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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Too Little, Possibly Too Late

The side that Hilary Clinton showed in the final three minutes of last night’s debate in Austin, Texas was one that has done this for her in the past:

It won her the affection of America for her husband infidelity 10 years ago, made her an easy winner for the senior Senator spot in New York in 2000 as Rick Lazio looked an arrogant young fool, and just in January, when the water works came out, won her sympathy in stopping Barack Obama’s sudden early barrage in winning New Hampshire.

How her campaign team, one of the worst campaigns teams in history for their indolence and unpreparedness for such a five-star candidate in all reality, and most importantly, herself, has failed to usher this side of her into all her speeches and campaign movements across the country is a prime reason why she is possibly eleven days away from a colossal fall.

It was a great moment that should have happened on plenty of occasions.

Instead, it happened at the end of the debate in the state capital of Texas where Obama didn’t make the mistake that Clinton needed the whole night. In fact, this was Obama’s best debate. Unlike many analysts who feel he was trounced in the debates in January by the former First Lady, I’m in the minority where he didn’t perform bad and waited his chance to say what he was going to say in the most important moments.

And he did just that at last night’s debate. Because when she tried to challenge him on health care, and when she then tried to get all over him on for using Deval Patrick’s words, Obama made it known to everyone that he truly is the prohibited favorite now for the White House. His firm response on both of those contentious topics of debate, establishing an important difference in their health care strategies (despite him saying it was just a 5% difference, neglecting the importance of their rift in the argument a little bit) signaled to Clinton that he truly was her equal at least in her possibly strongest area, debating.

He got all over her on the “plagiarism” claims before the crowd did after her now infamous and forced “Xerox” line, an embodiment of the lack of genuine character she and her team hasn’t displayed enough. And he didn’t back down from when she told Cameron Brown on CNN that they needed to continue their argument on health care. Thank goodness for CNN sake that they didn’t stop the debate’s most riveting moment before Clinton’s close, because they almost blew it when they went to commercial break, negating the chance of Clinton to respond to Obama’s answer.

And thumbs up to Hilary there for not letting go of the issue and fighting to the end, because she really made that moment by going back on the issue when Brown, John King , and Jorge Ramos wanted to move on, a silly decision posed by the network that almost backfired on them. Could you imagine the Clinton camp talking about how the media is favoring Obama again? Everyone would have had a justified argument backing that sentiment.

But the Clinton camp can only look at one another for any other fault they had for the rest of the night, because they put themselves in the position to be powerless. The question of being ready for day one was something that was detrimental to her. Everyone has groaned tired of her banal claims of being more prepared than Obama. It is a smack to the face of Obama and the millions that have voted for him, and she has continued to use that rhetoric throughout the campaign speeches every single day. It has failed, miserably.

In addition, she couldn’t outwit him on immigration, the recent official departure of Fidel Castro from leadership in Cuba, and the ugly head of Iraq rearing itself back into her feelings of woe. All of these things happened before that lovely conclusion. And even that fantastic finish that produced a standing ovation from the audience had its negative connotation, as some felt that it was a mini-conciliatory speech, especially when she uttered, “No matter who the President will be, we’ll be alright.” A statement that you couldn’t imagine her saying to crowds across the country so many weeks ago, when she was the “inevitable candidate.”

But even if she didn’t say that exact type of statement, Hilary Clinton had a chance to at least show that side of her more often instead of just moving on and being a competitor. She didn’t stick around enough states when she lost them, didn’t even give them a speech, especially in South Carolina. She bolted and moved on, not showing the love her voters had shown for her in casting the ballot in the Clinton name. Whether you hated them or not, thought it was authentic or political acting in its purest form, those tears in New Hampshire helped. Just like Lazio’s temper and husband Bill’s flirting.

Instead, she got caught up in continuing to show how tough and stern she was, unflappable in moments when the campaign team were wounded and in disbelief of Obama’s resurgence and her fall from the top of the leader board. It has put her in the hole, where she must win in Ohio, must win in Texas, must win from now on out.

She has one more debate (yes, another one) and less than two weeks to show something like she did at the end of last night. Or maybe, just maybe, the genuine card that she held in her hand has return to the shuffled deck.

Friday, February 22, 2008

McCain and NY Times Integrity on the Line

It’s kind of weird when the second month of the year, the shortest month of every year, possibly decides the rest of your 2008. Maybe it’s a marriage, maybe it’s an unfortunate death, and maybe it’s something else that pertains just to you.

Either way, to have one day in the middle of February to decide the rest of the 300-day landscape that is the 12 month time interval we engross ourselves in is momentous to say the least.

This situation presents itself to John McCain. But it also presents itself to New York Times editor Bill Keller and his accomplished reporters of Jim Rutenberg, Mariyln W. Thompson, David D. Kirkpatrick, and Stephen Labaton. Because simply put, the Times yesterday released a 3,000 word bombshell on the left side of their front page that could change their reputation forever in a negative light for the rest of this political season (and maybe forever). Or it would (not could or should) signal the end for the Arizona senator’s presidential hopes and be the ultimate setback of all setbacks for a fractured, debilitated Republican Party.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. The intensity from both sides couldn’t be more conflicting. One side is going to go down in a heap of embarrassment, and both sides think it will be the other.

Or really?

The gantlet was thrown from the McCain party right back on Keller and crew so fast the last two days that it seemed the military veteran’s wife spoke longer on the microphone in Toledo. And seriously, have you ever heard Cindy McCain speak on the microphone? You probably thought Barack Obama’s two daughters uttered more statements than her so far in this campaign season. When she stepped on the podium to defend her husband against the claims of having a romantic affair with lobbylist Vicki Iseman eight long years ago, the acuteness of the situation was apparent. That was the prominent example of how serious and stern McCain was on this piece, and he needed to be. His whole party and his wife needed to be.

It’s actually amazing how McCain’s fierce fire back of denying all close relationship with Iserman happened in Ohio of all states. This usually deciding swing state was ready to potentially do its job nine months earlier than expected. But McClain made sure that the only losing that was going to occur yesterday in Buckeye land yesterday was the Times’ lofty journalistic status going away.

McCain was ever defiant, stern, and lambasted the paper, calling it “gutter politics”, which somewhere must have had Mitt Romney say “hypocrite” in his head (and oh, would he be one himself if he uttered that under his breath). His campaign team did the same thing, releasing a statement in yesterday’s paper before McClain added his own words out of his mouth. Next thing you know, you would have thought President George Bush was going to use the time zone difference in Kenya and speak on it first after dancing with the people there in his unusually timed but commendable tour of Africa. Everybody lined up behind him to have McCain back, ready to go to war on the illustrious paper like the Vietcong he fought some four decades ago.

Keller released his response, saying the report was “ready” for release, and elaborated on what is “ready.” But he and his esteemed status of reporters better be “ready” with a response to all the criticism from across the board they have taken. It wasn’t the expected bludgeoning that they received from the Rush Limbaugs and Pat Buchanan’s of the world, but when TIME’s editor Robert Thompson said he would never have given the thumbs up to this story, questions and doubts on the strength of the article were definitely justified. Now granted, TIME is a weekly magazine, the New York Times is a daily newspaper, but Thompson placed himself in the shoes of Keller in that situation. If he were editor of the paper, he would have not released that story.

The New York Times has taken a tremendously risky gamble with this controversial article. It is a brutal report that if true, would damage McCain forever and do the improbable: give the GOP nomination to Mike Huckabee, who backed McCain yesterday as well. It would be the ultimate disaster for the right (if it already isn’t for the way right with having to unify the party with McCain at the helm) in an election that some think could bring back the feeling of total annihilation the party suffered after Lyndon B. Johnson whitewashed Barry Goldwater in 1964. And that would happen, no matter if it’s Obama or Hilary Clinton, because Huckabee, despite all his charming moral sense, would be completely overmatched.

But that’s if they are right and McCain is lying, and with the lack of definite sources in this article, they are going to need more to prove that.

If they don’t, then shame on such a newspaper, the epitome of all newspapers in this country and potentially throughout the world for resorting to shabby journalism. The media world does not need more shots at its credibility, more vociferations of its partiality, more claims of it spinning it for one party. It is already a slight indictment to label some media, like the NY Times, CNN, and MSNBC, as liberal instead of truthful. Heck for that statement, this piece itself maybe seen as liberal. For the word “liberal” still gives off the feeling of biasness to someone or something, even if the definition for it begs to differ.

That is certainly the case of the paper with Bill Keller as the leader of it. He holds his paper’s supreme status on the line for this entire election year and maybe throughout if he doesn’t have his reporters display their sources. And not only his paper, but the rest of the media world, whether fair or not, will be questioned deeply for their coverage of now on out. Because if you are the first domino in line, and you start to fall, every other one will do the same.

In addition, the Times report could rally the entire Republican Party, even those lovely conservatives who always liked the idea of having tea with McCain, together to stand behind him. This situation would be just as congruent to Adidas and Reebok joining forces to stop Nike. They would back him fully if the liberal media seems to be out to sway the American public by having as much filthy dirt pile up on him. And it would be the thing the McCain party is wishing for the most right now, and could actually get just that.

Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times endorsed John McCain along with Hilary Clinton. Now the tables have turned in dramatic ways. Any chumminess that he potentially held for the paper is gone. One of these two will be placed into total abasement for the rest of the year, with the potential of sullying their integrity from now on out.

McCain and his party did what they had to do. Keller and his staff had better do the same. The stakes are too high for flimsy reports or haunting aspersions. Either one of these two things has happened, right in the month of February, just the second month of the year. And even if it happened this early, this so fast in the still incipient stages of 2008, someone’s integrity could go away just as fast.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Happy People....and the Romney People (Super Tuesday Review)

In arguably the most historic "Super Tuesday" ever, there still isn't an official nomination from both sides of the party, and the voting system is still a mess. That voting mess is indicative of the struggle of many college area kids in Boston and anywhere else where out of town students are located.

First off, in regards to the collegiate young men and women of this country (particularly in Massachusetts), if you didn't want to do the absentee votes in this country, then you better had registed (i.e sent that letter application type form) before my birthday, January 16. Because I didn't, and I payed for it.

I had to do a provisional vote, which is basically saying, unless the race is Florida 2000 type close, we are dumping this in the trash. Now technically, that is not what the rule says of course, and that is not how Massachusetts or any state does their business like that. If they did, they would be conspicuously reckless and ridiculous. But basically, their actual actions are not totally different from that assessment with these "provisional votes."

Most likely, a lot of students from here at BU, BC, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Tufts, Weselyean had to endure this situation, or missed the deadline to send an absentee ballot to their home states. This obviously was a blow to all candidates but most noticeably Barack Obama of course, who suffered a "surprising beating" in Massachusetts to Hilary Clinton considering these two other things in his favor: The endorsements of Ted Kennedy, Deval Patrick, and John Kerry, and the state having the $50,000 or higher salary making Democrats (a group who has supported him immensely everywhere so far).

Though Massachusetts was always an uphill battle from the get go (Clinton was leading by over 15% at points last year), this was expected to be a lot closer with all those other factors making me believe Obama had an outside shot. Whether the 56% to 41% victory from Clinton was always and forever will be a Clinton strong hold as a reason for the decisive victory (New Jersey was closer for Obama than Massachusetts) or some other matters that would be unfortunate if voters selected the way the did, the "Bay State" may have been the most disappointing result for the Obama party, though he did garner 37 delegates in the state.

Second, and even more disturbing the first topic of discussion, is the ballot in Massachusetts yesterday. As you see in the picture above, how in the hell is John Edwards, Bill Richardson, and others still on the ballot (the same happen with the Republicans with the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Frd Thompson on their ballot)? It was reported from some sources that Edwrads received 600 votes in the Boston area, costing Obama the vote in the city to Clinton. In fact, despite just getting 2% of the vote in the state, the former North Carolina Senator still got 19,889 vote despite announcing himself out the race last Wednesday.

Only in this country.

On the GOP side, somewhere today in Massachusetts, there is this particular type of person: A fan of the New England Patriots and a supporter of Mitt Romney. Let's just say that unless something positive happened in that respective person's individual life, he or she is having one hell filled start to their week.

The former governor of "Bay State" showed a night just as rough as Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and comapny. And through he'll continue to press on unlike them for another day, it is most likely over for him. For not only did John McClain strengthed his lead to insurmontable propotions last night with big wins in California and the winner take all delegate state of Missouri, but with Mike Huckabee's brilliance performance last night the affluent Romney had a disastrous evening on all accounts. By not establishing himself as the different conservative alternative to McClain, Romney was the biggest loser of the night, signaling a possible end to who the GOP nomination will be.

In the all important "Golden State", Romney only won 3 out of 119 delegates, a massive disappointment and an embarrassment to him and his campaign team. Despite having the most money of all on the GOP side, Romney failed to get conservatives in California aganist McClain and suffered heavily for that. The 1996 Olympic organizer and his camp thought that they needed over 400 delegates by the end of the night.

But with a measly 270 delegates compared to the massive 680 that the Arizona Senator has, Romney was devastated by not only McClain's momentum by the doggeg spirit of Mike Huckabee, the other guy he probably abominates the most today. Huckabee got the evangeliscals and any other voters that didn't want those "two top candidates" to vote for him and his near impoverished campaign (comapredto Romney of course). He was a force in the South, and if he didn't get nipped by McClain in Missouri, he would have been just 13 delegates behind Romney, with far less resources.

In short, despite John McClain now with his finger tips on the nomination, the real winner on Super Tuesday was Mike Huckabee last night.

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