It is 3 AM in Metaphorville, and Barack Obama has a new ad up in
Texas countering Hillary Clinton’s new/old ad discussed below.
** FAMOUS PRO-CLINTON/ANTI-OBAMA 527 INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE CAMPAIGN PASSES WEEKEND DEADLINE WITHOUT A MEDIA BUY. The American Leadership Project, ballyhooed for weeks and dominated by California Democrats, passed this Friday in quiet fashion without buying the long anticipated media time in the Texas and Ohio primaries.
I’ll have more on the specifics of this rather staggering development as we go.
** STEVE WESTLY JOINS ARNOLD, AGAIN, AND DISCUSSES INTERNET TIME IN POLITICS RE THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. Former California state Controller Steve Westly, the ex-eBay honcho-turned greentech venture capitalist who along with new Assembly Speaker Karen Bass was one of the two first major California endorsements for Barack Obama, has a couple of new political moves.
Next week, he joins again with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as he did in 2004 on budget reform. This time around, the two will co-chair the redistricting reform initiative for the November California ballot. Westly was also co-chairman of the ill-fated term limits revision initiative in the February primary. As he points out, had the passing Democratic legislative leadership of Fabian Nunez and Don Perata delivered on their promise of both, they would both still be in office for a few years to come. They dumped larger reform, and are now dumped themselves a bit later this year. To the evident surprise only of their immediate familiars.
Of somewhat more pressing importance, Westly, California co-chairman for Obama, is also a national finance co-chairman of the Obama presidential campaign. Though he has personally raised millions for Obama, more than any other California politician in the presidential race, Westly does not take that all that seriously, opting instead to talk up the power of Obama’s Internet fundraising.
Westly, the eBay pioneer, back from meetings in Chicago and New York says that Obama’s campaign is “a generation ahead” of anyone else in social networking tools and, hence, political fundraising.
The unwritten story of this campaign is how Obama can, thanks to his Net fundraising power, free himself from having to kow-tow to investment banker-oriented shibboleths and oppose the obvious problems of free trade agreements that do not contain adequate labor and environmental provisions.
Relatively unfettered global trade is essential in a globalized world. But the truth is that a political leader can be free of both a strangling protectionism and a compromising globalism, thanks to the financial power afforded by a skilled use of the Internet.
Here is the original of the new Clinton ad, done for Walter Mondale by the same consultant at the height of the Cold War in 1984. “Red Phone.” I know it very well.
** HILLARY = FRITZ. In case you haven’t figured this out. See the TV ad above, and note its similarity to the ad below. Both done by the same Texas establishmentarian consultant, the ever amiable Roy Spence. (Who came up with teh slogan, and I do mean teh slogan, “Don’t mess with Texas,” because he is less than a real Westerner than yours truly.)
The “Red Phone” ad was used by the Walter Mondale campaign to attempt to slow Gary Hart’s momentum one month after his break-through as surprise second, which yours truly had something to do with as the political director, in Iowa, and 22 days after Hart’s smashing victory in New Hampshire. It was somewhat successful, though not nearly so successful as some of the credulous non-history majors writing as journalists have it now.
And, to put it in perspective, it was done at the height of the Cold War, when normal people were far more worried day to day than they are now. As the Soviet Union was a far more fearsome foe than the relatively motley crew of Al Qaeda, Iraqi insurgents, and Iranian zealots. Being as our our now dear Russian friends could actually destroy America with the push of a few buttons. And had, despite the marked inferiority of their normal enlisted and junior officer corps due to general physical and intellectual infirmities, a slight edge in the special operations and scientific elites. Which in the end was ground down by the superiority of democracy and the market.
Be that as it may, this ad had much less impact than much of the East Coast-based journo crowd seems to think, absent any actual knowledge of the presidential politics involved. And that was true, despite the fact of the Cold War. And despite the fact that Fritz Mondale was a highly likable fellow who had been a senior U.S. senator on his own hook who actually served as one of the most involved vice presidents in American history prior to Al Gore and Dick Cheney.
Mondale was also a U.S. Army veteran, unlike Hillary or Bill. But then, Hart was a reserve officer in the U.S. Navy, as well as a former chairman of U.S. Senate subcommittees on terrorism and nuclear weapons.
As I say, this ad had less impact than some journos think, and was presented in a very different era. Hart went on from this ad to win some of his biggest primaries, like Ohio and California. In the end, our campaign was undone by a lack of money and organization, neither of which applies to Obama, who has taken the fullest advantage imaginable of the Internet, which simply did not exist — outside the realm of DARPA (ask me what that is) — in 1984.
In the end, Hart won 26 states — and that doesn’t even count the most famous distant second place in political history, the 1984 Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses (when I saw Hart off at the airport on election day, I told him he would be second in Iowa, to which he replied that he would then win New Hampshire) — and did FAR better than Mondale in general election match-ups with President Reagan. But the superdelegates of the era tipped the balance for Mondale at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.
Absent the Internet, which did not then exist outside the designs of the Pentagon and a few elite universities — and without even Jerry Brown’s somewhat infamous 800 number of 1992 — there was no serious way to harness a surge of popular, non-establishment support. Barack Obama, who is a vastly superior orator, though perhaps lacking in the policy preparation, though certainly not on an intellectual basis, does not suffer from those technological incapacities. Indeed, as I’ll report in a future item, he is ahead of the curve on the future of political technology.
Hillary Clinton, sliding in firewall states Texas and Ohio, is now running this
ad saying she is the one to deal with a 3 AM national security crisis.
** LATEST PODCAST. From last week, actually, as the regular producer is on vacation and I’m swamped. (The XM Radio show I host is a bottle show this week.) The road ahead after Wisconsin and Hawaii, and it holds up very nicely.
In the works … my regular interviews with dueling Presidential campaign spinners. Who are not allowed to be spinners.
** ROCKEFELLER ENDORSES OBAMA. Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has just endorsed Barack Obama. Implicitly answering the Clinton campaign’s closing message, that she is the best choice on national security, Rockefeller said this: “As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I am all too aware that the threats we face are unconventional. They are sophisticated. They are constantly changing and adapting. And they are very serious. What matters most in the Oval Office is sound judgment and decisive action. It’s about getting it right on crucial national security questions the first time – and every time.
“The indisputable fact is Barack Obama was right about Iraq when many of us were wrong. It was a tough call and the single greatest national security question, and mistake, of our time. Today, we remain a country at war, and countless mistakes over the last six and a half years have made us less safe. The stakes have never been higher, and that is why we must take a stand.”
Rockefeller is the 15th member of the U.S. Senate to endorse the freshman Illinois senator. Clinton, the two-term senator from New York and former first lady of the United States, has been endorsed by 12 of their Senate colleagues.
** NEW OHIO RASMUSSEN TRACKING POLL: TOO CLOSE TO CALL. Last night’s Rasmussen robo tracking poll of the Ohio Democratic presidential primary reveals a toss-up: Hillary Clinton 47%, Barack Obama 45%. Last Sunday night, Clinton had a five-point lead. At the beginning of February, she led Obama by more than 20 points.
NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, is favored by only 16% of Ohio primary voters. Most believe that Obama opposes it; the view of Clinton’s position is much more muddled.
** CLINTON CAMPAIGN SAYS OBAMA MUST WIN ALL FOUR STATES ON TUESDAY TO SUCCEED. A few weeks ago, the Clinton line was that Hillary would close the delegate gap on March 4th, powered by big wins in the Texas and Ohio primaries. Now the new line, from this morning’s campaign memo, is that in order for Obama to succeed, he must win not only Texas and Ohio, but also Rhode Island and Vermont. Which translates thusly; if Clinton wins only one state, she is the day’s winner. I feel the room spinning: The media has anointed Barack Obama the presumptive nominee and he’s playing the part. With an eleven state winning streak coming out of February, Senator Obama is riding a surge of momentum that has enabled him to pour unprecedented resources into Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The Obama campaign and its allies are outspending us two to one in paid media and have sent more staff into the March 4 states. In fact, when all is totaled, Senator Obama and his allies have outspent Senator Clinton by a margin of $18.4 million to $9.2 million on advertising in the four states that are voting next Tuesday.
Senator Obama has campaigned hard in these states. He has spent time meeting editorial boards, courting endorsers, holding rallies, and – of course – making speeches.
If he cannot win all of these states with all this effort, there’s a problem.
Prince Harry, fighting with the British Army in Afghanistan, has been forced to leave after the Drudge Report broke a media embargo on his activities. The UK Ministry of Defence says the revelation places the young royal and his unit in danger.
** BRITS DISGUSTED WITH THE DRUDGE REPORT FOR VIOLATING PRINCE HARRY EMBARGO. From the conservative Sun newspaper: Harry, whose planned deployment to Iraq was scrapped last year, is the first senior royal to fight on a battlefield since Queen Victoria’s grandson Prince Maurice in World War One. His extraordinary tour of duty was known about by all British media — including The Sun — but kept secret under an unprecedented voluntary arrangement.
Yet notorious US news website the Drudge Report yesterday revealed damaging details, sending top brass into a spin.
Generals met late into last night to decide whether to rush Harry home five weeks ahead of schedule. He had already left Garmsir for another desert area, known to The Sun. Some officers claimed this would protect him. But others insisted his war was now over.
One senior military source said: “We’re going to have to bring him home immediately. We have to expect that every fanatical fighter in 1,000 miles of him will be pulling out all the stops to find him.”
Even once home, Harry could remain a target for Taliban sympathisers.
** TEXAS DEMOCRATIC PARTY DECRIES THREATENED LAWSUIT BY CLINTON CAMPAIGN. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports this morning that the Hillary Clinton campaign has threatened a lawsuit against the combination Texas primary and caucus system. Rival Barack Obama has drawn even or perhaps slightly ahead in the Texas polls after trailing by nearly 20 points a few weeks ago. Former President Bill Clinton declared earlier this month that his wife has to win the Texas primary in order to continue her campaign.
Clinton’s campaign problems in Texas are compounded by the contest being a combination primary and caucus. People who vote in the primary during the day are eligible to participate in caucuses on Tuesday night, where a third of the state’s delegates will be apportioned. So the reality, since it is becoming apparent that Obama is better organized in Texas than Clinton, is that she could win the primary and still lose the overall contest for delegates. And if she loses the primary, even narrowly, she could end up on the short end of a big delegate haul.
Texas political insiders tell me that the Clinton lawsuit move, which they say would fail, since the Clinton campaign agreed to the Texas contest rules, which have been approved by the Democratic National Committee, would be to muddy the waters of her potential defeat for PR purposes.
** REUTERS/ZOGBY TRACKING POLL: OBAMA UP IN TEXAS, CLOSING IN OHIO. The Reuters/Zogby tracking poll, which had a very good track record prior to being wildly off in California, has Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton in Texas and closing in Ohio. In Texas, it’s Obama 48%, Clinton 42%. In Ohio, it’s Clinton 44%, Obama 42%.
This is the largest Texas lead for Obama of any poll, and the closest Ohio race. But this does confirm a seeming trend in all polls.
** SCHWARZENEGGER TO THE ARNOLD. During a slow period in California politics, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is off to Columbus, Ohio today, Saturday, and Sunday for his annual Arnold Classic, also known as the Arnold Sports Festival. The Arnold, as it is known, is his decades-long annual bodybuilding competition and festival of physical culture.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
BARACK OBAMA campaigns across Texas, with a veterans town hall in Houston, a prayer meeting in Brownsville, and a rally in San Antonio.
HILLARY CLINTON campaigns across Texas, attending the funeral of the Dallas police officer who died escorting her motorcade in Plano, a rally with veterans in Waco, and a rally in San Antonio.
BILL CLINTON campaigns across Ohio, with rallies in Findlay, Marion, Mansfield, Wooster, and New Philadelphia.
JOHN MCCAIN campaigns in Texas, with a town hall in Round Rock and a fundraiser in Austin.
MIKE HUCKABEE campaigns across Texas, with events in Lubbock, College Station, Fort Worth, and Houston.
President Rush Limbaugh and Vice President Ann Coulter in a
very short-lived Fox News comedy show.
THE MORNING COLUMN
It’s been evident the past two months. The tin ear and declining influence of the so-called “talk show wing” of the Republican Party. That’s the agglomeration of conservative talk show hosts, pundits, and bloggers who play the doppelganger role (and vice versa) to the “netroots” of the Democratic Party, would-be enforcers of an ideological political correctness. Like their lefty counterparts, they’re good at stirring up anger in their hyperpartisan echo chambers. And like their lefty counterparts, they failed utterly in the presidential primaries.
This is because they have political tin ears.
This week, we saw it again, when a yahoo Cincinnati talk show host decided to whip up the crowd at a John McCain rally by going off on Barack Hussein Obama. I won’t repeat any more of his blather, because in real world politics, it’s an irritating waste of time. In real world politics, this is a plus for Mr. Hussein Obama bin Laden, don’t you know?
McCain, knowing full well that this sort of swill is anathema to mainstream voters, couldn’t apologize fast enough. Then a state Republican party in Tennessee, infected as some other state parties are by this virus of nitwit hyperpartisan invective, put on a repetition. Only to be jumped on by the Republican National Committee and Karl Rove, no bleeding heart lib he.
Last week, the tin ear of the king of the talk show wing, El Rushbo himself, was on vivid hi-fi display. Rush Limbaugh was ranting on about the New York Times’ attempted hit job on McCain, which I dissected at the beginning of the week. This, to Limbaugh, was proof that McCain had been oh-so-wrong in cultivating the American press rather than kow-towing to him and his colleagues. Limbaugh sneered that the Times and Chris Matthews, himself a yakker of a certain renown, were just out to do McCain in, like all the rest of the dread MSM.
As fate would have it, in the real world of politics, Matthews was, at that very moment, busily defending McCain from the NYT hit job. As did, frankly, most of the press that Limbaugh painted as mindless left-wing automatons.
While the Times effort, a ludicrous piece of innuendo masquerading as journalism more fit for the hyperpartisan blogosphere than a major newspaper, succeeded in helping McCain get some very tardy backing from the talk show wing of his fractious party, the truth is that the story was beaten down not by hyperpartisans, but by mainstream thinkers. And in large measure by the press itself.
So Limbaugh will have to wait about as long for John McCain to become a regular on his show as Mitt Romney will have to wait to get the vice presidential nod on the national Republican ticket. Which is to say, forever.
Which brings me to the enormous exhibit A of the talk show wing’s tin ear.
The Republican presidential primaries.
In their attempts to enforce a stifling political correctness of the far right, the talk show wing set about their relentless task of destroying one John Sidney McCain III, Captain USN (Ret.)
Folks, I give you your Republican presidential nominee.
They also went about the dismantling of Mike Huckabee.
And set themselves the task of nominating the candidate who was by far the best-funded and hewed, as it were to their strict dogma, Mitt Romney.
They ramped up these efforts into a fever pitch in the run-up to Super Tuesday.
But the Rushes, Seans, Lauras, Anns, etc. of this singular universe failed quite utterly. For on Super Tuesday, McCain and Huckabee, the two targets of their various barrages of the past months, did by far the best.
And Romney? Well, the man who I can tell you with utter certainty will most assuredly not be the Republican vice presidential nominee spent far more money than Mac and Huck combined. And was knocked out of the race for his pains, after suffering a crushing defeat in California, where McCain won all but a handful of delegates.
This, mind you, was a closed Republican primary, excluding any of the independents who comprise the fastest growing constituency in the Golden State. A primary designed specifically by talk show wing acolytes who narrow control the California Republican executive board to advantage a conservative candidate, namely Romney, the favorite of most of the Orange County conservative money crowd.
It was a perfect set-up for the talk show wing to demonstrate its power. And it was a near perfect failure. Of course, Romney’s megabucks California campaign was up against not only McCain’s Vietnam War hero/maverick Western senator persona, but also McCain’s endorsement by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Who last year called Limbaugh “irrelevant.”
Any generalization distorts. But here is one of the least distorting of all political generalizations: Independent voters hold the balance of power in American politics, now and even more so in the future.
Smart political analysts know this. Smart politicians know this. Hyperpartisans don’t.
The talk show wing discovered that it is really in the infotainment business. Whip people into an ideological frenzy in their echo chambers. Some listeners and readers take it very seriously. Others tune in for the entertainment value, then continue on in the real world to vote for John McCain, Mike Huckabee, whomever. There’s no question that Rush Limbaugh, at least, is entertaining, though some of the other folks are just angry. Although, personally, I thought Limbaugh was a lot more entertaining in the early years, before he took himself so seriously as a political power broker.
Now, of course, their equally angry counterparts on the hyperpartisan left, the so-called netroots, were no more successful in the Democratic presidential primaries than the talk show wing was in the Republican primaries.
Mitt Romney, meet John Edwards.
Edwards, who was actually highly electable in his earlier incarnation as a center-left Southern Democrat, moved well to the left in an effort to find some traction when he realized he would be up against superstars in the form of Obama and the Clintons. He was the clear choice of the netroots in the primaries. But after he lost Iowa to Obama, his only effect in the race before dropping out at the beginning of February was to siphon off enough votes in New Hampshire to enable Hillary Clinton to save her candidacy with a narrow win.
Which was not exactly what the netroots wanted, needless to say.
There’s a lot of sound and fury in those hyperpartisan echo chambers. But in the end, to paraphrase a line from the immortal bard — lest I be accused of plagiarism by a certain ever charming campaign — it doesn’t signify all that much.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil is trading in the $102 to $103 per barrel range, after hitting a record $102.59 per barrel on yesterday.
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