Mojo - June 2008

"I Will Be Making No Decisions Tonight"

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 7:40 PM PDT

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.

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Obama Secures the Nomination

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 6:51 PM PDT

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 6:36 PM PDT

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.

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

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 1:28 PM PDT

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 12:50 PM PDT

"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.

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

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 11:32 AM PDT

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.

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Dov Charney Doesn't Mean the C-Word Pejoratively

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 10:59 AM PDT

dov-charney.jpgWhile I have blogged before about the ridiculous sexism of American Apparel CEO and founder Dov Charney, I was hoping not to have to repeat myself. Unfortunately, aging hipster Charney has been sued—yet again—by a female employee.

Former product placement executive Jeneleen Floyd has sued 38-year-old Charney for screaming at her and demanding she "pretend to masturbate" in front of coworkers. Floyd declined, but a different employee simulated masturbation while Charney pretended to engage in an oral sex act with him. According to the lawsuit filed last week, Charney verbally castigated Floyd during off-work hours and demanded she work until midnight as retribution for her actions.

Waxman Writes Attorney General, Seeking Information on Cheney's Alleged Role in Plame Outting

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 10:47 AM PDT

New revelations from former White House press secretary Scott McClellan have prompted House Oversight and Government Reform committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) to write to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, seeking documents concerning White House officials' role in the outting of former CIA officer Valerie Plame. In particular, Waxman is seeking an unredacted transcript of Vice President Dick Cheney's interview with the FBI concerning his possible role in the matter.

"It appears from the interview reports that Vice President Cheney personally may have been the source of the information that Ms. Wilson worked for the CIA," Waxman writes. " Mr. Libby specifically identified the Vice President as the source of his information about Ms. Wilson."

"New revelations by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan raise additional questions about the actions of the President and the Vice President," Waxman continues. "Mr. McClellan has stated that '[t]he President and Vice President directed me to go out there and exonerate Scooter Libby.' He has also asserted that 'the top White House officials who knew the truth — including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney — allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.' It would be a major breach of trust if the Vice President personally directed Mr. McClellan to mislead the public."

Below, excerpts from Waxman's letter to Mukasey:

AP: Clinton to Acknowledge Obama Has Delegates to Win; Clinton Camp: That's False

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 9:01 AM PDT

The AP is reporting that Clinton will acknowledge in her speech following the South Dakota and Montana primaries tonight that Obama has the delegates needed for the Democratic Party nomination. Terry McAuliffe said on NBC this morning that when Obama gets the delegates for the nomination, Clinton will concede. That suggests Clinton will shut down her campaign or suspend her campaign tonight.

Yet, McAuliffe just went on CNN and said, "the race goes on." He insisted that Clinton will only drop out or suspend her campaign when Obama officially gets 2,118. The Clinton campaign sent out a blitz to reporters backing McAuliffe up and saying Clinton will not concede tonight. But all of this insistence that the race doesn't end tonight is a bit silly. It will probably end tomorrow or Thursday, when Obama gets enough superdelegates to push him over the edge.

And finally, I want to reiterate something I said yesterday. When Obama gets to 2,117, every undeclared superdelegate in America is going to be calling David Axelrod hoping to be the deciding vote. I'll bet the campaign groups a whole bunch together in order to avoid a melee.

Update: AP also reporting that Obama has asked for a meeting with Clinton "on her terms" for "after the dust settles." Let the healing begin.

Hey, a Moment of Intellectual Honesty Out of Bill Kristol

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 8:03 AM PDT

My thoughts on Bill Kristol are usually condemnatory, so I was pleasantly surprised when he defended Obama's national security credentials recently. Here he is at an AIPAC conference explaining that there are few major differences between Obama and McCain on foreign policy.

"There are actually no disputes of that nature...with the exception of Iraq this time. Obama's not for cutting the defense budget; Obama's not for pulling troops back from our forward positions around the world, with the exception of Iraq. Obama and McCain don't actually differ, at least on paper, even on Iran, where they're arguing about whether they would talk to [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad or not -- and I think that's an important dispute. Still, at the end of the day, Obama doesn't say he would rule out the use of force. McCain certainly is committed as he said this morning to trying to increase economic pressure on Iran, which Obama has also talked about."

Now, Kristol's not entirely correct here. Obama opposed the Senate amendment that classified Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. He is open to a softening of American policy toward Cuba. He generally sees a larger role for diplomacy than McCain, and rejects the bellicosity of the Bush Administration's foreign policy, while McCain embraces it. He rejects conventional wisdom on international issues. John McCain seems to embody it.

But the strategic thing for Kristol to do would be to be paint Obama as weaker than McCain on defense. So weak in fact that he endangers American (and Israeli!) security. McCain said just this yesterday, but Kristol declined in his AIPAC comments. So in the interest of giving credit where it's due, kudos to Kristol.