Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 18, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

PRESIDENTS DAY....Today's topics in the liberal blogosphere appear to be these: John McCain is a hack no matter what Nick Kristof credulously believes; the Clinton campaign is lame for not figuring out the Texas delegate allocation rules until now; there's a primary in Wisconsin tomorrow; and superdelegates either should or shouldn't exercise their own judgment when the Democratic convention rolls around.

Also: Kosovo is now independent.

And with that, I'm planning to take the rest of Presidents Day off. If you're off too, enjoy yourself. If you're not, work extra hard to honor two presidents in one day. See you tomorrow.

Kevin Drum 12:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (96)

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Also: Obama is just a man, dude. He's not like some superhuman messiah, like his crazy-eyed supports believe. That's why he's no good; because he's not perfect. If you prick* him, does he not bleed?

* Unlike 'periodically', 'prick' contains no subtexual information.

Posted by: gussie on February 18, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

To be pendantic, the official holiday is still Washington's Birthday. When Congress moved it to a Monday holiday, it was never changed to "Presidents' Day," no matter what people may call it.

Per your research post of Sunday, Kev, look it up on Snopes!

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 18, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone tell me what McCain believes on any topic, besides more and longer wars, and he doesn't know anything about the economy? Abortion? Torture? Gay rights? Balanced budget? Tax cuts? The religious right? Campaign finance reform? Just try.

And want to be sickened? Want to see what we're in for? Read this.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 18, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Re Kosova:

This may be a terrible moment in European history. Here's why: There are 20-30 small areas in Europe which, like Kosova, yearn for self-determination. Now, we have the precedent of independence, sponsored by the US, for one area.

Chechnya

Basqueland

Kurdistan

and so forth

We have opened Pandora's box, and it is gonna be an unholy mess there.

Posted by: POed Lib on February 18, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

The point being made by team Hillary is not that they didn't know about the wierdo Texas rules but that maybe Mr 'Count the peoples' votes' is being less than honest about the democratic nature of the contest.

I am getting a bit anoyed by this 'count all the votes except the ones in the states where we don't want them counted but not the superdelegates' schtick.

If its the rules then its all the rules, not just the rules that benefit Team Obama.

He is going to be stiffed in the end. If Team Hillary have the votes to win with superdelegates in their first move will be to overturn the undemocratic decision to exclude the MI and FL delegations. Then she will end up ahead either way.

This is what you want from a President - someone who is good at like politics.

Posted by: PHB on February 18, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Those who have to work salute you, Kevin.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 18, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how anybody could vote for Hillary now that she has shown her true self. She would rather destroy the Democratic party for the next 20 years than lose this stinking primary race.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 18, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

He is going to be stiffed in the end. If Team Hillary have the votes to win with superdelegates in their first move will be to overturn the undemocratic decision to exclude the MI and FL delegations. Then she will end up ahead either way. This is what you want from a President - someone who is good at like politics.

No, I don't want the Democrat version of George W. Bush, thank you very much.

Posted by: Quinn on February 18, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

If superdelegates are not to use their own judgement
then what is the purpose in having them?

Posted by: TruthPolitik on February 18, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad you took the rest of the day off, since I think Obama's plagiarizing Gov. Deval Patrick's speech deserves a little scrutiny. Of course, they rushed Patrick out to say no problem and they're calling it "adapted speech," but when you use someone else's words as your own, no amount of spin stops it from being plagiarism.

Posted by: Cayce on February 18, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

...but when you use someone else's words as your own, no amount of spin stops it from being plagiarism

I just think this is funny given we have a sitting president who can't string an unscripted sentence together.

Posted by: kis on February 18, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

And Hillary has never lifted a word from anyone's speeches? Hell, she's been lifting from Obama and Edwards like mad.

Posted by: Quinn on February 18, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

She'll be lifting words from James Baker's speeches before it's over...

Posted by: chance on February 18, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm certainly not defending our current president. My post said nothing about him. But that's about what I'm used to these days. Obama does something that should be scrutinized - change the subject.

Posted by: Cayce on February 18, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

If hand-wringing over Obama's speeches is the best Hillary's campaign can do then Obama is sitting pretty.

Posted by: Lucy on February 18, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

There's also voting tomorrow in Hawai`i--don't forget us! Lots of high excitement here, as our votes usually don't count a whit, and because Obama grew up here, has family here, and knows the issues here.

Posted by: Susan on February 18, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is probably sitting pretty anyway, but plagiarism speaks to someone's credibility. If she had done the same thing - and don't give me this load about "hope" and "change," he was hardly the first one to use those words in a political campaign - you guys would be calling for her head.

Instead, you simply divert the topic back to bashing her. He lifted someone else's speech and didn't credit them. That should mean something.

Posted by: Cayc on February 18, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

That should mean something.

Exactly what should it mean?

Again, in politics, people lift parts of speeches, phrases, and ideas all the time. When one person is accusing another in an ongoing campaign, it's perfect fair to turn the spotlight back around and ask whether the accuser is casting stones from a glass house.

Posted by: Quinn on February 18, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

The language isn't exactly the same as Gov. Patrick used, just close. Gov. Patrick, the guy Obama allegedly plagiarized says that he talked to Obama last summer about using the phrases if needed to respond to an anticipated attack, and he is OK with what Obama said. If you have permission it isn't plagiarism.

Next tempest in a teapot.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 18, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

If she had done the same thing - and don't give me this load about "hope" and "change," he was hardly the first one to use those words in a political campaign - you guys would be calling for her head.

She has done the same thing.

Posted by: Lucy on February 18, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

" ... there's a primary in Wisconsin tomorrow ...."

And there's a Democratic Party caucus here in Hawaii! Of course, due to the time difference, this won't make the news cycle until sometime on Wednesday. But we're in it to win it!

Also, Presidents' Day covers BOTH Washington and Lincoln. Celebrating Washington's Birthday (February 22) was rather commonplace throughout the US for many years, and not at all controversial. He was, after all, "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Lincoln's Birthday (February 12) was widely celebrated in the North, but lingering resentment in the South over the Civil War and the end of slavery made politicians in the former Confederacy hostile to recognizing his birthday nationally.

There was also some resistance to having TWO federally mandated holidays so close together. Thus, Congress, in a rare moment of comity, settled on "Presidents' Day" to honor both.

Although it's really just about George and Honest Abe I celebrate the whole bunch, whether or not they are worthy. So, "Hurray for Harding!" "Kudos for Coolidge!" And "I'm Stirrin' for Van Buren!"

Posted by: Rob_in__Hawaii on February 18, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

chance on February 18, 2008 at 1:04 PM:

She'll be lifting words from James Baker's speeches before it's over...

Why do that when she can go to the Big Dog hisself? Bill Clinton in 2003:

"If you got an interdependent world, and you cannot kill, jail or occupy all your adversaries..."

Hillary Clinton, 2007:

As president I know I can't kill, jail or occupy every nation we don't agree with...

Exact quote? No. Similar phrasing? Yup...If it actually was about plagiary instead of a cheap swipe at someone who is not-Hillary Clinton, y'all should have said something about Mitt Romney's 'plagiarism' of the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out"...Hyper-partisan bullshit is what this is, people. It needs to stop.

Cayce on February 18, 2008 at 1:04 PM:

Obama does something that should be scrutinized - change the subject.

When there's some legitimate criticism of Obama instead of a bunch of Clinton and McCain campaign spin, I'm all ears, Cayce. Until then, take a few deep breaths...

Posted by: grape_crush on February 18, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

To be pendantic, the official holiday is still Washington's Birthday. When Congress moved it to a Monday holiday, it was never changed to "Presidents' Day," no matter what people may call it.

Uh-oh, Socratic Gadfly, sound like we're going to have to use some people-power and make sure it stays known and celebrated as Presidents' Day, what the official poronouncement is. Washington, by himself, doesn't represent everybody too well, you know. A little too much like our curremt George W., although not as bad.

And to be pedantic: George Washington was actually a figurehead, who did little with his office, routinely accepted ALexander Hamilton's advice, and routinely had correspondence and speeches written for him by Hamilton both before and after Washington became President. So if you're really jazzed about celebrating Washington's birthday, or if you've ever quoted something to somebody from George Washington you really liked, you should be aware that you're actually more celebrating President Alexander Hamilton (I know he was never officially a president, but he definitely was the shadow-rule behind George Washington's figurehead presidency) and probably quoting Alexander Hamilton.

Posted by: Swan on February 18, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

what the official poronouncement is. should have been:

no matter what the official pronouncement is.

Alexander Hamilton = 5' 8" virtuoso NYC lawyer.

He also fought in the Revolutionary war and led men as an officer.

Posted by: Swan on February 18, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has big ears, it makes him cry when one talks about them...

Posted by: elmo on February 18, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

@rob_in_hawaii: As a child of Illinois public schools, I will have you know that I never once celebrated Washington's birthday. It was Lincoln's birthday and it was celebrated the week before. This Washington fellow cannot hold a candle to our "Honest Abe" thank you very much.

Posted by: Christopher on February 18, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary has big ankles, but she doesn't cry when one makes fun of them...

Posted by: elmo on February 18, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

From a link above about McCain, in Time magazine:

"If it's Hillary, people's growing dislike of Bush, his horrible war, his crumbling economy, his tiresome smirk, will help McCain. Even though McCain is the candidate of the President's party and even though he is the biggest supporter of the Iraq war outside of the Administration, McCain is the one who will seem like a new broom that sweeps clean."

Somehow, McCain, who wants the continuation of the war and most of Bush's policies, is more an element of "change" than Hillary. So sayeth Michael Kinsley, putz extraordinaire. (Hang it up dude, you're Thomas Friedman without the "deep" thinking and the mustache).

Posted by: luci on February 18, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I choose Kennedy and Jackson, two of our most fuckable presidents

Posted by: Mr. Awful on February 18, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Soon DeBushafacation The next President will have to look under every rock and replace every person appointed by Bush.Not a easy task.

Posted by: john john on February 18, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

A link to a youtube that says "Obama's catch phrase."

Sigh, I didn't realize our Preznit's had catch phrases. Can we please vote for a president that doesn't own catch phrases? Or would that mean all these corporate suckups would have to go?

Posted by: jerry on February 18, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary has big ankles, but she doesn't cry when one makes fun of them...

The proper terminology is cankles.

Posted by: Quinn on February 18, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Plagiarism is allowed for black candidates.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King%2C_Jr._authorship_issues

Posted by: Denny on February 18, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hasn't this whole plagerism thing gotten out of hand, and I'm not talking just about politics here. Give a hundred smart people, and ask them to write about an important subject while keeping them apart. You are not going to get a hundred quite distint essays. Many of them will produce similar plans, and even use similar lanquage. Some things have only a limited number of best solutions for, and smart people will come up with similar results.

And really what was the same, they both used famous quotes of famous democratic presidents. Any schoolchild with at least a C average knows where they came from. Any political consultant worth being paid the minimum wage would think of these. Any idea which is both worthwhile, but reasonably obvious should be public property -i.e. usable by anyone/everyone.

Posted by: bigTom on February 18, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Is America ready for a president name J. Sidney McCain III? [Link]

Posted by: Zeno on February 18, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

For Quinn, Chance, Lucy and Corpus Juris and Grape Crush. I've prepared the following for you (available, free, on a laminated card) so you'll save time and effort.

I don't hate Hillary, but she's a liar.

I don't hate Hillary, but she's a racist.

I don't hate Hillary, but she's a warmonger.

I don't hate Hillary, but she betrays all women.

I don't hate Hillary, but she castrates men.

I don't hate Hillary, but she enables rapists (i.e., her husband).

I don't hate Hillary, but she's a frozen b***h.

I don't hate Hillary, but she's a corporate whore.

I don't hate Hillary, but she's a crook-- Whitewater, the Travel Office, the Rose Firm records, and we still don't know what happened with Vince Foster.

I don't hate Hillary, but I won't vote for her even it means the putting our nuclear weapons under the control of a 72-year-old, right-wing hothead who wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years.

I don't hate Hillary, but I wouldn't mind if a bus hit her (joke,joke).

I don't hate Hillary, but I wonder if they have a women's wing at Guantanamo (joke, joke).

I don't hate Hillary, because I'm reasonable, kind and compassionate.

I don't hate Hillary, and anybody who says I do should be gang-raped, beaten and their bodies burned in front of their children.


Posted by: lupo on February 18, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

corpus juris,

If you have permission it isn't plagiarism.

That's an interesting idea. When I gave my fraternity brother permission to use my paper for his class the Dean seemed to think that was plagiarism.

I suppose the standards are lower for politician's speeches.

Posted by: Tripp on February 18, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

and superdelegates either should or shouldn't exercise their own judgment when the Democratic convention rolls around.

I believe the lefty blogospehere consensus is in on this issue, actually. The superdelegates, apparently, should do whatever would most favor Obama.

Posted by: Rob Mac on February 18, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Lupo - You got me all wrong. I hate Hillary, and I don't want to her to be the Democratic candidate. I think she'd be a poor President. :)

Posted by: Quinn on February 18, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

The real issue with superdelegates comes down to how close things are at the end. If the pledged delegate count is close and the superdelegates sway the vote, there will likely be some animosity on the losing side, but that's just the way things go. Between superdelegates, Michigan/Florida, caucus systems, delegate allocation, and the primary schedule, there's plenty of grist for anyone who wants to gripe.

On the other hand, if there's a substantial pledged delegate lead and the superdelegates overturn that, then I think people are going to be pretty pissed, and that would be a bad situation. I guess the question is, just how big does a lead have to be to get us to that point? Someone earlier had posted that a 200 point pledged delegate lead would be almost insurmountable even with superdelegates, although I think it's closer to 250. I think the troublesome area is if the pledged delegate lead is in the 100-250 range.

Posted by: Royko on February 18, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Kristoff: Here we go again. Why is it that "democratic" columnists go out of their way to say nice things about republican candidates, but republican columnists never say anything nice about democratic candidates (let alone have a whole column virtually endorsing one)???? It's like the entire media has some secret agreement that, with a republican president, there's likely to be more "interesting" stuff to write about due to morally bankrupt and meritless republican policies, so they will do all they can to get another republican administration. Sheesh.

Posted by: Tom in Houston on February 18, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Royko. In addition, if one candidate has a decisive lead in pledged delegates, but the other candidate has a decisive lead in the popular vote, then it will be a sorry state of affirs.

Posted by: Lucy on February 18, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

lupo on February 18, 2008 at 2:47 PM:

For Quinn, Chance, Lucy and Corpus Juris and Grape Crush.

You forgot one:

I don't hate Hillary Clinton, but her most strident supporters - like you, lupo - come across as vicious little people that I want nothing to do with.

Do you really think you are doing the Clinton campaign a favor by pulling this shit? Or are you just a right-whinger in Dem clothing?

No, forget it; I don't care what your motivation is, you sad, small person...

Posted by: grape_crush on February 18, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Alexander Hamilton = 5' 8" virtuoso NYC lawyer.

And he was an immigrant from the caribbean.

Posted by: Jaime, Pepe, and Jorge on February 18, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

So take your basic modern-day Dominican from NYC who has served in the Army reserves, and pulled himself up by his bootstraps to become a top-notch lawyer, and you approximate something like a modern anaolg to the true founder of our country.

Posted by: Jaime, Pepe, and Jorge on February 18, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

We've seen Hillary's roadmap for victory: petty, irrelevant, exceedingly condescending, and hypocritical slander. She's Rove-lite. Or maybe the more accurate way of putting it was Rove was simply Clinton 2.0. She isn't winning on the issues, vision, or personality - so petty attacks it is!

Here's what we hear from Clinton followers: you should discount Obama's victories because, you know, he's winning because black people are voting for him; Obama's supporters are crazy or just catching a fad (condescending with subtle racism implied); Obama is a cult leader (ALL...HAIL...BILLARY!); Obama is all style no substance (as opposed to Hillary that has neither); Obama doesn't want to count the votes in some states (funny, Hillary PLEDGED IN WRITING not to campaign in these states and that she PLEDGED IN WRITING to take her name off the ballot; yes, let's attack our opponent to disguise the fact that our candidate is a lying, disingenuous, rule-breaking hypocrite).

And now we have Obama has plagiarized a speech! Oh my God, you mean presidential candidates and presidents don't write absolutely every speech by themselves from scratch?

Democrats should resent Hillary's tactics: the lying, the name-calling, the subtle hints of racism, the attempts to subvert the rules, the fact that her written pledge obviously counts for nothing, and perhaps most importantly - the tactics she has resorted to win the nomination in this final leg of the race have little or nothing to do with the issues. It's all mud-slinging of the most petty and irrelevant kind.

This is the vision Clinton supporters have for America? Jebus FC - if THIS is the kind of slime and turmoil they can create within their own party, there can be no doubt from any independently thinking individual that a Hillary presidency will be many times uglier and more corrosive.

If Hillary wins the nomination it's clear that she will chill the youth and minority vote, turn off Independents, re-energize the Republican vote (instead of attracting some cross-overs) and make a lot of people like who said they would vote for a potted plant over a Republican in the general election just stay home on election day.

Who in their right mind wants to sign on as a supporter of this kind of petty, condescending, vacuous, and amoral behavior? Or to sign on to the kind of turmoil and scandals that are almost certainly to follow?

None of this implies that Obama is perfect, free from flaws and even some scandals. He's a politician, after all. But he can do some things far better than Hillary will: inspire people, unite the party, bring in young and minority voters in record numbers, attract Independents and even some cross-over Republicans... and perhaps most importantly, beat John McCain.

And shame on those of you who are smugly content trying to win an election on such insulting and irrelevant non-issues like plagiarism, or style over substance. Hillary should win or lose on the issues, not Atwater-style campaign tactics. But hey, the ends always justify the means with the Clintons, don't they?

Posted by: Augustus on February 18, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Royko and Lucy except that I think the sorry state of affairs has already arrived and will only get sorrier if their described scenarios play out.

There are a bunch of Florida democrats like me who had no say at all as our Florida state legislature, dominated by Republicans, moved up the primary date to January 29.

The subsequent actions by the DNC effectively disenfranchised us. We were told all along by the Florida Democratic Party (FPD) that our votes would count and our delegates would be seated, that things would be worked out. All candidates remained on the ballot.

Well, things were not worked out. While Republican candidates crisscrossed Florida campaigning away, Democrats were absent. Obama did manage to run TV ads during the days immediately prior to the primary vote, but that was it.

The lady who decisively won the vote, instead of receiving a boost, was derided. The Clinton and Obama camps and democrats in general, are all pissed about it. Charges and counter charges of manipulation, rule bending, dishonesty, etc...

With so many delegates at stake, I don’t see a happy ending. Even if one candidate builds a significant lead, the Florida situation has already contributed a lot of rancor to our process of selecting a candidate.

So, congratulations to those who could not exercise the leadership to solve the problem prior to escalation. This was predictable and predicted.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 18, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp

If memory serves academic plagiarism and journalistic plagiarism are specific subsets of plagiarism. At common law plagiarism was a tort enforcible by the person whose ideas were used. It was akin to the modern notion of copyright. In this case Gov. Patrick would have the right to sue. You wouldn't.

If the academic or journalistic definitions applied in the case of politicians they would all have to footnote their speeches with the names of their writers, advisers and others in their campaign as well as William Shakespeare, the bible and virtually every other politician who has ever given a speech. As near as I can tell the last American political speech that was written by the President who gave it was the Gettysburg Address. In any event there is nothing particularly novel about Obama's argument. Frankly, it is pretty obvious and Patrick probably unknowingly adapted it from some other politician.

Jack Trapper reports that Wolfson wouldn't say that Hillary had never done the same thing. He said that Obama should be held to a higher standard. His was a noxious argument even for Howard.

Posted by: Corpus Juris on February 18, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

The history of superdelegates isn't that long, being introduced in the early 1980's. I'd like to get rid of the whole kaboodle of them before the next primary season. I see no problem with letting ordinary Democrats, through the primary system, elect their nominee. If pledged delegates are tied, then it goes to the popular vote. Period. It seems to me that the superdelegate system leads to the same old cronyism that existed in the smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear, although probably not as bad as that. For the best description of how the superdelegate system came about, see:

Not So Superdelegates, The Nation

Posted by: nepeta on February 18, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Augustus: I'm interested in your evidence that Hillary pledged in writing to take her name off the ballot(s)? Are you talking about Michigan and Florida, or just Michigan.

Either way, I have been asking to see any agreements that were made in writing for some time now, to no avail.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 18, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta: I agree. I realize that people may worry that a candidate may build up an insurmountable lead, then do something, or reveal something that amounts to self-destruction.

But it seems that caveats could be specified to handle cases like that, meaning there are still superdelegates, but they exist under strict rules.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 18, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Corpus Juris,

Agreed entirely. This is just about the most ridiculous accusation against Obama yet. Your footnote idea made me laugh.

Posted by: nepeta on February 18, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

little ole Jim,

Good idea about an altered function, governed by strict rules to be used in the case of an 'emergency.'

Posted by: nepeta on February 18, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

The question shouldn't be about the original reason for creating superdelegates, because that decision was made by Democratic Party insiders who were not elected by the voters to make that decision. The question should be whether the existence of superdelegates serves the best interests of the American people in the process of electing a president. We might try to remember that the Constitution allocates votes for president to the individual states (in the form of votes in the electoral college) and says nothing about giving powers over to private political parties. Nothing in the law forbids the existence of these parties, but the rest of us should point out that we have not ceded them absolute authority to determine how the election will proceed.

Our local newspaper, the Daily Breeze, ran a feature about a "superdelegate" whom I happen to know from back in my Democratic Party days. The article points out that his vote is equivalent to the votes of 10,000 primary election voters. This is manifestly unjust on the face of it, and is beginning to attract media attention for the simple reason that it is now becoming a significant public issue.

I should point out that Bob Rankin (the subject of the story) does not come across as a power-mad oligarch, but as a dedicated union and party activist who ran for a position on the Democratic National Committee and was elected by the party's Executive Board. The Executive Board is itself a small group (about 240 voting members) which is chosen from county central committees, Assembly District committees, and through appointment by elected officials. As such, the E Board is a group of insiders' insiders which demands party loyalty above all things.

The best available option for the superdelegates is to caucus and apportion their votes more or less proportionally to the percentage each candidate has of elected delegates and/or the popular vote. There is a bit of play in these percentages because there will be a bit of disparity in the popular vote vs elected delegate numbers, but it won't be much. No strongly committed delegate need change his or her vote, but the currently uncommitted should cast their votes to bring the total into accordance with the wishes of the voting public. I predict that something along these lines will work its way through, allowing the DNC once again to avoid making a difficult decision.

Note that the difficult decision that the DNC avoided two years ago was to take away the first priority rights from Iowa and New Hampshire and give other states a chance to go first, second, etc. Michigan's actions came after Michigan Democrats had protested in vain that New Hampshire is entirely unrepresentative of the party's electorate (ie: white and rural). The DNC tried to finesse the question with the nonsensical addition of the Nevada caucus, and we can see how well that worked.

Posted by: Bob Gelfand on February 18, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

A more recent example than Lincoln of a President's actually writing his own speeches was Warren Harding [the most corrupt administration ever, until the Shrub arrived] - an excellent IMO book "The Shadow of Blooming Grove" has details.

Posted by: genome on February 18, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone tell me what McCain believes on any topic

What's not to like about McCain, who thinks that being right is wrong and being wrong is right?

Posted by: AJ on February 18, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

wtf.. its bizarro obama everytime he says change makes me cringe..

Posted by: Mark on February 18, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

W. Bush has ruined this holiday. It should be abolished.

Posted by: Brojo on February 18, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

little ole jim,

This is the best and the most definitive source for info on the written pledge the top three candidates signed at the beginning of September 2007 to not participate in the MI or FL primaries:

Clinton, Obama and Edwards Join Pledge To Avoid Defiant States, NYT

Posted by: nepeta on February 18, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama had citations in his speech, than it wouldn't be plagiarism. Now, the delivered version probably wouldn't come complete with a bibliography, but he probably should have one for the printed one he turns in for a grade, otherwise we might have to fail him for the course...

Posted by: peter on February 18, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta: your linked article reiterates what I have seen elsewhere, i.e., the candidates agreed not to campaign in Florida. But many people, evidently incorrectly, assert that the candidates agreed not to seat Florida’s delegates. I would be very surprised if a single candidate would make such a dangerous agreement.

Every report I have seen on this issue has said the same thing. The candidates agreed not to campaign. The DNC took it upon themselves to threaten to deny delegates a seat.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 18, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of would-be Presidents too: Did anyone see the remarkably (well not for him of course) hackish piece of rubbish by Krauthammer about Obama? In "The Audacity of Selling Hope: There's no better path to success than getting people to buy a free commodity." Doctor neo-K says that Obama is basically empty rhetoric, that his messianic appeal is dangerous etc. CK conveniently neglects to analyze Obama's actual proposals, making his complaint a ridiculously hypocritical example of just what it purports to criticize.

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B. on February 18, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, about Obama's supposed plagiarism: the guy he borrowed from says it's OK. You can't steal from someone who lets you have something.

Posted by: N. B. on February 18, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta,

The history of superdelegates goes back a lot farther than the 1980's. They weren't called superdelegates before then but they had the same function as they do now - to provide some stability to the party.

The Nation article you linked to glosses over the fact that the Democratic candidates selected by popular vote either got stomped (McGovern (520 electoral votes to 17) or was a one term President (Carter).

In my opinion humans can get caught up in something that seems like a good idea at the time and need some steadying and the superdelegates are not a bad idea.

Posted by: Tripp on February 18, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

little ole jim,

Oh, yes, I agree. I don't think the candidates had any power to say whether delegates would be seated. That was a DNC decision. To my mind, though, the pledge not to campaign makes the primaries in those two states illegitimate. If the DNC should decide to seat delegates from those two states, then new primaries should be held. How could MI be taken seriously with only Clinton's name on the ballot? And who knows how many people in FL stayed home, thinking their primaries wouldn't 'count?'

Posted by: nepeta on February 18, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

How come no one sees the irony of Obama cribbing off of another politician's speech precisely to refute the notion that he is all rhetoric, no substance?

This is just like George W. Bush -- YOU CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT HE SAYS.

I'm tired of this old politics.

Posted by: Hello? on February 18, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

That's an interesting idea. When I gave my fraternity brother permission to use my paper for his class the Dean seemed to think that was plagiarism.

Yes, and this is JUST LIKE that, isn't it?

Sheesh, the Globe covered this ten fucking months ago. Collaboration isn't plagiarism, nor is it cheating.

It is, however, enough to pick off teh stupid.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on February 18, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Lmao, it's not plagiarism. You can't sue people for SAYING the same things you said. All you can do is call them out on it and hope everyone thinks it's tacky.

Look, I know you guys are desperate but let it go. You're losing. That's the end of it. Stop this insanity.

Posted by: soullite on February 18, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta: yes, legitimacy is the problem, and the DNC created this situation, with an assist from the Republican legislature.

And it's a shame. We had record participation in on the Democratic side of the Florida Primary.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 18, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama held my hand when I was frightened!

Great meme or greatest meme?

Posted by: Caitlin on February 18, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

soullite, even more important is that the guy he borrowed from (his friend Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick) says it's OK. You can't steal from someone who lets you have something.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 18, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

OK, that's hilarious.

Posted by: Lucy on February 18, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

The barackobamaisyournewbicycle thing, I meant.

Posted by: Lucy on February 18, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Buy a Mac. Abe and George will feel better about being dead. And wait for the rainbows to break out.

Posted by: thersites on February 18, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Gelfand, has the best take on how the superdelegates should vote. Only in the special case where one of the candidates does something late in the campaign that destroys their ability to win (remember Gary Hart caught on camera running around with his mistress). In an extreme case like that, where most of the candidates supporters would agree they want their votes overturned, wouls it then be OK. But we have to recognize that is a very unlikely situation.

Posted by: bigTom on February 18, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

The idea of the superdelegates stealing the election is plain idiotic. If either candidate is ahead by 150 pledged delegates its over, the superdelegates will tip in their favor.

The only way the superdelegates can have an effect is if the vote is close enough to be within the margin of error for the idiotic primary process.

If it is close enough for the FL and MI delegates to matter then sorry, obama ain't won by enough to claim a clear democratic mandate such that the superdelegates are obligated to stand aside.

Obama supporters really need to listen to what they are saying. if the superdelegates are undemocratic then not giving FL and MI a voice is more undemocratic. Dean has offered to rerun the FL and MI races, if Obama refuses then we will be pretty pissed.

Posted by: PHB on February 18, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK


HILLARY = ROVE = SLANDEROUS ATTACKS

Yes, I know I'm yelling. I'm ticked off.

This plagiarism attack on Obama is a low, baseless smear and the Clinton team knows it. They don't care what's right or what's true, they just throw mud to see if it sticks.

Sen. Obama and Gov. Duval are friends and they both have said, independently, that they trade ideas and "riffs" between each other. Obama have each other's permission to use each other's idea.

This is not plagiarism by any stretch of the imagination. It IS dirty, mean, swamp politics by Clinton. My opinion of Hillary as a Democrat just got lowered a notch.

Posted by: Elliott on February 18, 2008 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

obama's entire campaign seems to be plagiariazed:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/JohnHanlon/2007/11/23/barack_obama,_deval_patrick_and_a_$46,000_cadillac&Comments=true?page=full&comments=true

hope, change, yes we can (together we can), campaign's about you not me.. without this, obama is really nothing.. its not like anyone really knows his position on issues.

Posted by: Mark on February 18, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

PHB,

I think what Obama supporters are saying is that the ability of superdelegates to overturn the primary result of the greatest number of pledged delegates is unfair. Also, seating delegates from MI where only the name 'Hillary Clinton' appeared on the ballot is unfair. In FL, where active campaigning was disallowed by the DNC, primary results have also been 'biased' by the lack of campaigning. It is up to the DNC to come up with a scheme that is fair to both candidates, as unlikely as that possibility is at this point. So far Clinton has said she would not support rerunning the primaries, so she's the first one you need to convince.

Posted by: nepeta on February 18, 2008 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

Dean has offered to rerun the FL and MI races

He has? I missed that story. Although I heard the Michigan party says there's not enough time to organize a caucus, much less a primary.

Posted by: Lucy on February 18, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Obamazooids

Hope. It's what's for dinner...

Posted by: elmo on February 18, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's absurd to talk of plagiarism in political speeches in an age when all such speeches are written by professional speech-writers. How can plagiarism apply here? Blame the speech-writer?

Posted by: JS on February 18, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo wrote:

W. Bush has ruined this holiday. It should be abolished.

Well, since Bush wasn't really elected in the first place, and he wouldn't have been elected the second time if people wouldn't have let him play at being the President the first time, he's not really the President, nor was he. So he doesn't count as a President when you celebrate President's Day.

But, granted, there have been plenty of corrupt Presidents before. But a lot of them don't count, either, because they also got there by stealing elections.

Posted by: Swan on February 18, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Here’s what I don’t get … Hillary has been anointed the experience candidate in the “solutions business.” But what solutions is she claiming? The only three cases of executive-level experience for Hillary I can think of are: (1) Hillary health care initiative during Bill’s first term, (2) her Senate runs in NY and (3) her current Presidential bid.

Hillary’s management abilities appear to have been pretty lackluster in all three cases. Her healthcare initiative was an unmitigated disaster. Her first Senate run was fine but running against Rick Lazio was hardly a huge challenge and in her second term election, she reportedly spent $30 million running unopposed pissing off her donors. Her current Presidential campaign has been less than brilliant. The highlights include: not knowing that the campaign ran out of money (kept the same campaign manager that spent $30 million in her second unopposed Senate campaign), not having planned a strategy for after Super Tuesday and Mark Penn’s Ari Fleischer impressions. I am pretty surprised that Obama has not hammered her on this. If she gets the nomination, I will hold my nose and vote her but I really wonder what kind of President she is going to make. Her executive track record appears to be less than promising. On the other hand, Obama has run a brilliant and disciplined campaign. Consistent message, grass roots fund raising, understanding his strengths and getting his people on the ground in all the small states Hillary foolishly ignored, etc.

Plus Hillary’s supporters keep saying “where is the beef” with regard to Obama but what exactly are her legislative accomplishments during her years in the Senate?

Posted by: RollTide on February 18, 2008 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

I've lived in Texas most of my life, and I'm relatively clueless regarding our allocation rules. We have a primary AND a caucus on the same day. Not only is everything bigger here; things are often contrary and convoluted too.

Posted by: Tuna on February 18, 2008 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Mark @ 8:51pm "obama's entire campaign seems to be plagiariazed"

Hope and Change are not copyrighted.

Posted by: Elliott on February 18, 2008 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Plus Hillary’s supporters keep saying “where is the beef” with regard to Obama but what exactly are her legislative accomplishments during her years in the Senate?

Let's start from the beginning. Once upon a time there were Nixon impeachment hearings...

Posted by: elmo on February 18, 2008 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Jeebus, McCain gets the little Bushie and big Bushie's endorsements!! Endorsesments from the guys that a LARGE majority of Americans believed lied about the war in Iraq, and thus gives McCainie the big West Texas Mafia godfather kiss. The 30 percenter loves ya baby. Karl Rove loves McCainie too. It even looks like Murdock loves McCainie as well, so I guess that's all well and fine even if the entire rest of the world doesn't cotton to an extenstion of Bushism, including more that half the US.

There is a reason why Ron Paul did so well and rasied so much money, and, there is a reason Huckabee is pulling in large numbers of voters too - and yet the call for Huckabee to quit -- it's almost like cold blooded murder. It's the death of a party by dis-memberment, disenfranchise and eradicate. It you slice and dice the GOP, will it survive?

I guess we'll find out.

Posted by: me-again on February 18, 2008 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

It you slice and dice the GOP, will it survive?

I plan on going after it slice by slice...

Posted by: elmo on February 18, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Three points:

1) Of course you can plagiarize a speech. Joe Biden did it (and it doesn't matter if he asked Neil Kinnock first). If you present someone else's ideas as your own, and they are not, then you're plagiarizing. For the record, it doesn't look to me as if Obama plagiarized Patrick, but this isn't about "not being able to sue" or "getting permission"

2) RollTide: Hillary's first campaign was against Rudy Giuliani, at the height of his popularity and at a time when she was largely seen as a carpetbagger in New York. She effectively drove him from the campaign, at which point Lazio emerged as her new opponent. The first campaign was a not-inconsiderable success, and one she's come nowhere close to duplicating this time around.

3) Big Tom: Gary Hart wasn't caught fooling around with his girlfriend. He was accused of doing so, and foolishly "dared" the press to catch him in the act. A short time later, they reported that she entered his house, and didn't leave by the front door for the rest of the evening. When this was reported to Mario Cuomo, he asked, "was anybody watching the back door?" and the answer turned out to be: no. Of course, Hart was fooling around, he just wasn't caught in the act by the press...


Hillary's ... first Senate run was fine but running against Rick Lazio was hardly a huge challenge.
Posted by: RollTide on February 18, 2008 at 10:41 PM |

...(remember Gary Hart caught on camera running around with his mistress).
Posted by: bigTom on February 18, 2008 at 7:36 PM |

Posted by: keith on February 19, 2008 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Swan would be so good as to specifically name the "lot of presidents" he asserts have "stolen elections." Assuming that he's talking about American presidents, that is, and also assuming that "a lot" means more than "JFK in Illinois in 1960."

And while I'm on this quest for new info, I wish I could find an example of Clinton arguing before the primary season, and by extension, before it became obvious that she didn't have the nomination wrapped up, that the Florida delegation should be seated. That question, by the way, does not imply my giving a pass to the process, which little ole jim has correctly described as screwed up. It's a separate query related only to the timing of Clinton's reaction to those problems.

Posted by: shortstop on February 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop - I have one. 1876. It was flat-out stolen for Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden was winning the popular vote and the electoral college. A republican operative, unwilling to give up and finding the offices empty, he contacted western states and told them not to report their ballots yet. I'm sorry I can't remember the name of Karl Roves obvious ancestor, but he singlehandedly manufactured the Hayes presidency by one electoral vote.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 19, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

I'm familiar with the 1876 election, Blue Girl, although I doubt that Swan is. I'm looking for quite a bit more than that to explain Swan's assertion that "a lot" of presidents have "stolen elections."

Posted by: shortstop on February 19, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Well, since Bush wasn't really elected in the first place, and he wouldn't have been elected the second time if people wouldn't have let him play at being the President the first time, he's not really the President, nor was he. So he doesn't count as a President when you celebrate President's Day.

Shut up, you ninny. On the day when we celebrate what it means to be a President, you defile this blog with your asinine observations. Is that really what you think? I'm impressed. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent to educate you--perhaps well over a hundred thousand dollars--and the sum total of your observations is that the President of the United States isn't really the President of the United States. Outstanding, sir. You've proven once again that Rutgers should be thrown out of the Ivy League and relegated to churning out bullshit diplomas printed on recycled paper, a la the University of Phoenix. Your parents must be homebodies, afraid to venture into the community, terrified of a question as to your whereabouts.

But, granted, there have been plenty of corrupt Presidents before. But a lot of them don't count, either, because they also got there by stealing elections.

Uh huh. More drivel. My goodness, if you thought with that brain it would sound like a potato gun going off half cocked.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 19, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I used to have a potato gun, and not that long ago, either. I wonder where it is? That thing was fun.

Posted by: shortstop on February 19, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Keith,

Hillary's first campaign was against Rudy Giuliani, at the height of his popularity and at a time when she was largely seen as a carpetbagger in New York. She effectively drove him from the campaign

Hillary certainly ran a better first Senate campaign then the campaign she is presently running but I think it's a stretch to say Hillary "drove Rudy from the campaign." She was beating Rudy in the polls by a decent margin when he dropped out with 6 months to go (but not so long ago Hillary was beating Obama by pretty big margins as well). Anyway ... unless Hillary caused Rudy to get cancer, separate from his wife and she exposed Rudy's cheating ways to the media (this last one is a possiblity), I don't think Hillary chased Rudy from the race. Anyhoo like I said the race she ran was fine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudy_Giuliani

Then followed four tumultuous weeks, in which Giuliani's medical life, romantic life, marital life, and political life all collided at once in a most visible fashion. Giuliani discovered that he had prostate cancer and needed treatment; his extramarital relationship with Judith Nathan became public and the subject of a media frenzy; he announced a separation from his wife Donna Hanover; and, after much indecision, on May 19, 2000 he announced his withdrawal from the senate race.

Posted by: RollTide on February 19, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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