Six Degrees of Speculation: January 2008: Archives

January 31, 2008

John McCain: The GOP's Wizard Of Oz? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Tongue-In-Cheek

John McCain seems to be the GOP frontrunner...a position he has rarely held while aspiring to be the Republican presidential nominee. Following his victory in Florida, McCain and his campaign seem to have accepted the esteemed moniker. His apparent inevitability is troubling to many establishment conservatives and a number of evangelicals. As I watched the Senator in the GOP debate from the Ronald Reagan Library, I couldn't help but notice the emergence of what I would characterize as the leading edge of his desire to release a blend of pent-up bitterness and spiteful and surly bravado.

Let me be clear, I don't seek to disparage the Senator or his debate performance. I'm sure he and his fellow candidates must be tired. Nonetheless, McCain's temperament has long been a topic of discussion...and a reason for pause. Last evening, in my opinion, I observed a man who has longed for the authority and the opportunity to speak his mind without the filters politicians so often employ. It left me wondering if I was watching a man who, upon attaining the presidency, might shed his subtle sophistry in favor of an unbridled style of authoritarianism.

Stay with me for a moment. McCain has made a career of portraying himself as a "straight talking" politician who is amenable to reaching across the aisle. When he's done so, it's often been to the chagrin of his fellow Republicans. On the surface, that's an admirable trait and one that seems to have served the Senator well...especially with the mainstream media...the tool he often utilizes to assuage the animosity and skepticism his actions have generated amongst his peers. In my estimation, whether it's a demonstration of sincerity or a carefully executed strategy is open to debate.

Now consider the 2000 GOP primary and the character assassination and personal assaults John McCain endured at the hands of his adversary, George W. Bush. If one can believe the media reports, the attacks were understandably quite hurtful to the Senator...and they are thought to have played a significant role in derailing his presidential aspirations.

Next, think about a man who spent over five years in captivity...a man forced to hold his tongue and bide his time in the face of adversity. Such treatment can undoubtedly alter one's relational skills and interaction style...as well as lead one to adopt a strategy that I would equate with treading water. Essentially, it's a recognition that survival is the fundamental objective...and that may mean saying what is expected or demanded in order to keep one's head above water...until one has the opportunity to do otherwise. As such, John McCain certainly understands what it means to tarry.

As I've watched the run up to the 2008 election, I've felt that McCain has made a number of strategic decisions intended to afford him another shot at the prize he seeks...the presidency. His campaigning for the reelection of George Bush struck me as an attempt to receive the party's presidential baton...in spite of his dislike of his former adversary. His subsequent forays into mending fences with the evangelicals he once assailed were more of the same. As best I can tell, in most instances, these mea culpa moments took place absent the dialogue one would expect to accompany a difficult reconciliation.

At the same time, my sense is his memory is akin to that attributed to an elephant. Hence he never forgets a slight, a fight, an insult, or a defeat. Like with his time as a prisoner of war, McCain has spent the last seven years plotting his escape from the subservience he resents and his ascendancy to the authority he craves. The phenomenon isn't unique to prisoners of war. The same often exists in spouses who stay in abusive relationships until they can envision and enact their escape and exact their revenge.

His occasional episodes of vitriolic derision directed at his primary opponents may offer a glimpse of what lies beneath the affable surface he labors to demonstrate. The measured and halting nature of his recent speeches...delivered with a structured and rhythmic cadence...suggest an alternative stream of thought is on the verge of surfacing...and ample energy must be diverted to keep it at bay until the opportune moment.

His palpable dislike of Mitt Romney prompts other concerns and considerations. One, McCain is apt to see Romney's flip-flopping campaign as a usurpation of the McCain "go along to get along" style. Two, the occasionally uncensored animosity aimed at Romney supports the psychological concept of projection...which essentially posits we're prone to recognize and resent in others that which we have failed to expunge from our own suspect identity.

John McCain may well win the GOP nomination...and that may occur as a function of voter's calculating he is best suited to defeat the nominee of the Democrats. If my hypothesis is correct, the more proximate McCain finds himself to his quintessential objective, the more difficult it will be to suppress the psychological scars that power his psyche. If this happens, the intervening months between his nomination and the November election may pull back the curtains and expose him as little more than the GOP's angry, though impotent, wizard.

The following graphic is a tongue-in-cheek summarization of the above observations.

John McCain - The GOP's Wizard?

Tagged as: 2008 Election, California GOP Ronald Reagan Library Debate, Democrats, Domestic Violence, Florida Primary, GOP, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Prisoner of War, Super Tuesday, Wizard of Oz

Daniel DiRito | January 31, 2008 | 9:54 AM | link | Comments (0)
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January 30, 2008

Political Strategy: Handicapping The Homestretch genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Homestretch

Now that it appears that John McCain has the inside track on the Republican presidential nomination, it's time to draw some general election comparisons with his two potential Democratic opponents.

Before focusing on narrow specifics, my general impression has long been that McCain is the most formidable GOP candidate...despite the tepid support he receives from establishment conservatives and his shaky bona fides with the evangelical base.

Race & Gender:

When looking at either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, both must overcome potential bias...her with regards to being a woman and him with regards to being an African American. My own suspicion is that gender and race could cost either candidate a segment of the voting public. I'm of the opinion that could equate with a low to mid single digit percentage. Advantage McCain.

Conversely, race and gender may be an advantage for both candidates with their respective voter contingencies. If so, it would seem that Senator Clinton would have the most to gain given that women make up a larger portion of the overall voting public. However, that advantage may be somewhat offset by the fact that Clinton elicits high negatives amongst GOP voters. No clear advantage.

Experience (Age) vs. Change:

With regards to experience, the lines of demarcation are relatively clear. Clinton and McCain have more experience and each can be viewed as a Washington fixture. McCain can argue his maverick persona gives him an advantage over Clinton...pointing out that her election would be a return to a prior era of partisanship and acrimony. At the same time, John McCain's record as a Senate contrarian could lead some Republicans to sit out the election. No clear advantage between Clinton and McCain. Both have an advantage over Obama.

As to change, this may be an area where one candidate has an unmistakable advantage. The mood of the country and voter dissatisfaction with the country's direction support the notion that voters are looking for measurable and meaningful change. Obama's age and his inspiring orations position him as a man of vision. Advantage Obama.

Nonetheless, that segues into two important caveats. One, while Obama's message of change provides him with a noticeable advantage, the degree to which he is able to convince voters he can implement it and that they should forego the safety of two known commodities would be essential to his success in capitalizing upon it. Two, this requires a look at age. McCain could appear too old and Obama could be viewed as too young (green vs. eclipsed). Thus a slight advantage affords to McCain based upon historical data suggesting that the elderly turn out in greater numbers than the youth vote. Clinton's age is generally neutral though her primary success with the elderly offsets McCain's age advantage and leaves her with the same narrow potential preferential over Obama.

Foreign Policy & Terrorism:

This is truly a wildcard factor given the uncertainty with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and terrorism (al Qaeda & the Taliban). The status of these situations just prior to the election can and will likely alter this calculation. At the moment, I view the situation in Iraq as a wash between the Democrats and the Republicans. The reduced violence resulting from the surge minimizes the advantage of calling for immediate withdrawal. Additionally, while a wide majority opposes the war, the preferred exit strategy is murkier.

With regard to individual candidates, Obama and McCain have an advantage over Clinton based upon their positions having been more consistent.

If we approach the election with Iraq achieving the political resolutions identified before the surge, McCain likely has an advantage over Obama based upon the voter belief that the GOP is strong on national defense and the Democrats are more inclined to measured diplomacy. McCain would also have an advantage over Clinton but possibly not to the same extent.

If Iraq fails to progress, or deteriorates as the election approaches, Obama would have an advantage over both Clinton and McCain. Obama's persistent opposition to the war would trump Clinton's evolving position as well as McCain's strident support. In this scenario, voter dissatisfaction should bode well for Obama. Advantage Obama.

A terrorist attack in the homeland prior to the election would likely provide McCain with a marked advantage based upon his incessant argument that radical Islamic extremism is the "transcendent issue of the 21st. century? and his military credentials.

Obama could argue that Iraq was an unwarranted distraction from the primary goal of combating terrorism...but the fact that the Democrats have failed to push that position since taking control of Congress in 2006 would likely handicap that argument and be overshadowed by the constant GOP contention that we must defeat the terrorists on their soil. I believe that the virtual silence of the Democrats since 2006 would be portrayed as indecision and political calculation and afford McCain and the GOP the high ground.

As long as Iraq is left to fester unchallenged, the GOP will appear to have demonstrated the willingness to lead and the Democrats will be seen as enablers looking to straddle the fence. Advantage McCain.

The Economy:

Assuming the downturn will persist until the election, voter concerns will benefit the Democrats. McCain's downplaying of his economic credentials coupled with his focus on cutting spending may be warranted sincerity...but it could also be the wrong message for these difficult economic circumstances.

Clinton's policy dexterity should provide voters with tangible solutions to consider while Obama's calls for a new direction could be the rejection of status quo politics that Americans seem to be willing to chance. Equal advantage to Obama and Clinton.

Immigration:

Of all the Republican candidates, McCain stands to receive the most Hispanic votes based upon his support of the president's plan that provided for a path to citizenship. At the same time, he will need to appease the GOP base and their insistence that any form of amnesty be removed from the equation. That puts him in a tough spot and is apt to limit his appeal to Hispanics.

If the Democrats approach immigration by proposing meaningful border security, demanding real employer accountability with regards to curtailing the hiring of illegal employees, and pointing to the impracticality and extremity of deporting 12 to 15 million illegals, they can convince a majority of voters that the GOP has been disingenuous in fomenting fear with calls for harsh measures...especially in the aftermath of their own lackadaisical enforcement of existing laws in order to appease their corporate benefactors. Advantage Clinton and Obama.

Health Care:

I believe 2008 will be the turning point in the health care stalemate. It's an issue whose time has come. I say as much because its impact is being felt by a large majority of Americans and they envision it will inevitably get worse. As such, I suspect that candidates that fail to offer significant proposals do so at their own peril.

The GOP and Senator McCain will likely posture in opposition to the ambitious plans of the Democratic candidate; offering little more than their standard fare solution of market driven expanded access to health care...fully ignoring that cost and affordability are the fundamental and immediate concerns of most Americans. The lack of tangible measures intended to install a new system rather than expand upon a broken one will cost the GOP votes. Advantage Clinton and Obama.

Looking at the Clinton and Obama health care proposals, both have merit. The Clinton plan is more amenable to short sound bites meant to engender voter support while the Obama plan is more cognizant of the fact that millions of Americans simply cannot afford health insurance...voluntarily or mandated...and that the solution must address that issue to actually provide health care solutions to those with immense needs and vacuous means. In the end, the existing political landscape probably favors Senator Clinton since nuance rarely works with impatient and inattentive voters.

Independent Voters & Party Expansion:

Hillary Clinton is at an obvious disadvantage with regards to attracting independent voters and expanding the membership of the Democratic Party. Her polarizing persona and her high negatives simply limit her ability to succeed in this regard.

John McCain, on the other hand, provides the GOP their best chance to draw independent voters and expand the ranks of the party. Unfortunately, those gains have the potential to come at the expense of votes from the party's base. Therefore, in relation to Senator Clinton, John McCain has an advantage.

Senator Obama has an advantage over both McCain and Clinton for two reasons. One, the fact that McCain is the likely GOP nominee suggests that the country may be moving towards the center; making independent voters an influential constituency. When that reality is coupled with the desire for change and an end to partisan polarization, Obama offers the least encumbered candidacy.

Clinton and McCain have likely alienated some independent voters with their perceived positional fluctuations. Those actions are apt to be viewed as a propensity to pander more than a willingness to compromise or unite. McCain still holds an advantage over Clinton; but Senator Obama seems to be the candidate best positioned to draw independent voters and expand his party.

What's At Stake:

Voters will encounter a number of difficult considerations as they head towards the November election and choosing our next president. Members of both parties are trying to evaluate their candidates' ability to defeat the nominee of the other party. Simultaneously, the nation is in the midst of tumultuous times that lack the clarity we would no doubt prefer.

The variables in the 2008 election may well exceed the bulk of our prior presidential elections. We're engaged in two wars with an overriding threat of terrorism...we have a woman and an African American running for the highest office...we face the likelihood of a recession and unprecedented declines in home values...and we enter an election year as a nation divided by unprecedented partisanship. Transcending these obstacles would not only be beneficial; it may well be necessary. It remains to be seen if we can turn this pivotal moment to our mutual advantage. The future of our nation likely hangs in the balance.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Democrats, Economy, Foreign Policy, Gender, GOP, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Immigration, John McCain, Race, Terrorism

Daniel DiRito | January 30, 2008 | 7:53 PM | link | Comments (0)
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January 26, 2008

Getting "Sullied": Be Careful What You Dish Out genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Andrew Sullivan

I have no particular axe to grind with Andrew Sullivan... except for noting the inconsistencies in the many axes he grinds ad nauseam. His latest obsession is Bill and Hillary Clinton (of course focused on Hillary's presidential aspirations).

Frankly, given his persistent efforts to negatively link Hillary to every "ism" he's ever pondered, it's hard too imagine that he hasn't ground his axe down to a rudimentary toothpick with which to extract the last shard of evidence...from her teeth...for his relentless indictment.

Suffice it to say that in this latest instance, Sullivan has fast become the epitome of "The lady doth protest too much"...and my apologies to good ladies everywhere. Sullivan now argues, by virtue of quoting the following from Faye Wattleton (transcribed by a reader and sent to him) who observed her appearance on Hardball with Chris Mathews (think mainstream media misogynist).

Chris Matthews: Faye, you first, you know Hillary Clinton, you know Bill Clinton. What's Bill's role in this thing, is it a good role or a bad role?

Faye Wattleton: Well, I think that Bill Clinton's role is that of the spouses of all the candidates, he's participating as a surrogate for his wife who is running. And I think that its entirely consistent with the ascension of other women to the top offices in their country; they come about it as the result of the president being their spouse or being members of prominent families. So I don't think that we should be so upset and agitated about Mr. Clinton's participation - we should continue to focus on the issues that the people want to hear about...these other matters are really side issues.

From these remarks, Sullivan intuits that the Clinton's are comfortable to conflate nepotism and feminism in order to achieve their objectives...thereby corrupting feminism and "everything they touch". So let me summarize the trajectory of Andrew's conclusion...one of Andrew's readers sends him a transcription of
Faye Wattleton's comments on Hardball and he agrees with it such that it proves the Clinton's have corrupted feminism? Well there you have it...case closed.

Regardless of one's opinion on the Clinton's and Hillary's aspirations, Sullivan's argument is the equivalent of entering a vacuous room that has been hermetically sealed and is devoid of any light...with a camera that lacks a flash mechanism...in order to take the quintessential picture of darkness. Unless random chance results in his capturing the definitive number of angels able to dance on the head of a pin, I'm similarly at a loss to recognize the Earth shattering nature of Sullivan's latest Clintonian hypothesis.

To my knowledge, Hillary Clinton is not only the first woman candidate with a chance to win the presidency; she is also the first spouse of a prior president to seek the office. Concluding that her candidacy must be a willful act, by the Clinton's, to conflate nepotism and feminism...and thus corrupt feminism...in order to win...is simply painting the unprecedented as presciently predictable. The fact that a president's legacy is rarely static suggests that asserting an understanding of this novel event is undoubtedly unbridled arrogance.

Yes, the Clinton candidacy turns political convention on its head...but concluding this candidacy is more lacking in ideological purity...or more willing to defile the grand order of "isms"...than those that have preceded it could just as easily be interpreted as a misogynistic projection intended to assure the status quo. At the very least, Newton's notion that for every action (force), there is an equal and opposite reaction (opposing force) seems an appropriate consideration.

Clearly the Clinton's are ambitious...and likely to a fault. However, they aren't the first political family to exhibit as much. They're not even the first political cabal willing to exploit the advantages they perceive to be available. I suspect we have an example of one in the White House at this very moment. Yes, the Clinton candidacy is unique in its structure...but it isn't unique in its execution. Looking to view the efforts of the Clinton's as a unique aberration or a full-scale deviation from established politicking is to ignore history.

Attempting to attach pejorative narratives in order to defeat them is nothing new either...and those who seek to paint the Clinton strategy as particularly distasteful are nonetheless politically motivated.

Sullivan's vast body of words betrays his effort to portray the Clinton's as unacceptable outliers. His frequent protestations with the narrow mindedness of the Catholic Church and his incessant lamentations on the state of conservatism demonstrate his own willingness to champion efforts to undo years of status quo while still remaining a card carrying conscript.

Are his efforts a corruption of those "isms" or merely the acts of an individual who hopes to alter them? Couldn't the established arbiters of the Catholic Church and the GOP establishment view Sullivan's actions to be the equivalent of the Clinton's? One can easily make the argument that his actions are intended to undermine their long-established order and their theoretical tenets.

Sullivan's efforts to reshape Catholicism to accept homosexuality can just as easily be viewed as an attempt to corrupt it. The same can be stated with regards to his displeasure with the current iteration of GOP conservatism. He may not believe that social issues should dominate the Republican landscape, but those who imagine themselves to be the party's purist guardians would no doubt beg to differ. Wouldn't both groups be justified in assailing Sullivan's "perversion" of both?

The presumption that feminism can be narrowly defined...or that it has been what it always was and will be what its always been is merely an attempt to erect an argument to further "sully" the Clinton's.

Sullivan contends he is a feminist. He also argues that he is a conservative and a Catholic. The truth of the matter is that he is these things...but clearly only to the extent that he defines them.

Sullivan is entitled to support the candidate of his choice. However, his ongoing efforts to disguise his justification as an adherence to ideological purity, is simply superficial subterfuge.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Andrew Sullivan, Bill Clinton, Catholicism, Chris Matthews, Conservatism, Faye Wattleton, Feminism, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Ideology, Misogyny, Nepotism, Politics

Daniel DiRito | January 26, 2008 | 4:12 PM | link | Comments (3)
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January 22, 2008

Sth Carolina Debate: The Lowdown On The Dust-Up genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Same Old Red Meat?

I've been stewing on last evening’s debate for the better part of the day. Generally speaking, I found it to be rather disquieting. It took me until this evening to discern the source of my anxiety...and my belief that it was little more than a quid pro quo demonstration of status quo politicking. My first instinct was to be angry with the candidates...and then I began to reconsider. That would have been the easy conclusion...but it would have also been an exercise in self-deception.

I'll now attempt a reasoned explanation of my newfound hypothesis; that being that despite reading and listening to the many protestations that Senators Clinton and Obama engaged in petty bickering...and the fact that they did...both candidates simply provided the stick that most voters are seeking with which to unleash their own particular bias...upon the candidate they oppose...regardless of the actual facts.

Think about it for a moment. Logic should tell us that candidates engage in such tactics because they have been proven to be effective. Therefore, logic should also tell us that they are effective because it is what we the voters accept, want, and expect. Here's the thing. As the election process unfolds and we each select the candidate we prefer, we then pivot in search of the means to discredit the candidates we reject.

So what does that mean with regards to my hypothesis? Two things. One, we select for the truth we prefer; not the truth we ascertain or uncover. Two, once a candidate speaks the truth we prefer, we're willing to accept untruths about the other candidates in order to bolster our own biased beliefs.

Hence, as with Pavlov's dogs, our actions train candidates to perform the deeds and actions that result in the positive rewards they seek...our votes. Here's how it works. Over time, voters make known to candidates their beliefs and expectations which is then transformed into a subtle but certain acquiescing to the assaults upon the enemy in order to obtain the power that we believe will allow us to reinforce (legislate) our shared beliefs. In the end, this process succeeds in conditioning politicians to launch the spurious attacks upon their opponents in order to receive the primary benefit they desire...an Election Day victory.

Here's the disconnect. Pavlov's dogs began to salivate at the sound of a bell once it was linked with being fed. Politicians also begin to link negative campaigns with Election Day votes. Once this happens, the quest for satiation on the part of the candidate and the voter (victory for the candidate and power for the voter) sets aside what ought to be the ongoing prioritization of truth. Thus the affirmation of our shared truth (the goal)...the truths (beliefs) we prefer...the truths (or lack thereof) that achieves the goal (reward) we seek...becomes the acceptable and/or preferred stimulus-response construct.

Once this model is cemented into the collective psyche, winning is the objective and the pursuit of truth...a truth that is just...not just the truth we like...is no longer the relevant priority. Our own particular bias becomes the driving force and all actions are viewed through this skewed prism...including a willingness to discount the truths of the opponent and to accept the attachment of untruths to the enemy if they have the potential to succeed in sullying and defeating that enemy. Simultaneously, we're outraged at the similar tactics of the opposition...though fully in denial as to the inevitable tit-for-tat reality.

Looking specifically at last evening’s debate, we begin to see the pull of this deeply ingrained construct. Let's assume Obama had intended to conduct the campaign he initially outlined...one that focused upon bringing unity...or at the very least a shared respect for the truth we can mutually agree upon as opposed to the truth we can impose. However, following his losses in New Hampshire and Nevada...coupled with indications the Clinton attacks may be resonating with voters...he is forced to reconsider.

I believe he feels forced to do this because the strategy he has employed seems to be failing to overcome the established expectations. In essence, the long-standing stimulus-reward conditioning prevents voters from properly attributing his actions. His hesitation, or refusal to participate in the process as it is designed, leads voters to conclude his truths mustn't be valid or, at the very least, his convictions about his beliefs aren't all that strong (see also Fred Thompson). The problem is that the prevailing mind set posits that all parties share the same goal and those unwilling to do what it takes to achieve those goals must lack the conviction (or the truth) to do what is necessary to win the reward (the power to impose that truth).

I suspect Obama's original strategy was premised upon the notion that the truth he would support when elected would first be as much of the truth as he had already espoused...but it wouldn't stop there. He believed he would also endeavor to get more or most voters to coalesce around a shared truth. Unfortunately, in the existing stimulus-reward system, that proposed outcome would often seem insufficient to the highly conditioned voter. It feels like the glass would be half-empty rather than half-full...and that is apt to fall short of satisfactory.

This results in what we saw last night...a skirmish fully adorned with the trappings that have become all too familiar...and by and large...demanded by the voters.

In the end, Obama has presumably realized the need to engage the negativity despite his dislike for such a system. The open question is whether he can muster the motivation to participate in the existing dynamic in order to win the opportunity to change it...assuming I've ascertained his actual goal. It's possible his objective is no different than that of his opponents and that he has, to this point, simply attempted a novel strategy.

Regardless, as long as the public's objective remains the attainment of the power necessary to implement our own coalitions (tribe) selective truths, the execution and the outcome of our political process will remain the same. We can continue to feign our disgust at what transpires while signaling our acceptance...or we can begin to abridge our bias and forego the fabrications and falsifications we have institutionalized in favor of a rational and reasoned reality.

Until such time as we make that choice, we'll continue our self-sustaining system of salivating each and every time someone succeeds in repackaging the same old rancid red meat. I'm of the opinion that we need to end our dogged dependence on this tired old trick.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Campaigns, Conditioning, Elections, Fred Thompson, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Nevada Caucus, New Hampshire Primary, Pavlov's Dogs, Politics, South Carolina Debate, South Carolina Primary

Daniel DiRito | January 22, 2008 | 7:49 PM | link | Comments (0)
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January 20, 2008

We Have Met The Enemy...And It Is Us genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Reflections

An interesting and potentially problematic phenomenon is emerging in the process to select a Democratic candidate for the presidency…as well as our next president. A preview of the issue began with anecdotal televised images from a caucus room on the Las Vegas strip. My growing concerns were validated in an analysis of the actual votes.

Before the votes were tallied, I took note of an interesting dynamic. For the most part, African American Obama supporters and Hispanic Clinton backers were chanting slogans for their respective candidates from opposite sides of the room. At first blush, I was inspired by the enthusiasm…and rightly so. The mood was animated, but by no means did it appear to be hostile. Regardless, it forced me to begin thinking about the mechanics of opportunity.

These particular caucus locations were created to make it possible for Culinary Workers Union members to participate. By and large, the union is made up of lower income ethnic voters...groups that have often felt neglected and inclined to believe many politicians treat them as an afterthought.

I suspect the focus on providing targeted caucus locations coupled with the fact that a woman and an African American are the leading Democratic candidates created a growing sense of opportunity in these overlooked and underappreciated groups. That’s an encouraging development.

At the same time, opportunity is an odd creature. Strange as it may seem, its absence often brings passive acceptance, as the flames of hope aren’t strong enough to fuel the fires that light the way to a better place. On the other hand, the emergence of opportunity is often accompanied by chaos and conflict as the downtrodden sense the possibility to transcend the certainty of a lesser lot in life.

Once opportunity rears its head on the distant horizon, the dim light that allows us to see its outline is apt to ignite dreams of better days that have long been kept in check. Simply stated, when opportunity is nowhere to be found, the certainty of status brings complacency; and conversely, when opportunity is palpable, the promise of progress often promotes impassioned participation.

As I pondered the fact that African American voters broke overwhelmingly for Senator Obama and Hispanic voters chose Senator Clinton by wide margins, I couldn’t help but consider the heinous nature of ethnic immobility and its propensity to divide rather than unite those who fight each day for a tiny share of a shrinking pie.

I suspect poverty brings clarity…and little else. Let me attempt an explanation.

Those who live each day like the one before…struggling to make ends meet…are undoubtedly forced to be cognizant of their limited resources as well as the need to jump to seize the scarce supply of opportunities that rarely appear. They know too well the large numbers of those who watch each day for a glimmer of hope…a chance to break the chains that bind and grab the rope that can deliver them from their darkened destiny…one clenched hand over another…hanging perilously above the pull of gravity that seeks to return them to the depths of despair.

Hence the chance to cast a vote of consequence is bound to inspire…and incite. With history as the point of reference, the knowledge of limited resources is, of course, the logical source of strife.

As we nominate a Democratic candidate and prepare for the 2008 presidential election, we needn’t and mustn’t allow the powers that be to portray the passions of hope as a reminder of racism. Rather, this process must be a rejoinder of our refusal to ignore the plight of the poor.

For far too long we have asked the least of us to be patient…to endure…to remain silent and satisfied with what little they receive. To be shocked when we witness a groundswell of emotion and the inevitable enmity that has become inured in those who know they are not welcome at the table is to ignore our part in setting too few place settings at that table.

We can make this election cycle about what separates us, or we can make it about what we choose to do to put an end to the dynamics that have long been allowed to divide us.

These simmering conflicts need not be evidence of the Democratic Party’s or this country’s inability to coalesce around one candidate. Rather, it should be fair notice that the Democratic Party will no longer accept the premise that the least of us need not be relevant or respected. I believe the voices of dissention are simply the sounds of destiny calling us to a new awareness.

Instead of silencing the voices of those who have yearned for change…and may now have the courage to demand it…we must add our voices to their clamor and grasp this opportunity to signal that we will no longer turn our heads to the plight of the have nots.

This is a moment that can either transform us or further fragment us. Instead of giving lip service to America’s greatness, it is time we once again demonstrate it. If we love this country we will. If we continue the trend of simply loving ourselves at the expense of the underrepresented, I suspect we’ll continue down the path of carelessly severing what’s left of the threads that so carefully created the cloth we call these United States.

Isn’t it time we put down our cynical and self-serving scissors and begin the hard work of stitching together a tapestry big enough to bring shelter and solace to all?

Tagged as: 2008 Election, African Americans, Barack Obama, Culinary Workers Union, Democracy, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Hispanics, Las Vegas, Nevada Caucus, Partisanship, Poverty, Racism

Daniel DiRito | January 20, 2008 | 1:55 PM | link | Comments (0)
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January 8, 2008

New Hampshire: The MSM's Dirty Bomb Backfires genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

What Goes Around, Comes Around

UPDATE:

Hillary Clinton is the projected winner of the New Hampshire primary.

Original Posting:

I'm absolutely fascinated by the fact that the New Hampshire Democratic race remains too close to call. Just when I wanted to conclude that people are for the most part vindictive and spiteful, I find myself surprised by their propensity for fairness. Let me explain.

I've written at length about the obvious bias which has been directed against Hillary Clinton since her defeat in Iowa. The establishment media has circled the wounded Senator Clinton like a flock of vultures waiting to devour the spoils. As tonight has unfolded, I'm beginning to suspect that the voters of New Hampshire decided to voice their displeasure with this lack of fair play.

Look, I'll say it again, I'm fine with anyone being opposed to Mrs. Clinton and her policies and her candidacy...but it would have been virtually impossible to mistake the bias directed at the Senator in the last few days for impartial treatment.

I'm of the mind that voters saw it and didn't like it...especially women...and I for one applaud them and the voters of New Hampshire for sending what appears to be a strong message that they won't tolerate this level of unwarranted vitriol.

I have to say I'm enjoying the opportunity to watch the self-appointed king makers eat crow and stumble to rescind their recent statements and their hasty predictions. In their salivating excitement to see the Senator take a beating, it looks like they'll have to retreat without their tasty treat and with their shameless tails between their legs.

Granted, Hillary may still lose the primary tonight...but the story isn't going to be her inevitable demise...it will be that those who wanted it so badly may have delivered just the opposite. Now that's karma for ya!

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Chauvinism, Democrats, Gender Bias, Hillary Clinton, Media Bias, Misogyny, New Hampshire Primary, Propaganda Catapulting

Daniel DiRito | January 8, 2008 | 7:39 PM | link | Comments (0)
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God's Charge To Mankind: Punish The Gays? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

Lighten Up God

It doesn't happen often, but every now and again I find myself exasperated by what I read in a newspaper or on the Internet. Today I came across one such item. Apparently a conservative pastor in Redmond, Washington, the location of Microsoft's headquarters, is putting together an effort to get Christians to purchase shares of Microsoft stock in order to begin the process of ending the company's support for "ungodly ventures".

Cutting to the chase, the group is angered by Microsoft's support for gay rights and the fact that the company believes its gay employees should receive all of the same consideration and benefits of their straight counterparts.

The groups leader, Rev. Ken Hutcherson, had previously sough to influence the company, a move that led a number of gay rights advocacy groups to accuse the company of allowing the Reverend to exert undue influence. At the time, the company briefly waffled on its support for a bill in the Washington's state legislature of which barred workplace discrimination against gays.

Hutcherson, joined by some of the country's most influential Christian leaders, has created a new organization, AGN Financial Network, to finance the effort. The worldwide venture asks people to buy three shares of company stock and donate one to AGN. Its Web site tells visitors, "You have the power to change the world," and contains tips on how to open a brokerage account. Among the listed supporters are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and religious pundit Gary Bauer.

At Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting in November, Hutcherson told the group that he was gathering evangelicals, Catholics, Jews and Muslims to challenge the company.

He told company leaders, "I could work with you, or I could be your worst nightmare, because I am a black man with a righteous cause, with a host of powerful white people behind me," according to an e-mail update to his supporters. "I hope to hear from you and if not, you will hear from me."

When asked whether the new initiative is a ploy to make money for his church, Hutcherson said, "Absolutely."

"We're going to need the finances to go to the next companies," he said. "Anything you do successfully needs money."

"Oh, yes ma'am, we're going after corporations," he said. "Microsoft has the privilege of being first because we have a history," Hutcherson said.

I've said it many times before and I will say it again...these people will spend their last nickel attacking gays but for some odd reason you rarely hear them mounting the same kind of efforts to help the uninsured or the poor. If they were to take this same initiative with regards to providing health care for poor children in Washington, I suspect they could improve the lot of countless children. Instead, the Reverend wants Christians to donate stock so he can wage a public relations battle with Microsoft. Ahh, yes, is it any wonder why I revile most religious institutions?

All too often the leaders of religious organizations spend their time attempting to separate their followers from their hard earned cash by inciting their uninformed and misguided prejudices. Excuse my indignation, but if those in the service of the lord are actually little more than agents for agitating hatred, then I have to question the validity and necessity of their existence.

Further, if they represent the feelings of the god they impart; then he is little more than a vindictive interloper with misplaced priorities. In my most agitated moments, I conclude that this supposedly all-knowing god...the one who allegedly created all that is...is either a full-fledged fraud or one lousy engineer. If he didn't want any gay people in the world he built, then he should have done a better job when building its inhabitants. Further, if he's as focused as his followers on punishing gays and denying them equal rights...while simultaneously ignoring the plight of millions of his creatures, then he's also one heartless and hypocritical caretaker.

I can save these fanatics and their god a lot of time, energy, and money. Here's the deal. As I understand it, God created a place called hell for those who don't follow his words as written in the Bible by a number of humans over two thousand years ago. Fine, then accept that I'm a lost cause and sign my friends and I up for irrevocable reservations to the fiery depths...then start spending the time and energy you've devoted to me and my gay cohorts helping the millions of innocent human beings in need. Call it my contribution to the advancement of Christianity.

Tagged as: Bill Gates, Christianity, ENDA, Equal Rights, Evangelicals, God, Health Care, LGBT, Microsoft, Poverty, Redmond, Religion, Religious Extremism, Rev. Ken Hutcherson, Same-Sex Marriage, Washington

Daniel DiRito | January 8, 2008 | 3:01 PM | link | Comments (1)
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How About That Best Health Care In The World? genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

Ham & Cheese

During this election cycle we've often heard politicians argue that the United States has the best health care system in the world. Unfortunately, there are problems with how this assertion should be measured and a new report suggests that U.S. politicians have ignored one very important factor. Specifically, for the 47 million people who lack health insurance, the results can be deadly despite the following inane comment from George Bush at a recent speech in Cleveland:

I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.

In the report released by "Researchers Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine", the evidence suggests that the United States ranks dead last in terms of preventable deaths...a statistic that fully refutes the wisdom of the president's observation. Basic logic should tells us that treating conditions in an emergency setting is inferior to routine care and monitoring...which rarely happens for those individuals who lack health insurance.

France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday.

If the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year, according to researchers writing in the journal Health Affairs.

Nolte said the large number of Americans who lack any type of health insurance -- about 47 million people in a country of about 300 million, according to U.S. government estimates -- probably was a key factor in the poor showing of the United States compared to other industrialized nations in the study.

"I wouldn't say it (the last-place ranking) is a condemnation, because I think health care in the U.S. is pretty good if you have access. But if you don't, I think that's the main problem, isn't it?" Nolte said in a telephone interview.

All the countries made progress in reducing preventable deaths from these earlier rankings, the researchers said. These types of deaths dropped by an average of 16 percent for the nations in the study, but the U.S. decline was only 4 percent.

"It is startling to see the U.S. falling even farther behind on this crucial indicator of health system performance," Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen said.

"The fact that other countries are reducing these preventable deaths more rapidly, yet spending far less, indicates that policy, goals and efforts to improve health systems make a difference," Schoen added in a statement.

As one can see, this report clearly points out just how absurd it is for the President to make the above statement. Yes, everyone knows that the uninsured can go to the emergency room...if they're having an urgent medical event such as a heart attack, kidney failure, diabetic coma, and so on...but they're not going to be provided with long term care in the form of heart medication, blood pressure medication, or insulin The care that is needed to treat long term medical conditions and chronic diseases and to avert or reduce these emergency room events as well as the increased risk of death is not available to many of the uninsured.

The bottom line is that the prevailing problem being ignored by the President and the 2008 GOP presidential candidates is the cost of health insurance and the inability of many, if not most of the 47 million uninsured, to afford it.

The topic was discussed in the recent ABC New Hampshire Republican debate. The following are a few relevant excerpts that clearly demonstrate the insufficiency of the GOP's proposals to correct this urgent and expanding problem.

MR. ROMNEY: Charlie, it -- that doesn't mean it shouldn't be improved. And I think -- I think that the notion of people buying their own private health insurance is a very good one, so long as a lot of them do it. Only 17 million Americans right now buy their own health insurance. If 50 million Americans were buying their own health insurance -- because it would be just as tax-advantageous to do it that way -- and we had a health savings account, people -- economists believe there'd be a 30 (percent) to 50 percent reduction in the cost of health insurance, and quality would come up.

MR. GIBSON: You all have proposed free market, consumer- purchased insurance, and you all talk about giving tax deductions for buying insurance. Let me do a little math. The average family employer-provided insurance, when the companies buy it, its $13,000 a family.

Now, you've talked about a 15 (thousand) to 20,000-dollar deduction, right, for people buying their own insurance? If you take a median-income family of $62,000 in this country, you've just saved them $3,000 on their taxes. That doesn't come close to buying an insurance policy.

MR. GIULIANI: Charlie, a health savings account actually helps to accomplish what the governor is talking about. If somebody can put aside -- and the plans that we've been talking about include a health savings account -- you'd have a -- you'd have an exemption up to 15,000 (dollars). If you could find a policy for 11,000 (dollars), you could have a $4,000 health savings account. You would be able to buy some of your health care and your prevention yourself. It gives you an incentive over a lifetime to deal with wellness.

None of these comments address the fundamental problem. The fact is that the vast majority of the uninsured don't have the income to buy health insurance even if they wanted to do so.

Let's look at some of the GOP candidate’s specific statements. Mitt Romney seems to suggest that the problem will resolve if we can simply get more individuals to buy private health insurance. Excuse me, but there are millions of Americans who can't even afford to pay their portion of an employer sponsored insurance plan. Just how are those individuals going to be able to afford even more expensive individual policies?

Rudy Giuliani's plan isn't any better. Note Charlie Gibson's explanation whereby the government offers a tax incentive for individuals or families to purchase private insurance. However, to do so, a family needs to be able to afford at a minimum of $13,000.00 (the amount they currently pay for employer sponsored insurance) in order to receive a $,3000.00 tax break. If you haven't the ability to pay for the insurance, the tax break is meaningless. Therefore the Giuliani plan only works for those who can already afford health insurance. It sounds nice to talk about a 15 to 20 thousand dollar exemption, but it isn't going to help those with low incomes who already pay minimal taxes.

When Giuliani goes on to laud the benefits of an HSA, he is once again insulting our intelligence. If most of the people who lack health care had the ability to set aside $4,000.00 in an HSA...or under their mattress...wouldn't they already be doing so? Further, the assumption that people aren't mindful of their own wellness is laughable. If you can't put food on the table for your family, you sure as hell don't put $4,000.00 in an HSA account for wellness care.

Frankly, the bulk of the GOP rhetoric on health care is little more than smoke and mirrors intended to feign concern without ever having to fund care. I would relate it to one of my favorite expressions told to me by an old friend, "I'd have a ham and cheese sandwich...if I had any ham or cheese." By and large, the same logic holds for the plight of the uninsured.

In fairness, both John McCain and Mike Huckabee argued that the lack of wellness and preventative care are largely responsible for the skyrocketing costs of health care. Their statements are a sensible equivalent to the oft heard expression, "you can pay me now or pay me later"...except for one critical omission. The "pay me now" portion of the equation is the lion's share of unfunded health care costs...costs which are only currently covered by health insurance...the health insurance that millions can't afford...and that the GOP has little desire to fund.

Since the health care industry isn't absorbing these costs (and doesn't want to), they have absolutely no motivation to offer to subsidize this type of care. At the same time, it’s abundantly evident that the GOP opposes the government stepping in to cover these costs. The truth of the matter is that the health care industry and the GOP both accept that it's cheaper (and more profitable) to continue only requiring the health care industry to provide indigent emergency care. In the end, that essentially leaves few people advocating for the needs of the uninsured...and more people in the morgue.

It's been more than seven year since George Bush sold the American public on the notion of "compassionate conservatism". Let's hope that the election of a Democrat in 2008 will be the first step towards seeing it demonstrated.

Tagged as: Charlie Gibson, Compassionate Conservatism, George Bush, GOP, Health Care, Health Insurance, Indigent Care, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, New Hampshire Republican Debate, Poverty, Preventative Medicine, Rudy Giuliani, Uninsured, Wellness

Daniel DiRito | January 8, 2008 | 9:25 AM | link | Comments (4)
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January 6, 2008

Just An Old Fashioned Rant - Jackass Jake Tapper genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

While surfing the internet, I noticed there was a debate underway as to whether a particular segment of Hillary Clinton's debate performance (see video clip below) was a "meltdown", a display of "shrill anger", or any other iteration intended to impart that she had come unhinged.

In following the discussion, I came across the observations of ABC's Jake Tapper on his blog, Political Punch. Here's Mr. Tapper's posting:

Hillary's Debate Moment

Jake Tapper

January 05, 2008 9:53 PM

It won't come across on the transcript, but Sen. Hillary Clinton got angry during the debate tonight.

She was bickering with Sen. Barack Obama about their differences on health insurance, and whether Obama's plan leaves millions of Americans uninsured.

And then she … well … she got angry.

Frankly, I don't even really understand what she was saying. What I was getting was how angry she is. Not about an issue, so much, as about the fact that Obama is beating her.

The clip, I predict, will be played again and again and again.

Pundits will say that her tone made male voters recoil. And led some female voters to sneer.

Clinton people are spinning this as her projecting strength. I do not think that will be the widely-head view.

HERE's THE VIDEO LINK [See the clip below], already posted by Clinton enemies and the debate isn't even over yet.

Tell me what you think.

-- jpt

UPDATE: She just had another weird moment, too, where she seemed to blame Natalie Sarkisyan's death on John Edwards' inability to get the Patients Bill of Rights passed in the House.

I should add that this angry Hillary Clinton is NOT one I've ever seen at the Senate, on the stump, or in interviews. But I feel her performance tonight, in contrast to Obama's coolness and Edwards' Southern drawl, feeds into stereotypes about her. She tried to address this by dismissing "likeability" as a factor -- that Americans in 2000 would have preferred to have a beer with George W. Bush than Al Gore, and look how that worked out. But still.

Video Clip Referenced Above:

I included the photo of Mr. Tapper in the quotation since it's relevant to my remarks below and since it appeared just to the left of his posting and drew my attention once I finished reading his observations on Hillary Clinton.

I posted the following comment...rife with sarcasm...on his blog in order to point out just how absurd I found his characterization of the entire situation.

I started to read this posting after having already watched the debate...when I suddenly noticed the smirk on the face of the author, Jake Tapper. I thought to myself, "Just what did I do to Mr. Tapper to deserve such a discounting scowl."

Needless to say, I instantly determined that Mr. Tapper is an antagonistic person without having any need to read his comments or know anything substantive about him.

I set aside my dismay and proceeded to watch the "incoherent rant" by Hillary Clinton. As I watched the clip, it suddenly made me realize that perhaps Mr. Tapper's picture was taken after he was forced to tune his wife out when she asked him to pick up his dirty clothes for the tenth time.

Hence, I realized I was clearly jumping to conclusions when assuming Mr. Tapper's "innocent" smirk was directed towards me. How presumptive of me! What was I thinking to draw such biased conclusions?

Sheesh, it just goes to show that these "angry women" will stop at nothing to upset us poor poor helpless men and turn us against each other...what nerve these "women" have! Don't they know their place?

Whew, I feel better now. I'm sure glad I was able to properly direct my passive aggressive animosities.

Sorry Jake, my bad!

First let me be clear...I'm not endorsing Senator Clinton nor have I decided I prefer her to be the Democratic nominee. However, in the interest of fairness...and given my own experiences with bullying and downright mean spirited individuals...I felt compelled to come to the Senator's defense.

For some time now I've remained silent while noticing the propensity of numerous pundits (primarily male but not exclusively) to assail each and every action of Senator Clinton...and to do so with a full regalia of pejorative aspersions. If she's assertive, she's shrill and angry...if she's demure, she's playing the gender card...and on and on. Well I've had enough.

Look, if someone dislikes Senator Clinton's politics, so be it since there's clearly nothing wrong with stating as much. However, the pattern of taking her every action and describing it in demeaning and derogatory terminology is disgusting, childish, and fully indicative of the gender bias long associated with the concept of the "good old boys" mentality.

Quite frankly Mr. Tapper, though you may be enamored and enabled by an awareness of your penis, your actions suggest you to be a pussy...and I realize in saying as much that I do a disservice to the genitalia of countless women who have long exhibited the deliberate decency and reasoned sensibility to forego trying to be a dick to every jackass man that thinks he's all that and a bag of chips.

Given your duality as both a dick and a pussy, may I suggest you go f#@k yourself.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, ABC, Bullying, Chauvinism, Hillary Clinton, Jake Tapper, Misogyny, New Hampshire Debate, Political Punch, Sarcasm

Daniel DiRito | January 6, 2008 | 9:28 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Political Strategy: How Democrats Define Victory? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Defining Victory

Having read numerous internet postings on the Iowa primary, last evenings New Hampshire debate, and the comment thread in Steven Reynolds posting at All Spin Zone titled “Hillary Clinton, You’re Better Than This", I decided to share my thoughts on some overarching issues which frequently get lost in the melee.

Generally speaking, most postings and comments offer valid points for consideration and discussion. Notwithstanding, human nature is prone to the promulgation of biased rhetoric, which can distract one from seeking to explore and understand obvious, though unspoken, fundamentals.

Before proceeding, let me expose my own bias in favor of the Democratic Party to those who may not know my political leanings. With that in mind, the following is primarily addressed to those like-minded individuals who are undoubtedly hoping for a Democratic victory this coming November.

The prevailing tone found in what I’ve read in the last few days is focused on which candidate people prefer followed by the justifications they offer in that regard. I personally feel this approach leaves one vulnerable to overlooking the prevailing considerations for the achievement of a meaningful victory by the Democratic Party.

In a nutshell, our basic task is to understand the nature and tactics of the opposition, the attributes of the candidates they enlist, how each of our candidates match-up against the opposition and each of it’s candidates, and the voter appeal we can anticipate from each candidate. Before we can actually begin analyzing our candidates, we must first look at the perceptions we hold regarding the level of partisanship we can expect from the GOP.

Recent history tells us that bi-partisanship and compromise haven’t been part of the Republican agenda under the guidance of George Bush and his minions. While this isn’t a guarantee of the nature of future behavior on the part of the GOP, prudence suggests one should anticipate more of the same.

With that in mind, we can begin to explore our optimal strategy. From a very simplistic perspective, the best means to combat the opponent we’ve identified would be for the Democrats to get behind a candidate that can best help the party win the White House and take enough seats in the House and the Senate to thwart what seems to be a state of perpetual procedural stalemate.

Doing so would solve many of the problems enumerated in the postings and the comments I’ve read. Further, if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, Democrats are never going to go toe to toe with the GOP in the playing of “cut-throat, take no prisoners" partisan politics. I say as much not because we couldn’t eventually learn to do so…but it would no doubt require even more focus upon manipulating the media and the voting public and it frequently demands that politicians be willing to forego or modify their beliefs in order to score political points.

Reality and a review of history should tell us few true Democrats are inclined to do so. It should also encourage us to know they possess the integrity to forego acting accordingly. Besides, it’s also unlikely we can beat them at their game. Additionally, to do so is to succumb to that which we despise. Defeating one’s adversary by adopting the same methods they employ is little more than capitulation…and it runs the risk of further alienating one’s voters. The bottom line is we mustn’t ignore or abandon who we are.

So what are Democrats to do? First, we should take pride in our identity and offer no apologies for choosing to act honorably. Secondly, the best way to defeat the GOP is to give them an Election Day bloody nose...by beating them silly...in the ballot box. If we did this, we wouldn't have to worry about playing games we’re not comfortable navigating and we wouldn't have to resort to cut throat tactics at every turn of the road…tactics that lead voters to conclude the only difference between the two parties is how they spell their names.

In our haste to change our modus operandi, we’ve forgotten the power of our message and the need to impart it, which essentially means we’re losing our identity…the very thing we have to offer the electorate. Democrats need to stop fighting with each other about whether to adopt the GOP’s suspect strategic methods and start convincing people to get out and vote Democrats into office because we offer clear and credible alternatives. The more we become a watered down amalgam; the more voters lack tangible choices and forego voting.

I would argue that understanding and appreciating the above should allow us to begin an informed and illuminating evaluation of our candidates and our prospects for achieving the type of success that voters notice and reward.

It is my contention that what we are witnessing with the Obama campaign …and to a lesser degree with the Edward’s campaign…proves my point. The best thing about Obama...at this moment...is his apparent (not yet proven) ability to bring people (from all persuasions) to the ballot box with his message…an unapologetic attempt to impart essence and empathy instead of affectation and animus.

The problem he and we face is whether he can turn his "magic" into enough votes to render the Republicans irrelevant. If he can't, one must wonder if he's got the stomach for the inevitable battles he will face from a GOP that is comfortable with a "we don’t negotiate" mentality.

In support of Clinton, she is probably more adept (and willing) to engage in perpetual partisan warfare. I suspect she may be able to win a general election, but she, in my estimation, unfortunately lacks the ability to change hearts and minds…a requirement to draw enough votes to meaningfully change the numbers in Congress. The comfort that may come with her track record is no doubt accompanied by ongoing gridlock.

John Edwards says the right things and he has a track record of fighting and winning...but not in the political arena where the rules are far less defined than in the courtroom. Notwithstanding, his experience may well translate...but in all honesty, his track record in the Senate probably doesn't offer convincing evidence.

I personally like his populist theme…but if Iowa is any indication of the best way to sell that message…in a manner that it engenders a groundswell of first time, independent, and crossover voters…perhaps Obama has proven to be the better tactician?

With Iowa as the backdrop, if Huckabee ends up being the GOP candidate (with his populist leanings), then a match up with Edwards is likely a wash in terms of who can draw like-minded (populist) voters. What Huckabee lacks in populist substance in comparison to Edwards is probably offset by the former Governor’s affability and articulation. The same may not be true when comparing Huckabee with Obama.

All of these observations are simply intended to force us to define the meaning of victory as well as the degree to which a win by each of our candidates would constitute meaningful results. It’s far too easy for each of us to get lost in the allure of our particular candidate being elected to the presidency. While each of us may feel this potentiality justifies our support of our chosen candidate, it may not equate with measurable success…success that ought to be defined as the implementation of the objectives we share as Democrats.

Today, I fear voters believe they must look for magic in the absence of substance. Until one of the political parties decides to forego it’s prop filled jacket and places its hidden cards face up on the table, we will continue to spin our wheels while trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Wouldn’t it be far simpler to extend an honest hand to the American people than to craft the next sleight of hand?

I may be wrong, but I have a hunch voters have reached the point where they are first and foremost looking for a little hope. I also believe they’re prepared to reward the party that backs it up with an observable measure of hard work.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, All Spin Zone, Barack Obama, Democrats, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Iowa Primary, John Edwards, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Steven Reynolds

Daniel DiRito | January 6, 2008 | 6:54 PM | link | Comments (0)
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January 5, 2008

Mike Huckabee: The GOP's Rebellious Love Child? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Let The Divorce Begin

There are countless reasons why I wouldn't vote for Mike Huckabee. At the same time, I find myself in the strange position to admire the fact that he, more than his manipulative Republican predecessors, is a candidate committed to his evangelical beliefs and the followers who share them. Let me be clear...my admiration is for the apparent sincerity of the individual; not for the beliefs he and his minions hold. Conversely, my disdain is for those who have created the very dynamic they suddenly fear.

In fact, an interesting thing is happening in the GOP. The powers that be...those crafty individuals (think Karl Rove) who long ago sought to recruit people of faith with a mix of pious pandering, phobic platitudes, and pyrrhic promises...now find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Suddenly, the beast of burden that carried them to their exalted victory in 2000 (their culminating moment of presumed political dominance) has become the dangerous dragon that establishment Republican elitists are rampantly racing to slay.

If one removes the veil of religious rhetoric under which the GOP elite has traveled to reach their pinnacle of power, one would actually find they worship little more than power and the profit it brings. Like panoply on a pig, they have willingly donned the dressings of dogma and whispered sweet nothings in the ears of those who honor the ultimate populist...Jesus Christ.

Time and again, these skillful strategists took umbrage at the slightest hint of secular and scientific sensibility in order to ingratiate themselves to the faithful. If it wasn't prayer in school or religious symbols in public places or the war on Christmas or a science curriculum that includes intelligent design or research utilizing embryos already scheduled for destruction, it was penalizing a network for showing a split second of Janet Jackson's breast at the Super Bowl or the need to deny the medical evidence in the Terri Schiavo case or promoting abstinence to combat AIDS and teen pregnancy or the ever popular railing against the militant homosexual agenda bent on destroying the family and the sanctity of marriage.

When George Bush sold compassionate conservatism and the restoration of "honor" to the White House as a moral imperative wrapped in religiosity, these elitist Republicans embraced the guise with the fervor of a freshman fraternity pledge. They did so because Bill Clinton provided the opportunity to adopt their "soul saving" straw man strategy and it served their purposes at that particular juncture.

Like most zealots, they rode their hallowed horse into the ground until it culminated in the wholesale rejection of their extremist ideology in 2006...and that now leads them to believe their sullied steed cannot cross the finish line first in 2008. In truth, they actually believe it must be prevented from running the race and they desperately want it quietly, quickly, and convincingly retired.

Unfortunately, the real believers...those individuals that have been so callously manipulated...now see a truly cathartic champion in Mike Huckabee and an opportunity to flesh out the disingenuous interlopers who simply sought to maintain their insular domain.

Like any charade, the hoodwinked eventually awaken to exact their revenge on the offending individual or entity. Like most charlatans, the offenders swiftly and summarily jump ship and expose their sinister and singular self-serving identities the moment their kingdom appears set to crumble. Unable to hold their avarice at bay, their true nature spills from their mouths like water from a Louisiana levee.

Truth be told, the Mike Huckabee phenomenon is the love child of an ill-conceived marriage...one that sought to attach the prurient pursuit of power and profit to puritanical piety. Mike Huckabee simply saw an opportunity and he took it...much to the chagrin of the establishment elites...and much to the delight of the unrequited.

It now appears that the obtuse overlords who have made a career of championing conventional marriage have two problems. One, their own marriage of convenience is about to disintegrate...and two, they were foolish enough to produce an offspring that is now older and wiser and fully capable of unrestrained rebellion.

Spiteful as it may be, I'm happy to state, "Let the nasty divorce begin".

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Abstinence Only, Church & State, Evangelical, George Bush, GOP, Janet Jackson, Karl Rove, LGBT, Mike Huckabee, Religion, Religious Right, Republican Elitism, Terri Schiavo

Daniel DiRito | January 5, 2008 | 12:07 PM | link | Comments (0)
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January 4, 2008

Iowa Postmortem: Handicapping The Possibilities genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Race Is On

I personally feel that Obama is electable...though I don’t disagree that a small portion of the electorate won’t vote for him based upon hidden racism that will only be exposed in the ballot box. That said, I think the same is true for a woman...though it may be a smaller factor.

In looking at the latest head to head polls at Real Clear Politics, John Edwards matches up best against the Republican candidates followed by Obama. At the moment, McCain is the strongest Republican in the head to head match-ups with Democrats.

I suspect that McCain is doing best because he appeals to many of the moderate independent voters who have begun to support Obama...a fact that won’t go unnoticed by savvy GOP strategists who realize they need a candidate who can win a fair share of these voters if the GOP is to hold the White House.

The best scenario for the Democrats is continued success by Huckabee, which will undoubtedly portend a major problem for the GOP. I suspect most establishment Republicans favor Giuliani but the problem they have is that he isn’t apt to gain much traction until Super Tuesday in early February. If Huckabee continues to do well...keeping McCain at bay until February...the GOP will be confronted by evangelicals refusing to back Giuliani and establishment Republicans refusing to support Huckabee. If that dynamic holds (meaning McCain doesn’t break out of the pack to challenge Huckabee), the GOP may be fatally fractured for the foreseeable future.

If the above scenario unfolds, I suspect any of the frontrunner Democrats could win in November...and possibly by comfortable margins.

If McCain becomes the compromise candidate who can hold the GOP coalition together, all bets are off and it could well be a tight race. If this happens, it makes Edwards and Obama the preferred Democratic candidates. If Obama catapults Iowa into even more independent voter support (and the post-primary data in Iowa suggests he can), he will likely be the better candidate to oppose McCain.

While I’m not opposed to Clinton as the nominee (with reservations as to electability), I see a McCain – Clinton contest as the worst-case scenario for the Democrats. It offers nothing new to voters seeking change; it leaves in play all of the partisan hyperbole that has dominated politics during the Bush and Clinton administrations; it likely means independents will break for McCain, and it gives the GOP an enemy they can all oppose.

My hunch is that Obama has the potential to catch fire and run away with it all.

I've not factored in a third party candidate...though I doubt it dramatically alters the race.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Democrats, Evangelicals, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Iowa Primary, John Edwards, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani

Daniel DiRito | January 4, 2008 | 3:57 PM | link | Comments (0)
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