Category Archives: Election 2008

Quote of the Day

“Because you know what irks me the most about it? Not that they’re lying; lying can always be forgiven; lying is a fine thing, because it leads to the truth. No, what irks me is that they lie and then worship their own lies.” — Razumikhin, in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

I think this applies to a certain John McCain and his campaign.

McCain will touch your children

If Obama were to go tit for tat with McCain’s Education ad:

John McCain just put out an ad criticizing Barack Obama on sex education.

Play clip of McCain ad:
Obama’s one accomplishment? Legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergartners. Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.

But here’s what John McCain didn’t tell you. This valuable legislation protects kindergartners from sexual predators, teaching them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
Do you want a candidate who protects your children, or who protects sexual predators?
John McCain. He’ll touch your children at night.

Original ad:

I Can’t Watch the Convention

agh i can’t watch this shit anymore. PLEASE! just stop, just fucking shut the fuck up.

Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, yes I understand you have to cut to a commercial break. But please, you find it important to talk about how moved you are about a tribute to the troops and how much respect you have for the troops and the troops you saw when in Iraq… ALL WHILE YOU’RE TALKING OVER AN IRAQ WAR VETERAN. Apparently, she’s not as important as your narcissistic drivel.

The Dumb Commentators

I’m watching parts of the Democratic convention, and it’s really annoying. I’ll be honest, I tuned into Spongebob Squarepants at one point.

These color commentators are dumber than sports commentators. I mean, every single one of these people is worse than John Madden on his best night. The worthless blather bothers me more than usual. THEY’RE SAYING FUCKING NOTHING!

EDIT: Oh yeah, and Clinton’s speech was okay. It was one of her stronger speeches, as it reached the end. But all the obsessive point-keeping about something you can’t judge that way really bugged me.

Also, I had it on NBC, but switched stations when their talking heads talked over the entire speech of the Governor from Montana. What hubris.

I normally don’t like posting weblog entries where I just rant, but I am just so fucking annoyed right now.

Thoughts on Biden as VP

Congratulations, Mr. Biden. You have the chance to end your political career by ascending into the most useless elected position in America. Cheney is an anomaly in US history, exerting an unprecedented amount of influence. Biden won’t do much, so it doesn’t really matter who Obama picked as VP.

In terms of getting elected, it also doesn’t really matter who Obama picked. The vice president, historically, doesn’t net extra votes or create a net loss of votes. Did Dan “Potatoe” Quayle cost Bush the election in 1988? (No, Bush won.) Did the young Southerner Al Gore push Bill Clinton over the top? I highly doubt the polls will show a direct Biden effect, whether negative or positive.

It could become very easy to over-analyze this. You could say, “Wow, this hurts Obama’s message of CHANGE.” You could say, “Biden will reassure people who worry about the gaps in Obama’s resume.” Overall, the general response of the public will be a big yawn. Most people don’t even know who Dick Cheney is.

I do see one possible strategic value to Biden. He can serve as an attack dog. This, in and of itself, isn’t very special; the VP candidate is supposed to act as a surrogate for negative campaigning, preventing the presidential candidate from sullying his image. However, McCain does have a nasty temper. It would be good to knock him off his game with some really nasty attacks, a la Biden’s “noun, verb, 9/11” line on Rudy Giuliani. It’s following Sun Tzu’s advice: “If you enemy is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.”

I do think this is a promising tactic based on the past, with the Republican debates. I remember particularly one debate where McCain was ticked off because of Mitt Romney’s attack ads. Here were my thoughts:

One of the best moments of the debates was when Romney said, “Don’t try to mischaracterize my position.” And Huckabee replied, “Which one?” I thought it was hilarious. But then, the attacks continued. By the time I got to McCain’s agreement that Romney was “the candidate of change,” it was getting really old and I was slightly peeved. McCain seemed to take a vicious glee in the personal attack. It seemed like a tired attack by a man who lacked a way to launch a substantive argument. In retrospect, though, the attacks seem deserved. Romney boldly lied that his ads did not call McCain’s plan amnesty. They did. (Go look them up on YouTube.)

[emphasis added]

Basically, McCain looked like an asshole. In fact, when I looked up this old blog entry, it was worse than I thought. This “vicious glee” won’t look good in the debates with Obama.

We also can take a look at McCain’s speech back in June — you know, the one with the lime green backdrop and the borrowed “A Leader We Can Believe In” catchphrase. I remember McCain’s grimace after saying, “That’s not change we can believe in.” It was bad.

Of course, there’s also the flip-side that Biden is a gaffe machine. Still, I don’t think this will really matter overall, since he’s a VP candidate and who gives a shit about the VP. The difference between Biden’s own gaffes and what I mentioned above, is that this would cause McCain to do something. McCain’s the real candidate and what he does has a much bigger effect on the race. Biden’s gaffes don’t similarly translate into Obama gaffes.

Overall, a solid, but forgettable pick.

Meme Resistant

Is it just me, or is Obama very meme-resistant? It’s hard for the right-wing to get some criticism to stick. They’re gone through so many things. Note that I said meme-resistant, not meme-impervious. He’s not utterly invincible, but it’s harder to get things to stick.

Another question: Is meme-resistance an important quality for the modern candidate?

Disappointed about Obama on FISA

I’m disappointed that Obama joined with the capitulators on the FISA issue. Telecoms should not get amnesty for breaking the law, and this bill allows that. Obama said he disagreed with that portion, but he should have shown some leadership and done more than disagree with it after the fact.

That said, of course I’m still voting for him. As an ex-conservative, I never came to this process expecting that a liberal would fulfill all my fantasies about a presidential candidate.

After all the damage Bush has done, it’s going to take a while to restore the laws and values of our republic. Obama’s not our savior, and most of us have figured that out a long time ago. Roll up your sleeves. You’re going to have to do some work too if you want your civil liberties.

McCain’s Crowd

I’m watching McCain’s speech on CNN right now. What really strikes me is the crowd. It’s a small crowd, as opposed to the huge crowds you see for Obama. The crowd consists of old, white people; Obama’s crowds are diverse.

There’s something symbolic about it.

How Close is Obama?

Obama’s close to clinching this, counting delegates and superdelegates. After the Michigan and Florida issue was resolved (barring anything bizarre from Clinton), the new magic number is 2,118.

It’s almost 1PM Pacific time right now. According to the Obama campaign, they are 30.5 delegates away. A bunch of superdelegates are declaring for Obama today, and Montana and South Dakota should push him over the top. There are 16 pledged delegates up for grabs in Montana, and 15 pledged delegates from South Dakota. The last polls close at 10PM Eastern time.

It is important to note that Michigan and Florida superdelegates only get half a vote.

The Obama HQ Blog is probably the best place to get the updates on the superdelegates.

UPDATE – 4:13PM – Obama’s campaign puts him 10 away from clinching, and MSNBC puts him 11 away. That means Obama will clinch tonight, even if he loses both South Dakota and Montana. As I said above, there’s 31 pledges delegates up for grabs and there’s no way he’s losing by the margins staggering enough to deny him the win tonight. Besides, there’s still a few hours left for a few more superdelegates.

Note: NBC says they don’t count commitments until they’re public. I wonder if they counted Carter yet.

UPDATE – 5:06PM – CNN says Obama is only 5 delegates away from winning. That means Obama will win with the delegates from just one state.

Other Signs of Being a Political Junkie

People might think I’m informed. We had lunch with my aunt and uncle the other day, and I was calmly able to destroy all of the arguments Clinton has put forth for her nomination. I’m able to recite numbers from the primaries and caucuses. Yes, I have this specialized knowledge, but it’s not because I’m smart, but because I’m an addict.

At my niece’s birthday party, I was going absolutely nuts. I had no access to the internet. I knew Clinton had won Puerto Rico, but I needed to know the margin of victory. I needed to know the exact numbers. Geeze.

Meeting with Our Enemies

McCain thinks Obama is naive and lacks judgment because Obama is willing to negotiate with our enemies.

Of course, then there’s this from Gallup:

Large majorities of Democrats and independents, and even about half of Republicans, believe the president of the United States should meet with the leaders of countries that are considered enemies of the United States. Overall, 67% of Americans say this kind of diplomacy is a good idea.

Go ahead and make that argument, Mr. McCain. Also, keep saying you want to keep the troops in Iraq. Try and paint Obama as weak because of that. The American people think otherwise.

The Superdelegate Flood and other matters

Clinton has won big in West Virginia, and it could be a 2:1 margin of victory. Still, she’ll get maybe a 10 or 11 delegate advantage. To put that in perspective, Obama has won 27 superdelegates since the North Carolina and Indiana primaries a week ago. That’s astonishing. That’s a flood. At this rate, it’ll take Obama half a week to wipe her victory out.

A Clinton victory can’t depress me like it used to. Obama has the nomination wrapped up. Moreover, we are going to dominate in November. New voters are going to create battlegrounds in new states. A cash-strapped McCain, compared to the Obama fundraising juggernaut, will not be able to defend everywhere. I am very fortunate to go to school in Maryland, which is close to Virginia, a state which I think Obama can turn blue. I know I will do whatever I can to make that happen.

I still think Clinton should stay in the race. Her last speech, the victory speech in West Virginia, refrained from negative, personal attacks on Obama. She says she will work hard for whoever is the nominee. I don’t think she’s dividing the party right now. Her speech was boring for me, aside from anecdote about the dying woman who cast her absentee ballot for Clinton. That woman was born before women had the right to vote and now she could cast a vote for a woman running for president. It really tugs on the heartstrings. Give them their symbolic vote. We will unite and win in November.

It’s Over, But She Should Stay

It’s over. Barack Obama is essentially the nominee. By every metric, Barack Obama is ahead. Whether you count total delegates, pledged delegates, or popular vote, Barack Obama has an insurmountable lead. He has this lead even if you count Michigan and Florida, which had their delegates stripped due to breaking party rules. The Clintons have no more trump card.

It’s not impossible for her to win, just incredibly unlikely. Let’s make a football analogy. It’s first and 10, there’s less than 2 minutes on the clock. All Obama has to do is take a knee. He doesn’t even have to play defense anymore. And even if he fumbles it away, she has to get a field goal, retrieve the onside kick, and score a touchdown. It’s over.

Obama has essentially been running out the clock. As more and more delegates were dealt either way, Obama retained his lead. Clinton never made a significant dent. At some point, one runs out of time to regain the lead. Clinton has run out of time. There aren’t enough delegates left.

This is true even when you factor in superdelegates. By the end of the process, even you give Clinton a generous number of pledged delegates, she’ll need to convince over two-thirds of the remaining superdelegates to overturn the will of the people. If you give her a generous number of Florida and Michigan delegates, the number decreases, but she still has to convince more than a majority of superdelegates to switch sides.

It’s not only a tall order; it’s essentially impossible. Many superdelegates have already said they’ll vote for the candidate who won the most pledged delegates. Psychologically, the superdelegates are afraid of backlash and afraid of turning away a generation of energized voters.

Clinton started out with a 100 superdelegate lead on Obama, and now they’re essentially tied. Just today, Obama picked up 3 superdelegates and a Clinton superdelegate defected. Clinton picked up one. Clinton has 271 superdelegates; Obama has 261 superdelegates. That’s over 500 delegates who have picked one side or the other. There’s less than 800 superdelegates total. There are less and less superdelegates to convince, and they’ve all been coming to the Obama camp. I don’t know of any defections the other way around.

She can’t win.

That being said, I think Clinton should stay. If she stays in the race without launching super negative attacks, then I think it’s good that she stays in. She looks as if she’ll win Kentucky and West Virginia. It’ll look really bad if Obama loses those states running against no one. Obama will win in Oregon on May 20, achieve a majority of pledged delegates, and then a wave of superdelegates will switch. She should still stay in longer and make Obama’s final June 3 victories more meaningful.

Why should we continue with these beauty contests? Because they have real consequences. The primaries and caucuses have seen record turnouts in many states. We want more Democrats registered to vote in the primaries. When they vote in a primary, they’re more likely to vote in the general. Voter turnout will be key to defeating McCain.

If Clinton refrains from personal negative attacks, this will be a net positive for the Democrats. The convention is not until August, and we will see a huge post-convention bounce for Obama. Don’t listen to the polls saying Clinton or Obama voters will switch to McCain. They won’t. These polls are as useless as those saying Rudy Giuliani was the man to beat — mind you, Giuliani did not win a single primary or caucus. It’s way too early to judge that (and if you want, I’ll pull out my knowledge of cognitive science to prove it). When Democratic primary voters look at the war, the economy, and health care, they’ll know that they prefer Obama. No matter how you spin it, record turnout for Democratic primaries is not going to help McCain.

Let Clinton finish the game. Maybe I’m giving the Clintons too much credit, but I think they can do it with dignity. I think going to the end, and getting Michigan and Florida seated, will reduce any bitterness. Forcing her out may engender too many hurt feelings, but leaving her in can mean more new Democratic voters.

Again, this assumes Clinton runs a decent campaign here on out. If she doesn’t, the superdelegates should force her out.

Brief Elation

It was a wonderful day, punctuated by a sense of foreboding.

Obama has pulled ahead even further today. Win or lose in Indiana, it will be too close to make Clinton’s advantage more than negligible. He will wipe out any gains she made in Pennsylvania. The noose tightens.

Yet Clinton’s speech gives me reason to not think this is wrapped up. Clinton will fight to the convention. She will fight for the illegitimate primaries in Michigan and Ohio. It will be an ugly fight, I fear.

The next primaries will be important. We must put this beyond Clinton’s reach. I guess I’m going to have to reach into my pocketbook again.

EDIT: The alternative scenario is that the threat of a bloody battle is used as a bargaining chip. But what would they (Bill and Hillary Clinton) want in exchange? Would Clinton be satisfied with the Vice Presidency? Will she want a cabinet position? I’m just not sure that anything short of the presidency will satisfy her; hence, I fear a bloody battle.

UPDATE: MSNBC says the math means Clinton can’t make up the difference even with Florida and Michigan whether you count pledged delegates or popular vote.

UPDATE: More people on MSNBC are saying, “It’s over.” Clinton has cancelled all her appearances tomorrow. Will she quit?

UPDATE: Brit Hume looks grouchy and looks like he wants to go home already. One of the Fox News commentators points out that Bill Clinton had a “sour” look on his face while Hillary Clinton was giving her speech. Big loss for Clinton tonight.

UPDATE: Mayor of Gary on the phone with CNN. Did not have a good explanation for why it took so long to get any votes in. I’m suspicious of any vote tallies, so I suspect we may not know who really won Indiana any time soon. It doesn’t matter though. This is out of reach for Clinton.

I am a junkie

How can you tell if you’re a political junkie? If you’re not completely tired of this election, and in fact, you’re really excited about the next primary, then you might be addicted to politics. As I am.

By the way, I predict a split. Obama takes North Carolina; Clinton takes Indiana. Barely. Advantage: Obama, in delegates.

Tactics and Denial

This is amazing, check out this from Bill Kristol

On Friday in Indiana, Obama talked tough in response to a question: “I get pretty fed up with people questioning my patriotism.” And, he continued, “I am happy to have that debate with them any place, anytime.” He’s happy to have fantasy debates with unnamed people who are allegedly challenging his patriotism. But he’s not willing to have a real debate with the real person he’s competing against for the nomination.

Hm. How about Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia? You can watch the clip of Kingston on that link. Jack Kingston thinks it’s perfectly fine to question Obama’s patriotism.

These people are not unnamed, nor are they “allegedly” challenging his patriotism. There are real Republicans out there attacking Obama on his patriotism.

That’s some real gall, but that’s the modus operandi of the Republican Party. Lie, lie, lie. Say you’re for fiscal conservatism, and yet sanction a trillion dollar, fiscally insane war. Say you’re for rugged individualism, and then get your job through nepotism. Say that no one’s engaging in those sorts of nasty attacks, and then slime slime slime.

Big States again

I wish I didn’t have to bring this up again, but it’s frustrating how the media buys into false campaign narratives. They pick up spin in order to make a story. I kept hearing how Obama can’t win big states.

Clinton gets to count New York as a big state, but somehow Illinois doesn’t count even though it has more delegates than Ohio.

Of course Obama couldn’t win Michigan and Florida. Everyone, Clinton included, agreed not to campaign in those states.

That Clinton’s campaign manager McCauliffe insists on counting them shows a despicable lack of regard for rules. I’d like to see what happens when Clinton comes up against laws she does not like. Will she simply spin them out of existence?

Furthermore, Obama won Texas, when you count all the delegates up.

Can we do a count again? There are seven “big” states she has claimed to have won: Texas, Ohio, New York, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Michigan. Florida and Michigan don’t count. New York can’t count if Illinois doesn’t count. She lost the delegate count in Texas. That leaves Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.

There’s something seriously wrong with the idea that only Clinton can win big states if only 3 out of the 7 supposed wins are legitimate. It’s bullshit.


I’m predicting a 10-point win for Clinton. I know it’s not likely, but I’m hoping for an upset. I long to type: “The nightmare is over.”

Even if Obama wins tonight, though, the nightmare won’t be over until November, when Obama beats McCain.

UPDATE: Clinton is projected to win. I 100% expected that result; I’ve been expecting it for a long time. I should be steeled, but I’m depressed.

UPDATE: 04/23/08 – A 10-point win. A correct prediction, for once.

A Debate Last Night

So apparently, there was a Democratic debate last night on ABC, which I missed. Maybe you missed it too. That’s okay, I can sum it up in one sentence from this Washington Post article: “The debate also touched on Iraq, Iran, the Middle East, taxes, the economy, guns and affirmative action.”

Iraq, the economy, yes, the most important issues of our time, were merely “touched on.” Instead, they spent most of their time on very substantive issues such as whether Obama wears a flag lapel pin. Never mind that the Bush Administration approved torture and eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. Apparently, our attire is more important than our allegiance to American principles and the Constitution in determining one’s patriotism.

That the sentence quoted above is even a possible formulation is laughable. It’s something you’d expect to excerpt from The Onion, not the Washington Post.

We’re not going to win unless we fight like hell against this freak show.

I thought Obama would coast to victory because of the anger over the Iraq war and the economy, but it’s not going to be enough. That debate is a mere taste of what we’re going to face this election season.

Big States Redux: The Illinois Dilemma

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about the faulty logic behind Clinton’s Big State Argument. I wanted to add a caveat to Clinton’s New York victory. How come Clinton’s win in New York counts, but Obama’s win in Illinois does not? I did some simple addition using this handy chart from the New York Times. One of her “big state” wins is from Ohio, which has 141 pledged delegates. Compare this to Illinois, which has 153 pledged delegates. How come Illinois doesn’t count? Oh wait, maybe we should only count electoral votes! Hm… No, Illinois has 22 while Ohio has 21.

So either Illinois is not a big state, which means Ohio can’t be either, or Illinois doesn’t count because it’s Obama’s home state, which means New York doesn’t count for Clinton. Either way, it adds another nail to the coffin of her big state argument.

Oh well, I’m sure Clinton can come up with another reason why Illinois doesn’t count as a big state.

Some Political Consequences of Obama’s Speech on Race

Despite my changing political views, I still read some of the same right-wing blogs. I’ve decided that it’s a useful life skill (and a useful political skill) to be able to understand the opinions of others.

Obama’s recent speech on race won’t change anything in the minds of the right. To some of them, Reverand Wright is the black equivalent of David Duke. Wright is a racist. And it is not just that Obama is associated with him, but that Wright is a mentor and has had a very close relationship with Obama. Some on the right believe Obama has the same views as Wright, and some think that Obama showed a serious lapse of judgment in choosing to associate with a racist. Either way, the stigma of racism has been attached to Obama.

There is a further issue in this, that involves the previous actions of the left. At Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday, Trent Lott said that Thurmond would’ve made a good president. Yet at the time Thurmond wanted to be president, he was an ardent segregationist. Lott suffered for these remarks. He was forced to apologize and lost his position as majority leader. A much smaller offense sunk Lott; they think it should equally sink Obama. In fact, if it doesn’t sink Obama, it reveals a double-standard. It says that it’s okay for black people to be racist.* That leads to further resentment.

The speech does nothing to change this. No speech can change the fact that Obama has a 20 year relationship with this “racist” Wright. Couple this with the resentment, and it doesn’t look good for Obama. It provides the right with a rallying point; it will energize them when they wouldn’t otherwise be energized. That’s the bad news.

But let’s take a larger view. To demonize the opponent is the modus operandi of the Republican Party. First there were rumors that Obama was Muslim, then they tried to portray him as a flag lapel pin hater, and now Obama is supposedly a racist. It’s all the same tactics. Obama is the other and he is unpatriotic. This is how they would portray him regardless of Reverend Wright’s existence. With or without Wright, we’d still be in the same (swift)boat.

The next question is: How did this affect independent voters? How did this affect Democratic voters? I cannot answer the first question.

Part of the second question’s answer is that the speech definitely energized Obama supporters. It made us remember why we support him. He’s a thoughtful, brave politician. He dealt with race in an incredibly nuanced way, which no other politician has dared to do. He won’t approach this issue in the same old way. In a word: Change. We’re hungry for change, and he delivered. More importantly, it assuaged our fears of the sinking of Obama’s campaign. It certainly assuaged any misgivings Richardson might have had.

As for how it affects Democratic voters who have not yet pledged their support to Obama, I cannot judge that either. I have not studied their opinions enough.

When the election finally rolls around, I think the war and the economy will be bigger in the voters minds. However, I cannot say that with confidence. I have nothing on which to base that assertion, except the fact that March to November is several eternities long with our modern news-cycle.

*For the record, I think a black person who suffered through segregation deserves to be judged by a different standard than a white person.

Breaking the Racial Silence

About a year and a half ago, a “racial controversy” happened on the Johns Hopkins campus, in Baltimore, Maryland. It was a complicated issue and so I’m going to over-simplify some things for the sake of clarity in making my point. There was an offensive party invitation, which did merit punishment. The party itself was innocent, but some people misinterpreted some things. When the media circus descended, when the NAACP came to town, the issue erupted into the full-blown racial controversy that it was. The small issue had become engulfed in a cloud of bogus claims of racism. Now, while those claims were bogus, the racial tension was real. And amidst all that, there was a real issue where people’s feelings were legitimately hurt. Again, it’s a complicated issue.

How did our university respond? Not by seeking the truth (ironic considering our motto), but by covering their asses. They threw the offenders, the fraternity Sigma Chi, under the bus. Such is the brutal stigma of racism. Even a fake taint will cause people to run away. I’m not surprised by the university’s response at all, though. This is how we deal with the issue of race. We all do our best to say we’re not racist, we condemn the offending party, and then pretend the issue is all resolved. The complicated issue is never dealt with in a complicated way. Nuance disappears. Everyone plays the roles they were assigned. People feel offended. People feel like those people shouldn’t be offended. Everyone covers their asses. The issue blows over, and we never actually make any progress.

Of course, what never was mentioned in the media was how the kid who wrote the original party invitation was not a white kid. He was an Asian kid who wasn’t even born in the country. Like I said, complicated issue.

The point I want to make is not just that race is a complicated issue. It’s that the old polarizing lens through which we view race is no longer useful.

This generation didn’t grow up with the same events burned into our collective consciousnesses as the Boomer generation. I didn’t grow up seeing segregated bathrooms and fountains. I didn’t grow up seeing the struggle to fight all that. I didn’t see Wallace vow “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” I didn’t see Martin Luther King’s speeches. Well, I did. But only in the context of history, and not in the context of now. That makes a big difference. I didn’t grow up seeing a struggle between good and evil, on the issue of race. I’ve grown up where sometimes the enemy isn’t any one person, but our own subconscious biases. Structural disadvantages often trump overt racism, now. It becomes harder to blame specific people for specific injustices.

I wrote this last year: “The pivotal divide in race relations is actually not between any races. It’s between young and old people.” At the time, it was speculation, something to mull over. Now, I’m convinced it’s correct.

I went on to say:

We’ll be able to move forward regarding race when a new guard takes over. For now, we’ll have to deal with the essential silence on the question of race because of fear of the stigma of being a racist.

I don’t mean “move forward” in the way that liberals think of “progress,” just that we’ll reach the next stage when we realize that the next stage isn’t the old stage.

At the time, it seemed as if we needed to wait a generation before we could move forward. But maybe a President Obama would help us move forward. Obama will not be the first African-American candidate for the presidency. He represents something which appeals to me much more. He will be the first multi-racial candidate. With regard to the aforementioned divide, I think Obama is on the side of the young. He didn’t grow up the same way I did, but his speech convinced me that he recognizes the modern complexities of racial issues.

I don’t know if this speech will occupy a hallowed place in history. The speech is very unique to this historical moment. It perhaps demarcates a generational shift in the way we approach race. I don’t know if future generations will appreciate it. But I do.

I’m glad there’s a politician who decided to think instead of cover his ass. I’ve seen the old way of dealing with racial issues. I saw the circus that solved nothing — nay, it made things worse.

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with several of the students in my dorm. We eventually touched on this issue, listening to the perspectives from different sides of the story. Americans do discuss race in nuanced terms, but they do so in private. It was amazing to see Obama discuss this in public. To see a politician acknowledge the latent racism in both the black and white communities, to see him talk about race so honestly, was to see an act of remarkable bravery.

These weren’t my thoughts while I was listening to the speech. But after careful reflection of the context of the speech, that’s what I think. The current racial situation is stalemated; people are afraid to really honestly address race. For 45 minutes, Obama managed to break through the current racial silence. Hopefully, we can more publicly break that silence as well.

Let’s move forward.

Tomorrow: My political analysis of the speech.

The Big State Argument

Since I cannot leave you with just a vent about my personal life, I decided to write about politics.

Clinton’s “Big State Argument” (my phrase) is absurd. She says that because she won the big states, which the Democrats will need to take, she will be the most formidable opponent in the fall and should be the nominee. First, implicit to her argument is that none of Obama’s wins count, even though he won twice as many states. That’s rather insulting to a lot of small states the Democrats still need to win.

Secondly, let’s look at these specific states. Clinton has won Michigan, Florida, California, New York, Texas, and Ohio.

Michigan: Clinton ran against Uncommitted in a state whose delegates were stripped for breaking party rules. All candidates agreed not to campaing there. She was the only major candidate on the ballot and yet this is somehow supposed to prove she can win big states. Uncommitted still pulled 37% of the vote.

Florida: Clinton wins in another state where all the candidates agreed not to campaign. I fail to see how winning in a state where no one campaigned proves that you can win the pivotal state of Florida.

California: A legitimate win in a legitimate big state. However, the recent official vote tallies gave Obama 4 additional delegates. That amounts to a +8 net gain for Obama in the delegate count, reducing some of Clinton’s gains on Super Tuesday II.

New York: She’s frickin’ from New York. This state does not have much to say about her widespread appeal. There are also accounts of Obama’s vote being undercounted in New York. Still a legitimate win, though.

Texas: Clinton’s popular vote win was very narrow, only 50.9% to Obama’s 47.4%. Texas also has a two-for-the-price-of-one system, where they have a primary and a caucus. Obama’s likely win in the caucuses could mean that he gets more delegates from Texas than Clinton. In addition, I do not see a scenario where a Democrat wins Texas in the general election. I fail to see how this proves Clinton is the stronger candidate.

Ohio: Another legitimate win in a legitimate big state. Yet Wisconsin has similar demographics to Ohio, and Obama won there. Clinton is not unbeatable in the demographics she claims to have wrapped up.

Let’s put this all together, shall we? 6 wins in big states. Of those, 2 were in states where everyone agreed not to campaign. In Texas, Obama could actually get more delegates than Clinton. That leaves 3 legitimate wins in big states. Hardly a convincing argument to not give the nomination to the candidate who is leading in pledged delegates, the popular vote, and states won.

McCain’s Baghdad Market Walk

Remember this? Last year, back in April, McCain took a walk through a Baghdad market, proclaiming great success for the surge. He called it proof that one could walk freely in Iraq. Yet he was flanked by a 100 soldiers and a few helicopters. The security procedures were abnormal, as one Iraqi said.

Do we seriously want to entrust the security of our nation when he’s so willing to blatantly lie about the war in Iraq? Can we trust his judgment?

Here’s him on Meet the Press shortly after that event:

Note all those quotations about the great success we’ve been having, year after year. He says he made criticisms, but even as late as December 2005, he was saying we should “stay the course.”* McCain is no different from Bush on the Iraq War. It’s a case of massive delusion.

The surge has been a strategic failure. It has not hastened the day our troops will come home. There has been no political reconciliation. The elections have been postponed time and time again. Oil production is still down. At least violence is down, but part of this is because we are bribing Sunnis to not kill us. Will McCain continue this extortion of the American people?

If the surge was such a success, why are they now recommending a “pause” in the troop reductions? To capitalize on what “successes” we’ve had, I’m so sure they will say. Our troops are already doing extended tours; our military is being stretched beyond what we should be doing. Yet they want a pause? I remember the Lt. Col. in charge of ROTC at JHU saying the surge was a “necessary evil.” He recognized the stresses it would place on our troops. Yet here we are; we want a “pause.” They want a pause because the surge has failed to achieve any of its strategic objectives.

McCain wanted the surge. He wants to continue our occupation of Iraq, regardless of what the Iraqi citizens think themselves. He’ll support the “pause,” which will stretch our military resources. He said tax cuts were irresponsible during a time of war, and yet now he supports those very same tax cuts. He has, along with the rest of the right wing, put on a happy face about the situation in Iraq for years now. In April 2007, he used his irresponsible, escorted Baghdad photo-op as proof that one could simply stroll around Baghdad.

McCain has lied about Iraq and will continue to lie about Iraq. We cannot trust his judgment on this issue. That is why I cannot support him for president.

This Baghdad Market walk is not ancient history. Bring this up with any undecided person you encounter. Use this event to counter McCain’s image as a straight-talker. Use this to prove that Obama’s judgment on Iraq is preferable to McCain’s judgment.

*Note to self: Any video clips where McCain says “stay the course”? That would make a great montage.