Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rev. Wright or Rev. Wrong?

In a speech today, Barack Obama tried to thread the needle between absorbing a lot of damage from Rev. Wright's controversial rants and abandoning his long term pastor and friend. It is extremely ironic that the biggest threat to the Obama campaign is coming - dramatically - from somebody who you would think would be very sympathetic to Obama's quest for the presidency and therefore would.... be quiet rather than loud and shrill.

Of course part of the deal here is that Obama to some extent must remake himself in an image more palatable to the white voters he'll need for a victory. I certainly don't believe Obama thinks the US Government is as dispicable as Wright seems to suggest in many sermons, but it's also reasonable to think that Obama is toning down his own left wing sensibilities to "fit in".

On the other hand I'm guessing that Obama has been for the most part very straightforward about his views in all this. His affection for Wright does not stem from a shared worldview, rather from a respect for the influence that leaders like Wright have had on the African American Community. Obama would probably prefer that people respond to reasoned, quiet reflection about the world. But they do not - many people respond to loud and irrational conspiratorial ranting filled with hyperbole and odd allusion. Wright is a master of this style and one can hardly fault Obama for paying attention.

Voters need to pay attention to what Obama says, not what Wright says. If Obama said "I agree with Wright" that would be news, but simply having an associate make some outrageous claim is not very worthy news.

Friday, April 25, 2008

McCain's High Road

John McCain and Barack Obama have so far shown remarkable restraint in terms of "going negative" in their campaigns. If Obama is the Democratic nominee I expect these personal crusades against negativity to continue, but also almost guarantee that the soft money campaigns will be doing a lot of dirty work. Swiftboating will be the mainstay of both campaigns as the candidates will be able to honestly say they have nothing to do with the negativity while their distant supporters bash away.

But I don't understand all the whining about negative campaigning . Like positive campaigns, people refuse to pay attention to issues and pundits and media refuse to address the issues. Ergo, it's a wild west out there and will always be that way in our quirky American pseudo-Democracy, the best Democracy money can buy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On to Indiana

As the already small delegate gap between Clinton and Obama narrows the campaigns head to Indiana, largest of the remaining states in the contest. It's now very clear that a convention decision will determine the outcome and it is possible that decision will be made on a second or later ballot. Neither Clinton or Obama will have enough Delegates on the first round unless most of the Superdelegates commit to one or the other. I'm guessing we'll see superdelegates who are very reluctant to commit, fearing they'll pick the wrong side. That in turn may lead to a lot of back room bargains as the convention approaches. Stay tuned because the game is just beginning.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clinton Wins Pennsylvania Primary

Update: Clinton wins 55% to 45% with 99% reporting

The networks are not calling it yet but the exit polling makes it clear Hillary Clinton will win the Pennsylvania Primary.

CNN's Exit poll data indicates the results will be as follows:

Clinton Male Vote %: .42 x .47 = 20%
Clinton Female Vote %: .58 x .55 = 32%

Clinton Total vote: 52%

Obama Male: .42 x .53 = 22%
Obama Female: .58 x .44 = 26%

Obama Total Vote 48%

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pennsylvania Penses

With less than a day before Pennsylvania voters take to the polls Hilary Clinton maintains an edge in most polls. Many pundits suggest that an Obama win, or perhaps even a narrow Clinton victory, could end Clinton's race for the presidency but I think this is foolish. The Dems are heading for a convention decision and that decision will depend to some extent on Clinton's performance in the Pennsyvania and Indiana primaries. Losses or very narrow wins by Clinton probably mean that superdelegates will be going with Obama and the popularity that he still seems to have going even if Clinton "catches up" somewhat in delegates based on these later races. It'll be hard for superdelegates to vote against the majority of delegates decided by voters, though certainly stranger things have happended in American politics.

Odds? I'd say 57/43 in favor of Obama with little chance the PA vote will change things.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

McCain's Temper, Obama's Associates, and Hilary's Cookie Baking. OMG, what scandal!

I'm so sick of TV media's pitiful coverage of the issues in election 2008. I used to blame .... us ... because clearly people are more interested in nonsense than important stuff, but I now think that the media is as guilty as our own prurient interests in creating the superficial nonsense that passes as presidential analysis.

So, I encourage you to shut off your TV and simply visit the candidate websites. They aren't completely forthcoming but at least they address real issues there:
Hillary Clinton John McCain Barack Obama

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Democratic Debate on ABC crosses the line of reasonable dialog.

The normally insightful David Brooks of the NYT is defending many of the preposterous questions in the ABC debate where substance did not just take a back seat to prurient stupidity, it was almost totally eclipsed by nonsense questions and trivial commentary.

Brooks is certainly right that people have a right to know more about Obama, but this was not by any means the way to understand a candidate.

Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolis are better than this - way better - so I'm not clear why they decided to replace questions of substance with lapel pins, guilt by association, and Bosnian sniper silliness.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama Clinton Debate. Civil and Thin

The Clinton Obama debate last night was very unsatisfying as both Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolis persisted in asking silly or irrelevant and "guilt by association" questions rather than trying to dig into the candidates policies and differences.

Stephanopolis really has no business working on these debates given his former close associations with President Clinton's campaign. I understand he is no longer even a friend of the Clintons but he's hardly a good choice for the most impartial person in the ABC crowd of political reporters. Gibson, a well informed and thoughtful anchor, continued the media's foolish and shameful focus on irrelevancies such as Obama's Reverend Wrightnesses and Hilary's Bosnia Bulletizing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pennsylvania Primary Approaches

From here in China our American system sure seems distant, but unless I am misreading things people here are much more intrigued with Obama than other candidates. Of course that could also be said of the USA, where Obama´s appeal is as much about his speaking style and personal history as policies or other factors.

Realclearpolitics.com summary of polls still suggests a Clinton win in Pennsylvania, making the Democratic Primary about as close as it can get moving into the Convention.