Hillary Clinton is not amused. Her opponent, the fellow who she contends is infatuated with Ronald Reagan, handily won the Maine caucus, his fifth win since his 13 Super Tuesday wins. She sacked her campaign manager and is pleading with John Edwards for an endorsement. She has gone ballistic over David Shuster’s inappropriate remark about her daughter. (The remark was uncalled for; the reaction was over the top.) She might try to revive the Michigan and Florida delegates. However, all of her frenetic activity is somewhat beside the point: her delegate lead is slipping away.
She may be banking on Ohio and Texas on March 4 to revive her prospects. Ohio offers plenty of downscale Democrats who care more about healthcare than inspirational rhetoric. Texas offers her Hispanic voters who so far have favored her. But it might be too late by then. If she loses the Potomac primary on Tuesday as expected and Wisconsin on February 19, March 4 may be for her what Florida was for Rudy Giuliani (too little, too late).
So rather than March 4, her real firewall may be Wisconsin. Will the students and progressives of Madison spell her defeat? Or can she count on the working class voters from Milwaukee to save her candidacy? Obama has figured out the pivotal role of Wisconsin and will be there to hear the Potomac returns. If she is smart, she will head there as well and recognize that if she loses on February 19, there may not be enough lawyers (to contest Michigan and Florida) or enough superdelegates to save her.
Last week I mentioned that a Seymour Hersh piece would be coming out in the New Yorker attempting to show that the Syrian site Israel bombed in September 2007 was not a nuclear facility.
Well, Hersh’s piece is out now, and it’s a giant whiff, even by Hersh’s standards. He quotes a couple of people from left-wing American think tanks saying that claims of a nuclear-related target are “all political.” There are the standard anonymous quotes from diplomats close to the IAEA casting doubt on the operation. A staffer at the lefty New America Foundation in Washington says about the satellite imagery of the site, “all you could see was a box. You couldn’t see enough to know how big it will be or what it will do. It’s just a box.” Well, Jeffrey Lewis, maybe Israel has better satellite imagery than you do, and maybe Israel also has some people inside Syria who are supplying information on the mysterious box. Ever thought of that?
Hersh casts some legitimate doubt on the story of the Al Hamed, the ship that docked in Syria a few days before the strike and has been said to have originated in North Korea. But one of his sources is a Greenpeace employee who monitors illegal fishing, who he quotes saying “I can tell you, as a captain, that the Al Hamed was nothing–in rotten shape. You wouldn’t be able to load heavy cargo on it, as the floorboards wouldn’t be that strong.” Well that settles it!
Hersh spent three months researching this piece and traveled several times to Israel and Syria to conduct interviews with his armies of anonymous sources. After all that time and effort, he couldn’t have simply said to his editors, “I’ve got nothing.” But if you read between the lines, that’s exactly the message he’s sending.
The Nobel Prize has become little more than an award offered in recognition of outspoken anti-Western, anti-American, or anti-Israel bile. Whether the recipient is Yasser Arafat or Al Gore (for Peace) or Harold Pinter (for Literature), the ideological thread that links the winners is visible in varying degrees: America is either on the wrong track or apocalyptically on the wrong track, and Israel was never on the right one.
So, when Doris Lessing won the 2007 Nobel prize for literature, Christopher Hitchens, a Nobel detractor and a big Lessing fan, wrote: “It’s as though the long, dreary reign of the forgettable and the mediocre and the sinister had been just for once punctuated by a bright flash of talent.”
It turns out the Nobel Committee must have known something Hitchens didn’t, because since receiving the award, Ms. Lessing has seen to her “sinister” duties retroactively, as it were. In October of 2007, the BBC quoted Lessing on 9/11: “Many people died, two prominent buildings fell, but it was neither as terrible nor as extraordinary as they think.” Additionally, she described Americans as “very naïve people.” Today, the International Herald Tribune quotes Lessing predicting the assassination of a President Barack Obama: “He would probably not last long, a black man in the position of president. They would kill him.” One supposes this has to do with those American propensities for alarm and naïveté.
Do you think the Nobel Committee made an arrangement with Doris Lessing beforehand?
Yes, John McCain has a pesky Mike Huckabee reminding him that his red-state appeal could use some improvement. Yes, there is some segment of the conservative base that will dog him to move right just when he should be clinging to the center in the general election. However, his — and in turn the GOP’s issues — pale in comparison right now to the Democrats’.
We know the Democratic race is knotted and may come down to a superdelegate buy-a-thon, arm-twist-a-thon to determine the nomination, an awful prospect for the party which has spent decades trying to escape the smoke-filled room brand of politics (and not just through smoking bans). There is a bigger problem, actually two problems: Michigan and Florida.
Michigan had 156 delegates and Florida had 185 delegates before the DNC stripped both states of their delegates for breaking DNC rules and jumping into the pre-February 5 time period. In a race this close these delegates could decide the winner. Would the Democrats really pick a nominee without counting votes from two populous states that will be critical in November?
Several ideas are circulating to deal with this increasingly critical problem. Hillary Clinton, of course, wants to seat the delegates based on the votes already cast, arguing 1.8 million Florida and 600,000 Michigan votes should not be thrown out. Barack Obama contends that unlike his opponent (silly him) he abided by the DNC rules and did not compete (or even list his name on the Michigan ballot), and the recorded votes are therefore meaningless. Other ideas include a convention or caucus “do over” in the spring or some combination of a “do over” and retention of the the original results.
For all their reform-minded zeal, the Democrats may have a good old fashioned rules fight over sitting the disputed delegates and a smoke-filled room or two might determine their nominee. Political junkies might think this would be grand fun, but for both Democratic candidates and the DNC this may be their worst nightmare. The bitter feelings and lawsuits resulting from such a titanic struggle could paralyze the party that many had predicted would sail into the White House. McCain and the GOP might finally have caught a break.
John McCain had been on a roll going into Saturday’s elections, but his loss in Kansas and the close races in Louisiana and Washington stopped that short.
On Friday at CPAC, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton sung McCain’s praises and then heartily endorsed him on Saturday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Fred Thompson got on the McCain bandwagon too. The Wall Street Journal’s editors disparaged the notion that social conservatives should sit home or vote for Hillary Clinton ( “What they can’t do with any credibility is claim that helping to elect a liberal President will further the causes that these conservatives claim to believe most deeply in”) while President Reagan’s National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane doesn’t think much of the talk show critics’ suggestion that we hand management of the war over to one of the Democrats. Newt Gingrich recognizes the obvious ( “He’s had a lifetime voting record that’s dramatically more conservative than Clinton and Obama”) and Larry Kudlow voices support as well.
Bill Kristol thinks the anti-McCain sentiment among conservatives is exaggerated, and a simple account from the campaign trail reveals a obvious truth: lots of conservatives have supported McCain all along. Otherwise he wouldn’t be closing in on the magic delegate number of 1191. (A Newsweek poll shows 75% of conservatives and 69% of conservatives would be “happy” with McCain as the nominee.)
Nevertheless, the best thing McCain can do now is win the trio of primaries on Tuesday and Wisconsin the following week. I suspect that he won’t have any luck chasing Huckabee out of the race until he hits the winning total of 1191 delegates.