January 29, 2007

The New Hillary

Have you seen the video footage of Hillary Clinton reacting to the questions regarding her “joke” on how she has had experience with dealing with evil and bad men in her life? In the footage I found online here, she is positively giddy. Suddenly Hillary Clinton is a light, bubbly and cheerful “valley girl” . Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the new Hillary, who has obviously been coached and has received acting lessons to come across as more “likable”. No doubt Terry McAuliffe and the rest of her entourage ran focus groups and took polls determining that Hillary was in need of a personality overhaul. And from what I have seen so far, they have done a remarkable job transforming Hillary from a shrill, ornery, menopausal battle-ax to a cheerful chipper and happy go lucky valley girl.

I think I like the old Hillary better, the one encapsulated well in audio clips I’ve heard of her shrieking at the top of her lungs -as if she’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown- about the Bush Administration. At least the old Hillary was a genuine Hillary. In a way the new Hillary is more insidious. The new Hillary reminds me of a bad science fiction movie where a demon has taken an innocuous human form. In short, the new Hillary is scarier than the old.

I’m also beginning to believe that Democratic voters don’t particularly care about a candidate’s policy positions or their ability to generate substantive new ideas and solutions to ongoing problems. Having seen the populist Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts being swept to power on the backs of a swooning liberal media with one of the most substance free and slogan heavy campaigns in political history, and now seeing the groundswell of mob-like zombie-ish support for Hilary Clinton regardless of what she represents (if we could even figure that out), I’m starting to think that Democrats really don’t care that much about substantive and specific platforms and policy positions when it comes to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of politicians and political campaigns. If you’re Hilary Clinton, because you have ovaries and because you have a (D) next to your name, you have automatically locked up a significant population of voters, regardless of what you say or do. So Mrs. Clinton can make as many bad jokes about her philandering husband as she wants to, Democratic voters will still swarm to her like moths to a flame.

As for me I prefer known quantities, so I'll always prefer the original recipe Hillary.

January 24, 2007


I’m not sure which prosecutor has behaved more atrociously, Mike Nifong, who is up on new charges of not releasing potentially exculpatory evidence in the Duke lacrosse rape case, or Patrick Fitzgerald the political witch hunter who is charging Scooter Libby with perjury because he could not recall some information correctly when questioned about the Valerie Plame CIA “leak” case.

Yesterday Patrick Fitzgerald’s first three witnesses could not recall with clarity the details about who told what to whom and when in the convoluted entanglement that was once refered to as "plamegate". The so called leak, as it turns out, was rather innocuous and had very little bearing on national security since it was common knowledge that Valerie Plame, who appeared in a Vanity Fair article, was an employee of the CIA. In fact, Patrick Fitzgerald himself even confused the order of who told who what and when in a press conference when he flubbed on describing who Libby had spoken to first about the identity of democratic operative and political hack Joe Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame.

The Duke Lacrosse case requires less explanation, for it is clear to any American with a brain that the student athletes are not guilty of the various fabricated charges that the accuser has leveled and the prosecutor Mike Nifong, for political reasons, mishandled.

Both lawyers should be disbarred for prosecutorial misconduct.


Maybe I'm crazy, and most of my fellow Bay staters would think that I am for what I'm about to say, but I thought that President Bush delivered a very good speech last night, I find him to be convincing and genuine. The country would be better served if Congress were at least somewhat willing to adopt some of the ideas he presented last night.

January 15, 2007


Despite the upbeat tone of my New Years Day post, it seems that things in Washington have reverted back into the petty partisan rancor that characterized the last several years. I had thought that now that the Democrats have a degree of political power after last year's elections, they would perhaps now demonstrate that they are the leaders that they have been claiming to be. Instead what we have is the same old Democratic party, with obvious exceptions like Joe Lieberman, that can be characterized by petty partisanship, pointless and backward looking Bush Bashing and an undeniable paucity of ideas of their own to replace the ones they shoot down on matters of security specifically the war on terror and Iraq.

When Nancy Pelosi declared endlessly, "Stay the course is not a strategy" not only was she intentionally mischaracterizing Iraq war strategy by implying that Stay the course means stay endlessly, but you would think that now that a new strategy has been conceived and presented she might relent somewhat. No dice. Instead, it has gotten worse. The obvious truth of the matter is that the Democrats do not have any strategy of their own in Iraq other that the one that they lack the backbone to publicly and openly promote that is: full retreat.

So Barbara Boxer can revive the petty "Chicken Hawk argument" and roll it out again against Condi Rice all she wants to. Nothing will change the fact that to most Democrats, the only acceptable strategy in Iraq and possibly the entire war on terror is full retreat. The problem is that most Democrats who believe in retreat lack the moral courage and intellectual honesty to admit they hold this position. Democrats, rather than admit they favor retreat in Iraq, would prefer to snipe away at Bush policy and make snide and petty remarks as if they were still the embittered minority party that they were four years ago. It may be a new year with some new leadership in Washington, but for many Democrats on Iraq, it’s the same old song and dance.

January 14, 2007

The Chicken Hawk Argument

Its time to revisit a subject I first covered in 2005. Barbara Boxer has dusted off the rather petty “Chicken hawk argument” and has deployed it against Condi Rice in a recent congressional hearing. Apparently Senator Boxer seems to hold the position that only those with family members serving at the front lines of a conflict should be involved in determining the policy and actions of our military. I guess that means that most of her Democratic colleagues are also disqualified from setting policy or even commenting on Iraq or what our military is involved with.

January 01, 2007

New Year, New Politics?

Happy New Year to all parts of the political spectrum!

I'd like to share with you the latest column authored by Dick Morris that is easily one of his best. In his latest poignant and historically minded E-blast, Morris wonders whether or not the New Year may be characterized by political consensus rather than partisan division. Morris points out that this may be the beginning of a new cycle of consensus that inevitably comes about after a period of division and rancor. This is something that I have hinted at a few months back in my post “Powers Point”. It is definitely a less dramatic and arguably not as much fun set of circumstances to find myself agreeing with Democrats who find themselves agreeing with conservatives on some issues, but perhaps in the end, it may prove to be more productive if Americans can move beyond the bitter political divisions born out of the 2000 and 2004 elections. Anyway, here is Morris' thought provoking article:

Is there something cyclical, but nevertheless extraordinary, happening in American politics these days? Are we moving from a period of partisan confrontation and division, to one that values consensus and seeks more unity among our public figures?

Otherwise, how can we account for the unusual persistence with which moderates like Rudy Guiliani and Senator John McCain are holding their large leads in the Republican primary electorate? Or, the surprising surge of perceived-moderate Senator Barack Obama into second place in the Democratic field?

The conservative right is trailing ignominiously in the polls for the Republican nomination, while Hillary is tied with the combined vote share of Obama and Edwards in the Democratic field. Never mind that the Republican voters don't realize how liberal McCain and Guiliani really are, or how left-wing Obama's voting record — all two years of it — indicates he might be. The fact is, that moderates in both parties seem to doing very well.

In 2005 and early 2006, it seemed that the partisan divisions would continue and exacerbate. The right was energized by the debates over gay marriage and illegal immigration, and the left licked its chops after beating Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Democratic primary. But Lieberman ended up winning, anti-immigration zealots like J.D. Hayworth lost, and moderate Democrats won most of the House seats that switched parties in 2006. The center showed new energy.

American politics, of course, alternates between periods of division and consensus. Because our democracy works, we explore new political issues and challenges through polarizing debate (such as would never happen in Japan, for example). After the debate has raged for a while, we come to a national consensus embracing the best of each side and move on (unlike Italy or France).

A brief review of the past thirty years tells the story of this oscillation, usually clear only in retrospect. Because of Vietnam, partisanship and division reigned supreme in the 70s and early 80s, and consensus figures like the late President Gerald Ford lost out while polarizing politicians like Nixon, McGovern and Reagan emerged to lead their parties. But by the mid 80s, we had returned to consensus, seeking a formula for smaller government with a safety net offered by Reagan as he ran for re-election in 1984.

The recession of 1991 shattered that consensus, and we opted for the left with Clinton in 1992, and the right with Gingrich in 1994. But after the debate had raged through government shutdowns, we ultimately settled back into consensus, as Clinton worked with the Republican Congress to balance the budget and pass welfare reform. That consensus was torn apart by the Lewinsky scandal and the post-2000 election recount battles. As, a result, partisan divisions ruled the political scene. The terror attacks of September 11 brought us together again, but the Iraqi invasion broke the consensus as the left and the right pursued their respective conspiracy theories.

Could it be that, after listening to the debate over homeland security and Iraq for the past five years, America has come to a consensus — a new incarnation of triangulation — and wants its politicians to get on with enacting it?

The elements of this possible "coming-together" are clearly etched in the polls: less partisanship, wiretapping to thwart terrorism but with civil liberties protections, aggressive questioning of terror suspects but no torture, continued international presence in Afghanistan but a gradual withdrawal from Iraq, a move away from oil dependency, serious action on global warming, a more liberal attitude toward illegal immigrants already here, but with tightened border security to stop new arrivals, and strong action to stop North Korea and Iran from becoming nuclear powers.

Barack Obama may not be the man to embody this new consensus, but Americans seem to think he is. Listening to his speeches but not to his voting record, his surge against Hillary Clinton clearly exploits the perception that the New York Senator is the epitome of partisanship while Obama transcends it.

Can Obama pull it off? With only a two year Senate record to defend, he is largely devoid of partisan baggage and may be ideally positioned to move to the center and become the triangulation candidate embracing the new consensus.

Can McCain pull it off? It might be that his brand of centrism — social conservate, populist, and strong on defense — may appeal to newly pragmatic Republicans licking their wounds from 2006.

It may be that as we enter the New Year, we are entering a new era of moderation after five years of raging debate. Let's hope so.