Saturday, August 30, 2008

Republican Women Who Are Qualified to Be President, Part II 

Mary correctly points out that I omitted Jodi Rell from my list in the previous post.

Notably, that means that six of the seven most accomplished women in the Republican party are pro-choice (only Dole is not), thus rejecting one of their party's central principles.

I wonder why that might be....


Friday, August 29, 2008

Republican Women Who Are Qualified to Be President* 

Condoleezza Rice
Elizabeth Dole
Christine Todd Whitman
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Olympia Snowe
Susan Collins

*Political views aside.


Not Born Yesterday 

McCain, that is.

I'm nitpicking, I realize, but as a demographer, I think I do get to correct errors like this when I see them.

In an otherwise on-target post about McCain's pathetic and desperate choice of the woefully inexperienced Palin as v.p., Trapper John over at Daily Kos writes,
And he's presented Americans with the prospect of electing a dangerous neophyte
to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, behind a man whose life expectancy
is less than two presidential terms.
If John McCain had been born yesterday, this statement would be true. The life expectancy at birth of a white man in the United States as of the 2000 lifetables is 74.8, or far less than 8 years from McCain's present age (as of today) of 72.

But McCain, instead of being born yesterday, was born 72 years ago today. The life expectancy at age 70 of a white man in the United States is 13 more years, for an age of 83. So actually, McCain would be expected to survive 2 terms based on the mortality of people who've made it as far as he has.

Mind you, that's not taking into account his history of cancer or the ways in which the deprivation he experienced as a POW may have prematurely aged him and affected his health.

As I said, it's nitpicking, because obviously McCain's chances of dying in office, were he elected, are far greater than Obama's, and besides, we hold should all presidential candidates to the standard that their vice presidential picks should be ready to assume the Presidency if necessary...

I just hate to see life expectancy misrepresented.



A very weak pick.

My first thought was Geraldine Ferraro, who was disaster for Mondale because of her obvious lack of qualification for office and family scandals.

But it's worse than that, because this is 2008, not 1984, and there are a number of women with the gravitas for the job. (And Palin's resume is thinner even than Ferraro's was in 1984.)

People have been comparing this election to 1980, but I suddenly feel like we may be partying like it's 1984....


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vote for Barack Obama or I Will Kill Myself! 

Amazingly, Bill Kristol finds Clinton's endorsement of Barack Obama "shockingly minimal".

It got we wondering .... If that's minimal, what would a maximal endorsement look like?

The only thing I could come up with is from Blazing Saddles.


Were They Watching the Same Speech I Was? 

The main headline from the New York Times this morning:

Clinton Delivers Emphatic Plea for Unity
Betrays No Anger in Backing Obama

What made that a "plea" for unity? There was nothing pathetic about it. How about a "call" for unity? Or even a "clarion call"? Or a "resounding call"?

And what's with the subtitle? Did they really expect her to "betray" anger? That assumes she's feeling it and was just doing a good job of hiding her "true" feelings. But everything we know about Hillary Clinton and what she has worked for all her life suggests that indeed, she meant every word she said last night.

These people are so enamored of their Democrats-infighting story, they can't see what's right in front of them.



A great, great political speech by Hillary Clinton last night.

The defining passage, of course, was this challenge to her own supporters, which spoke to both their hearts and their heads:
I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?
The speech gave Hillary's supporters a chance to show their love for Hillary twice -- by cheering her at the convention, and by working for her ideals by supporting Barack Obama.

But an underreported aspect of Hillary's speech was that it spoke just as much to Obama's supporters. It gave those of us who did not support Hillary the chance to love her again. It was a poignant reminder to those of us who voted against her because of Iraq -- and I do believe she would have won the presidency had it not been for her vote for the AUMF -- of her decades of fighting for justice and equality, and especially for healthcare and the lives of women and children, and of all the terrible, terrible calumny she has had to had to endure for being a liberal and for being a woman.

The healing has to be both ways. Hillary's supporters need to get in line. But Obama's supporters need to greet them with open arms. I've always thought those things would happen, but they will happen with a lot more enthusiasm now.


Monday, August 25, 2008


OK. This time it took two years, not two hours, to go from Stone Court to conventional wisdom. Ezra Klein and Amanda Marcotte now both argue that John McCain is likely to pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate.

From Stone Court, November 29, 2006:

McCain-Lieberman '08

I considered including this possibility in my pre-election post arguing that Lieberman was unlikely to become a Republican when reelected. Joe's raison d'ĂȘtre is to be President, or at least Vice President (preferably for someone who'd be 72 at inauguration and has a history of cancer). There is no way that that will ever happen as a Democrat (even Joementum himself finally realizes that) and there is no way it would ever happen as a Republican. If he becomes a Republican, he's just another pro-choice (well, mostly) Northeasterner without Giuliani's mythology or Pataki's record of being, well, a Republican. Only as a Democrat does he bring anything to a ticket.

The Republicans know their best (only?) chance of winning is by hiding what they stand for, since the post-Gingrich Republican agenda has never been widely popular (and is clearly less so post-2006 elections). That was the whole point of "compassionate conservatism" and "uniter not a divider". It was a deliberate lie to conceal what Bush intended to do. But Americans have seen that movie, and I can't see the same game plan working again. The 2006 elections sent the clear message that just saying "we're different from Bush" is not going to work.

McCain is the perfect person to lead such a strategy of deception. He's a conservative Republican who has convinced the media he's a principled "maverick" who's not part of the Republican machine. What better way to reinforce and amplify this very helpful media dynamic than picking a Democrat (and Gore's VP no less)? I suppose Lieberman could help in the same way with someone else at the top, but it really only works with McCain, because without him the maverick angle doesn't fly with the media and it looks a bit like choosing Zell Miller....
As Ezra and Amanda argue, that logic still holds.

And Lieberman's hand was clearly strengthened by the Biden pick. The two front-runners -- Romney and Pawlenty, who together control 85% of the Intrade market -- both lack the experience to go up against Biden persuasively in debate. (The same could be said of Obama vis-a-vis McCain, but Obama levels the playing field with greater intellectual and rhetorical ability and the trump card of having been right about invading Iraq, neither of which are available to Romney or Pawlenty (though Pawlenty does come across as likable).)

But still.

It's an awfully risky strategy with the base, which is finally coming around to McCain. If McCain's first appointment is someone who was endorsed by NARAL as recently as 2006 and voted against religious right darlings Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito, how can the religious right have any confidence that he won't pick the next David Souter when there's an opening on the Supreme Court? And McCain will be 72 this week and is a cancer survivor. And did I mention Lieberman is Jewish?

Mary rightly points out that Lieberman is tight with religious right figures such as John Hagee, but that still strikes me as a marriage of convenience over their shared love of war in the Middle East. That's a long way from wanting Lieberman to be a heartbeat away.

Yes, it will help McCain among "low information" independents and some Jews (though the latter are only 1.3% of the population in critical Ohio), but those gains are likely to be erased by reduced turnout among evangelicals, many of whom have already voiced the get-worse-before-it-gets-better mentality that, via Ralph Nader, brought us George Bush.

So, yeah, I can still see it. But McCain has to believe that he has no other way to win to take such a gamble.


Friday, August 22, 2008

You Can't Say That During an Election! 

Ezra Klein may be right that picking Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense would be a bad idea, but I am not convinced that it would be illegal to announce that pick in advance. Klein cites 18 USC 599, which provides:
Whoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
I agree that Klein's reading of the statute -- that it prohibits Obama from pledging to name Hagel his SoD -- is consistent with the statute's language but, if that is the meaning, the statute would seem to raise serious First Amendment concerns. Indeed, I can hardly imagine political speech more central to the First Amendment than a Presidential candidate's promises concerning how the candidate will govern, including whom he or she will appoint. Playing Scalia for a moment and focusing on the late 18th Century, consider if during the 1796 election John Adams had promised to reappoint the highly controversial, and uniquely talented, Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury. Could there have been a clearer statement to voters of the economic policies he intended to pursue? Would the Founders really have agreed that the First Amendment was satisfied if Adams had had to make the far weaker assertion that he would merely follow the policies of Hamilton?

Despite this constitutional infirmity, the statute may have force in a different situation. Consider for example if Obama promised Hillary Clinton that she would be the Secretary of Defense in order to induce her to push her supporters to vote for him. That smacks of corruption, not of free speech, and in my view is better understood as the conduct the statute should be read as targeting.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Veep Announcement Today 

No way the Obama campaign steps on the firestorm over how many homes John McCain owns until it's had a chance to get some oxygen.

UPDATE: From Stone Court to conventional wisdom in two hours....


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lost in Translation? 

From our trip to Estonia:


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Yglesias excuses Biden's vote on the bankruptcy bill as merely the norm for a Senator supporting a major home state business, but I have to say that at the time it seemed worst than that.

I don't have time for a full Biden review, but here's a Stone Court blast from the past regarding the current front-runner:

Senator Pig

Atrios links to a list of 14 "Democrats Who Will Never Be President" due to their shameful votes to let the bankruptcy bill come to the Senate floor.

Joe Biden deserves a special place on that list for his disrespectful, condescending, and generally piggish cross examination of Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren:
WARREN: A woman who borrowed $2,200, the credit she paid back, $2,100 over the two years preceding bankruptcy, and at the end of that period of time she was told she still owed $2,600. With fees and interest, I submit, Senator, that there are many in the credit industry right now who are getting their bankruptcies prepaid. That is, they have squeezed enough out of these families in interest and fees and payments that never pay down the principal.

BIDEN: Maybe we should talk about usury rates then. Maybe that's what we should talk about, not bankruptcy.

WARREN: Senator, I'll be the first. Invite me.

BIDEN: No, I know you will, but let's call a spade a spade. Your problem with the credit card companies is usury rates from your position. It's not about the bankruptcy bill.

WARREN: But, Senator, if you're not going to fix that problem, you can't take away the last shred of protection for these families.

BIDEN: I got it. OK. You're very good, Professor.
Transcript via Lexis($), but it sounded even more sarcastic and offensive as delivered -- you can listen here.
Better than Bayh and Kaine gets you a C.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Emily's List 

should really stop endorsing candidates running against pro-choice Democratic incumbents.


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