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Experience This! Should Senator Clinton Join Senator Obama at the Kids' Table?

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 11:11 AM EST

Tim Noah, a pal, makes an excellent point at Slate: where does Clinton get off pulling rank on Obama? As I pointed out yesterday, if she's going to invoke (as she certainly does) her vast experience over Obama, she needs to show us the goods. Those goods do not hold up to inspection. If sleeping with Bill Clinton qualifies you for president, [fill in joke here]. Obama has more time as an elected official, so Clinton is invoking her role as First Lady. But let's look at that role. Noah writes:

...a Dec. 26 New York Times story revealed that during her husband's two terms in office, Hillary Clinton did not hold a security clearance, did not attend meetings of the National Security Council, and was not given a copy of the president's daily intelligence briefing. During trips to Bosnia and Kosovo, she "acted as a spokeswoman for American interests rather than as a negotiator." On military affairs, most of her experience derives not from her White House years but from serving on the Senate armed services committee. In this capacity, William Kristol notes gleefully in the Jan. 14 New York Times, Clinton told Gen. David Petraeus this past September that his reports of military progress in Iraq—since shown to be undeniable—required "the willing suspension of disbelief."

The whole piece deserves a thorough read, but Noah's right in his ultimate point. If she wins the nomination with this gambit, she could cost Dems the White House:

Clinton's claim to superior experience isn't merely dishonest. It's also potentially dangerous should she become the nominee. If Clinton continues to build her campaign on the dubious foundation of government experience, it shouldn't be very difficult for her GOP opponent to pull that edifice down. That's especially true if a certain white-haired senator now serving his 25th year in Congress (four in the House and 21 in the Senate) wins the nomination. McCain could easily make Hillary look like an absolute fraud who is no more truthful about her depth of government experience than she is about why her mother named her "Hillary." Dennis Kucinich has more government experience than Clinton. (He also has a better health-care plan, but we'll save that for another day.) If Clinton doesn't find a new theme soon, she won't just be cutting Obama's throat. She'll also be cutting her own.

Finally, a reminder that race and gender only cloud the real issue.

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The Reverse Bradley? Might Blacks Lie To Pollsters? If so, Why?

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 10:39 AM EST

Mickey Kaus, in Slate, ref'ing Noam Scheiber from The New Republic, misses an obvious interpretation:

But what if this black Bradley Effect operates in the other direction--black voters tell pollsters they are going to vote for Obama (because they feel that's expected of them) and then vote for Hillary or Edwards?

What if they tell pollsters that because of how torn we are between Clinton and Obama? Blacks might know, or suspect, they're going to vote Old School but symbolically 'vote' for Obama in a poll. If I didn't immediately hang up on the pests, I'd say I was voting for Obama when I know very well my mind's far from made up. I just want to give him a shout-out and let America know we're on the move. 'Voting' in a poll is cost-free. Voting in the booth—that's the real deal. As for the notion that blacks avoid telling pollsters the truth for fear of being suspected of group think...a sister has to chuckle. Frontin' to a faceless Zogby drone on the phone, or even at the polling place when you're high on the franchise, is the least of our concerns; right or wrong, we know you think much worse of us than that. We could yell our support of OJ to the skies but tremble to say Hillary's name? Right.

Ah, black complexity. When will white folks ever catch a clue?

Know Any Promising Young Folks Who Wanna Run Into a Burning Building?

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 10:23 AM EST

Funny how some things just make their own satiric gravy. From the White House listserv:

Dear Friends,
The application deadline for the Summer 2008 White House Internship is February 26, 2008. If you know students and/or organizations that may be interested in this information please share this with them.
We are looking for a well-qualified, diverse group of applicants who would like to intern here for President Bush.
A White House Internship is an opportunity for current students and recent graduates to experience everyday life at the White House while working with high-level officials on a variety of tasks and projects.
Strong applicants should exhibit:
· Sound academic credentials
· A demonstrated interest in public service
· Solid written and verbal communication skills
· A history of community involvement
· Strong character and leadership skills
Beyond experiencing the day-to-day operations of the White House, interns participate in a speaker series, tours, community service projects, and various White House events.
For more information please visit our website at: www.whitehouse.gov/intern.
Applications should be submitted to intern_application@whitehouse.gov on or before February 26, 2008 for the Summer 2008 Internship.
If you have any questions please contact White House Personnel at 202-456-5979.
Thank you!
Mr. Paris Dennard
The White House

I can think of a few questions prospective interns might like to ask, like what a Bush Tortur-ific, Never Ending War, White House means by "character" and "leadership".

Black Men's Crime, Black Women's Punishment: Here's Something Obama Can Confront if he Wants/Expects Black Women's Vote

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 10:09 AM EST

When I spoke yesterday of the savage realities facing black women, and whether Obama was prepared to confront them (and win black women's vote) this is the sort of thing I meant. From Slate reporting on a new book called the Logic of Life, which purports to lay bare the rational decisions underpinning seemingly irrational cultural phenomena:

[Economists] Charles and Luoh are able to examine [the rational decisions underlying black women's marriage prospects] this statistically because they have data across all 50 states and for the 1980, 1990 and 2000 census. So they are able to compare the situation of women in different times and places, taking into account background trends as they vary across the country and from decade to decade. They estimate, for instance, that a one percentage point rise in the proportion of young black men in prison reduces the proportion of young black women who have ever been married by three percentage points. In states where 20 or 25 percent of the available men are in prison, young black women become very unlikely to marry. The effect is even more dramatic for uneducated women, since women tend to pair up with men of a similar education level, and uneducated men are particularly likely to end up in jail.

(Note: the review also goes on to talk about how the pill lead men in general to drop out of college which raises interesting points about this post of a few days ago on abortion. That post is also notable for an amazing comment, the likes of which we bloggers rarely encounter. It's a mile long, you can't miss it. Kudos to the writer.)

Be Careful, Kids - Monkey Business Can Start Wars

| Mon Jan. 14, 2008 8:10 PM EST

It seems the recent close encounter between U.S. Navy warships and Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz was spurred on by a notorious radio wisecracker called the "Filipino Monkey." The Guardian reports that the elusive monkey—a "mythical guy out there who, hour after hour, shouts obscenities and threats" over Navy radio frequencies—was the creepy voice that American sailors heard muttering, "I am coming to you... You will explode in a few minutes," during their 20-minute standoff last week with the Iranians. (Click here for the monkey see, monkey do. Sorry, I couldn't resist.) For their part, the Iranians deny any aggressive behavior, claiming the video/audio released by the Pentagon is propaganda. Whatever the case, there's a surly monkey of a man out there somewhere, probably sitting alone in his basement with a toy radio set, who almost made our world much more complicated.

Dead Hearts Beat Again, Thanks to Science

| Mon Jan. 14, 2008 7:52 PM EST

Heart500.jpg Scientists at the University of Minnesota have combined young cells with dead hearts to make...new hearts. Yes, that's right sci-fi fans: They grew a new, living, beating heart right there in their lab.

How they did it: Researchers used new heart cells from baby rats and combined them with the valves and "outer structure" of an adult rat's dead heart. In two weeks, "the cells formed a new beating heart that conducted electrical impulses and pumped a small amount of blood," reported the New York Times. As the scientists detailed in Nature Medicine yesterday, the newly created hearts were implanted in other rats, and were not rejected. The process, called "whole organ recellularization," could be done with virtually any organ, said researcher Doris Taylor.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in our country. Currently, there are about 3,000 people waiting for donor hearts and 550,000 people are diagnosed with heart disease each year. Even for those lucky enough to get a donor heart, the surgery provides no guarantee that their body won't reject the organ. The new process reduces risk of rejection and actually increases the chance that the body will grow new blood vessels and muscles on the implanted heart. So the discovery that we may be able to some day re-grow our own hearts for implantation is encouraging, to say the least. If this kind of procedure were to be used in humans (and scientists involved in the experiment emphasize that that's about 10 years away), stem cells from the patient's own bone marrow would be injected into a specially prepared heart-like structure made from cadaver parts.

But if we ever have the ready option of organ replacement, will we live our lives differently? Will we eat hamburgers and cheesecake in abandon, secure in the knowledge that heart #2 is waiting for us in a freezer somewhere? My biggest question, really: Would this therapy be affordable for all, or for like many other medical breakthroughs would only the rich be able to afford it? Which brings us back to reason number 2,360 to support universal healthcare.

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The Brother From Another Planet: Good, and Bad, Reasons why Blacks Aren't in Lock Step with Obama

| Mon Jan. 14, 2008 5:39 PM EST

I never cease to be amazed at how amazing it seems that blacks aren't in automatic, unthinking, en masse lockstep with Barack Obama. I did a BBC interview just after Obama's announcement from Springfield and nothing I said could penetrate that white woman's disgusted annoyance with me for pointing out that even black candidates have to earn black votes. I was only there to prove how baffling, and therefore ignoreable, Negroes are; she never heard a word I said. It was incomprehensible to her that we could at once do carthweels in the streets over him and keep our minds open about voting for him. Guess it's not just Asians who are inscrutable; it's all Others when they don't queue up in accordance with whites' lazy predictions about us.

This annoyance and assumption of black connivance (our coolness toward Obama can't possibly be defensible) against a shiny, clean black guy like Obama is particularly worrisome when it comes from other blacks. Most often, it's the same blacks who rail most vocally against white denial of black complexity, yet they know very well that you can't talk to any group of black folks without hearing a plethora of contradictory opinions (gee, just like 'real' people). We range from Bill Cosby to Michael Eric Dyson, Sec. Rice to Marian Wright Edelman. If we vote for any black just because they're black, we get dogged. If we vet all comers with equal scrutiny we're seen as, I dunno, stupid. Self-destructive. No need to pay us any mind; let the grown ups make the decisions.

The truth is that nobody weighs their vote as carefully as blacks, especially older blacks, and we've been voting for non-blacks a long time. You see, we want to see blacks get their due but, more than anything else, we get that we're minorities, often despised minorities, and that we'll only rarely be represented by folks who look like us. We wrote the book on making due and getting done what we can get done, symbolism aside. Without knowing more, black opposition to Obama is as worthy as black support of him regardless of what the black Politburo says.

Still, William Jelani Cobb, writing in The Washington Post, offers one of the few worthy versions of this argument re the civil rights establishment's ambivalence and hostility to Obama:

That's because, positioned as he is between the black boomers and the hip-hop generation, Obama is indebted, but not beholden, to the civil rights gerontocracy. A successful Obama candidacy would simultaneously represent a huge leap forward for black America and the death knell for the reign of the civil rights-era leadership -- or at least the illusion of their influence.

Cobb is still ignoring the obvious too much, I think, as to the role of black sagacity in weighing Obama, but his argument is among the most nuanced. I'm on record as highly critical of the Generation That Won't Go Away (Sharpton, Jackson, et al), much as I honor their role in my freedom. We'd still be in the back of the bus if I'd had to face Bull Connor. Still, I think they're getting something of a bum rap on Obama. And of course, Clinton shot herself in the foot with the dissing of MLK. Oh my, how the truth slipped out there. All you Negroes marchin' was fine, but it took white folks to seal the deal. Andrew Young et. al. will be thanking her for a long time for that one. And South Carolina's blacks have been given a little something to chew on while their hands are poised over the 'Clinton' button.

Hillary's Triangulation

| Mon Jan. 14, 2008 5:02 PM EST

Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain. Hillary Clinton has done it again, pulling a fast one even on those who are critical of her performance yesterday on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert.

As part of what amounted to a free hour-long campaign commercial, the queen of triangulation took her usual something-for-everyone approach to Obama's record on the decision to launch the Iraq war, attacking him from both sides: On the one hand, his clear, firm, and thoroughly prescient opposition to the war expressed in a speech he gave in October 2002 is brushed off as "just a speech." On the other hand, this same opposition is used to depict him as being soft on Saddam, willing to do nothing to stop a dangerous maniac.

My colleague David Corn's earlier post, with its crystal clear parsing of Obama's true record and Clinton's various attacks on it, ought to be the last word on this subject—if only the millions of viewers of "Meet the Press" could be counted on to read it.

The quintessential piece of Clintonian obfuscation, however, lies in the fact that now everyone is talking about just what she wants them to talk about: Barack Obama's record on the war. This, as opposed to Hillary Clinton's own record, as she described it yesterday—not for the first time, but in unusually direct terms. It's a description that ought to be producing astonishment and outrage, but in fact seems to be receiving relatively little coverage.

Where and When we Enter: Black Women and Election 2008

| Mon Jan. 14, 2008 4:53 PM EST

Gloria Steinem was right: a black woman with Obama's exact pedigree wouldn't register as more than a blip in a presidential race; whether it was Achola or Jaquita Obama, she'd couldn't get elected Senator let alone seriously contend for the White House. Let alone be seen as The Great Black Hope who made white folks eurphoric at their own generosity. Obama's race is seen as unifying while Clinton's gender is seen as divisive.

It seems pretty obvious that, rather than deal with Steinem's potent argument, folks are focusing on what she (i.e. feminism) didn't do about Bill Clinton and on disparaging the "hierarchy of oppressions" (gender v race) angle when that's her very point; progress on race has always taken a back seat to progress on gender - black men did get the vote before women, however impossible it was to exercise. Let's not forget that non-white men benefit just as much from sexism as the white ones do, a reality that made my military years much more a battle against sexism than racism. Keeping women in their place is the one thing folks with a penis can agree on. How deeply we feel our own oppression, how blase we are about others'.

First 'Dems for Romney' Video Released; Plus Michigan Analysis

| Mon Jan. 14, 2008 4:46 PM EST

More on the Michigan Democrats for Romney movement:

Tomorrow's the MI primary — here's your pocket analysis. Journalists and pundits who haven't been properly chastened by New Hampshire will tell you that if Romney doesn't win in the state where he was raised, his campaign is over. Don't believe them. Romney has a ton of money. He'll be around to fight another day. (That said, I've seen Romney on the stump multiple times and I'd be surprised if he wins a single state.) If McCain wins, the media will anoint him the frontrunner heading into the January 19 South Carolina primary. If Huckabee wins, the media will say he's "one of the frontrunners" because they don't like Huckabee as much as they like McCain, and because they don't believe someone who appeals so exclusively to evangelical Christians can win the big states on February 5th. Polling currently has Romney first, McCain second, and Huckabee third. But the polling is going to have to predict a bunch of these things correctly before the public or the press corps really trusts it again.