2008 - %3, November

Already Missing Sarah Palin?

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:56 AM EST

Via Politico's Mike Allen, Newsweek has got your post-election Palin withdrawal fix:

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family — clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent 'tens of thousands' more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide … said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.
McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.

And looks like we can expect much more of this sort of finger-pointing.

A recent report by the New Yorker said that Bill Kristol played a key background role in promoting Palin for the GOP VP slot.

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Gay Rights in California

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:50 AM EST

GAY RIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA....The votes aren't quite fully counted yet, but with 95% of the precincts reporting it looks like Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California is headed for passage, 52%-48%. In one sense, this might have been inevitable: this is precisely the margin I projected six months ago based on basic demographic trends. What's more, the voting trends are exactly what you'd expect: strong No votes in the liberal coastal counties, especially in the north, and Yes votes in the conservative inland counties. On the other hand, it only passed by two points. I really, really wonder if we could have beaten it if Barack Obama had been willing to step up and take a bit of a risk on behalf of defeating it. Especially toward the end, when it was unlikely to hurt him in the national race. If he had cut an ad to run over the final weekend, would it have made the difference? Maybe.

In other news, it looks like Prop 1A, the high-speed rail bond measure, has passed. I opposed this, but obviously I had mixed feelings and I can't say I'm unhappy to see it win. I hope the rosy projections from its proponents turn out to be closer to the mark than I thought they were.

Prop 2, guaranteeing minimally decent treatment of farm animals, passed decisively. Prop 4, which required parental notification for teen abortions, appears to have lost. Prop 9, a bad "victims rights" initiative, passed fairly easily. Prop 11, the redistricting initiative, is narrowly ahead right now, but still too close to call.

Not the worst night ever for California initiatives, then, but not great either. The good news, I guess, is that the same demographic trends that doomed gay marriage this year also guarantee its eventual victory. We'll try this again in five or ten years and win easily.

Barbecue Politics***

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:10 AM EST

BARBECUE POLITICS....Last July, at Netroots Nation, I had lunch with Joe Garcia, the Democratic challenger in Florida's 25th congressional district. "If Joe's ability to pound down Texas barbecue is any indication," I said, "he should be a landslide winner in November."

Sadly, it turns out that barbecue eating ability was not the key factor in the race. Garcia lost to the incumbent, Mario Diaz-Balart, 53%-47%. This is a sad defeat for central Texas barbecue.

I also had lunch in Austin with Steve Young, the Democratic challenger in my district (California 48th). He ended up losing to incumbent John Campbell 55%-41% — which actually isn't a half bad result, several points higher than any Democrat has ever gotten in this district. Still, the lesson is clear: having lunch with Kevin Drum is not the road to victory. Aspiring politicians, take note.

Dreams

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 10:37 AM EST

DREAMS....I had a weird dream last night. Really vivid too. Obama had already won the election and he was giving a big victory speech at Grant Park. Crowds were cheering, people were crying, and there were celebrations around the country. I swear, it felt as real as if it had really happened.

But enough of that. So what do today's tracking polls look like? Has McCain made up any ground since yesterday?

Hillary

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 3:13 AM EST

HILLARY....Tonight has been both a great triumph for common sense and a final, emphatic rejection of the Texification of the Republican Party. Barack Obama's victory has been huge, and his coattails have proven to be everything Democrats could have hoped for, with pickups of at least five Senate seats and more than a dozen House seats. Conservatives will do their best to spin things otherwise, but there's little question that the country moved decisively from center right to center left tonight.

I'll have more to say about Obama tomorrow, but for now I want to end the night with a word about Hillary Clinton. She ran in one of the toughest Democratic primaries ever, against one of the party's most talented politicians in recent memory, and she took a lot of abuse during that primary — some of it deserved, most of it not. But in the end, despite what must have been a bitter and searing loss, she campaigned tirelessly and wholeheartedly for the man who beat her. This is something that a lot of people doubted she'd do, and frankly, we all owe her some recognition and gratitude for her role in tonight's victory. Hillary has always been unambiguously dedicated to the Democratic Party and the cause of liberalism, and I think she proved that in the most concrete way possible over the past two months.

Congratulations to Barack Obama for a tremendous victory — tremendous and life affirming. This is his night, and his promise is vast. I hope and pray that he fulfills it.

California's Abortion Measure Failing

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 2:56 AM EST

With 45% of precincts reporting California's abortion notification initiative is now losing narrowly (52%-48%). Back in 2005 and 2006, voters shot down similar measures, with 54% and 56% opposed, respectively. Prop 4 includes a mandatory waiting period, a restriction currently mandated in 30 states. Currently, 34 states require parents are informed if a minor wants an abortion, with 22 states requiring parents to okay the procedure. Such restrictions on young women's right to choose can lead to unsafe, illegal measures, especially where family relationships are strained.

The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Health Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all oppose mandatory parental notification.

*An UPDATE on the same-sex marriage ban: Prop 8 is ahead 53%-47% with nearly half (47%) of the state's votes tallied. Less than two weeks ago polls showed only 44% of Californians in favor of the ban.

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Obama Wins and Redefines Real America

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 1:53 AM EST

So who's a real American now?

With his decisive triumph over Senator John McCain, Senate Barack Obama made obvious history: he is the first black (or biracial) man to win the presidency. But the meaning of his victory--in which Obama splashed blue across previously red states--extends far beyond its racial significance. Obama, a former community organizer and law professor, won the White House as one of the most progressive (or liberal) nominees in the Democratic Party's recent history. Mounting one of the best run presidential bids in decades, Obama tied his support for progressive positions (taxing the wealthy to pay for tax cuts for working Americans, addressing global warming, expanding affordable health insurance, withdrawing troops from Iraq) to calls for cleaning up Washington and for crafting a new type of politics. Charismatic, steady, and confident, he melded substance and style into a winning mix that could be summed up in simple and basic terms: hope and change.

After nearly eight years of George W. Bush's presidency, Obama was the non-Bush: intelligent, curious, thoughtful, deliberate, and competent. His personal narrative--he was the product of an unconventional family and worked his way into the nation's governing class--fueled his campaign narrative. His story was the American Dream v2.0. He was change, at least at skin level. But he also championed the end of Bushism. He had opposed the Iraq war. He had opposed Bush's tax cuts for the rich. He was no advocate of let-'er-rip, free market capitalism or American unilateralism. In policy terms, Obama represents a serious course correction.

And more. In the general election campaign, McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, turned the fight for the presidency into a culture clash. They accused Obama of being a socialist. They assailed him for having associated with William Ayers, a former, bomb-throwing Weather Underground radical,who has since become an education expert. Palin indirectly referred to Obama's relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who once preached fiery sermons denouncing the United States government for certain policies. On the campaign trail, Palin suggested there were "real" parts of America and fake parts. At campaign events, she promoted a combative, black-helicopter version of conservatism: if you're for government expansion, you're against freedom. During her one debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, she hinted that if her opponents won the White House there might come a day when kids would ask their grandparents what it had been like to live in a free country. At McCain-Palin rallies, supporters shouted out, "Communist!" and "terrorist!" and "Muslim!" when the Republican candidates referred to Obama. And McCain and Palin hurled the standard charges at Obama: he will raise your taxes and he is weak on national security.

Put it all together and the message was clear: there are two types of Americans. Those who are true Americans--who love their nation and cherish freedom--and those who are not. The other Americans do not put their country first; they blame it first. The other Americans do not believe in opportunity; they want to take what you have and give it to someone else. The other Americans do not care about Joe the Plumber; they are out-of-touch elitists who look down on (and laugh at) hard-working, church-going folks. The other Americans do not get the idea of America. They are not patriots. And it just so happens that the other America is full of blacks, Latinos, gays, lesbians, and non-Christians.

McCain, Palin and their compatriots did what they could to depict Obama as the rebel chief of this other un-American America. (Hillary Clinton helped set up their effort during the primaries by beating the Ayers drum.) Remember the stories of Obama's supposed refusal to wear a flag pin or place his hand over his heart for the Pledge of Allegiance? The emails about Obama being a secret Muslim? The goal was to delegitimize Obama, as well as the Americans who were moved by his biography, his rhetoric, and his ideas. It was back to the 1960s--drawing a harsh line between the squares (the real Americans) and the freaks (those redistribution-loving, terrorist-coddling faux Americans).

It didn't work.

Ban on Gay Marriage, Abortion Parental Notification Both Winning in California

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 1:21 AM EST

With 14% of precincts reporting, Prop 8, which would amend California's constitution to eliminate equal marriage rights is leading 55% to 45%. Still too soon to call, but it's not looking good.

On a similar note, California's initiative that would mandate parental notification for minors who want an abortion is also leading with 13% reporting, 51% to 49%.

Click here for the most up-to-date numbers.

The Old, Likeable McCain Delivers Concession Speech

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 12:21 AM EST

During his concession speech McCain was the most sincere and likeable he's been since the campaign began. Disconcerting though that people started booing at the mention of Obama, and when he said "I don't know what more I could have done," came shouts of "Reverend Wright!"

Cue the healing.

11 PM Update

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 12:00 AM EST

11 PM UPDATE....I figured CNN would call the election at 11:01 Eastern, but I was off by a minute. They called it at 11:00.

....I guess I should be feeling a sense of excitement, but what I mostly feel is an immense sense of relief. Just a complete, unmitigated, totally drained sense of relief that George Bush will finally be packed up and sent home to Crawford. For just this moment, I don't even care whether Barack Obama will be a great president. I'm just grateful that for the next four years our president will be at least minimally competent and grounded in reality. Thank God.

....CNN has called Florida for Obama.

....Colorado goes for Obama. Obama is up to 338 electoral votes so far.