2008 - %3, June

Hillary Clinton at AIPAC

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 12:19 PM EDT

Live blog highlights:

We need a Democrat in the White House. It is not just Israel which faces threats. America does too. Next president will inherit grave problems, difficult threats....Bush moved us in wrong direction. ... McCain will continue same failed policies in Iraq and the Middle East.

America needs a new policy to make us stronger. We cannot stand strongly with Israel if we are not strong at home and not respected as leader of the world everywhere else.

America needs new beginning in foreign policy ...

We have rare moment of opportunity and we must seize this moment. ... Build world we want, rather than just defend from world we fear....


Advertise on MotherJones.com

Obama Wins

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 11:40 PM EDT

(For the latest on the Clinton campaign's decision to endorse Obama Saturday, see this post).

With Barack Obama's loss in South Dakota and win in Montana on Tuesday night, the primaries and caucuses are over. The senator from Illinois who ran an unconventional movement-esque campaign of and for change is the winner. He has bagged the most voter-determined delegates and a majority of the superdelegates commitments, enough to declare victory. The nation is heading toward a general election featuring a dramatic face-off between a progressive who opposed the Iraq war and a conservative who was a cheerleader for the war. A fresh face versus a Washington veteran. A onetime community organizer versus a former war hero. A 46-year-old black man versus a 71-year-old white man. Assuming the Democratic mantle, Obama declared in a speech before thousands in St. Paul, Minnesota, "This year must be different than all the rest." It will be. And hours earlier, John McCain, delivering a speech in New Orleans, used the word "change" almost three dozen times. But before the Obama-McCain clash throttles up, there is one last item of business for the Democrats: Hillary Clinton must concede.

Can Clinton harbor any hope of nullifying the verdict of the millions of voters who flocked to the primaries and caucuses in record numbers? That would be the political equivalent of nuclear warfare. To do so, Clinton, who spent the end of her campaign positioning herself as a count-every-vote champion, would have to become an anti-democratic renegade, challenging the outcome of the voting and confronting the party leadership, which has signaled its preference for allowing the pledged-delegate count to determine the final outcome.

On Tuesday, AP reported Clinton had told New York lawmakers she was open to being Obama's veep choice--a sign she won't push the button. And in her speech to supporters in New York on Tuesday night, Clinton was conciliatory toward Obama. She declared, "we stayed the course," depicting her hang-in-there strategy of the past two months as a cause, not a political tactic. She made no mention of the superdelegates, dropping her usual pitch for their support. But in a combative tone, she proclaimed, "I want the 18 million people who voted for me to be respected and to be heard." Heard? Respected? In what way? And by whom? By Obama? That was a statement ready-made for interpretation by pundits and analysts. "Where do we go from here?" she asked. She answered, "I will be making no decisions tonight." Speaking to her supporters, she said, I want to hear from you." And she noted that in the "coming days" she will be consulting with party leaders.

The Biggest Hillary-as-VP Problem? Bill

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 11:03 PM EDT

MSNBC is reporting that Bill Clinton is heading back to his Harlem office while Clinton makes the VP pitch. As Tom Brokaw said, "the former president really has become radioactive in a lot of ways." There is his finances — his consulting fees, his speech fees, his donation fundraising, his businessmen pals. There is his philandering — a distraction again these last few days because of a gossipy Vanity Fair article. And there is his mouth — which is connected to a brain that seems to think it holds the answer to every question, and is allowed to expressed that answer at all times.

I honestly think the prospect of having Bill on the campaign trail and in the White House is the most problematic thing about bringing Hillary onto the ticket. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have had their differences in the past, and she's said some things about him that Republicans will surely use, but that's nothing two talented politicians can't dance around. But you can't send Bill on a world tour for eight years. And the Clintons aren't getting divorced. Sooo... time to start looking for other choices.

Update: Adele Stan sees things the same way.

"I Will Be Making No Decisions Tonight"

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 10:40 PM EDT

That's Hillary Clinton speaking just a few moments ago in New York.

She will be talking to supporters and party leaders over the next several days to see what course of action is in the best interest of the party and the best interest of the nation. She's not dropping out. Though she seemed to understand the state of things.

I would recommend that Obama and his supporters, who must be frustrated that Clinton is not leaving the race and giving Obama his moment in the sun, be magnanimous in victory. Clinton will be out soon enough; treating her with grace and respect now will probably go a long way in determining how her supporters feel about his candidacy.

Update: I suspect Clinton will wait to meet one-on-one with Obama before making her decision. Tim Russert is insisting that a close Clinton confidante that he trusts is telling him Clinton wants the vice presidency. She will probably see if Obama plans on offering it to her before she decides what she does next.

If she drops out, she loses leverage.

Obama Secures the Nomination

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 9:51 PM EDT

The networks are calling it. Obama used superdelegates to get within 10 delegates of the necessary 2,118 for the nomination, and with the polls closing out west, the networks are projecting that Obama will get the rest out of South Dakota and Montana.

We'll have plenty more here tonight. If you're interested in sharing your thoughts on this moment, please do so in the comments.

John McCain Speaks in New Orleans, Poorly

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 9:36 PM EDT

McCain was in New Orleans tonight making his historically laughable "I'm not George W. Bush" speech.

He opened with a relatively transparent play for disaffected Hillary Clinton voters. He said: 1) she didn't get treated with the respect she deserved by the media and the Obama campaign; 2) she is an inspiration to his daughters; 3) he is proud to call her his friend. I wonder if he'll repeat this line on the campaign trail; even if he does, he'll never have a microphone as loud as the one he had tonight.

But none of that is going to undo the fact that McCain is a pretty awful public speaker. His voice is basically a monotone, his pauses are unnatural, and the audience applauds awkwardly. And it's not just his style. Today, his central message was essentially a defensive one — "this is a change election, but there is the right kind of change and the wrong kind of change" — and when that's the case, you're in serious trouble, methinks.

McCain attacked Obama repeatedly today — using the standard conservative attacks on liberals. Senator Obama wants to take your money and let the government decide how to run your lives. My approach trusts in the common sense of the American people. After every attack, McCain stuck a forced grin on his face and said, "That's not change we can believe in." Applause was, as I've mentioned before, awkward.

And before he could finish CNN cut him off to announce that Obama had secured the delegates needed for the Democratic nomination, reinforcing just how much this is Obama's night.

Update: I should have linked to my April blog post on John McCain's miserable record on Hurricane Katrina.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

What Will Obama Say at AIPAC? Reading the Cuban Tea Leaves

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 4:28 PM EDT

Barack Obama has a much-anticipated speech tomorrow before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The big questions in my mind are what kind of rhetoric he will use—i.e., how hard he will pander—and whether he will announce any new wrinkles in his position on Israel/Palestine.

One possible indicator is a speech Obama gave in Miami a couple weeks ago before the Cuban American National Foundation, which is the rough analogue of AIPAC in the Cuban exile community. The speech included the usual nods to the concept of diplomacy and a proposal to relax current rules limiting family travel to Cuba. But, as Michael Moynihan of Reason convincingly argues, "the real news is that Obama is merely interested in tinkering with America's Cuba policy, not substantially changing it." Here's the money graph of the address, in which Obama flip-flopped on his previous support for ending the embargo:

Every Republican Is a "Different Kind of Republican"

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 3:50 PM EDT

"Campaign Notebook: McCain Sending a Message From New Orleans," Bloomberg, 05/31/08:

John McCain is planning to send a message that he's "a different kind of Republican'' as he fully opens up a general-election campaign against Barack Obama.
McCain, an Arizona senator, is giving what his advisers bill as a major address June 3 in New Orleans as the votes are being counted for the final Democratic presidential primaries in South Dakota and Montana...
"He's a different kind of Republican,'' spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said. "We've made that point from the beginning of this election and we'll continue to make it.''

"Bush to Visit Dillard Today; Local University Welcomes Exposure," Times-Picayune [no link], 08/24/00:

Even after a Republican convention artfully designed to present an inclusive front, not many people would think of Dillard University, a historically black institution led by a well-known Democratic politician, as Bush Country...
"George W. Bush is a different kind of Republican. He visits inner-city schools, historically black colleges and other places that Republicans have shied away from," [spokesman Tucker] Eskew said. "He has a passion for improving educational achievement by minorities. There's a record to back that up."

What does this say about the Republican brand? Oh, and also? New Orleans is apparently the chief stage prop of the GOP.

Kmart's Abstinence Pants Maker Says: Yes You Can!

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 3:25 PM EDT

Yes, I said "abstinence pants." Kmart in-house designer Piper & Blue has jazzed up this year's summer collection with a pair of sweatpants for teen girls that say "True Love Waits" in your choice of colored bubble letters. No, there is no corresponding set for boys.

But there is an official Piper & Blue designers' blog that lets you know how you should be thinking about your summer couture. And maybe it's just me, but some of the suggestions seem a little risque for the True Love Waits crowd. "Top garments like coats and jackets are what an onlooker sees first," warns the blog. What do they see next? Well, if you wear their "football jersey," that would be "a casual outfit that's super stylish and easily accessible!" Easily accessible? Uh oh. "These days, you don't need a bank account like Britney's to get Lindsay's look." You, too, can model your style on two of our culture's pillars of Christian morality. That particular post is entitled, "Hollywood Glam? Yes You Can!"

Though brimming with advice, the blog is sadly silent on the topic of the abstinence pants. It does, however, justify its similar, albeit less-political sweatpants: "By pairing a cute tee with embellished sweats, you'll look ready for action, not bed." I'll leave interpreting that to you all, in the comments.

AP, Hot to Trot Today, Officially Calls Nomination for Obama

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 2:32 PM EDT

It's over? The AP, citing "public commitments from delegates as well as more than a dozen private commitments," says that Obama has enough delegates to clinch the nomination "even if he lost the final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana."

I'm going to wait before I fully believe it.