Mojo - May 2008

Bill Clinton's Autobiography: 1992 Race Was Over in April

| Tue May 27, 2008 12:28 PM EDT

Nat the Dem has a good catch from Bill Clinton's autobiography, My Life:

On April 7, we also won in Kansas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. On April 9, Paul Tsongas announced that he would not reenter the race. The fight for the nomination was effectively over.

Okay? Can we stop with this now?

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A Quick Thought on the VP Debate

| Tue May 27, 2008 11:37 AM EDT

I second the thinking of Josh Patashnik over at TNR: the Democratic nominee shouldn't just pick a VP that helps win in 2008. He or she should pick a VP that can win in 2016, and that the Democratic Party sees as a future standard-bearer. As Patashnik notes, "One of the most important things a party does is cultivate talent for the future... There is no shortage of promising prospects who could achieve much if given that level of stature (the vice presidency)--why pass up the opportunity to put one of your rising stars in that position?"

I think that consideration effectively eliminates Sam Nunn, the oft-lionized foreign policy guru of the left who was born in 1938 and will be 78 in 2016. It probably also eliminates Joe Biden, who will be 74 in 2016, and Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, who will be 75.

Why Does Bill Clinton Get a Fact-Check Pass?

| Tue May 27, 2008 10:09 AM EDT

Is any fact-checker in the Mother Jones San Francisco office able to lend Bill Clinton a hand? On the campaign trail recently, he echoed the Clinton campaign's argument that the pressure Hillary Clinton is facing to quit the Democratic race is "unprecedented" and that primary races routinely last into June. It's particularly odd because Bill was part of a race where also-ran candidates were pressured to get out and the frontrunner, Big Dawg himself, had the nomination wrapped up in March.

Here's the NYT fact-check that disproves all this. Look, I love Bill as much as the next guy, and I'm weary of the Clinton pile-ons (the RFK assassination stuff was nonsense and we didn't touch it here on MoJoBlog), but Bill is either deliberately misleading Hillary's supporters or he's completely resorted his memory and convinced himself of something that isn't true. And this is far from the first time he's done this. Remember when he defended Hillary's sniper fire comments? He made so many errors that ABC had to footnote them. He claimed after South Carolina that the Obama campaign had played the race card on him, then denied that he had ever said that.

While Hillary Clinton gets something wrong, the press usually debunks it immediately. But Bill Clinton largely gets a pass. Something's going on here. Possible explanations are below. Give us yours in the comments.

McCain and Bush: No PDAs

| Tue May 27, 2008 9:45 AM EDT

Last week I wrote that President Bush's presence on the campaign trail would only be of use to John McCain if GWB stayed out of the spotlight and worked behind the scenes to raise money, primarily from the members of the Republican base who aren't huge McCain fans.

That's basically what's happening. The McCain campaign moved an event with the President scheduled for later today from it's original location, reportedly the Phoenix Convention Center, to McCain's private home. The event went from being open press to being closed press. The cause for the changes? Lackluster ticket sales, a fear of anti-war protesters, and presumably a desire to keep the pair away from the cameras. Writes the Wall Street Journal:

President Bush and John McCain will appear together at a fund-raiser in Phoenix Tuesday, the first time in nearly three months that the Republican presidential candidate will be seen beside the man he hopes to succeed.
With Mr. Bush's popularity at a record low, the McCain campaign has made sure that television footage of the two men together will be minimal. The maneuvering is the latest example of Sen. McCain's aggressive effort to separate himself from the White House, even as he embraces many of the policies that Mr. Bush has promoted throughout his presidency...

Politico adds: "In its daily e-mail update to reporters this morning, McCain's campaign made no mention that the leader of the free world would be appearing with the candidate tonight."

On the Siegelman Scandal, Rove Offers a Very Suspicious Non-Denial Denial

| Mon May 26, 2008 10:42 AM EDT

On Sunday, Karl Rove gave students of spin a prime example of a non-denial denial. He was a guest on ABC News' This Week and after discussing the presidential campaign, he was asked by host George Stephanopoulos about the Don Siegelman controversy. Siegelman is the former Democratic Alabama governor who was convicted and imprisoned for corruption and who charges that the Justice Department prosecution against him was part of a secret campaign mounted by Rove and other Republicans. Last week, the House judiciary committee subpoenaed Rove in connection with the Siegelman case and the firings of U.S. attorneys.

One has to wonder if Siegelman has been trying to save himself by pinning his case to the U.S. attorneys scandal, but the way Rove answered (that is, did not answer) a question from Stephanopoulos about the Siegelman affair was quite suspicious. Look at the entire exchange:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: As we know and our viewers probably know you were subpoenaed this week by the House Judiciary Committee to give testimony on any involvement you may have had with the prosecution of the former Alabama governor, Don Siegelman. He's claiming there was selective prosecution. He's out on bail now even though he was convicted. He said your fingerprints are all over it. Here's what the House report said.
It said, "In May 2007 a Republican attorney from Northern Alabama named Jill Simpson wrote an affidavit stating that in November 2002 she heard a prominent Alabama Republican operative named Bill Canary say that Karl Rove had contacted the Justice Department about bringing a prosecution of Don Siegelman. The question for Mr. Rove is whether he directly or indirectly discussed the possibility of prosecuting Don Siegelman with either the Justice Department or Alabama Republicans."
Did you?
KARL ROVE: Let me say three things, first of all, I think it's interesting -- everybody who was supposedly on that telephone call that Miss Simpson talks about says the call never took place. I'd say...

Women's News: Sublime and Heinous

| Fri May 23, 2008 2:58 PM EDT

A Chinese cop has taken it on herself to breastfeed as many as nine children either orphaned by the massive quake or whose mothers' are too traumatized to produce milk.

She has a six month old of her own and, much to her chagrin, has become a national celebrity; China's "Mother #1". "I think what I did was normal," she said. "In a quake zone, many people do things for others. This was a small thing, not worth mentioning." She's still nursing two in addition to her own. And elsewhere in chick news?

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Schadenfreude for the Lieberman Haters

| Fri May 23, 2008 2:53 PM EDT

Guess who his step-son is voting for?

Florida Congressman's Car Dealership Accused of Sleaze

| Fri May 23, 2008 2:28 PM EDT

There are few professionals that Americans consider sleazier than politicians. Among them might be car dealers. Vernon Buchanan happens to be both. The first-term Republican congressman from Sarasota, Florida owns one of the state's biggest auto dealership chains. Yesterday, the former finance director for one of the company's outlets, Sarasota Ford, sued Buchanan and the other managers from the Buchanan Auto Group for firing him for refusing to go along with allegedly sleazy and illegal business practices.

According to Automotive News, the dealership fired Joe Kezer in November after he protested that managers were, among other things, illegally altering people's credit reports and sales contracts, common scams in the auto industry. A spokesman for Buchanan told Automotive News that as chairman of the auto group, the congressman isn't involved in the day to day operations of the dealership. Still, if the allegations in the lawsuit are true, the case ought to provide an interesting window into business practices that have made Buchanan a wealthy man. It's possible that the car business could make Congress look squeaky clean by comparison.

Hillary: Too Old For High Court

| Fri May 23, 2008 11:15 AM EDT

There's been lots of chatter lately suggesting that Barack Obama should promise Hillary Clinton a seat on the Supreme Court as a sort of runner-up prize and inducement for her to finally get out of the presidential race. Bloggers have debated her fitness for the job, whether she'd want it, or whether it would even be a good idea. But all of this is much ado about nothing. There is no way Hillary, or her husband for that matter, will ever warm a seat on the high court, for one major reason: She is simply too old.

Like the rest of the federal judiciary, Supreme Court justices serve for life. That's why Republicans over the past 15 or 20 years have made a very active and conscious effort to fill those seats with the youngest possible candidates as a way of preserving their influence for generations. The average age of GOP nominees for Supreme Court justice since 1981, including O'Connor, is 50, a full decade younger than Hillary. (Indeed, there's not a person on the court today who was older than 60 when nominated.)

Democrats haven't had a chance to pick as many candidates, but they clearly haven't made age as much of a priority. No doubt that will change should they retake the White House in the fall because, as Republicans have shown, the math is simply too compelling. Consider that when George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas in 1991, Thomas was only 43 years old. If he hangs on as long as the court's current veteran John Paul Stevens, 88, the country will be stuck with nearly a half-century of Thomas jurisprudence.

McCain Throws Himself Into the Briar Patch...Some More

| Fri May 23, 2008 10:55 AM EDT

What is McCain up to?

Even with pundits opining that McCain hurt himself with his "Man, am I old!" turn on SNL last weekend, he's continuing to go kamikaze on us. On a soon-to-air Ellen show, the affable talk show host dogs him about her upcoming marriage to long time girlfriend Portia DeRossi, which he opposes. He tried to segue with talk of civil unions, etc. but both held fast, however nicely. Homey didn't budge but he was clearly dodging bullets.

Then, as if he hadn't suffered enough, he sat down with Essence "Sister Grrl" magazine, even as MoJo's catalogued the dearth of black GOP candidates. Then, his mega-rich and pretty f'ing hot wife vogued barefoot and all natural in Vogue.

WTFO, with McCain? Desperation or penance?