clinton stated that she agreed with the overarching premise of John McCain's Iraq policy: that America's commitment to the war shouldn't be based on time frames but rather on the level of troop casualties. She even cited, as McCain now regularly does, that the United States would be well suited to follow a model for troop presence based on South Korea, Japan, or Germany. [...] Three years later, Clinton has, seemingly, done a 180. How to explain the evolution? For starters, when she appeared on Face the Nation she had just traveled to Iraq and witnessed the country's first election -- a process deemed by many observers, though not war critics, as a key turning point in America's mission. In addition, while there were unacceptable levels of violence in the country at the time, there was not yet then an overwhelming consensus that Iraq had descended into civil war. Nevertheless the difference between her 2005 remarks and those on the campaign trail are stark."

Moulitsas: "Creepy how Clinton and McCain have morphed into the same candidate, huh? Okay, McCain wants 100 years in Iraq, Clinton wants '50-plus'. Plus what? Plus another 50? She doesn't seem to care. She's already sharing talking points with McCain on [Jeremiah] Wright, on their sham gas tax gambit, and now Iraq as well? You know what this means, right? She wouldn't be able to create a contrast with McCain on Iraq. Every time we tried to attack McCain on his 100 years of Iraq, Republicans would shoot back with Clinton's own words. [...] This is a disaster for her, taking Iraq off the table. And without Iraq as an issue, our path to victory is actually a lot tougher. In fact, this was a major factor in Bush's victory in 2004. [...John] Kerry could offer no contrast on one of the major issues of the campaign as [Howard] Dean would've offered. And now we have Clinton, who voted for the war, who has refused to apologize for that vote, who voted affirmatively on a similar resolution dealing with Iran, and who now says she totally agrees with McCain. It's a Republican's dream come true. Or nightmare, since Clinton's chances of winning are next to nothing."

Mark Kleiman: "If Hillary were somehow to cheat her way to the nomination, I guess the DNC would have to pull those '100 years' anti-McCain ads, don't you think?"

Aravosis: "It was our best argument against McCain. It was an ad that was making the Republicans reel. [...] And now Hillary just killed it for us. You see, three years ago, while having one of her 'I love John McCain' schmooze fests, Hillary let out the whopper that she agrees with John McCain on Iraq, adding that it's fine with her if we stay there for another 50 years. Sure, she didn't say 100 years, she only said 50. But the point is made. Were Hillary to become our nominee, we'd no longer be able to use Iraq as an issue against John McCain because Hillary agrees with John McCain, and worse, she used his same language -- the language we're using in our top ad against John McCain."

CLINTON IV: What The Heck Is She Doing?

Clinton's aggressive advocacy of the gas tax holiday, coupled with her recent GOP-sounding rhetoric, has caused many liberal bloggers to question her motives:

The Field's Al Giordano thinks Clinton is deliberately targeting GOP voters in IN and NC: "Clinton's demagogic statements about 'obliterating' Iran, her pandering with Senator McCain about a 'gas tax holiday' that has zero chance of being enacted this summer, her impossible statement today suggesting that the US has the ability to break up the Organization of Petroleum Exporting States (OPEC), and the now flagging attempts to make an ex pastor the big issue of the campaign have all been calculated toward encouraging McCain voters to 'prank' the Democratic primary and vote for Clinton. Her appearance on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor was aimed at the same. Clinton's open drift to the right, beyond humiliating those of her supporters that have believed and called her a 'true progressive,' has worked enough on the Republican 'mischief vote' to skew the results by up to five percentage points in key regions of both North Carolina and Indiana, offsetting Obama's greater support among Independents and moderate Republicans that also intend to vote for Obama in November, in order to artificially bolster Clinton's support and delegate count, while putting a ceiling on Obama's."

Benen thinks Clinton is targeting low-information voters: "Clinton has been playing some very frustrating cards lately, but her strategy isn't dumb. Her specific message is targeted at rank-and-file voters, not superdelegates. But after that message has worked, Clinton can take her broader message to the party insiders (elites?) who have her fate in their hands. Step One: win over voters with sketchy arguments. Step Two: win over superdelegates by pointing to Step One."

Stoller thinks Clinton is targeting conservative Dems: "I get the sense that Clinton has decided to game entirely on going after conservative Democratic voters, using the gimmick of the gas tax holiday, pugilistic foreign policy ideas, and race-baiting. It's unlikely to work, but even if it does, it's the last time we'll see anything like this in the Democratic Party Presidential nomination again in our lifetimes. If there's anything we've learned from this nominating battle, it's that this has basically become a liberal party."

Big Tent Democrat, a fierce Obama critic, criticizes Stoller's post: "Thinking is no longer a part of the Left blogger process anymore. Inflammatory false smears are all the rage. [...] First, is Obama NOT going after 'conservative' Democratic voters? Heck, 'conservative' voters period. Isn't that what the Unity Schtick was all about? Second, it's wonderful that the gas tax holiday, a stupid political gimmick to be sure, is now intended for 'conservative' voters. Is there any basis for that statement? Of course not. And we all know that the $600 'stimulus' rebate that ALL Democrats supported was a pure policy initiative. My gawd, did all Left bloggers just fall of the political turnip truck?"

OBAMA: Preaching The Gospel of Bitterness?

Conservative bloggers are criticizing some recent speeches given by Michelle Obama, accusing her of preaching "bitterness" and "resentment":

Power Line's Scott Johnson: "Michelle Obama seethes with bitterness. While she preaches the gospel according to Barack, she wears resentment and bitterness on her sleeve. It is therefore painful to listen to her. She's apparently even still angry about her SAT scores. She didn't test well in school, she explains. Somehow, she has overcome. [...] She says that she and Barack were born to parents of modest means, not with 'silver spoons' in their mouths. Nobody knows the trouble they've seen. The burden of paying for her undergraduate education at Princeton and her law school education at Harvard has scarred her."

Townhall's Hugh Hewitt: "I think Michelle Obama's stump-speech message of the unfairness of 'moving bars,' opportunity-killing debt burdens on college graduates, families having to move away from great aunts, and the fear engulfing the 'vast majority of Americans' is not going to resonate with most voters. This is the rhetoric of resentment and victimization [...] Michelle Obama discounts all the good that is going on in the country, skips over the deep generosity of Americans, and ignores the astonishing economic and social progress made in the U.S. since the close of W.W.II as she indicts aspect after aspect of American life. [...] When Obama loses Indiana tonight, and struggles in North Carolina, it will be because of Pastor Wright in part, but also because the bitterness Wright feels towards America has at least in part seeped into Michelle Obama's rhetoric."

NRO's Yuval Levin: "By her husband's logic, Michelle Obama must be a heavily armed xenophobic religious zealot, because boy is she bitter. This C-SPAN video of a speech delivered by Mrs. Obama in North Carolina last Friday is characteristic of her peculiar recent performances on the stump. It is an hour-long talk to supporters who just want something to cheer about, and who get some opportunities at the outset, but then find themselves treated to a profoundly and relentlessly negative vision of American life. [...] In Michelle Obama's America, everybody's suffering, no one has time to make any friends, no one earns enough to eke out a living anymore, and the bar of success is always being moved just out of reach."

Michelle Malkin: "Michelle Obama needs a wahmbulance."

NRO's Jim Geraghty sums up the standard Obama critique in the conservative blogosphere: "Most Americans don't know somebody who tried to blow up a women's room in the Pentagon, like William Ayers, or the nine-year-old son of a judge, like the Weathermen. Most Americans don't think of their country as 'just downright mean,' as Michelle described it. Most Americans cannot imagine having a mentor argue that this country and al-Qaeda are committing the same acts under different color flags. Barack Obama presumably loves his country, but he's surrounded by people who have tried to commit acts of violence against it, or who trash it in front of audiences, or who accuse it of heinous acts. At the end of the day, a lot of Americans probably just won't relate to someone who does."

MCCAIN: The Return of McAmnesty?

Conservative bloggers are angry that McCain plans to attend the La Raza Annual Convention in July:

Malkin: "The campaign justifies [McCain's] appearance by framing it as a gesture of inclusiveness and outreach that is 'part of his commitment to talking with all Americans.' Yes, they see it as an act of tolerance to legitimize the militantly open-borders, anti-immigration enforcement, ethnic nationalists who call themselves 'The Race.' [...] Keep McCain's decision to speak to 'The Race' convention in mind the next time he sanctimoniously rushes to the liberal media condemn conservatives as racists for having the audacity to bring up Jeremiah Wright or demand strict immigration enforcement."

Hot Air's Allahpundit: "Needless to say McCain's feet will have to be held to the fire on this subject regularly to keep him from indulging his natural, jerky pro-amnesty tendencies."

NRO's Victor Davis Hanson: "I agree that John McCain should not attend any conference of a group called 'National Council of the Race.' In a multiracial society, Rev. Wright's 'rich white folks,' Obama's 'typical white person', and clingers comments, and the idea of 'The Race' will eventually doom us all. And it's time no one gets a pass any more. The old feeble pleading that 'Raza' means something like 'people' is bogus. The sad thing is that the organization knows this, and won't change their name because they obviously want to appeal to a sort of Hispanic racialist pride."

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey: "If McCain thinks he can start talking about comprehensive immigration reform outside the context of securing the borders first, he is very much mistaken. Conservative activists have watched McCain carefully for that very misstep, and if they catch him in it, all of the outreach he has done to the Right will vanish in an instant. Addressing the open-borders activist group National Council of La Raza reinforces the queasy feeling conservatives have about the commitment McCain has to securing the border at all, let alone as the vital beginning of any look at immigration policy."

NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez looks on the bright side: "But I love this statement from McCain: 'everything about our Hispanic voters is tailor-made to the Republican message.' I think there's really something to that. And it doesn't include lax immigration-enforcement laws, I might add."

MCCAIN II: Back To The Future

Arianna Huffington claims that McCain told her that he did not vote for George W. Bush in 2000:

"At a dinner party in Los Angeles not long after the 2000 election, I was talking to a man and his wife, both prominent Republicans. The conversation soon turned to the new president. 'I didn't vote for George Bush' the man confessed. 'I didn't either,' his wife added. Their names: John and
Cindy McCain (Cindy told me she had cast a write-in vote for her husband). The fact that this man was so angry at what George Bush had done to him, and at what Bush represented for their party, that he did not even vote for him in 2000 shows just how far he has fallen since then in his hunger for the presidency. By abandoning his core principles and embracing Bush -- both literally and metaphorically -- he has morphed into an older and crankier version of the man he couldn't stomach voting for in 2000."

McCain's advisors denied Huffington's claim:

"
Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for McCain, said 'It's not true, and I ask you to please consider the source.'

Asked why Huffington would make up her story about McCain not voting for Bush, longtime McCain aide
Mark Salter -- who has previously tangled with the Huffington Post -- ripped into her. 'Why would she make something up? Because she's a flake and a poser and an attention-seeking diva. And that's on the record.'"

Huffington responds: "Through a spokesperson with the colorful name Tucker Bounds, McCain has denied telling me he didn't vote for Bush in 2000. 'It's not true,' Bounds told the Washington Post, 'and I ask you to consider the source.' My sentiments exactly -- because John McCain has a long history of issuing heartfelt denials of things that were actually true. He denied ever talking with John Kerry about his leaving the GOP to be Kerry's '04 running mate -- then later admitted he had, insisting: 'Everybody knows that I had a conversation.' He denied admitting that he didn't know much about economics, even though he'd said exactly that to the Wall Street Journal. And the Boston Globe. And the Baltimore Sun. [...] He denied that he'd ever had a meeting with comely lobbyist Vicki Iseman and her client Lowell Paxon, even though he had. And had admitted it in a legal deposition. [...] So, yes, by all means, 'consider the source.'"

Geraghty offers his thoughts: "I would note two points. One, we all know how nasty the South Carolina primary was, and if McCain remained sore over it, and couldn't bring himself to vote for Bush within the privacy of the voting booth...well, who among us can begrudge him that? George W. Bush's road to victory wouldn't have been any easier with one more vote in Arizona that year. Second, it's not as if McCain tried to sabotage Bush on the campaign trail in 2000. [...] And, to quote one of lefty bloggers' favorite phrases, 'I question the timing.' What, did Arianna just remember this anecdote? She's been sitting on this surprising little anecdote, theoretically damaging to both McCain and Bush, for seven years? She didn't feel any need to bring it up during the 2004 election? When Team Kerry was talking up McCain as a potential running mate, she didn't want to add that to the national conversation?"

THOUGHT OF THE DAY: McCain-Jindal '08? Maybe Not...

The Atlantic's Ross Douthat:

"I do tend to think that McCain-
[Bobby] Jindal ticket would have a slightly better chance of taking the Presidency than some of the alternatives. However, I would place the emphasis on 'slightly,' both because I can see the move smacking of desperation and backfiring, and because few veep picks make a huge difference in November anyway and I doubt that Jindal would be an exception. And I think that 'slightly' is outweighed by the importance, for a Republican Party that's currently on the ropes, of resisting the temptation to conflate the party's long-term interests with the results of a single (though admittedly important, as they all are) Presidential election, and to regard every promising state-level talent through the lens of 'how can he help us win the White House today?'"

LEST WE FORGET: Watching TV Shows On DVD The Way To Do It, Area Man Reports

From The Onion:

"MILLERSVILLE, PA -- Local resident Thomas Humphrey, 36, blasted traditional American methods of viewing episodic television Monday, proclaiming that watching a series on DVD is 'the way to do it.' 'There's no commercials, no waiting for next week's show, and you can stay up all night watching 14 episodes in a row if you want to,' said Humphrey, adding that without the convenient digital medium, he would not have been able to view all three seasons of the canceled CW series
Veronica Mars in a single week. [...] When asked if he had seen the final episode of The Wire, Humphrey became visibly upset, saying he is only on season three, and if reporters did not stop talking about it, he would leave the room."

To read the unabridged edition of the Blogometer, visit http://blogometer.nationaljournal.com. Questions, comments, reservations? Drop us a line at blogometer@nationaljournal.com

This article appears in the May 6, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.

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