Posts about Politics

Campaign placement

The most fun I had Twittering the election last night was immediately seeing the three Abercrombie & Fitch guys dudes standing behind Obama. Coinicidence? Conspiracy? Product placement. Either there is a story there or the Obama campaign is its own demographic clliche.

Maybe it’s the latter. The Toronto Sun said yesterday:

Hillary is minivans and American sedans, Barack is Range Rovers and Hondas. Hillary is cross-trainers with jeans, Barack is Abercrombie and Fitch and Banana Republic. Hillary is Dunkin Donuts, Barack is Starbucks. And their supporters are equally vocal, in different ways.

: LATER: USA Today talks to A&F, who says they had nothing to do with it. Ditto the campaign. The USAT blog is asking, ‘Anybody know these guys?’

Why have superdelegates?

Tim Hames in the Times of London argues that the superdelegates should make Clinton the nominee:

The chances are that Mr Obama will end the nomination season with more pledged delegates than Mrs Clinton. His admirers argue that it would be profoundly wrong for those who have not been elected as delegates to overturn the will of those who have. It’s a seductive claim, but there are good reasons why the superdelegates should ignore it and instead endorse Mrs Clinton.

The first is, what is the point of the superdelegate system if all they do is follow the majority of pledged delegates? Why bother with them? Why not just allow them to turn up at the convention as mere observers? The Democratic Party created the superdelegate system about 25 years ago because it feared that the party’s most ideological supporters were quite capable of choosing a candidate who many ordinary Democrats would not feel able to back at polling stations. If the primaries and caucuses were to be the gearbox of the nominating procedure, then the superdelegates were designed to serve as the handbrake. That is their role.

Secondly, any advantage that Mr Obama will have among pledged delegates is misleading. Not only will Mrs Clinton have won in most of the largest states but she will probably have secured the bulk of delegates won in primaries – where turnout is comparatively high, while he has romped home in the caucuses – where participation is notoriously feeble.

Furthermore, if all the superdelegates were compelled to vote for the person who won the most votes in their state (which they should not be, but it is an interesting exercise), then Mrs Clinton, who is likely to end the season having triumphed in eight of the most populous ten states (including Florida and Michigan, which had their results discounted by the Democratic National Committee as punishment for scheduling their primaries too early), would benefit hugely.

[via Harry’s Place]

: By the way, here’s a list of fellow bloggers who are not “raving Clinton-hating Obamabots.” Says Hillaryslist, on a bit of a roll:

These are the seeds of a new progressive blogosphere in the making. The Obamabots are poisoning the original netroots, transforming what used to be an arena for progressive politics into nothing more than a rabid, mindless He-Man Woman-Haters club. The Democratic Party — or at least the high-visibility Obamabot segment — is morphing into the Young Republicans: all the misogyny and callowness and ignorance and blind hero-worship of the old GOP, but with a self-congratulatory aura of imaginary cool to make the YouTube generation feel at home. And where does that leave the women of America?

Well, I think it’s giving them too much credit for taking over netroots and the internet. Netroots were, since Dean, a self-important clique. But I do think we have not begun to discuss sexism in this campaign.

As Obama chose to run as as black man, I think that Clinton should have chosen to run as a woman. Instead, she ran as a none-of-the-above-demographics, just her. Clinton was well-known enough to do that. But it meant she really couldn’t fight back as a woman. And she lost the opportunity to turn her campaign into a cause: a woman president as change, indeed. Oh well, it’s probably too late.

The prices of fame

Saw a commercial this morning for a speakers series at Radio City Music Hall with pundits and politicians. What’s interesting is the market value for each:

* Week 1: Tucker Carlson, James Carville, Arianna Huffington, Anderson Cooper: $30-250. Pundits come cheap
* Week 2: Al Gore: $60-500. An almost-a-president is golden.
* Week 3: John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani: $50-250. Even losers are worth more than pundits.
* Week 4: William Jefferson Clinton: $60-500. Jeesh. He couldn’t have saved all the aggravation of running the free world and just made a PowerPoint.

Playing by media rules

Media and Obama fans are trying to change the rules and kick Clinton out of the race. It’s no surprise that Obama would try to do that; it’s politics. But that media has accepted this meme is only further demonstration of their Obamalove.

This week’s On the Media is a mash note for Obama if there ever were one. My friend Bob Garfield repeats over and over that Hillary can’t win and then goes on to ask whether media should even be covering her or at least not as much as they are because, after all, he has declared her the loser.

Let’s get this straight (again): Obama, too, is not likely to walk into the convention with enough delegates to win. And then the rules decree that it should be up to the superdelegates. There is no rule that says they must act as a proporational whole or that they all should accede to the wishes of the majority. I’m not saying that would be a bad rule — indeed, I’ve long wanted national or regional primaries that count onlly the popular vote and I’ve long wanted to abandon delegate votes, not to mention the Electoral College, because — we need no better proof than 2000 — it can be gamed. But we are still stuck with our system and so both sides will maneuver within those rules. However, media and Obama think Clinton should not have that right.

Let’s put forward another scenario: Imagine that John Edwards had sparked voters more and that he stayed in the election until the convention, walking in as the kingmaker who could throw his support either way and crown the nominee. I don’t think we’d be insisting that whoever was behind — No. 2 — in the vote should be quitting before the convention. I don’t think we’d be insisting that Edwards had no choice but to throw his support behind the candidate with the most votes (though that candidate might make a wishful try to argue that). No, we’d realize that Edwards would decide where to throw his critical support based on (1) his self-interest, (2) his party’s best interest — which is to say, victory in November, and (3) his own beliefs (not necessarily in that order). We could only hope that those interests would all coincide. But that would be his decision.

Well, the superdelegates are all John Edwards. They have been charged with making this decision at the convention if there is not a nominee thanks to the fucked-up system of popular vote mixed with caucuses mixed with disenfranchising crucial states. The election remains close, not over, and for better or worse, it is going to be in their hands — not to mention the voters who’ve not yet voted. How dare media try to grab it away.

Hey, Obamalovers, the election’s not over yet. In the soon-to-be-immortal word of Bill Clinton: Chill.

: ALSO: Just to show there are no hard feelings with Bob — it’s politics — I’ll embed his masterful commercial for ComcastMustDie, which I see I forgot to embed before. One has nothing to do with the other but I’ll take the excuse to show how Bob and I agree about defeating something: cable companies.

Money, meet mouth

I’m thinking of donating to Clinton’s Pennsylvania campaign. As a journalist that has been a firing offense: the mortal sin of revealing mortal opinions. But I’ve certainly revealed my opinions. I’m a journalist but I don’t work for any such institution. What do you say: venial sin or act of grace?

Panel points

One more post about tonight’s panel (6p at New York University: Warren Weaver Hall, 251 Mercer St.,. Room 109): With such a lineup of luminaries (Arianna Huffington, Micah Sifry, Lisa Tozzi, Jay Rosen), I’m trying to think of ways to nudge the discussion about politics and the internet into new directions. One thought is to — McLaughlin-like, I’m afraid — start by positing some notions and get reaction. Think of it as Oxford lite or as jump balls. Here are some possibilities. I’d be eager to hear more ideas from you.

* Rudy Giuliani lost the election because of the internet (his MySpace page was closed; he never raised money online from individuals; he never started a movement) and Barack Obama will be nominated if not elected by the internet (he did start a movement using online). True or false? what made Obama’s campaign a movement and how much credit does the internet deserve? What has been the secret to his online success?

* We may be talking about racism in the campaign but we’re not talking about sexism (I’m not seeing it). True or false? If not, why not? And what impact is this ism having?

* Apart from the Hillary Clinton 1984 ad (and a few very recent and fairly click anti-Obama ads), most of the voter video we’ve seen on YouTube is crude and as lacking in skill as it is lacking in intelligence. True or false? I was among those who predicted that we’d see a flowering of voter creativity and advocacy. Why haven’t we?

* The most important online tool for campaigns this year has been — not blogs, not Facebook or MySpace, certainly not Twitter — but YouTube? True or false? Did it really manage to free the candidates from the tyranny of the 15-second soundbite and set the agenda in discussion and coverage? Or is that just web 2.0 wishfulness?

* Whoever wins will have to continue making YouTube videos and blogging or else everything they’re doing in this campaign will have been just a cynical act. True or false? This was the answer to a question I put to the head of David Cameron’s web activities in the UK. Clinton has promised to have agencies blog. Obama has promised to open up data. Will they continue their more personal and human relationship with constituents or is that act soon going to be over?

* We are nowhere nearer Joe Trippi’s dream of eliminating big money and TV from ruling campaigns. True or false? Yes, Obama raised huge money from huge numbers of people, but the amount needed only grew as well and TV is still at the center of campaigns. Is there any hope for Trippi?

* The primary system is broken and the internet is the way to fix it. True or false? The idea of state primaries is outdated when we can all see the same media and interact with campaigns in new ways online.

* The jig is up on journalistic objectivity and the internet forced the issue. True or false?

Or I won’t do this and we’ll discuss the impact of the internet on campaigns and government. As always, I’m eager for your thoughts.

Remember that the panel will be webcast by Rachel Sterne in Groundreport.TV.

P.S. If you’re doing I’m told this about the location: The entrance is blocked by construction so go to 40 West 4th Street, New York University’s Gould Plaza. The entrance to the Courant Institute is on the East side of the plaza (on your left hand side facing the plaza).

Not what they seem

In today’s NY Times, Paul Krugman says that progressives (nee liberals) voting for Barack Obama are not getting the most progressive candidate:

All in all, the candidates’ positions on the mortgage crisis tell the same tale as their positions on health care: a tale that is seriously at odds with the way they’re often portrayed.

Mr. McCain, we’re told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.

Mrs. Clinton, we’re assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eats babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive.

Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.

If you were there

I was remiss in my moderator duties. I want to ask you what I should bring up when I moderate a panel Friday evening. Please do help me do my job. The details again: I’m moderating a panel on how the internet is changing politics this Friday at 6p at New York University: Warren Weaver Hall, 251 Mercer St.,. Room 109. The stars of the show: Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and Off the Bus cofounder; Micah Sifry, editor of TechPresident.com; Lisa Tozzi, The New York Times assistant politics editor responsible for web coverage; Jay Rosen, NYU professor and Off the Bus cofounder. We’ll be talking about how the internet has changed — and will change — politics, media, and government. The event will be webcast by the amazing Rachel Sterne at GroundReport TV. Please join in.