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Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

MORE MUD....The LA Times reports that Barack Obama "hit the wrong button" six times during his voting career in the Illinois senate. Just a case of stumbly fingers? Or something more sinister?

Sadly for whoever planted this story, the Times decided to bury it on page A20. But how long before it migrates to Drudge and Hardball?

Kevin Drum 12:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (70)

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Hardball doesn't matter - nobody watches. But I hear Drudge's site is well-visited.

Posted by: Don on January 24, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

This is indeed a silly little story, borne of silly little minds -- and therefore eminently worthy of Chris Matthews and Drudge.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 24, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

The reason he hit the wrong button is because the buttons were made for right-handed senators; lefty is a lefty.

Posted by: Dilbert on January 24, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Not convinced it's all that silly of a story. Sounds like he was on the fence on a couple of the votes - and that other state senator says at the end that he's never "hit the wrong button."

I've been supporting Edwards all the way, and I'm having a tough time deciding between Hillary and Obama now.

Posted by: es on January 24, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is silly. What is not silly is Obama's outrageous statement that his supporters would not vote for Hillary. I have NEVER heard a Democratic candidate say such a divisive thing. And I don't want to hear that he was just saying what he thought would happen. He should have said that his supporters understand that we need to elect a Democrat and that he would urge them to do so. He has a lot of influence over them and his saying something to this effect would help strengthen the party.
Obama may want to reach out to independents and Republicans but he sure doesn't mind dividing his own party. His dismissal of the fights of the sixties as something we should let go of is a big slap in the fact of all of us older Democrats who fought so hard back then against a disastrous war and for equal rights for all people. Not only were those fights not silly, they are most definitely not over. Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy and Raum Emmanuel need to call up Obama and tell HIM to knock it off.
If this is his idea of a new kind of politics, I want no part of it.

Posted by: BernieO on January 24, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

The LA Times reports that Barack Obama "hit the wrong button" six times during his Illinois senate career. Just a case of stumbly fingers? Or something more sinister?

Kevin, haven't you ever fat fingered while typing? According to the article, "Obama cast more than 4,000 votes. Of those, according to transcripts of the proceedings in Springfield, he hit the wrong button at least six times."
If you had typed 4000 letters, I bet you would've gotten far more than 6 typos. We should be amazed that Obama's typing error rate is less than 0.2% which is far less than the normal typist. This is a demonstration of Obama's typing prowess.

Posted by: Al on January 24, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Could have dire ramifications down the road though. Is the "Nuke Iran" button still right next to the intercom button in the Oval Office?

Posted by: ArkPanda on January 24, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "Kevin, haven't you ever fat fingered while typing?"

Probably not nearly as often as you've typed without ever having a fuckin' clue.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 24, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

ArkPanda wins the thread

Posted by: drjimcooper on January 24, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Passed along from todays WaPo Politics Chat

Houston: Hello Paul. The Los Aangeles Times is reporting today that Barack Obama on six different occasions in his Illinois Senate career claims he "pushed the wrong button" on while voting, including on some high-stakes issues. Afterward he requested that his "true intent" should be recorded, but according to the rules the original vote still stands. It is obvious he tries to have it both ways. I sure hope we do not have to explain to Putin one day that, oops, he pushed the wrong button! What do you make of this?

washingtonpost.com: Obama said oops on six state Senate votes (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 24)

Paul Kane: I really don't know the rules of the Illinois legislature, and this is not a defense of Obama, more an explanation of the rules here in Congress. folks, you'd be amazed how many times these men and women here vote the wrong way. And, if they make a good-faithed effort soon enough after a vote, it is officially switched here in the US Senate.
On the House side, you vote with an ATM-style card, punching it into a slot, then push the green (yea) or red (nay) buttons. If you hit the wrong button, then you have to go to the clerk's desk and get in line for an official green or red card and stand in line to switch your vote.
Happens a lot more than you'd realize.

Posted by: WaPo on January 24, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

how long before it migrates to Drudge and Hardball?

I'll answer that one. The day after Obama has the nomination sewn up.

BTW, I think it's a stupid story. 6 is a pretty small number.

Posted by: DR on January 24, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Tempest in a teaspoon

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

Posted by: daCascadian on January 24, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

This is absurd. I suppose next they'll run an expose on how he called in sick twice when he really just stayed home and watched TV.

Posted by: tomeck on January 24, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

you consider that mud?

Posted by: smile on January 24, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

If Sen. Obama becomes president, will he hit the wrong button and launch a nuclear missile attack on Iran?

Or will his reason for nuking Iran be more sinister?

Sen. Reid will know.

Posted by: Brojo on January 24, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my god!

Senator Obama sounds like a politician. Who whould have thought?

Posted by: w on January 24, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ, this is a dumb story. 6 errors out of 4000 is actually a pretty SOLID record. Have you even seen a state assembly vote? People run around like mad; aides flip their principals' switches; reps flip OTHER reps' switches. Mis-votes aren't just something that happens when a little old lady uses a Diebold touch-screen; they happen to the professionals, too.

Posted by: tom veil on January 24, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I heard he accidentally voted for Buchanan.

Posted by: Occam's Pendulum on January 24, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Are you people on crack? The guy claimed to have pressed the wrong button six times and that's no big deal? If someone did this once in their career it would be disappointing. Six times? Coupled with all the present votes? The only reason the Clinton's are able to push this "untested and unqualified" thing about Obama is BECAUSE IT'S SO CLEARLY TRUE.

Posted by: Pat on January 24, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Here is a more telling bit about Obama not being qualified. Obama has been chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs since the Dems took over, yet he has failed to have even one substantive meeting. (He called a couple to confirm ambassadors.)
Why would he neglect an opportunity to use this post to help rebuild our strained relationship with these important allies as well as better prepare himself to be president? And why does no one talk about this??? He flat out did not do his job, something he owed his party as well as all Americans. He also has an obligation to do everything he can to better prepare himself to take on the awesome responsibility of the presidency.
http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2007/12/29/obama_europe/

Posted by: BernieO on January 24, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I think you might want to consider giving Inkblot typing lessons just so that no one can criticize him on pressing the wrong button.

INKBLOT FOR PRESIDENT '08

This is a stupid story.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 24, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

optical weenie --
How will we keep the cat treats off the 'Nuke Iran' button? I'm not sure Inkblot is ready. And I'm not saying that because he's black, or because he's white...

Posted by: thersites on January 24, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

typical poor reporting of not providing the information one need to evaluate the issue.

Is his error rate better or worse then average for state legislators in Illinois?

without this information the story is meaningless.

Posted by: spencer on January 24, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Is his error rate better or worse then average for state legislators in Illinois?

Context? We don't need no stinkin' context!

What kind of headline woud "Obama's error rate .02% above average" make?

Posted by: thersites on January 24, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Well, well. I guess the politics of 'throw everything inclduing the kitchen sink and toilet bowl' is working. Reading Pat's comment proves my point.

BTW, you're soiling your reputation by posting something like this Kevin. Of course you could say you're just putting it out there since it's already out there. Mission accomplished then.

Posted by: GOD on January 24, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

As I recall, Drudge and Chris Matthews were not too concerned about the 3,000 elderly voters in Palm Beach County, Florida who "pushed the wrong button" in November of 2000 and had their vote recorded erroneously for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 24, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites,
Inkblot will not have any cat treats in the Oval Office. He's one serious dude you know, and understands what sort of concentration level he will have to maintain while ruling the nation.

He will only have cat treats in the residential part of the Whitehouse. Course that still doesn't guarantee that he will not choke on them just like someone else has choked on pretzels. But, regardless of potential cries of nepotism, Inkblot will employ Kevin as his personal "Treat and Anti-Choking Hall Monitor".

This is Inkblots official policy position on treats.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 24, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I've spent a fair bit of time on the floor of the Illinois Senate (not a member). Unlike the U.S. House, which has fifteen-plus minutes to vote, and the U.S. Senate, which still has a genteel roll-call, the practice in the Illinois Senate is vastly more chaotic. The presiding senator can call a vote on both substantive and random procedural matters at almost any time, and frequently shifts quickly into a rapid fire chant of "haveallvotedwhowish? haveallvotedwhowish? Thefinaltallyis xx-yy, themotioncarries." During the rapidfirechant you will see Senators (and staff) leaping across desks to slam their voting buttons before the vote is closed -- there is no timer. To be honest, I'm surprised that Barack has only 6 of these -- it indicates he was one of the few who actually stayed near his desk (easier to do in the back row, towards the end of his tenure) and paid attention to the often mind-numbing litany of first, second, and third-readings (required by the Illinois Constitution), motions to reconsider, etc.

As an aside, Dick Durbin's experience as parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate is one reason he was such a strong parliamentary tactian in the House, and why he ascended so quickly to the the U.S. Senate leadership -- parliamentary maneuvering in Congress is weak and lame compared to Springfield.

Posted by: Prairie Sage on January 24, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, this is a silly story, however remind me again how many silly stories have been used by the MSM to dump upon the Dem candidates in 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988,1984, 1980...well you get the point. While on the merits of the facts this is essentially meaningless in my view (6 out of thousands, I can chalk that up as easily to honest error as easily as trying to have it both ways) as I have repeatedly pointed out the GOP smear machine and their compatriots in the MSM that love to hold Dems to different standards than GOPers that as a sound bite that can be turned into a knock on his experience and his reputation as an honest/truth telling politician quite easily. This is after all the state of US politics these days, and for all of Obama's inspiration and lofty rhetoric about how the time for this has passed, I don't see the GOP nor the MSM media agreeing with him judging by their actions to date. Indeed, how many of the MSM Obama fans are so because of Clinton hatred (of which there clearly has been a significant amount of in the MSM going right back to the early 90s) versus how many actually are inspired and transformed internally by Obama's speeches? That is a good example of an unknowable unknown to quote Rummy and therefore how many of them would turn on Obama as Dem candidate once he knocked Clinton out of the running?

This is something too many Obama supporters do not want to hear/believe but is clearly reality, that the MSM goes out of its way to deal in superficialities and nonsense like this to evaluate candidates especially Dem ones and arguing that the facts/substance proves their candidate is not that way doesn't get anywhere near the same play nor the same detailed dissections as idiocies like this business with the votes does, and that whoever the Dem candidate is this will happen to them, even Obama (arguably especially because he does have a lot of openings in this area already on the record). Is it fair? Of course not. Is it right/ethical/moral? Of course not. Is it though exactly how the US MSM, especially the political pundit class treats Dem candidates? Yes, as has been repeatedly documented by people like Somerby at The Daily Howler and Media Matters for America among others. So either the Obama campaign shows it can knock this sort of stuff down easily and cleanly without having to resort to the oft used and rarely successful look at the substance/context/facts in a long explanation/clarification/interpretation rebuttal/defence or it will not survive the general. Which is why I am focusing more on him than anyone else, of the three candidates he strikes me as the one least well prepared for this reality being turned against him instead of watching it turned against those he runs against like HRC. I honestly think he is getting an easier ride on things like this not because he is such a superior candidate but because Clinton hatred in the MSM is so prevalent, but once HRC is removed that those same anti-Clinton MSMers who whip things up against her now will turn to do so with the Dem candidate as they have in the last several Presidential elections now.

Yes, it sucks, and yes it would be nice to have this changed, but I don't see it being changed before the general election happens. While I can appreciate why Obama and his supporters want to be above all this, if the political opposition AND the main political medium (MSM) doesn't want to go along exactly how does Obama make them and be successful in doing so when no other Dem candidate has been able to? Which is why this is such a gamble, and is that kind of gamble defensible when the stakes are as high as they are for this election, if only regarding the Supreme Court? Let alone the damage done to the infrastructure of the Executive branch by the Bushco/GOP purges, the economic health of the government AND the economic stability of the national economic infrastructure. I understand the allure, but I strongly suspect that were I voting in this election I would be reacting exactly the same way for these reasons, the dream is nice but reality is where we have to live in, and the reality is that anything other than fighting back at every turn against the GOP message/machine AND their complicit MSMers I don't see working to beat the GOP even in as bad an environment as they currently face. There is a lot of faith in Obama's message dominating over all, but to date aside from Iowa there hasn't been the evidence in his numbers that he really is at the head of a broad movement but more of a cult of personality. I also find his unwillingness to say he will campaign for the eventual winner and encourage all his supporters to do so and instead simply state he doesn't think many (implied, because if it is few then they cannot have much of an impact in the results by not voting Clinton and/or voting GOP) of his supporters will vote for Clinton if she wins (which also helps make it look more like a cult of personality than a true political movement) while he is confident he will get all of her supporters votes if he wins. For someone competing in the Democratic Party's primary he certainly seems to assume an awful lot about their support given the way he has been trashing/bashing them over the last several weeks now. While he may not like the fact that the Clintons are well regarded/respxcted by the majority of Dems for him to ignore it and assume he can trash their reputations/legacies with impunity down the road strikes me as more than a little arrogant and self centered.

Posted by: Scotian on January 24, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Evita will now explain her vote for Bush's war by saying she pressed the wrong button. Oops!

Posted by: Traven on January 24, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

This particular line is ludicrous:

No one has accused Obama, now a U.S. senator and a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, of changing votes to play both sides, and an Obama spokesman called that idea "absurd."

What's the purpose of this story? And why would a legitimate reporter ever right the sentence, "No one has accused Obama, ..." thus planting the suggestion that someone has accused Obama? That's just weird. I think Kevin's suggestion that this story was a plant is probably accurate.

Posted by: BTD Greg on January 24, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian, et al. This is one Obama supporter who won't vote for Clinton. Ever. Edwards, yes. Clinton, no. This country is not a freaking banana republic yet.

Posted by: Greebe on January 24, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I think a lot of the bite of the story lies in the final episode reported:

A fellow Democrat suddenly seethed with anger. "You got a lot of nerve to talk about being responsible," said Sen. Rickey Hendon, accusing Obama of voting to close the child welfare office.
Obama replied right away. "I understand Sen. Hendon's anger. . . . I was not aware that I had voted no on that last -- last piece of legislation," he said.
Obama asked that the record reflect that he meant to vote yes. Then he requested that Hendon "ask me about a vote before he names me on the floor."
Hendon declined to discuss the episode. "I try to block out unpleasant memories," said Hendon, who has endorsed Obama. "If I tried really hard to remember it, I probably could, but I'm not going to try hard because I'm supporting the senator all the way."
Hendon said "it happens" that senators press the wrong button. But he was quick to add: "I've never done it."

I mean, this is a supporter of Obama saying this?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 24, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, this is a supporter of Obama saying this?

not that you were seriously looking for an answer, but no, it's not a supporter of obama saying this. the entire illinois democratic congressional delegation has endorsed obama pro forma. rickey "hollywood" hendon and barack obama have a long and colorful history of tangling.

Posted by: shortstop on January 24, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Quote: "What is not silly is Obama's outrageous statement that his supporters would not vote for Hillary. I have NEVER heard a Democratic candidate say such a divisive thing."

I believe the supporters Obama was referring to were the Republicans and independents he might attract, not his Democratic supporters. So the point he was making was that he has crossover supporters, while Hillary does not, and that the crossover supporters are unlikely to support her.

I suppose what he should have done was added: "I will of course do everything I can to support whoever is the nominee and urge my supporters to do the same."

Posted by: LynnDee on January 24, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Scotian, et al. This is one Obama supporter who won't vote for Clinton. Ever. Edwards, yes. Clinton, no. This country is not a freaking banana republic yet." Posted by: Greebe on January 24, 2008 at 2:50 PM

Well, that is arguable these days, especially given what the GOP has done to your country, so I suppose it is better to let them win because you dislike Clinton because you think she will be worse than anyone the GOPers put up? I'm sorry, but this reads to me like petulance more than anything else. The USA is already closer to being a banana republic more than it ever has directly due to the GOP running things, so arguing you won't support the Dem nominee only if it is HRC because "This country is not a freaking banana republic yet" seems to make no logical sense, unless you think she is on a par with the GOP that is, something I personally find laughable to claim about any of the three main Dem candidates remaining (sorry Kucinich, but I can't call you one of the main ones at this point).

So it appears your hatred for her is more important to you than whether your next supreme court judge is another federalist society member (tipping the majority balance) or a reality connected Dem, which if you were truly worried about America becoming a banana republic you would consider a valid argument, because the only protection the liberals (indeed the original/true pro-Consitutionalists generally within American society regardless of their normal political affiliation) in America have left from being a banana republic in truth/reality at this point are your courts and that is all but gone thanks to the last two Bush appointments on top of the stacking of the federal judiciary by the GOP.

Posted by: Scotian on January 24, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

per my post of 3:35, mea culpa: typing with one hand today and half my brain's off, too. the entire black caucus of the illinois general assembly has endorsed obama. not sure whether that's true of the whole illinois dem congressional delegation...think it is, though.

Posted by: shortstop on January 24, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Greebe: This is one Obama supporter who won't vote for Clinton. Ever. Edwards, yes. Clinton, no.

So you will not vote for the Democratic nominee?

The saying is true: Can't fix stupid.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 24, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

"I suppose what he should have done was added: "I will of course do everything I can to support whoever is the nominee and urge my supporters to do the same." Posted by: LynnDee on January 24, 2008 at 3:36 PM

That is *EXACTLY* what he should have done, indeed that and added that if she won the Dem nomination he would use all his strengths to help make the case to his supporters for her over anyone the GOP puts up. I think that is one of the main reasons this is being reacted to with such ire by some Dems, and that is IMHO a reasonable basis to do so. Especially when the other main candidates have apparently already gone on record saying they would press their supporters to line up behind the Dem candidate if it is not them as I'm given to understand both Edwards and Clinton have done. The way he left it reads as an implied threat to the Dem primary voters "support me for the nomination or you will lose in the fall because my people won't follow if I am not the nominee" (and there is no defence by claiming that if it were Edward there would be no problem since at this point it is all but inevitable that the Dem candidate will be either Clinton or Obama barring major upsets wins in Super Tuesday by Edwards, a scenario while possible I cannot agree is probable). Hardly something that promotes unity within the Democratic party, and if he cannot unify his own party behind him I simply cannot see him making up enough of the difference from the independents/disaffected GOPers to win him in the general.

Posted by: Scotian on January 24, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

It definitely happens, but apparently not to everybody. Might be part of his grand strategy to woo independents :-)

Shortly afterward, Obama chastised Republicans for their "sanctimony" in claiming that only they had the mettle to make tough choices in a tight budget year. And he called for "responsible budgeting."

A fellow Democrat suddenly seethed with anger. "You got a lot of nerve to talk about being responsible," said Sen. Rickey Hendon, accusing Obama of voting to close the child welfare office.

Obama replied right away. "I understand Sen. Hendon's anger. . . . I was not aware that I had voted no on that last -- last piece of legislation," he said.

Obama asked that the record reflect that he meant to vote yes. Then he requested that Hendon "ask me about a vote before he names me on the floor."

Hendon declined to discuss the episode. "I try to block out unpleasant memories," said Hendon, who has endorsed Obama. "If I tried really hard to remember it, I probably could, but I'm not going to try hard because I'm supporting the senator all the way."

Hendon said "it happens" that senators press the wrong button. But he was quick to add: "I've never done it."

Posted by: rashad davis on January 24, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

The Illinois legislator Obama voted to close a child welfare office? I am not surprised, but this will not be a very good Republican talking point against him. No story telling about fat fingers will convince me it was an accident.

Sen. Clinton and the hedgefund consultant Edwards could use this information against Obama in their campaigns for the nomination, except Clinton's president husband and then Sen. Edwards tried their best to eliminate welfare for everyone back in the Nineties. Everyone who was not a hedgefund, that is.

Posted by: Brojo on January 24, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

THIS is an example of "throw everything and the kitchen sink."?? The guy's voting behavior in his only substiantive period of legislative work experience is somehow out of bounds for people to question and discuss when he's running for President?

No offense, but some of you Obama people sure are whiners. Quit pointing ouit my voting record! Quit having two Clinton's attacking me at the same time! I mean seriously. Have you ever seen a LESS "rough and tumble" Chicago politican. He should sit down and have a good cry.

Posted by: Pat on January 24, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

My hesitation about Obama, who I WANT to like more than I do, is that good friends who live in Illinois and are strong Democrats are not that crazy about him. Of the three Democrats still in the race for President, my friends in Illinois rank Obama as their third choice; they say they will happily support him if nominated, (will happily support any Democrat), but prefer Edwards and then Clinton. Race is not an issue with my friends (if anything,Obama's African-American heritage would work in his favor); it's Obama's undistinguished record in the Illinois State Senate that has put them off. We all know that Obama can deliver an inspirational speech, but can he lead and does he have the fight to get things done? His record in the Illionis state legislature does not make the case for him. And his record in the US Senate so far is not that of the progressive that he claims to be.

Posted by: myrna on January 24, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian: Thank you. Thank you. Being an almost "old-timer," I've found myself stymied by the rather irrational "I hate" "I'll never" "She's so...(whatever)" statements. Venting is one thing; self-destruction is another. Oh the gift he gie us, to see ourselves as others see us (R. Burns) Just because we don't like to hear or see an allegation does not make it trash, dirt, or evil. I truly wish that those Democrats who find themselves in this heavy-duty anger situation would take a step back for a bit and direct some of that energy into addressing what Scotian raises. Don't flail. And, for heavens sake, please don't whine about how it hurt your outstretched leg when someone tripped over it. Yes, I am a proud supporter of Hillary Clinton ... and, I am also a very proud Democrat who has voted for a Democrat for President since 1968. A good place to start would be to stop complaining that the other candidate is destroying the party, ergo, you won't vote for the Democrat in the general election and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Get if together and double your effort for your candidate --- but, don't deny the Democratic Party a vote and hypocritically claim that the other one caused you to destroy our chances to elect a Democrat. I realize that this sounds condescending; yet, it is important to take a deep breath and think about the ramifications of the fundamentally hysterical "I'll take my marbles and go home if I don't get my own way." There is going to be a victor in the Democratic primary and there is going to be one who is not successful. Lets not go out on the limb and make threats against the party's interests--this is about a total community of America--it is not about the "absolute truth" that anyone may believe he/she holds. OK?

Posted by: christinep on January 24, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

brojo, my pal, so you're sitting this one out?

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian and christinep,

In general you're both right about supporting and voting for whoever the Dem nominee is. However, due to our crazy electoral college system, some of us can look at the polls and then make a logical decision as to whether our vote is 'needed' by the Dem candidate. I live in New York which, if Clinton is nominated, will strongly go for her against a Republican. Since I'm pretty sure most Obama or Edwards supporters will indeed turn out to vote for Clinton, I can actually sit it out without harming the Democrats. For those in states where the election is close, then it's urgent that everyone vote for the Dem nominee. Beyond this, some of us have such a yearning for a more liberal politics, for a more liberal party, to represent us. I can't see anyway of this coming about. The Nader plan is no good because it hurts the only semi-liberal party we have. So part of the anger you hear expressed isn't all about Clinton, but also about the political arena itself and our lack of real choices.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian: Thank you. Thank you. Being an almost "old-timer," I've found myself stymied by the rather irrational "I hate" "I'll never" "She's so...(whatever)" statements. Venting is one thing; self-destruction is another.

It has disgusted me enough that I have simply stopped commenting for now.

I'm not going to take part in any circular firing squads, thanks just the same.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 24, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Pat, that is so pathetic. How old are you, 12?
It's sad cos the discussion on this thread went right over your head.

Posted by: GOD on January 24, 2008 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

I can actually sit it out without harming the Democrats...

And what about congressional races?

Like I said, can't fix stupid.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 24, 2008 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

nepata:

I understand where the anger is coming from, but I come from the old school of "if you do not vote you have no right to complain about what government does", and I find the attitude of not voting hard to understand because of that. As it is voter turnout keeps dropping, no doubt reflecting the anger at the system as you said, yet how much change has that brought to the system? Politics is an area where the more you drop out the things stay the same, not less, and when important issues are on the line, which in this election like no other they clearly are it is important for all that oppose the status quo to register their vote, even if it means the top ticket being someone you otherwise might pass on for the reasons you stated. Please do not think I do not understand the American political system as it is structured nor the reality that it currently exists as, I daresay I am better informed than the majority of Americans on that front (so you understand why I say that it is because I was raised in a very political involved family and I followed politics since childhood, including American because I was born in the middle of the Cold War, not out of some inherent superiority because of nationality or such, the old-timers here who know me I know I've told you I don't know if you knew so I added this for clarification), and because I am not held anywhere near as hostage by the MSM shaping of the context/dynamics of the coverage it makes it a bit easier to see the effects of and the respective vulnerabilities to such mau-mauing.

The more votes that support the Dem candidate in the general even in States that the Dem candidate should easily win adds that much more moral authority for that person to enact change. Which is another reason why I find anyone advocating not supporting the candidate because they refuse to support Clinton or Obama if they win missing the forest for the trees. The Dems need to be able to make the argument that they have the majority of the country on their side, and the larger the turnout and percentage for the Dems they get the better, and makes trying to undo the horrors of the past seven years in particular that much easier than it would otherwise be. I suspect you will find others see this in a similar manner, I know I have seen this attitude from others in the blogosphere who are not so invested in which candidate wins so long as the Dem wins. If Obama is so far beyond partisanship why then are his supporters so incredibly partisan? That is a valid question, because there is no question in my mind that the partisans of Clinton and Obama online and off are on a par with the intensity of their partisanship and how far they are willing to go in its service, which is also why I have fundamental reservations about whether Obama's dream truly is what people want to believe it is. It is not the only aspect of course, but it is a central one.

Also, the bigger the turnout for the Dems this time out the larger repudiation of the Bush/GOP years it can be cast as, and if nothing else I would think that would be important enough to set aside traditional dislike/distaste/contempt, you know for the greater good? By not being willing to do so it raises the question just how committed to the greater good/principles can you be if you cannot manage that one? While you may think that is an unfair question to ask of you on these grounds, can you explain/show why it is unfair? (Assuming of course that you do find it unfair, if not then no explanation is needed logically) I will say I have noticed a wide margin of difference between Obama online supporters being unwilling to commit to the Dem candidate whoever it is versus Edwards and Clinton supporters, and I have to wonder how much of that speaks to Clinton's character flaws or of those making these statements.

Your country is so messed up these days it beggars belief at times, even by your closest neighbours. While I know Dems and progressives generally in particular get this about your country, I doubt that even now you truly understand just how much you have lost on the international front along with your domestic front. I won't travel into the USA anymore because I cannot trust your government to follow the rule of law. I never used to fear living next to let alone traveling to the USA until Bushco came to power, these days there is not enough money on the planet to pay me to do so. This is no small thing because I always held America in high regard for free speech, separation of powers, rule of law, and freedom of religion and a truly wonderful representation of what those ideals could engender in a democratic society. Since the 2000 elections and especially since 9/11/01 though that has become a distant memory, and I can tell you that the degree my own feelings have changed is moderate compared to most people that once used to admire/respect or at least give America the benefit of the doubt. America cannot call herself the leader of the free world anymore, and I suspect that is gone forever, not just for the next few years, thanks to all that has happened. In many ways post Bush43 America and Americans are going to have to expect and accept/get used to a milder yet no less pervasive global attitude of needing to apologize for not seeing the evil that was coming nor rising up to stop it at any point it could have made a difference as the Germans did after WWII, and I have to wonder just how many of you truly get that, especially at the gut level.

This is why doing all possible to repudiate the GOP/Bushco in this election is so important, and every vote held back in this election is such a bad idea and so hard to respect. Your Constitution has been treated worse than possibly any other time in your history, isn't that enough to make you put aside your dislike of Clinton to register your rejection of what the GOP/Bushco have wrought, not just to the future and to the rest of the world but to yourselves as Americans? It would have been better if this happened in 2004, but late is still better than not at all.

Posted by: Scotian on January 24, 2008 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Nepeta: I appreciate your comments. They are thoughtful, and they seem to be quite honest. Thank you. There is no real rejoinder to what you say (assuming you would vote for other Democrats on the ticket in your home state.) Who or what we trust and what we are willing to hope for --a complex puzzle. For me, when confronted with what first appears to be a potential Hobson's Choice, I chunk it down to a schematic. For example: In politics, I like to look at the Congressional Record and long-term voting patterns and, then, compare it with the areas of particular concern for me. It allows me to refocus and get a little away from "who I'd like to have a beer with." After that, I still feel the "liberal yearning" myself. THIS TIME--here is that hope again--I believe that we will see incremental and liberal change simply because of the topsy-turvy mess that Bush has made of it. There is every indication that America wants very much to move in a new direction away from the generational conservatism of the past 25 years. Personally, I'm very hopeful that genuine change can be made in the areas that injure the non-wealthy (health care reform, education, economic change along the lines often described by P. Krugman, etc. And, of course, ending the war.) It may be incremental, but it will be positive change. (Saul Alinsky once emphasized the importance of always keeping the goal in mind, but being willing to first agree to the half loaf. And, then, come back for the rest.) 'Good wishes as you make those strategic decisions.

Posted by: christinep on January 24, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Until progressives, liberals and most leftists realize that the Democratic Party does not serve their best interests, they will resemble the blue collar workers and NASCAR dads who voted for Reagan and W. Bush. I don't think people should sit out elections, I think they should abandon candidates who do not, will not represent them.

Now that Rep. Kucinich has left the nominating race, I no longer have a presidential Democratic candidate who represents me. I did not expect Kucinich to win the nomination, but I wanted to vote for him in the primary and still will. After that I am changing my party affiliation to the Social Equality Party. I complain about the mainstream candidates all of the time, but unlike so many others I think their are unlimited choices for my vote, not just the two candidates the large corporations have anointed.

I should have voted for Van Auken in 2004. Had Kerry won, I could not live with myself knowing I voted for a Democrat who was for the surge even before W. Bush was. Knowing that a Kerry presidency I voted for was killing Iraqis would have sent me into an even deeper depression than W. Bush's policies have. My dilemma now is how I would deal with Iraqis killed on Obama's or Clinton's watch if I should vote for one of them. They don't represent me. Although I hate W. Bush and Republicans and only disagree with Democrats (until they are in charge of the killing), why should I allow my hate to guide me to vote for those I disagree with? Using Sen. Obama's message about the audacity of hope, I think I am voting socialist. Use Obama's message about the audacity of hope and leave the Democratic Party to the moderate Republicans who own it.

Posted by: Brojo on January 24, 2008 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13,

I meant 'sit it out' figuratively on the presidential vote. You'd better believe I'll be there to vote for John Hall, my first-term congressman who replaced the dread Sue Kelley.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Thank God some people finally noticed BO is NOT the second coming.

Now, consider how many times you get to press the nuclear button wrong.

Obama is too green to be president. He makes far too many mistakes (of various kinds). He's awfully good at recovering, after having lots of experience at it, but the mistakes are still there.

This is why I will never vote for him. I favor Edwards and can vote for Clinton, but never Obama.

Posted by: MarkH on January 24, 2008 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

First of all, thank you for your thoughtful post. I understand so much of what you say concerning your vantage point, your immunity to our mass media, etc. Thanks, btw, for telling me some of your personal background. (Nova Scotia?) I'm quite sure that you, like my several European friends, have a firm grasp of the US political system, whereas I have little knowledge of the Canadian or European parliamentary systems beyond somewhat general, vague notions. A typical American. I am aware certainly of the enormous loss of prestige the US has suffered during the Bush presidency. One Dutch friend refuses to even discuss politics or world events with me because he finds it too painful in regard to my US citizenship. Your argument that one more vote added to a loud repudiation of Bush and Republicans makes some sense. I will give it consideration. I tend to agree with brojo below that neither Clinton nor Obama can be 'trusted' to change US policy, either domestic or foreign, in a big way, but both, in my opinion, will rescue us from heading further into authoritarianism and global imperialism. Still, my cynicism is always awake and alert. Of course, the US is now so bankrupt financially that such foreign policy goals may be impossible in any case. Btw, I'm a baby boomer, born in 1947, so my political ideology was formed during the Vietnam era. After some 40 years of participation in American elections, I still can't help but leap for the 'idealist,' being fully aware that I may be greatly disappointed.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone here accidentally voted for the wrong candidate or the wrong way on an issue?
Four of the six seem to be slip ups but two of them look like an attempt to hedge.

Posted by: 0% error rate on January 24, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

christinep,

And thank you for your words. I'll certainly try to be 'patient' but it's not one of my long suits. (grin) I think we'll see positive change if the Dem candidate wins this year. I just hope the positive increments aren't too small. In fact, it's almost impossible to imagine anything worse than the last seven years, in the US at least. I also try to look rationally at the candidates; voting records, who it is that supports various candidates and whether I trust them to make a wise choice, etc., etc. I don't jump emotionally first. I've pretty much supported every Dem candidate in the field this year at one time or another, for a while I was candidateless, then finally zeroed in on Obama, specifically after listening to the Reno Gazette interview which for me filled in most of the questions I had concerning actual goals, how he plans to accomplish them, his general political ideology (despite the distortion of his words about Reagan, his point was obvious to me at first hearing despite cringeing at what others might make of it). And now I'm a rather ardent Obama supporter, for better or worse. Only the future will tell. I personally think Clinton will be the nominee.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

brojo,

I wish we could have a long talk in a coffeehouse somewhere, but alas, different coasts. I know you think Obama is 'bought,' but I'd like more information. I see him being loyal to ADM on the ethanol issue, which is big in itself, but don't see other issues being affected in general. I guess you could just list them for me here, as painful as that might be. I haven't looked into Obama's corporate backers, so perhaps that should be my next step. Where do I find that info in one fell swoop.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Start with Open Secrets_dot_org

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 24, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

0% error rate,

No, I haven't voted 'wrong' that I know of. But as I understand it the voting process is very quick in Illinois, literally a few seconds, unlike what we're accustomed to in the US Senate.
Thank good my time in the voting booth isn't timed because I take an inordinate amount of time figuring the darn machine out before I actually proceed with my voting. Given just a few seconds I'd be lucky to get the curtain closed.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, BGRS. I'll do that.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

You're welcome. (Now back to lurking with me. I'm on a self imposed moratorium until after Super Tuesday at least.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 24, 2008 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

you'll never make it.

Posted by: shortstop, evilly poking blue girl and giggling when she jumps on January 24, 2008 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

" I'm on a self imposed moratorium until after Super Tuesday at least.)" - BGRS

I've thought about that myself. Either that or a refill on the Xanax is in order.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

Or you could just lay off the boxed Franzia.

Posted by: Enuf Allredy on January 24, 2008 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

By now, we all know that the only Vote that matters is the vote that Obama did not have an opportunity to cast: The AUMF in 2002...because that showed judgment. Everything else is just politics and strategy

Posted by: Sam Jackson on January 25, 2008 at 4:26 AM | PERMALINK

It sounds like a silly story. But the fact is, things like this keep happening with Obama and it is quite disturbing. It is true for example that he lauded the Republican capacity for new ideas, then reacted with real outrage when Clinton called him on it. There is something funny going on here.

Posted by: Lee on January 25, 2008 at 6:09 AM | PERMALINK

You're so right there, GOD. Thanks for calling me on it. I don't beleive in you, by the way.

I think we should do what Brojo suggests. Only elect unelectable candidates. Oh ... wait ... nevermind. I mean support candidates who have absolutely no chance at all and then spend four years lobbing in (what I perceive to be clever and dramatically written) comments about how there is no difference between the parties.

Posted by: Pat on January 25, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Lee,

Have you listened to the interview? My perception from the beginning was that he was not lauding the Repubs for new ideas but simply saying that the American people were ready for change in 1980 and the Republicans were ready with new ideas (non-liberal ideas, of course!).
If you want to listen to real praise of Reagan from both Clintons, try Clinton's address at the opening of the Reagan Library or Hillary's praise of Reagan in the upcoming Tom Brokaw book. Both are on the web. Sorry I don't have a link.

Posted by: nepeta on January 25, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Lee,

Here's the link:

National Journal

Posted by: nepeta on January 25, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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