People skills

 Posted by at 21:42  Democrats, Election 2008, Politics
Jan 282008

I was not present so I have no way of knowing if this article and the accompanying picture depict how events actually unfolded, but they do present an interesting scene. They also show rather clearly which of the major Democratic candidates for president has the most political experience and the more developed people skills…

No Chitchat Between Clinton and Obama

Kennedy - Clinton - Obama
Kennedy - Clinton - Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) – So close, yet so far away – and so bitter.

Rival Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama came within a foot of each other just before President Bush’s State of the Union speech Monday night and managed not to acknowledge each other, and certainly not touch.

Clinton, clad in scarlet, crossed the aisle between their seats on the House floor and reached out a hand to greet Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Democratic icon whose endorsement she had courted only to lose it to Obama.

Kennedy shook her hand while Obama, wearing a dark suit and standing between the two, turned away.

The rivals then retreated to their seats, only the aisle and four senators between them.

It was the latest chapter in the increasingly nasty fight between the two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination and capped a dramatic day.

Hours earlier, Obama received the endorsements of Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, the brother and daughter, respectively, of President John F. Kennedy. They were joined by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., the senator’s son.

The only Republican senator still running, John McCain of Arizona, skipped the address to campaign in Florida.

I hope this is not some sort of insight into Senator Obama’s personality. We currently have a petulant, childish president. We do not need another.


Speaking about the moment Tuesday morning, Obama advisor David Axelrod said in an interview on MSNBC the Illinois senator was not trying to snub Clinton.

“I think he knew that Senator Kennedy and Senator Clinton were friends,” he said. “This was obviously an awkward day from that standpoint, and I don’t think he wanted to stand there while Senator Kennedy was greeting Senator Clinton. And I think that was an appropriate sentiment.”

Update #2:

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the Illinois senator said all the talk swirling around the moment the two crossed paths Monday night is much ado about nothing. (Watch Obama comment on the moment.)

“I was surprised by sort of the reports this morning,” Obama told reporters. “You know there was the photograph in the Times about, sort of, me turning away. I was turning away because [Sen.] Claire [McCaskill] asked me a question as Sen. [Ted] Kennedy was reaching for her.”

“Sen. Clinton and I have very cordial relations off the floor and on the floor. I waved at her as we were coming into the Senate chamber before we walked over last night,” he continued. “I think that there’s just a lot more tea leaf reading going on here than I think people are suggesting.”

I guess snubs are in the eyes of the beholders.


 Posted by at 19:12  Politics
Jan 282008

Did anybody remember what tonight is? I didn’t… at least not until I checked to see what is on the television tonight. I doubt we’ll be watching.

combs012508.jpg  sack012508.jpg

Thank God it’s his last one and the last one we’ll be hearing from a Republican for quite some time to come!

(If, for some reason, you are interested, Think Progress has the text of the speech that Mr. Bush will be reading tonight.)

Update: The speech is playing in the background. Does it seem to anybody else that his heart isn’t really in it? He’s definitely just calling this one in. He’s tired. He’s ready for this presidency to be over. So are we.

Jan 282008

I’m sure you’ve seen this by now:

Breaking News: Rudy Giuliani hints at dropping out

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani appears to be pondering an end to his long pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination.

In a meeting in the back of his chartered plane en route to St. Petersburg, Fla., a short while ago, the onetime, longtime GOP front-runner told a small group of reporters, including The Times’ Louise Roug: “The winner of Florida will win the nomination.”

He then went on to predict he would win. And his spokeswoman, Maria Comella, said later he was speaking with confidence.

But that’s an unusually categorical statement suggesting that only a total first-place upset by Giuliani, who trails both Mitt Romney and John McCain in all major polls for Florida’s Republican primary tomorrow, will keep him in the competition, despite previous repeated vows to continue.

Giuliani’s campaign, which led in national polls when it began and stayed there for many months, is showing signs of serious financial fatigue. This month his top staffers are foregoing their paychecks so the maximum amount of money can be invested to salvage his political fortunes in the Sunshine State, which was where Giuliani’s late-state strategy was to kick into high gear.

So far, he’s yet to finish first anywhere and ended up behind Rep. Ron Paul in Iowa and Nevada.

In his meeting with reporters today, Giuliani added that, no matter what happens Tuesday, he definitely would participate in the Republican debate co-sponsored by The Times on Wednesday at the Reagan Library.

Mr. Giuliani does not stand a chance of winning the Florida Republican primary tomorrow, barring some unforeseen miracle. Miracles are, unfortunately, the domain of Mike Huckabee. Right now, it appears that Huck and Rudy will battle it out for third place.

My prediction: we’ll see a rather lackluster performance from America’s mayor in Wednesday evening’s debate followed by an announcement of his withdrawal on Thursday morning.

If Giuliani had really wanted to be President, he should have challenged George W. Bush in 2004. We are now too far removed from 9/11. His alleged heroics on that date were the only thing he had going for him. He waited four years too many.

Poor Rudy. He really thought it was his time. It wasn’t. He should have struck while the iron was hot.

Jan 282008

It seems that Mike Huckabee is not only a connoisseur of fried squirrel, he is also an expert when it comes to fried chicken.

This expertise is going to help him win Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and all the other great southern states where fried chicken is truly appreciated:

Huckabee challenges Romney over fried chicken

PENSACOLA, Florida (CNN) – Mitt Romney’s failure to eat fried chicken with the skin on is nothing short of blasphemy here in the South, according to GOP rival Mike Huckabee.

Romney, of Massachusetts, dug into a piece fried chicken at KFC while campaigning in Lutz, Florida on Saturday, but not before peeling off what most would consider the best part — the crispy skin.[..]

Huckabee, looking ahead to a flotilla of southern states up for grabs on Super Tuesday, was told about the move by a reporter here in the Florida panhandle.

“I can tell you this,” he said, “any Southerner knows if you don’t eat the skin don’t bother calling it fried chicken.”

“So that’s good. I’m glad that he did that, because that means I’m going to win Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma … all these great Southern states that understand the best part of fried chicken is the skin, if you’re going to eat it that way.”

Damn Yankees just don’t know how to eat fried chicken.

I wish the Republicans would just hurry up and nominate Pastor Mike. They’ve got a real winner there – no doubt about it.

Jan 282008

It is becoming increasingly clear to most people that either John McCain or Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential candidate in 2008. The more they tear each other apart, the happier we Democrats become. However, when one of them accuses the other of being a Democrat… well, that’s just an insult to Democrats everywhere. I think we should demand an apology from Flipper Romney.

Romney Criticizes McCain Legislation

Mitt Romney & John McCain
Mitt Romney & John McCain

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Mitt Romney and John McCain accused each other Monday of harboring liberal tendencies, a charge bordering on blasphemy in the increasingly caustic campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney struck first on the day before the winner-take-all Florida primary, criticizing the Arizona senator for his legislation reducing the role of money in politics, for his position on immigration and for his support of an energy bill that he said would have driven up consumer costs.

“If you ask people, ‘Look at the three things Senator McCain has done as a senator,’ if you want that kind of a liberal Democratic course as president, then you can vote for him,” Romney told campaign workers. “But those three pieces of legislation, those aren’t conservative, those aren’t Republican, those are not the kind of leadership that we need as we go forward.”

McCain answered swiftly, accusing the former Massachusetts governor of “wholesale deception of voters. On every one of the issues he has attacked us on, Mitt Romney was for it before he was against it.”

He added, “The truth is, Mitt Romney was a liberal governor of Massachusetts who raised taxes, imposed with Ted Kennedy a big government mandate health care plan that is now a quarter of a billion dollars in the red, and managed his state’s economy incompetently, leaving Massachusetts with less job growth than 46 other states.”

McCain later told a Jacksonville audience that Romney has been “entirely consistent. He’s consistently taken at least two sides of every issue, sometimes more than two.”

You gotta give the old guy credit… That last remark about Flipper Romney taking at least two sides of every issue was priceless (and a direct hit).

Jan 272008

I never watch Chris Wallace’s show on Fox (can’t stand him). In fact, I rarely watch Fox at all. But when I heard that Pastor Mike Huckabee was going to be Wallace’s show this morning, I knew I had to watch. I’ll admit that I smiled through the entire interview, especially this part:

The wingnuts dare to criticize the 9/11 “Truthers” (those who believe our government played a role in the attacks on September 11, 2001) when they have one of their spouting crap like this?

Give me a break. Methinks Pastor Mike may have watched one too many episodes of “Walker: Texas Ranger.”

Gosh, I hope the Republicans nominate this guy!

Jan 272008

Right wing Republicans hate a lot of people. In fact, they seem to hate most people. Hate is their specialty and they are proud of it. It seems, however, that they reserve an especially viral form of their hatred for Senator Ted Kennedy. You just watch, wingnut heads are going to explode over this:

Kennedy Plans to Back Obama Over Clinton

Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy

Senator Edward M. Kennedy intends to endorse the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama during a rally on Monday in Washington, associates to both men confirmed, a decision that squarely pits one American political dynasty against another.

The expected endorsement, coming after Mr. Obama’s commanding victory over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, may give Mr. Obama further momentum in his campaign for the nomination.

As Mr. Obama flew here on Sunday, he smiled when asked by reporters about Mr. Kennedy’s plans, saying: “I’ve had ongoing conversations with Ted since I’ve got into this race.” He learned of Mr. Kennedy’s decision through a telephone call on Thursday, aides said, three days before the South Carolina primary.

Of all the endorsements in the Democratic Party, Mr. Kennedy’s is viewed as among the most influential. The Massachusetts senator had vowed to stay out of the presidential nominating fight, but as the contest expanded into a state-by-state fight — and given the tone of the race in the last week — associates said he was moved to announce his support for Mr. Obama.[..]

Mr. Kennedy, the latest in a string of senators to get behind Mr. Obama, is said by associates to be drawn to the Illinois senator because of his ability to motivate a new generation of Democrats.

I think the actions of the Clintons over the past week or two have swayed a lot of people in Mr. Obama’s direction. I have a lot of respect and admiration for President Bill Clinton, but if Hillary Clinton is half as brilliant as people say she is, she will send her husband home and reclaim her campaign as her own.

Jan 262008

It’s been a big night for Barack Obama. Not only did he walk away with a rather impressive victory in South Carolina (see previous post), he also gained the endorsements of The San Francisco Chronicle and Caroline Kennedy.

First, the Chronicle:

Reprieve and renewal

The American political system needs a period of reprieve and renewal.

It needs a reprieve from a White House that draws power from fear, sneers at any science that gets in the way of corporate or theocratic missions and stubbornly adheres to policies that leave the nation sinking in debt and mired in war. It craves a reprieve from the politics of bloodsport that prize clever calculation over courage, winning over principle, party label over national interest.

The renewal must come from a president who can lead by inspiration, who can set partisanship aside to define and achieve common goals, who can persuade a new generation of Americans that there is something noble and something important about public service.

There is no doubt about the Democrat with the vision and skills to bring that period of reprieve and renewal. It is Sen. Barack Obama.

Mrs. Schlossberg (Caroline Kennedy):

A President Like My Father

Over the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

All in all, a good evening for the Senator from Illinois.

Barack and Michelle Obama
Barack and Michelle Obama

Jan 262008

Obama claims big win in South Carolina

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

(CNN) — Sen. Barack Obama claimed a significant victory in South Carolina on Saturday, telling supporters “we are hungry for change.”

The Illinois senator earned more than twice the vote that rival Sen. Hillary Clinton did, 55 percent to 27 percent, unofficial returns showed.

Former Sen. John Edwards was expected to come in third in the state’s Democratic primary, according to CNN projections.

“Tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina,” Obama said to supporters Saturday.

A win in South Carolina was considered crucial for Obama, who won Iowa but finished second to Clinton in New Hampshire and Nevada.[..]

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Obama had 55 percent of the vote. Clinton was second with 27 percent, followed by Edwards, with 18 percent.

Obama’s likely victory capped a heated contest in South Carolina, the first Democratic primary in the South and the first with a largely African-American electorate.

Obama, who is hoping to become the United States’ first African-American president, did well with black voters, who made up about half of Saturday’s electorate, according to exit polls.

Black voters supported the Illinois senator by a margin of more than 4-to-1 over his nearest rival, exit polls indicate.

Among white voters, Obama took about a quarter of the vote, with Clinton and Edwards roughly splitting the remainder, those polls indicated.

That one was not too difficult to call. They probably had most of this article written a month ago.

Update: MSNBC’s David Shuster reports:

More than 500,000 [530,322] votes were cast today in this Democratic primary…

That is higher than the 450,000 [442,918] who voted last Saturday in the GOP South Carolina primary. And the turnout today is up by 75% compared to the Democratic primary turnout in 2004… That primary turnout was 290,000.

I added the actual counts in the brackets. John McCain, the winner of last week’s Republican primary, received 147,283 votes. Barack Obama today received 295,091 votes. This, in a supposedly “red” state.

Watch the victory speech (somehow I think there will be many more to come):

Compare and contrast:

Jan 252008

I have not been paying a lot of attention to the reports of purported mischief performed by and on behalf of the Clintons, Bill and Hillary. I’ve chalked most of them up to media sensationalism and right wing rancor. It becomes more difficult to ignore, however, when it is posted directly on Senator Clinton’s campaign website:

“I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee.

“I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.

“I hope my fellow potential nominees will join me in this.

“I will of course be following the no-campaigning pledge that I signed, and expect others will as well.”

Had the people in Florida and Michigan wanted their voices heard in the Democratic party’s nominating process, they would have insisted that their respective state parties follow the rules laid down by the national party. They did not, and by not doing so they forfeited their right to be heard. Hillary Clinton knows this.

All of the candidates, with the exception of Mrs. Clinton, requested that their names be removed from the ballot in Michigan. Since her name was the only name on the ballot, Mrs. Clinton won the Michigan primary. None of the Democratic candidates are campaigning in Florida. Mrs. Clinton appears likely to win the primary in that state on the basis of name recognition alone.

Of course she wants the delegates from those two states reinstated. They are her delegates. In a nominating contest as tight as this one will likely be, every delegate is going to count. Hillary Clinton jumped the shark today. It’s almost as if she declared that the rules that apply to the other candidates do not apply to her. She alienated a lot of people, including, I dare say, yours truly.

If she becomes the Democratic nominee, she will have my full support. Any Democrat in the White House is infinitely better than a Republican. Today, though, she lost a lot of the respect I had for her.