Mojo - February 2008

The John Edwards Endorsement: A Last Chance To Prove He's No Phony

| Tue Feb. 12, 2008 11:28 AM EST

A few weeks ago, I was talking to an influential Hillary Clinton fundraiser. When the subject of John Edwards (still in the race at that time) came up, she started sputtering about his hypocrisy. His expensive hair cut, his big house--the guy's a phony, she exclaimed derisively, and his populist, anti-Washington, help-the-poor rhetoric was all just for show. He won't last.

She was right on that final point. As for his authenticity, that was a question that chased Edwards. During his six years in the U.S. Senate (1999 to 2005), Edwards was no working-class hero. He did not develop a reputation as a firebrand willing to take on the powerbrokers of the nation's capital. At that time, Senator Paul Wellstone was the populist champion in the Senate (until his tragic death in October 2002). Wellstone waged one fight after another against corporate interests, lobbying influence, and the sway of big-money. I don't recall Edwards standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him during all these uphill battles.

Yet on the campaign trail, Edwards became Joe Hill in a suit.

Wellstone once told me that you always have to allow for redemption within politics. And perhaps Edwards' conversion was genuine. Why not give him the benefit of the doubt? His message was powerful and well-delivered--even if not embraced by a plurality of Democratic voters. But if Edwards wants to prove he was truly speaking his heart and mind, he has no choice when it comes to endorsing one of the remaining Democratic contenders. He cannot support Hillary Clinton.

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On Delegates and Democracy

| Tue Feb. 12, 2008 10:00 AM EST

The Beamster makes an excellent point over at Slate about delegates and democracy.

The first school of thought says that superdelegates should support whoever wins more pledged delegates. Democratic strategist and delegate guru Tad Devine argued this point in his Sunday New York Times op-ed, in which he called on superdelegates to stop endorsing and wait to see whom the American people choose. Obama said he also believes that "if we end up with the most states and the most pledged delegates from the most voters in the country, that it would be problematic for the political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters."
The other school of thought says that superdelegates should decide for themselves which candidate they like better. Hillary Clinton articulated this philosophy over the weekend: "Superdelegates are, by design, supposed to exercise independent judgment."

More after the jump.

Wait, What? Fred Thompson Endorsed McCain?

| Tue Feb. 12, 2008 9:34 AM EST

Had you heard? No? Neither had anyone else.

And with that, Fred Thompson leaves the national stage forever. (I'm assuming he'd turn down the VP slot if McCain was dumb enough to offer it. Too much work. Duh.)

Video: Using John McCain's Iraq Rhetoric Against Him

| Tue Feb. 12, 2008 12:52 AM EST

It was just a matter of time until the forces of the progressive internet turned its sights on the Republican nominee. And it's starting to happen with John McCain. Earlier today we brought you the "Yes We Can" parody that got viewed by almost 400,000 people in a single day. And now this:

One has a hard time seeing how John McCain is going to win the political war on the internet. He and the movement he now leads are ill-equipped to do so: they lag in creativity and know-how, and will probably lag in money. Unless they find effective conservative responses to all of the creative (that's an advertising industry term) that is bound to be put out by the left, the internet may be a progressive free-for-all of the next nine months.

The Continued Absurdity of the Missing White House Emails Case

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 5:23 PM EST

Regular MotherJones.com readers may recall that last spring, the White House reported that it may have lost some 5 million emails. Later last year, two non-profits, the National Security Archive (NSA) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), sued to ensure the preservation of the emails. (That suit is still pending, and you can read about the whole story on our missing White House emails index page).

During the course of the legal proceedings, CREW filed Freedom of Information Act requests for documents prepared by the White House Office of Administration (OA) that analyzed the scale of the missing email problem. But the White House denied the FOIA requests, making the unique and unprecedented legal argument that the OA is not, in fact, a federal agency and therefore not subject to the FOIA. CREW sued, citing OA's previous treatment as an agency and history of responding to FOIA requests as obvious evidence that the White House argument was ridiculous. That brings us to today, when a DC district court ordered (PDF) limited discovery in order to find out whether OA is, in fact, a federal agency.

You read that right: CREW had to get a court order to gather information to prove that a government agency is, in fact, a government agency.

The Bushies Coalesce Around McCain

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 2:16 PM EST

mccain_bush_hug.jpg Here's George W. Bush speaking about John McCain, February 10, on Fox News Sunday:

"I know him well. I know his convictions. I know the principles that drive him. And no doubt in my mind he's a true conservative... He's very strong on national defense. He's tough fiscally. He believes that tax cuts ought to be permanent. He's pro-life. I mean, his principles are sound and solid as far as I'm concerned."

Bush is telling people privately that "McCain would be the best to carry forth [my] agenda."

Here's Jeb Bush endorsing John McCain, February 11, in an email from the McCain campaign:

"John McCain is a patriot and devoted conservative leader. Like no other candidate in the field, John McCain has made tremendous sacrifices for this nation. He is beholden to no interest other than that of the public good. He is determined and steadfast in his commitment to reducing the burden of high taxes, restoring the people's trust in their government, and winning the war against radical Islamic extremists. It is with pride that I announce my endorsement of John McCain for president."

And here's Karl Rove speaking about John McCain, February 10, on Face the Nation:

"I did contribute [$2,300 to him]...My mind was he is our presumptive nominee and it was time to write him a check."

The establishment welcomes the maverick. As if it had any other choice...

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Huckabee Goes Nuclear on WA State GOP

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 11:58 AM EST

huckabee_mouth_open.jpg Mike Huckabee is not happy. An email sent to reporters from his campaign:

NEWS RELEASE: MIKE HUCKABEE'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ISSUES STATEMENT ON DUBIOUS WASHINGTON STATE GOP CAUCUSES

Richmond, VA — The Huckabee Presidential Campaign will be exploring all available legal options regarding the dubious final results for the state of Washington State Republican precinct caucuses, it was announced today. Campaign Chairman Ed Rollins issued the following statement:

Watch the New McCain Viral Vid: john.he.is

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 11:34 AM EST

You've seen the Obama video "Yes We Can." Now see the McCain knock-off.

I think my favorite part is the guy blowing into the paper bag at the end. And remember, we were on the scene for that "100 years of war" comment, and we asked McCain if he stood by it. Not only did he stand by it, he endorsed "a thousand years" or "a million years" of war.

Army Buried Iraq Post-War Planning Study

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 9:40 AM EST

Fearing the wrath of then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the White House, the Army buried a detailed unclassified study it had commissioned assessing why Iraq post-war planning had been such a disaster, the New York Times' Michael Gordon reports.

After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called "Rebuilding Iraq." RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts.
But the study's wide-ranging critique of the White House, the Defense Department and other government agencies was a concern for Army generals, and the Army has sought to keep the report under lock and key. ....

Can Clinton Wait Until Texas and Ohio?

| Sun Feb. 10, 2008 1:04 PM EST

The Clinton campaign has made it clear that it is looking ahead to the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas. Even before it lost Louisiana, Washington, and Nebraska on Saturday, campaign officials were telling the press that they are effectively conceding everything between Super Tuesday and March 4.

This is a smart move in at least one respect: expectations. The press has a bad habit of not making much of victories unless they are unexpected — if Obama wins by 20 points in three states he was "supposed" to win, there's little talk of momentum even a day and a half later. So Clinton won't be hurt if she loses all of the remaining states before March 4--Maryland, Virginia, D.C., Hawaii, and Wisconsin--but she will receive a lot of positive press if she somehow wins one of them. (She lost the Maine caucus on Sunday.)

As a side note, it's worth pointing out that the Obama campaign doesn't really play this game. It doesn't try to manage expectations in the way the Clinton campaign does, which means that Obama is often in a disadvantageous position in the media narrative (a situation mitigated by the fact that the media seems to like him more than it likes Clinton). But to the Obama campaign's credit, it seemed to have realized that expectations don't really matter to everyday voters. With the exception of New Hampshire, where voters grew tired of the media's attempts to bury the Clintons and the Clinton era, voters don't seem to care what happened in the states before them and how that fits into some grand story being told by Tim Russert and Chris Matthews. They just want a chance to evaluate the candidates and make their own decisions.

Back on point. Is the Clinton strategy of waiting until Texas and Ohio a smart one? I doubt it. It too closely mirrors Rudy Giuliani's Florida strategy. Giuliani could shake as many hands as he wanted in Florida, but the media coverage about the campaign had him losing state after state after state. He was like a boxer who took blows to the head for four rounds and expected to score a knockout in the fifth. It didn't happen. If Obama sweeps everything between Feb 5 and March 4, he'll have won LA, NE, WA, ME, MD, VA, DC, HI, and WI. Doesn't that reduce Clinton to Rudy 2.0?