Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 6, 2008

What John McCain Shouldn’t Do

Obviously, it will help McCain in the long term to work to bring the Republican party together as soon as possible. But there is something a little lunatic in the demand that he essentially overhaul his campaign approach now, right this second. Because the thing is, he’s winning with his current strategy. It’s the other guys — the moderate-turned-movement-conservative and the Southern-Christian — who aren’t winning. He has three times as many delegates as Mitt Romney. No rational person would overhaul what’s working. There’s an echo chamber at work among those who dislike McCain — they hear and see and read mostly things with which they agree, and they therefore think that everyone agrees with them and that McCain must be in trouble.  McCain knows trouble. He was in deep trouble last year, when he fired most of his staff and was left for dead by most of the political cognoscenti. Winning 600 delegates in a single night isn’t trouble. It’s the opposite of trouble.

Obviously, it will help McCain in the long term to work to bring the Republican party together as soon as possible. But there is something a little lunatic in the demand that he essentially overhaul his campaign approach now, right this second. Because the thing is, he’s winning with his current strategy. It’s the other guys — the moderate-turned-movement-conservative and the Southern-Christian — who aren’t winning. He has three times as many delegates as Mitt Romney. No rational person would overhaul what’s working. There’s an echo chamber at work among those who dislike McCain — they hear and see and read mostly things with which they agree, and they therefore think that everyone agrees with them and that McCain must be in trouble.  McCain knows trouble. He was in deep trouble last year, when he fired most of his staff and was left for dead by most of the political cognoscenti. Winning 600 delegates in a single night isn’t trouble. It’s the opposite of trouble.

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So Hillary Lent Her Campaign $5 Million.

Big deal. John Kerry lent his campaign millions too. Republicans giggled and snorted about that, but in the end, Kerry got 60 million votes — more than anybody else in history except for his rival, George W. Bush, who got 63 million.

Big deal. John Kerry lent his campaign millions too. Republicans giggled and snorted about that, but in the end, Kerry got 60 million votes — more than anybody else in history except for his rival, George W. Bush, who got 63 million.

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How’s The Reality Check Going?

When they finish tabulating California John McCain will have more than 700 delegates. I don’t have a good answer as to why Mitt Romney seems to insist on soldiering on. (It makes even less sense if he intends to hop over the three primaries next week and Wisconsin on February 19 and focus on Texas and Ohio on March 4. By then McCain’s delegate total may be close to 900 out of a needed 1191 )

Others are stumped as well. His biggest defender raises the 1976 election as a reason for him to stay in, but isn’t it poor form to raise the year in which Republican strife (albeit with a large assist from Richard Nixon’s pardon) did in the GOP nominee?

There are many sane voices calling for an end to the anti-McCain hysteria and recognizing that he is not some wide-eyed liberal, but the task of rallying around the inevitable winner becomes harder when his opponent will be out on the stump and on the air bashing him and claiming he is indeed a non-conservative trouble maker. I am still left pondering why Romney would go on, but perhaps in the bubble of a campaign the pleas of supporters untouched by reason is too much to resist. (Or perhaps he can’t bear to disappoint his new best friends.) I would understand the temptation if he had not been shellacked in California or if he had found a single primary state in which he had not lived to claim a victory. If it were not his own enterprise, I suspect Romney would be the first to counsel against throwing good money after bad.

When they finish tabulating California John McCain will have more than 700 delegates. I don’t have a good answer as to why Mitt Romney seems to insist on soldiering on. (It makes even less sense if he intends to hop over the three primaries next week and Wisconsin on February 19 and focus on Texas and Ohio on March 4. By then McCain’s delegate total may be close to 900 out of a needed 1191 )

Others are stumped as well. His biggest defender raises the 1976 election as a reason for him to stay in, but isn’t it poor form to raise the year in which Republican strife (albeit with a large assist from Richard Nixon’s pardon) did in the GOP nominee?

There are many sane voices calling for an end to the anti-McCain hysteria and recognizing that he is not some wide-eyed liberal, but the task of rallying around the inevitable winner becomes harder when his opponent will be out on the stump and on the air bashing him and claiming he is indeed a non-conservative trouble maker. I am still left pondering why Romney would go on, but perhaps in the bubble of a campaign the pleas of supporters untouched by reason is too much to resist. (Or perhaps he can’t bear to disappoint his new best friends.) I would understand the temptation if he had not been shellacked in California or if he had found a single primary state in which he had not lived to claim a victory. If it were not his own enterprise, I suspect Romney would be the first to counsel against throwing good money after bad.

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McCain Going Forward

A very thoughtful piece by Mitt Romney supporter Dean Barnett argues that John McCain should not and cannot move to the right to gain the nomination. Barnett essentially says that it’s up to conservatives to decide whether to get on the bus or hand the White House over to the Democrats in the middle of two wars. The opposite view, set forth in near comical terms here, is for McCain to check every conservative box he can find and ingratiate himself with the Right. (Because that worked out so well for Romney?)

The solution seems to be somewhere in the middle. McCain is not about to deviate from his views on campaign finance reform or global warming, especially since the latter in particular is a winner in the general election. He is not likely to confess he was wrong on waterboarding or on the Bush tax cuts. However, he should explain in clearer terms his domestic policy agenda, which is fundamentally conservative. His healthcare plan and what we have seen of his fiscal plans would and have made Larry Kudlow smile. He has, contrary to recent talk show chatter, committed himself to appoint conservative judges. He can explain why this is critical and why conservatives benefit when social policy decisions return to the elected branches of government. In short, McCain needs to explain, but not revise his basic philosophy of government.

And immigration? He said he is committed to border security first and that is as much as he can offer the conservative anti-immigration crowd. If some leave the GOP over their insistence that McCain jettison his willingness to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants who will certainly still remain after all available border security measures, internal enforcement, and “attrition by enforcement” run their course, there is little McCain can do about it. And the risk here seems low. So far, immigration does not seem to be the barnburner issue it was made out to be.

A very thoughtful piece by Mitt Romney supporter Dean Barnett argues that John McCain should not and cannot move to the right to gain the nomination. Barnett essentially says that it’s up to conservatives to decide whether to get on the bus or hand the White House over to the Democrats in the middle of two wars. The opposite view, set forth in near comical terms here, is for McCain to check every conservative box he can find and ingratiate himself with the Right. (Because that worked out so well for Romney?)

The solution seems to be somewhere in the middle. McCain is not about to deviate from his views on campaign finance reform or global warming, especially since the latter in particular is a winner in the general election. He is not likely to confess he was wrong on waterboarding or on the Bush tax cuts. However, he should explain in clearer terms his domestic policy agenda, which is fundamentally conservative. His healthcare plan and what we have seen of his fiscal plans would and have made Larry Kudlow smile. He has, contrary to recent talk show chatter, committed himself to appoint conservative judges. He can explain why this is critical and why conservatives benefit when social policy decisions return to the elected branches of government. In short, McCain needs to explain, but not revise his basic philosophy of government.

And immigration? He said he is committed to border security first and that is as much as he can offer the conservative anti-immigration crowd. If some leave the GOP over their insistence that McCain jettison his willingness to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants who will certainly still remain after all available border security measures, internal enforcement, and “attrition by enforcement” run their course, there is little McCain can do about it. And the risk here seems low. So far, immigration does not seem to be the barnburner issue it was made out to be.

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Harems on The Dole

The International Herald Tribune reports that male British citizens who’ve taken multiple wives in countries where polygamy is legal can claim welfare benefits for them in England.

There’s more to worry about here than the exorbitant cost of England’s welfare overreach or the plunging respect for traditional nuclear families. Here’s the Tribune:

The ministry estimates that up to 1,000 polygamous relationships exist in Britain, and the ruling is expected to primarily benefit members of the Muslim minority who married elsewhere under Islamic law.

In July of 2007, a British court found Muktar Said Ibrahim and three accomplices guilty of trying to bomb London tube stations in retaliation for England’s involvement in the Iraq War. In order to figure out the monetary expense to English tax payers, you’d have to add £165,000 to the cost of the trial. That’s the amount that Ibrahim and his buddies had collected in welfare before attempting to blow up some Brits on their way to work.

There are three interlocking points: without personal investment in a nation’s productivity no person can ever call themselves a citizen of that nation in anything but the legal sense. Furthermore, a country cannot make one-way accommodations for a sector of its population and hope to see a shared sense of citizenship develop. And when a significant minority of that sector is bent on undoing the nation itself, such accommodations amount to state-sponsored masochism.

The International Herald Tribune reports that male British citizens who’ve taken multiple wives in countries where polygamy is legal can claim welfare benefits for them in England.

There’s more to worry about here than the exorbitant cost of England’s welfare overreach or the plunging respect for traditional nuclear families. Here’s the Tribune:

The ministry estimates that up to 1,000 polygamous relationships exist in Britain, and the ruling is expected to primarily benefit members of the Muslim minority who married elsewhere under Islamic law.

In July of 2007, a British court found Muktar Said Ibrahim and three accomplices guilty of trying to bomb London tube stations in retaliation for England’s involvement in the Iraq War. In order to figure out the monetary expense to English tax payers, you’d have to add £165,000 to the cost of the trial. That’s the amount that Ibrahim and his buddies had collected in welfare before attempting to blow up some Brits on their way to work.

There are three interlocking points: without personal investment in a nation’s productivity no person can ever call themselves a citizen of that nation in anything but the legal sense. Furthermore, a country cannot make one-way accommodations for a sector of its population and hope to see a shared sense of citizenship develop. And when a significant minority of that sector is bent on undoing the nation itself, such accommodations amount to state-sponsored masochism.

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Some Thoughts on Last Night

1. John McCain has ended up where, at the start of this process, he was supposed to be: as the presumptive nominee of his party. But what a wild, strange journey it’s been. He was the frontrunner in late 2006 and early 2007 — and then lost altitude at a speed that could induce the bends. Broke and with his campaign barely on life support, McCain headed to New Hampshire, the site of his greatest political moment in 2000. He won the New Hampshire primary on January 8 — and that was enough to propel him to where he is today.

2. McCain’s victory is a tribute to his grit and skill — but his wins have not been overwhelming. According to the Washington Post, exit polling showed that among self-described conservatives voting yesterday, McCain lost to Romney or Huckabee in many states. And McCain didn’t do well in the South, which underscores his continuing weakness with the GOP base.

McCain benefited enormously from a fractured field which generated little enthusiasm. No conservative alternative to McCain ever emerged. Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson tried to rewrite the rules of politics and flamed out. Mike Huckabee received strong support from evangelical Christians–but his support, while intense, was also narrow. Mitt Romney never caught on. An impressive man in many ways, he presented himself in a manner that seemed contrived and artificial–and the support he did receive seemed tepid and qualified. Out of all this John McCain emerged. He was able to cobble together the support he needed–just barely.

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1. John McCain has ended up where, at the start of this process, he was supposed to be: as the presumptive nominee of his party. But what a wild, strange journey it’s been. He was the frontrunner in late 2006 and early 2007 — and then lost altitude at a speed that could induce the bends. Broke and with his campaign barely on life support, McCain headed to New Hampshire, the site of his greatest political moment in 2000. He won the New Hampshire primary on January 8 — and that was enough to propel him to where he is today.

2. McCain’s victory is a tribute to his grit and skill — but his wins have not been overwhelming. According to the Washington Post, exit polling showed that among self-described conservatives voting yesterday, McCain lost to Romney or Huckabee in many states. And McCain didn’t do well in the South, which underscores his continuing weakness with the GOP base.

McCain benefited enormously from a fractured field which generated little enthusiasm. No conservative alternative to McCain ever emerged. Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson tried to rewrite the rules of politics and flamed out. Mike Huckabee received strong support from evangelical Christians–but his support, while intense, was also narrow. Mitt Romney never caught on. An impressive man in many ways, he presented himself in a manner that seemed contrived and artificial–and the support he did receive seemed tepid and qualified. Out of all this John McCain emerged. He was able to cobble together the support he needed–just barely.

3. If McCain becomes the nominee of the party, as it appears he will, the burden is on him to unite it. We’ll see how well he does. Some conservatives are very wary or outright hostile to him. This is due not simply to his stand on the issues, from opposing the Bush tax cuts to McCain-Feingold to federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to illegal immigration to conferring constitutional rights to terrorists. It is that over the years McCain has seemed to take great delight in antagonizing conservatives. He seemed more taken with his image as a maverick than his loyalty to his party or the conservative movement. The fact that he seriously considered bolting the party after his loss to George W. Bush in 2000 and that a top aide reportedly spoke to John Kerry about the possibility of McCain running as Kerry’s vice presidential running mate tells one a great deal.

McCain’s voting record and American Conservative Union rating look good on paper — but his passions and energy have often been directed in ways that did not advance conservatism, and sometimes impeded it. He often showed a graciousness toward liberals and Democrats that he didn’t demonstrate to fellow Republicans and conservatives. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were good friends who would make fine presidents – while leaders of the religious right were “agents of intolerance.” And so, not surprisingly, there is considerable opposition to him from some important quarters.

4. The overwhelming thing McCain has in his favor is that he was both principled and right on the surge of U.S. forces in Iraq — and he took his stand when it was deeply unpopular. In a match-up between McCain and either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, we know this: if he is elected president, we have a good shot at a decent outcome in Iraq. And if Obama or Clinton is elected president, the war will almost surely be lost. Both Democratic candidates have made is perfectly clear that their goal is to end America’s involvement in Iraq rather than to prevail there. The Iraq war and its broader implications remain the most important issue before us — and McCain is the best our side can offer.

5. Illegal immigration remains a puzzling political issue. It is clearly near the top of concerns for many conservatives – and fierce opposition to illegal immigration defeated immigration reform legislation last year. There is a passion surrounding this issue that cannot be denied; its advocates see it in terms of upholding the law and assimilation. On the other hand, those who carry high the Tancredo banner on illegal immigration don’t do well in congressional or presidential primary elections. The GOP candidates who made illegal immigration a cornerstone of their campaign, including Romney and Thompson, never took flight. And the two candidates in this year’s GOP race whose governing records were most sympathetic to illegal immigration have done the best. The issue of illegal immigration isn’t as potent as some believe – but it’s not as irrelevant as some insist.

6. The Republican race is nearing its denouement; the Democratic contest is not. And a bitter race between Obama and Clinton, now essentially tied for the lead, is almost guaranteed. The love-fest we witnessed during last week’s debate will soon be a distant memory; because this contest involves the Clintons, baseball bats and billy clubs will soon be swinging. This will help Republicans in a year that looks very challenging.

Democrats are better positioned by many metrics: voter turnout and enthusiasm, fundraising for the presidential candidates (Obama hauled in more than $30 million in January alone), party identification, public support on key issues, and much else.

I’ve been struck in my conversations with Republicans over the months by how dispirited and unenthusiastic they have been — about the candidates specifically and politics more generally. That has to change, and quickly, if Republicans hope to retain the presidency.

It’s a long way to November and America remains, in important respects, a center-right country. Senators Obama and Clinton are completely conventional liberals – and Mrs. Clinton is radioactive when it comes to Republicans. Nevertheless John McCain, who continues to win but in a manner that does not inspire much love or loyalty, has his work cut out for him.

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The Day After

The delegate total today: 620 for McCain, 270 for Mitt Romney and 176 for Mike Huckabee. (The McCain total will increase once California is fully counted.) By some calculations McCain won the overall popular vote last night by 650,000 votes over Romney (40% to 32%). McCain did win among self-identified Republicans (but just barely, 38-37%) as well as moderates and “somewhat conservative” voters. He came in a poor third among “very conservative” voters.

McCain sounded serious today about binding up the party’s wounds. Some of the most fervent Romney supporters are chiming in with responsible advice and reminding conservatives of the stakes in 2008–including six potential Supreme Court Justices. Larry Kudlow seems encouraged that McCain will meet the concerns of fiscal conservatives. But some are not happy and will not be mollified. I think the former will outweigh the latter, but as we saw last night it is the voters, not the pundits, that get counted on election day.

Meanwhile, Romney mulls his options while GOP veteran and McCain advisor Charlie Black gives the businessman, who loves data, some data to consider which suggests that the nomination is mathematically improbable, if not impossible, for Romney.

The delegate total today: 620 for McCain, 270 for Mitt Romney and 176 for Mike Huckabee. (The McCain total will increase once California is fully counted.) By some calculations McCain won the overall popular vote last night by 650,000 votes over Romney (40% to 32%). McCain did win among self-identified Republicans (but just barely, 38-37%) as well as moderates and “somewhat conservative” voters. He came in a poor third among “very conservative” voters.

McCain sounded serious today about binding up the party’s wounds. Some of the most fervent Romney supporters are chiming in with responsible advice and reminding conservatives of the stakes in 2008–including six potential Supreme Court Justices. Larry Kudlow seems encouraged that McCain will meet the concerns of fiscal conservatives. But some are not happy and will not be mollified. I think the former will outweigh the latter, but as we saw last night it is the voters, not the pundits, that get counted on election day.

Meanwhile, Romney mulls his options while GOP veteran and McCain advisor Charlie Black gives the businessman, who loves data, some data to consider which suggests that the nomination is mathematically improbable, if not impossible, for Romney.

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The Big Stories

It’s only the morning after Super Tuesday, but it still’s not too early to think about the really super Tuesday—the one that comes in November. In that regard I was struck by the two major stories of this morning after the election news. One is that the economy is apparently continuing its slide into recession. The other is the testimony of Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, that Al Qaeda is improving its ability to attack the United States.

The former story seems to favor Clinton/Obama (or Obama/Clinton), the latter McCain. Of crucial importance will be the weight assigned by voters to the two. At the moment it appears that the economy and health care edge out the war in Iraq and terrorism as issues of concern in the polls. Of course a president can do far less to influence the economy than national security policy, and even if we’re in a recession it will probably be over by the time the next president is inaugurated. Moreover, since McCain is not closely associated with the Bush administration it is an open question to what extent voters will punish him for what may be seen as the Bush recession.

Admittedly, there is a strong tendency among voters to use a general election as a referendum on the state of the economy with the incumbent party being punished if the economic news is bad. But that could be trumped if terrorism and war stay in the news since McCain is so much more better qualified than Clinton/Obama to “keep us safe”—the only voter concern that can rival the economy in importance.

I don’t profess to have the foggiest notion of how these dynamics will play out. The only safe prediction seems to be that it will be a wild ride until November—as wild as the past year, and that’s saying something.

It’s only the morning after Super Tuesday, but it still’s not too early to think about the really super Tuesday—the one that comes in November. In that regard I was struck by the two major stories of this morning after the election news. One is that the economy is apparently continuing its slide into recession. The other is the testimony of Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, that Al Qaeda is improving its ability to attack the United States.

The former story seems to favor Clinton/Obama (or Obama/Clinton), the latter McCain. Of crucial importance will be the weight assigned by voters to the two. At the moment it appears that the economy and health care edge out the war in Iraq and terrorism as issues of concern in the polls. Of course a president can do far less to influence the economy than national security policy, and even if we’re in a recession it will probably be over by the time the next president is inaugurated. Moreover, since McCain is not closely associated with the Bush administration it is an open question to what extent voters will punish him for what may be seen as the Bush recession.

Admittedly, there is a strong tendency among voters to use a general election as a referendum on the state of the economy with the incumbent party being punished if the economic news is bad. But that could be trumped if terrorism and war stay in the news since McCain is so much more better qualified than Clinton/Obama to “keep us safe”—the only voter concern that can rival the economy in importance.

I don’t profess to have the foggiest notion of how these dynamics will play out. The only safe prediction seems to be that it will be a wild ride until November—as wild as the past year, and that’s saying something.

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Spared Change

Last night secured John McCain as the breakaway frontrunner for the GOP nomination and showed Hillary Clinton to be (at least) tied with Barak Obama on the Democratic side. Party voters have demonstrated their decided comfort with the two most obvious “establishment” candidates out there.

Which brings us back to that whole “change” thing. Candidates and pundits have been saying this election comes at a uniquely ripe moment. Enervated by wars without end and uninspired by Bush-Clinton-Bush, Americans are poised to enter a new age: no more business as usual, paradigm shifts are upon us, etc. From the more formidable huffing and puffing out there, you’d think it’s France in the year 1789. But in truth, we’re far closer to the best of times than the worst. Americans continue to be perfectly comfortable with the existing conditions, because America continues to be uniquely successful in living up to its twin dictates of freedom and prosperity.

Americans are stirred by “change” in the exact manner in which it’s currently on offer—as a faint daydream in the margins of reality. Taking part is an entirely different story. We’re like spoiled children who threaten to run away from home and find that merely registering the possibility is enough of a thrill. In fact, Hillary may win the nomination because even her detractors are somewhat soothed by knowing what to expect. Never mind that epochal wind at Obama’s back; Hillary’s got the power of the status quo behind her.

Americans are so wary of change that their “change candidate” is actually more retro than change. Obama seeks (and finds) comparisons to American icons as varied as Ronald Reagan, JFK, and Marin Luther King. Funnily enough, nothing in this election has the flavor of revolution quite like the dynamism that’s pulled John McCain from the dog house and made him a frontrunner. Perhaps this is because his momentum is hitched to actual change—the surge of U.S. forces—in a nation—Iraq—that really does recognize, and welcome, the genuine article.

Last night secured John McCain as the breakaway frontrunner for the GOP nomination and showed Hillary Clinton to be (at least) tied with Barak Obama on the Democratic side. Party voters have demonstrated their decided comfort with the two most obvious “establishment” candidates out there.

Which brings us back to that whole “change” thing. Candidates and pundits have been saying this election comes at a uniquely ripe moment. Enervated by wars without end and uninspired by Bush-Clinton-Bush, Americans are poised to enter a new age: no more business as usual, paradigm shifts are upon us, etc. From the more formidable huffing and puffing out there, you’d think it’s France in the year 1789. But in truth, we’re far closer to the best of times than the worst. Americans continue to be perfectly comfortable with the existing conditions, because America continues to be uniquely successful in living up to its twin dictates of freedom and prosperity.

Americans are stirred by “change” in the exact manner in which it’s currently on offer—as a faint daydream in the margins of reality. Taking part is an entirely different story. We’re like spoiled children who threaten to run away from home and find that merely registering the possibility is enough of a thrill. In fact, Hillary may win the nomination because even her detractors are somewhat soothed by knowing what to expect. Never mind that epochal wind at Obama’s back; Hillary’s got the power of the status quo behind her.

Americans are so wary of change that their “change candidate” is actually more retro than change. Obama seeks (and finds) comparisons to American icons as varied as Ronald Reagan, JFK, and Marin Luther King. Funnily enough, nothing in this election has the flavor of revolution quite like the dynamism that’s pulled John McCain from the dog house and made him a frontrunner. Perhaps this is because his momentum is hitched to actual change—the surge of U.S. forces—in a nation—Iraq—that really does recognize, and welcome, the genuine article.

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Downtime

Apologies for the gap in service! We were experiencing technical difficulties with our server as a result of unprecedented response to John Podhoretz’s Why They Hate McCain. but we’re back online now, as you can see.

Apologies for the gap in service! We were experiencing technical difficulties with our server as a result of unprecedented response to John Podhoretz’s Why They Hate McCain. but we’re back online now, as you can see.

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Margins of Victory

Most commentators gave McCain a hard time last time for his decision to go campaign in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts. However, the final “score” shows that he lost the state only 51-41 percent, an impressive showing in the his opponent’s backyard. (Despite a ludicrously inaccurate exit poll showing a tied race, McCain won his own state 48-34 percent.) The notion that California had tightened or that McCain’s lead there was ever in peril appears to have been nothing more than wishful thinking by the Romney forces. McCain, with over 90 percent of the vote counted, leads there 42 percent – 33 percent. (At some point for fun look at the state pre-election polling and see how awful some of it was. Zogby, for example, had Romney up 7 percent in California in its last poll. Other polling outfits, like Mason-Dixon, lived up to their good reputations.)

The magnitude of the California victory is startling. This map shows that in a closed primary, all Republican contest in the country’s largest state, where Romney poured in millions of dollars (perhaps his last), McCain won big, and won everywhere.

Now, there is a good argument that McCain should have spent more time in the South and that he vastly underestimated Huckabee’s ability to win states. It may have been that McCain lacked the internal polling that Romney enjoyed. If so, he now will have plenty of resources to get himself a decent pollster and plan his time accordingly.

Most commentators gave McCain a hard time last time for his decision to go campaign in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts. However, the final “score” shows that he lost the state only 51-41 percent, an impressive showing in the his opponent’s backyard. (Despite a ludicrously inaccurate exit poll showing a tied race, McCain won his own state 48-34 percent.) The notion that California had tightened or that McCain’s lead there was ever in peril appears to have been nothing more than wishful thinking by the Romney forces. McCain, with over 90 percent of the vote counted, leads there 42 percent – 33 percent. (At some point for fun look at the state pre-election polling and see how awful some of it was. Zogby, for example, had Romney up 7 percent in California in its last poll. Other polling outfits, like Mason-Dixon, lived up to their good reputations.)

The magnitude of the California victory is startling. This map shows that in a closed primary, all Republican contest in the country’s largest state, where Romney poured in millions of dollars (perhaps his last), McCain won big, and won everywhere.

Now, there is a good argument that McCain should have spent more time in the South and that he vastly underestimated Huckabee’s ability to win states. It may have been that McCain lacked the internal polling that Romney enjoyed. If so, he now will have plenty of resources to get himself a decent pollster and plan his time accordingly.

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Advice From Different Quarters

I do not know if Mitt Romney will follow Bill Kristol’s advice from last night and say his goodbyes at the CPAC gathering tomorrow. Having done so poorly in the South, come in third in Missouri, and lost California, there seems to be little point–other than to perpetuate the animosity within the GOP–to forging on. I think it is telling Romney did not in his speech last night argue that he was the conservative hope for the party or that only he could keep the Reagan coalition together.

At some point, he and the McCain detractors should take time to consider Haley Barbour’s advice about a time for ending intra-party hostilities. Barbour, both in jovial tone and in concern for the party’s fate, provides a model for others who may have backed other horses but wake up today with a single, viable frontrunner. Come to think of it , Barbour might make a pretty good Vice President.

I do not know if Mitt Romney will follow Bill Kristol’s advice from last night and say his goodbyes at the CPAC gathering tomorrow. Having done so poorly in the South, come in third in Missouri, and lost California, there seems to be little point–other than to perpetuate the animosity within the GOP–to forging on. I think it is telling Romney did not in his speech last night argue that he was the conservative hope for the party or that only he could keep the Reagan coalition together.

At some point, he and the McCain detractors should take time to consider Haley Barbour’s advice about a time for ending intra-party hostilities. Barbour, both in jovial tone and in concern for the party’s fate, provides a model for others who may have backed other horses but wake up today with a single, viable frontrunner. Come to think of it , Barbour might make a pretty good Vice President.

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Second Life

Today’s Washington Post reports on the intelligence challenged posed by virtual worlds like Second Life, in which millions of participants use “avatars,” computer-generated personae, to interact in an global role-playing game. The research arm under the Director of National Intelligence, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, has been studying such computer environments and finding potential dangers.

One intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had no evidence of activity by terrorist cells or widespread organized crime in virtual worlds. There have been numerous instances of fraud, harassment and other virtual crimes. Some computer users have used their avatars to destroy virtual buildings.

In addition to the threat of more virtual buildings getting blown up, there is also the danger of virtual terrorist training grounds, and other possibilities yet to be dreamed of. The immediate problem is that virtual worlds offer a channel for surreptitious terrorist communication. Second Life has some 12 million users with approximately 50,000 people logged on at any given moment, making it very difficult for the CIA to track al Qaeda operatives playing the game from virtual caves.

In a world of multiplying threats, Connecting the Dots wants to know of it would make sense to create a virtual CIA to monitor this world? And if so, who should be in charge? Is this a good moment for the agency to call Michael Scheuer back from retirement?

 

Today’s Washington Post reports on the intelligence challenged posed by virtual worlds like Second Life, in which millions of participants use “avatars,” computer-generated personae, to interact in an global role-playing game. The research arm under the Director of National Intelligence, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, has been studying such computer environments and finding potential dangers.

One intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had no evidence of activity by terrorist cells or widespread organized crime in virtual worlds. There have been numerous instances of fraud, harassment and other virtual crimes. Some computer users have used their avatars to destroy virtual buildings.

In addition to the threat of more virtual buildings getting blown up, there is also the danger of virtual terrorist training grounds, and other possibilities yet to be dreamed of. The immediate problem is that virtual worlds offer a channel for surreptitious terrorist communication. Second Life has some 12 million users with approximately 50,000 people logged on at any given moment, making it very difficult for the CIA to track al Qaeda operatives playing the game from virtual caves.

In a world of multiplying threats, Connecting the Dots wants to know of it would make sense to create a virtual CIA to monitor this world? And if so, who should be in charge? Is this a good moment for the agency to call Michael Scheuer back from retirement?

 

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They Sort of Did

Certainly it was not an entirely successful night for the “Yes, we can” forces, but with Missouri shifting to their column they have reason to be pleased. Yes, they lost California and New Jersey, but they won 13 states by my count. The arcane delegate allocation rules may give Obama more delegates for the night. It was not everything they hoped and the wave did not quite topple Clinton, but they probably have enough wins under their belts to keep their faithful together and march onto Virginia, Maryland and D.C. which may be fine delegate-hunting grounds for him.

Certainly it was not an entirely successful night for the “Yes, we can” forces, but with Missouri shifting to their column they have reason to be pleased. Yes, they lost California and New Jersey, but they won 13 states by my count. The arcane delegate allocation rules may give Obama more delegates for the night. It was not everything they hoped and the wave did not quite topple Clinton, but they probably have enough wins under their belts to keep their faithful together and march onto Virginia, Maryland and D.C. which may be fine delegate-hunting grounds for him.

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McCaskill 1, Kennedys 0

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s endorsement appears to have propelled Obama to victory in Missouri, where he trailed in polls by double digits only two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy failed Obama in Massachusetts and Maria Shriver failed Obama in California. So much for Camelot’s mystique.

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s endorsement appears to have propelled Obama to victory in Missouri, where he trailed in polls by double digits only two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy failed Obama in Massachusetts and Maria Shriver failed Obama in California. So much for Camelot’s mystique.

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Hillary’s Night

She has won California, and, like McCain, by what may be a significant margin. This is meaningful, because yet again the media snowed themselves into believing that there was an Obama wave that would swamp her. She is running a traditional, grind-it-out, do-the-work-and-get-it-done campaign, and while it’s by no means certain she is going to win, if she does she will have won the respect of the Obama voters and will be even more formidable going into the fall.

Note, however, who has vanished from sight. Her husband.

She has won California, and, like McCain, by what may be a significant margin. This is meaningful, because yet again the media snowed themselves into believing that there was an Obama wave that would swamp her. She is running a traditional, grind-it-out, do-the-work-and-get-it-done campaign, and while it’s by no means certain she is going to win, if she does she will have won the respect of the Obama voters and will be even more formidable going into the fall.

Note, however, who has vanished from sight. Her husband.

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“Yes He Can”

Obama’s “yes he can” retort stands in stark contrast to Romney’s “they haven’t” chorus. Now that Romney is projected to lose in California, it appears that he won’t.

Obama’s “yes he can” retort stands in stark contrast to Romney’s “they haven’t” chorus. Now that Romney is projected to lose in California, it appears that he won’t.

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It’s All Over

John McCain has won California, and probably by a huge margin in the popular vote. Mitt Romney will withdraw tomorrow or Thursday. Mike Huckabee will stay in for another couple of weeks just in case McCain melts down.

John McCain has won California, and probably by a huge margin in the popular vote. Mitt Romney will withdraw tomorrow or Thursday. Mike Huckabee will stay in for another couple of weeks just in case McCain melts down.

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Missouri In McCain’s Pile

This is an important and traditional bellwether state. It is a narrow win, but a win. Romney came in third. Again, it is hard to find any legitimate avenue for him to go forward, unless he pulls out California.

This is an important and traditional bellwether state. It is a narrow win, but a win. Romney came in third. Again, it is hard to find any legitimate avenue for him to go forward, unless he pulls out California.

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