Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

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Month: April 2008 (page 1 of 4)

Indiana May Come Down To Sincere Independents vs. Mischievous GOPers

From a new poll analysis by Howey Politics Indiana:

There appears to be two kinds of Republicans: the “Obamacans” as the Illinois senator likes to call them – earnest Republicans deeply disappointed in their own party’s performance on the budget, economy, social issues and the Iraq War – and the Rush Limbaugh Republicans who are planning to crossover to vote for Sen. Clinton because they perceive her to be the weakest rival to U.S. Sen. John McCain in the November election.
Howey-Gauge shows that self-identified Republicans favor Clinton 50-44 percent, while independents favor Obama 54-38 percent. “The Democratic primary is going to be decided by non-Democrats,” said Gauge Market Research pollster Holly Davis. “To be determined is which group – Republicans or independents – are going to decide this race.” An indicator as to the kind of havoc Republican voters could create comes on the Iraq War issue. Those favoring immediate withdrawal favor Obama 49-46 percent. Those favoring the current troop levels favor Clinton 58-39 percent, but, Davis notes, “That number is strongly influenced by Republican crossovers.”

With that in mind, it’s notable that Obama has been talking up his relationship with Sen. Dick Lugar, R-IN, who has been described as his mentor in the Senate.
It’ll be very interesting if Lugar speaks up before Tuesday.

Because Sometimes It Seems Like No One Actually Read It…

…here’s Sen. Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech again:
“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.
Legalized discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs – to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”
“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Real McCain Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA. My special guest was Cliff Schecter, author of the new book, The Real McCain which is stirring much controversy.
The audio podcast for the show is here: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
And you can watch my opening monologue below, on what the PA primaries means, and what you haven’t heard about the accusations surrounding North Korea and Syria.
Mentioned on the broadcast:
Arms Control Wonk on North Korea and Syria
Syria Comment’s Joshua Landis notes the North Korea-Syria info comes as new reports surface that Israel is open to returning the Golan Heights to Syria. (I should have noted that Juan Cole highlighted the Landis post.)
Coverage of the “The Real McCain” from Raw Story and The Huffington Post.
Washington Post story: “McCain: A Question of Temperament”

This Week In Blog

The latest installment of This Week In Blog is up at, featuring guest conservative Amanda Carpenter alongside myself. We discuss blog reaction to PA, Clinton’s Iran comments, Gore’s global warming ads, the NYT blockbuster story on Pentagon propaganda, and new McCain and Obama attack videos. Watch it below.

NPR Today

I joined NPR’s Bryant Park Project to discuss and dissect the PA Primary. You can listen to the segment here.


A minor spin point: Clinton’s margin of victory appears to be 9.4%, not 10%.

Wield Your Speech

I don’t usually post unsolicited advice to the Obama campaign, because they haven’t needed it. They have a game plan, they don’t panic and tear it up when they hit bumps in the road. And they are the campaign still on route to the nomination.
But since everyone is running on fumes at this point, perhaps some outside advice is worthwhile.
The campaign appears to realize it’s time for a tweak. Today’s NYT headline is: “Obama Shifting Focus From Clinton to McCain.”
But how should they shift?
Obama’s greatest weapon is his speech. It’s how he can demand attention, paint big themes, frame the debate and drive media coverage.
It’s time for a speech, or speeches, drawing a stark contrast with McCain around big themes. Not just a one-off speech, but something that would lay the groundwork for the fall campaign.
For example, McCain is trotting out the usual “big government” attacks on both Obama and Clinton.
Why not take that head on?
Why not deliver a major speech outlining Obama’s vision for a representative, responsive, responsible government that’s an agent of progressive change, contrasting it with McCain’s incoherent attempt to appeal to anti-government conservatism and desperate-for-active -government moderates?
Taking on the question of the role of government — something Dems have run from for so long — is bound to attract attention.
If he nails it like his speech on race relations, he will crystallize what he will do to get our economy back on track, and further show he can run circles around McCain in the general election.

Or he could deliver a major speech on global warming,
insisting that the current Lieberman-Warner bill being considered in the Senate falls short of what’s needed, and laying out a plan that will ensure the 80% cut in greenhouse has emissions needed by 2050.
Or he could deliver another foreign policy speech that directly attacks neoconservatism and makes clear McCain is offering more of it.
The key is to give a speech that offers more than uplifting inspirational rhetoric, but isn’t so dense that the media doesn’t bother with the details and ends up ignoring it.
If he hits the sweet spot, the right balance of inspiration and substance, he’ll once again make inroads into Clinton’s support, and position himself well for the general election.

Post-PA Numbers Crunching

In my hypothetical scenario below, I presumed 40% turnout. Looks like PA will have more than 53% turnout, the biggest of the year.
That diluted the impact of the new voters the Obama campaign got to register as Democrats — even though appears Obama successfully got to polls about 180,000 185,000 of the 200,000 new Democratic voters his campaign registered (based on calculations made using exit poll data).
PA is the one of the few states where only registered Democrats could participate in the primary, which is why Obama needed to register his supporters who were not already Democrats.
Whereas Obama states such as Wisconsin, Missouri and Virginia had more than double the number of voters who did not consider themselves Democrats than PA — voters that went huge for Obama.
Obama’s relative weakness and Clinton’s relative strength is older white voters, particularly women. Obama’s relative strength and Clinton’s relative weakness is independents and moderate Republicans.
None of that changed tonight.

Pre-PA Numbers Crunching

There are 4.2 million Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, about 325,000 more than last year.
Of the new voters, the Obama campaign believes it has registered 200,000 supporters. That’s in sync with polling of new voters, indicating 62% of new voters support Obama.
If they turn out, that’s a potential sleeper vote that at minimum will keep the race close.
How many Pennsylvanians will actually vote?
So far this year, most primary states have garnered turnout rates in the high 20s or mid-30s. Only New Hampshire has broken 50%. California and Ohio broke 40%. Massachusetts and Vermont just missed with 39%.
Let’s presume an above average turnout of 40%. That would mean 1,680,000 voters.
Now, I’m not terribly confident that new voters are being picked up in the polling of “likely voters.” Most recent polls are showing Clinton ahead between 5 to 10 points.
Let’s set aside 325,000 new voters out of that estimated 1,680,000 turnout, leaving us 1,355,000. And let’s give Clinton a 10-point advantage with those voters.
That would give Clinton 745,250 votes, and Obama 609,750.
Now let’s add in the new voters: 200,000 for Obama, 125,000 for Clinton.
That would give Clinton 870,250 voters, and Obama 809,750, or Clinton 52%, Obama 48%.
The new voters — presuming they turn out in full — slash Clinton’s lead from 10 points to 4 points.
Food for thought. We’ll find out tonight.

McCain: Guilt-By-Association For Thee, Not For Me

After the media frenzy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sen. John McCain’s campaign refused to criticize Obama for the words of his former pastor. Senior campaign adviser Charlie Black said on MSNBC:

…what Sen. McCain has said repeatedly is that these candidates cannot be held accountable for all the views of people who endorse them or people who befriend them…
…John McCain believes is that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton should be held accountable for their public policy views…
…He believes that people who endorse you, people who befriend you are entitled to their own views, but you are not held personally accountable. That when somebody endorses you or befriends you, they’re embracing your views, the candidates’ views, not the other way around.

Good standard. If all candidates and the media held to this standard, we would have a much better campaign — focused on relevant issues and the candidates’ records, less on ridiculous and strained guilt-by-association attacks.
But on ABC’s This Week yesterday, McCain scrapped his own standard and launched a full-throttle guilt-by-association attack on Obama for his thin association with William Ayers: member of the Weather Underground 40 years ago, though after turning himself in, now a professor and mayoral adviser.
McCain then got a taste of the consequences of dropping that standard.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos then pressed McCain on his solicitation of an endorsement from Rev. John Hagee who, among other things, has made hateful remarks about Catholics.
McCain had difficultly explaining himself, acknowledging it was “probably” a mistake to solicit the endorsement, but he is still “glad to have his endorsement.” And he tried to make a blanket statement to protect himself from any other troubling associations: “I condemn remarks that are, in any way, viewed as anti-anything.”
If he insists on lowering the guilt-by-association standard, he will need some more protection.
Today, McCain is in Selma in a high-profile attempt to reach out to African-American voters and show that he rejects the racism that has been prevalent in the Republican Party — as he did earlier when he apologized for previously opposing a Dr. Martin Luther King holiday.
Yet one of his long-time “senior political consultants” is Richard Quinn, long-time head of the racist Southern Partisan Quarterly Review. That’s a far closer tie than what Obama has to Ayers.
According to the blog Anti-Neo-Confederate, Quinn was still listed as the owner of the magazine as recently as 2005.
McCain’s employment of Quinn was raised in his 2000 presidential campaign. Quinn was editor-in-chief of Southern Partisan at that point, though he tried to downplay his role. From the NY Times in 2000:

”I am not the working day-to-day editor of Southern Partisan,” he said. ”My title as editor in chief is purely honorary. Frankly, I do not personally read the articles before they are printed, and I certainly disagree with many of the opinions expressed by others on the pages of the magazine.”

A look at some of the articles in Southern Partisan shows why it has become the nation’s leading journal of the so-called neo-confederacy movement, publishing scholarly treatises, political interviews and commentary that glorify the Southern traditions underlying the secession movement.
In issue after issue, writers in Southern Partisan vilify Abraham Lincoln and other Union leaders, and venerate the rebel soldiers who fought to secede from the United States. … The magazine rarely writes about slavery, but when it does, its positions are usually not those of mainstream historians. A review of a book on the slave trade in a 1998 issue, for example, includes this passage: ”Mainstream black leaders perpetuate the myth that vicious white slave traders dragged Africans from their idyllic homeland to serve as chattel for arrogant white Americans. Readers of this magazine know otherwise.” The review goes on to say that white slave traders were often less brutal than the African warlords who traded their subjects for livestock and herbs.

And from The New Republic in 2000 (“Race Man” by Benjamin Soskis, available on Nexis):

Quinn claims that, while some of these views might be offensive to Northerners, in the South the magazine “is considered mainstream conservative. ” When confronted with some of the more outrageous articles in Southern Partisan–articles like “Why I Will Not Denounce Southern Racism or American Imperialism” or a 1991 John Rockeresque rant in which the “Old-Stock” author, visiting New York, wonders “‘Where are the Americans?’ for I met only Italians, Jews, Puerto Ricans”–Quinn explains that Southern Partisan is an ” opinion magazine” that publishes “provocative essays.” Moreover, he denies that as editor-in-chief he must agree with–or even be aware of–everything his magazine publishes. Indeed, Quinn tries to distance himself from some of the journal’s more notorious articles by claiming he no longer has as much of a day-to-day editorial role as he did in the past–a not-so-exculpatory defense, considering that the magazine seems to have toned down its rhetoric in recent years.

Quinn himself railed against the King holiday, writing it “should have been rejected because its purpose is vitriolic and profane.”
In 2000, People For American Way called on McCain to fire Quinn, listing his disparaging of Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist,” his promotion of David Duke (“What better way to reject politics as usual than to elect a maverick like David Duke?”) and his selling of t-shirts praising Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
McCain wouldn’t fire him. He rejected the guilt-by-association charge, defending the man and disavowing the publication. From the Associated Press (“Bush, McCain Dogged on Racial Issues,” 2/18/00, available on Nexis):

McCain, meanwhile, refused to fire campaign adviser Richard Quinn as requested by the private group People for the American Way. Quinn edits the magazine Southern Partisan, which has published racially charged articles.
“This is a fine man who worked for Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond and other fine people. This is an outfit I almost never agreed with and so this is another case where we have disagreement,” McCain said.
McCain said he did not consider Quinn a racist and had never read anything written by him.

And McCain still works with Quinn. The Washington Post this month described Quinn as the “longtime adviser [who] directed the senator to a crucial victory in the Palmetto State.” Politico reported (link via Daily Kos’ Hesiod) that McCain paid Quinn’s firms $184,000. An article reposted on McCain’s website describes Quinn as “a senior political consultant to the McCain campaign.”
But is it fair to say that paying Quinn for political work means McCain shares his views on race?
We learned from yesterday’s Washington Post piece on his temper that one of his blowups was to get Arizona to approve a King holiday.
Score one against guilt-by-association.
But McCain, as usual, wants a double standard.
He can launch guilt-by-association attacks when it suits him, while he can hug or pay anyone he wants, since he condemns all statements that are “anti-anything.”
Guilt-by-association is a dumb, meaningless standard. We’ll all be better off if we follow McCain’s rule, “people who endorse you, people who befriend you are entitled to their own views, but you are not held personally accountable.”
But only if all candidates are held to a consistent standard.

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