Blogs

Hillary's Historic Impact Already Felt

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 1:41 PM EDT

I'm with Dana Goldstein:

Now that the endless primary is over, American women -- especially those engaged with politics -- owe Hillary Clinton a "thank you," no matter which candidate or even political party they support. Clinton has profoundly altered and enhanced, probably forever, the role of women in American political life....
Over the course of this historic, thrilling, aggressive primary election, we've seen more female pundits than ever before writing and speaking about presidential politics. We've experienced unprecedented interest from male politicos in women's participation in the electoral process. And demands for women's leadership have been given their fairest hearing to date in the United States, with Democrats nationwide expecting Obama to give close consideration to female vice-presidential prospects -- not only because there are a few wildly successful and talented women who would be great at the job, but also as a gesture of good will toward the feminist energy that animated so many Clinton supporters....
Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas are among the top three most frequently-mentioned vice-presidential prospects, trailing only Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia... it is inconceivable that the lady governors would be receiving anything close to a fair hearing had Clinton not first demonstrated how hungry a large segment of the Democratic base is to see a woman president. Neither Napolitano nor Sebelius endorsed Clinton, but both must feel some debt toward her path-breaking campaign, which raised their own national profiles.

Check out the whole thing.

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The Change We Need, But Whither Stem Cells?

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 12:50 PM EDT

Barack Obama's speech last night was a changemaker, an oratory sweep full of grand pledges. And while he touched on most of the big issues with the promise of a strong agenda:

The economy, "the struggles facing working families can't be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a tax break."

Foreign policy, "I won't stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years - especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored."

Health care, "[we need a] health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it."

Energy policy, "[we need] an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future - an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced."

Education, "we owe it to our children to invest in early childhood education; to recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; to finally decide that in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American."

Conspicuously absent were some of the third-rail issues that will need to be reckoned with in his plans for change:

Mathematical Notes in the Wake of the Primary's End

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 12:50 PM EDT

We finally have some hard answers on the popular vote.

According to Real Clear Politics, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote if you give zero votes to Obama in Michigan and/or you leave out estimates for the four caucus states that have not released popular vote totals (IA, NV, ME, WA).

However, if you use estimates for those four states and you give Obama the "uncommitted" vote in Michigan the final tally was:

Obama: 18,107,710
Clinton: 18,046,007

That's 48.1 percent to 47.9 percent. Obama's margin of victory was thinner than turnip soup, as Dan Rather would say.

Also, Open Left has a good rundown of when each candidate earned their delegates. (Obama pulled down more than Clinton in January and in February, there was essentially no difference in March, and Clinton beat Obama in April-June.) Noting that the only period where the results were truly lopsided was that post-Super Tuesday period in February, blogger tremayne notes:

Delegate-wise, Sen. Obama won the race by essentially tying Sen. Clinton on Super Duper Tuesday (can we go back to just regular-sized Super Tuesdays or smaller?) and then going on his "rest of Feb. run." 121 of his 126 pledged delegate margin occurred in this period. And incidentally, only 4 of those 11 contests were caucuses which benefited Obama by a margin of +48. The other +73 pledged delegates in this period came from primary states.

For an excellent article on how Obama's people understood the rules of the race and the impact of the calendar from the very beginning, check this out.

Terry McAuliffe Never, Ever Says Die

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 12:26 PM EDT

Top Clintonista Terry McAuliffe, quoted by TNR's Michael Crowley yesterday night:

"Tonight was Hillary's night!" he exclaimed. "We won tonight! We won in South Dakota! We keep winning!"

He may be delusional, but I'd want him in my camp.

Obama at AIPAC

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 11:24 AM EDT

Some key take-aways from Barack Obama's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) today:

I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security. That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage. ...I will ensure Israel can defend itself from any threat, from Gaza to Tehran. ...
As president I will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything.
That starts with aggressive, principled tough diplomacy with clear eyed understanding of our interests. We have no time to waste. ... We have tried limited, piecemeal talks, outsourced to other parties. It has not worked. It is time for the US to lead ....
I have no interest to sit down just for sake of talking. But as president I would be willing at time and place of my choosing, if and only if it advances the interests of the United States. It is time once again to make diplomacy succeed.

Hillary Clinton at AIPAC

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 11:19 AM 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....


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Obama Wins

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 10:40 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 10:03 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 9:40 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 8:51 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.