The Hillary Clinton campaign has a killer new video out in which Bill speaks directly to the camera about his wife and why she would make a great president. It's quite good.

Seeing this made me think about other "spousal" videos -- videos in which a presidential candidate's spouse talks about the candidate. The campaigns seem to think (rightly, I believe) that having a candidate's spouse explain why he or she fell in love with the candidate is interesting and worthwhile political material, because voters are sometimes looking for the same things spouses are. For example, if Bill Clinton says that he loved Hillary's passion for helping the poor, or Elizabeth Edwards says that she saw John's honesty and decency when they first met, or Michelle Obama talks about Barack's magnetism -- these aren't just crass exploitations of people's private lives. The values and attributes on display are valuable in a spouse and a president.

So with that in mind I went hunting for other "spousal" videos. I found this one starring Michelle Obama -- unfortunately it's not on YouTube and I can't post it here. You'll have to follow the link, but it's worth it. (And you can find video of Michelle Obama speaking at campaign events here.)

As for Elizabeth Edwards, she has her own history, and often the videos starring her cover her battle against cancer instead of her husband. The result is pretty impressive -- you get a full picture of who Elizabeth is, a pretty full picture of who John is, and a sense that together they are a strong and amazing couple.

See for yourself. The first video here is Elizabeth introducing John at a campaign event; the second is Elizabeth thanking the people who have shown support in her fight against cancer. Judge which one is more powerful.

Wow, right? The second video almost brought me to tears.

The Democrats in this race are not only strong candidates for president, they all seem to have incredible people for spouses, too.

Last year, Michael Baker was one of only forty-seven teachers in Nebraska to obtain National Board Certification. Last month, he showed his students at East High School in Lincoln the documentary, Baghdad ER, which shows the lives of doctors, nurses, medics, and soldiers in Iraq. The next day, Baker was no longer in his geography classroom.

Says former colleague Michael Anderson: "I believe there were students who went home and were troubled about what they saw, and there were parental phone calls to the principal, and the next day she walked him out the door because she didn't have the courage to stand up to the complainers."

Baker was suspended for ten days without pay. Apparently, school administrators have never liked his teaching style. Baker taught history by starting with the present and moving backwards, but the school forbade him to continue doing that. Then his history classes were taken away altogether.

A spokeswoman for the Lincoln public schools says that Baker asked to retire and his request was honored.

Golly gee whiz, it must be hard to work at the Heritage Foundation: to have one's doe-eyed innocence dashed again and again. Even what seems like good news proves to be further evidence that Americans are just not as pure and perfect as the Heritage Foundation believes we should and could be. So it was when the righteous ones heard that divorce rates had fallen significantly from their peak in 1981. Further investigation showed that fewer were divorcing because fewer were bothering to marry in the first place. Frowny-faces all around at Heritage: This is bad for the children!

Still further investigation revealed that divorce rates were significantly lower among college-educated couples. You know why? Craziness! It turns out opportunity makes people happier! So perhaps we should reinvigorate our sagging social safety network. You know what else we could try? Letting gay people marry. Some of them actually want to do it, and their joyful celebrations could give the flagging institution a real shot in the arm. And the economy, too.

CBS Fires Anti-War General; MSM: No Comment

Here's a prime example of a story the MSM is self-interestedly neglecting to cover. CBS fired General John Batiste, who had served as a consultant for the network, after he appeared in a VoteVets ad opposing the war in Iraq. CBS claims the ad damaged Batiste's credibility by undermining his apparent objectivity. But CBS has now been revealed to allow consultant Nicole Wallace—formerly of the White House communications operation, now on John McCain's campaign staff—to comment on Bush's policies, McCain's beliefs, and life in general. Not only that, but the ad in which Batiste appeared was pretty objective and analytical. Could anyone seriously be accused of diminishing their credibility by saying that we were led to war on false pretenses and don't have an effective strategy for winning? I mean, these are facts.

Yikes. Take a look at what an evangelical leader is saying about Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney. His name is Bill Keller, host of the Florida-based Live Prayer TV, and he writes in his daily devotional (which reaches 2.4 million people):

"If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan! ... Romney is an unashamed and proud member of the Mormon cult founded by a murdering polygamist pedophile named Joseph Smith nearly 200 years ago. The teachings of the Mormon cult are doctrinally and theologically in complete opposition to the Absolute Truth of God's Word. There is no common ground. If Mormonism is true, then the Christian faith is a complete lie. There has never been any question from the moment Smith's cult began that it was a work of Satan and those who follow their false teachings will die and spend eternity in hell."

I particularly like this crazy paranoid line, which betrays a deep insecurity:

"Romney getting elected president will ultimately lead millions of souls to the eternal flames of hell!"

I think it's important to condemn this sort of bigotry and ignorance. I know it's fun to watch a party with a problematic history with race relations -- and that is sometimes openly hostile to minority voters -- turn its prejudice in on its own, but liberal bloggers have an obligation to stay consistent. We would condemn this sort of nonsense if the angry reverend was attacking Muslim legislator Keith Ellison (D-MN), so we have a responsibility to condemn it when he attacks a Republican. Even if that Republican has no principles and is in the process of saying whatever he has to in order to be elected.

Man, this is fun, isn't it?

Former NBA star and current TV personality Charles Barkley has talked about running for governor of Alabama in the past, and all previous indications were that he leaned right. It appears the events of the last five or six years have really changed him. He's knowledgeable, insightful, and sounds an awful lot like John Edwards in this interview with, of all places, The New Republic.

Curious Details Emerge on the Fort Dix Six

MSNBC has an update on the six foreign nationals who were arrested for plotting to attack Fort Dix Army base and it looks like they might have been a bunch of bumblers egged on by over-aggressive FBI informants -- leading to speculation that an entrapment defense is upcoming. (Spotted on TPM.)

As for the bumbling plotters: "The FBI learned of the alleged plot when the men went to a Circuit City store and asked a clerk to transfer a jihad training video of themselves onto a DVD."

As for the over-aggressive informants: "One of the [accused plotters]... called a Philadelphia police officer in November, saying that he had been approached by someone who was pressuring him to obtain a map of Fort Dix, and that he feared the incident was terrorist-related, according to court documents."

Also, here's the description of one of the informants actions: "He railed against the United States, helped scout out military installations for attack, offered to introduce his comrades to an arms dealer and gave them a list of weapons he could procure, including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades."

But that might not be enough for an entrapment defense to fly. Entrapment has become extremely difficult to prove in the post-9/11 world, and as one long-time FBI agent told the AP, "If the source talks them into committing a crime, that is entrapment... [but] if they are predisposed to commit a crime, and you give them the opportunity, that's fine." Pretty easy case to make.

Now I'm obviously in favor of giving the FBI the space and tools it needs to fight crime and violence, terrorism or no. If these guys legitimately had a plan to kill American servicemen, then throw them in the lock-up. But after the FBI and the Department of Justice strong-armed the prosecutions of the Lackawanna Six, John Walker Lindh, and Jose Padilla, you have to apply a skeptical eye to these things. The case of the Lackawanna Six is particularly instructive.

Yesterday I wrote that a ninth purged U.S. Attorney had been found and that Alberto Gonzales, who was going before the House Judiciary Committee, was going to have to answer some tough questions.

Well, as it happens, Gonzales displayed the same combination of (feigned) cluelessness and (unwarranted) chutzpah as he did when appearing before the Senate last month in order to avoid saying much of anything at all. A major difference? No defensiveness -- Gonzales seems to know he can't or won't be fired, and has stopped caring what Congress or the American people think of him. He giggled throughout his testimony, in the face of weighty and sometimes damning questions.

He might want to get serious. McClatchy reports new evidence that Karl Rove essentially used Gonzales' Department of Justice as the enforcement arm for his Machiavellian schemes. Just weeks before the November 2006 elections, Karl Rove and his deputies twice urged the Department of Justice (using Gonzo's chief-of-staff Kyle Sampson as a primary contact) to investigate voter fraud in New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin -- even though it is DOJ policy not to open such investigations shortly before elections because of the possibility of influencing votes.

But that was the point. The cases that Rove wanted investigated where shams -- the allegations of voter fraud in Wisconsin, for example, were two years old and had already been thoroughly investigated, with no results. And obviously the voter fraud Rove wanted investigated was all one-sided stuff -- Republicans being disenfranchised by Democrats and not the other way around. How do we know? Rove's evidence of voter fraud came from a 30-page report compiled by Republican activists.

That's right -- conservative activists on the ground were in direct contact with the president's top political adviser, who in turn tried to turn the activists' loony schemes into official Department of Justice policy. Are we a banana republic yet?

Political Persecution of Michael Moore!

michael_moore.gifThe federal government is investigating Michael Moore for violating the trade embargo on Cuba in filming his latest documentary, Sicko. Read more on The Riff.

A new twist in the lost email/purged attorneys scandal.

Murray Waas reports that the "Bush administration has withheld a series of e-mails from Congress showing that senior White House and Justice Department officials worked together to conceal the role of Karl Rove in installing Timothy Griffin, a protégé of Rove's, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas."

Specifically, the emails -- which Waas saw courtesy of a mutinous "executive branch official" -- show that Alberto Gonzales' then-chief-of-staff Kyle Sampson consulted with the White House when drafting a letter to Congress explaining what Karl Rove did and did not know about the installation of Griffin (intro to Griffin here).

Of course, Sampson told Congress Rove wasn't involved, which he was. The executive branch official who showed the withheld emails to Waas also told Waas that Gonzales not only knows about them, but has reviewed them all, and has elected to stay silent on the point.

I suspect that the average man on the street long ago lost track of every detail of the U.S. Attorneys scandal, and every different bit of foul play over at Justice. But things are getting so complicated, with so many moving parts, that pretty soon journalists, bloggers, and government officials are also going to lose track.

Maybe that's part of some exceptionally smart and exceptionally devious plan. But in my eyes, when the federal department you oversee is so poorly run, so wracked with scandal, and so thoroughly politicized that it's making everyone's head spin -- it's probably time to, you know, resign.