Friday, December 28, 2007

What Do Politicians Do When They Aren’t Talking?

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I’ve been meaning to post this piece that I wrote shortly after witnessing the Democratic candidates in person during Yearly Kos, but other things kept pushing it to the back burner. Since we are now down to the wire, I’m going to pare it down to the three top tier candidates and post it:

One of the most fascinating things about seeing the Presidential Leadership Forum in person was the opportunity to watch the body language and demeanor of the candidates, particularly when they were not answering questions. Since the format of this event involved questions for individual candidates, and the other candidates were not expected to respond, I found it interesting to see what they did with themselves when they knew they were off the hook with regard to answering a particular question.

Normally, while watching a televised debate, one would primarily see the body language of the person on camera, so I decided to focus on the others to see what impressions I would get that might be different from the image projected by the candidates when they were “on the spot.”

Before I do, however, I should point out that I have no formal training in evaluating body language, so my thoughts are simply those of a curious observer, interested in seeing another side of the candidates. I also recognize that body language, like speech and policy positions, can be coached, so there is no guarantee that what I observed was any sort of window to understanding anything profound about the candidates.

Nevertheless, the impressions I got were somewhat different from those normally projected by the individual when he or she was on the spot. Here are the notes I made regarding the three top tier candidates:

Obama – He was the only one who consistently directed his answers toward the person who asked it rather than talk directly to the audience. When others were talking, he looked at them, often with a reflective pose and occasionally furrowed brow. Frequently, he would lean back and cross his legs like he was relaxing in his living room, but always with chin in hand, constantly seeming to process what he was hearing.

Clinton – Always seemed to have a slight smile, oddly even when being criticized by the other candidates or when asked a challenging question from the audience. She sat back while listening, and leaned forward while speaking, but sometimes didn’t seem to be talking to the crowd so much as to an imaginary audience of poll subjects, or so I remember thinking at the time.

Edwards – Showed the greatest contrast between his speaking and non-speaking personas. Although he was one of the most passionate orators during his turn to speak, when others were talking he sat fixed with a somewhat pained expression, in a position much like the Lincoln Memorial, as if waiting for his turn to rise up on cue like the animatronic star of the Country Bear Jamboree.

I don’t know what this all means, but I do recall that I arrived feeling equally supportive of the candidacy of Obama and Edwards, and highly skeptical of Clinton. I left the event with a completely unchanged impression of Clinton, a slightly better impression of Obama, and a slightly worse impression of Edwards.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Securing the “Manly-Man” Vote!

Which one of these men looks the strongest, most confident and, shall we say, most “Presidential,” and which one looks like a phony baloney, doofus politician trying to pander to the NRA crowd for votes?

Is it this guy:

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Or this guy:

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Funny how we don’t see the traditional media jumping all over Mike Huckabee for staging a “manly-man” photo op, like they did for weeks with John Kerry, even when it's crystal clear why Huckabee's running around looking like this:

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The really scary thing is that, apparently, Huckabee's aim isn't what's exaggerated about this picture!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Gulp! Choke! My Words Taste Even Worse Than a Fruitcake!

Less than a week ago, I posted this about Bill Clinton’s criticism of Barack Obama:
I would prefer my surgery be done by a plumber who is honest and bright enough to rely on the careful assistance of experts to help him . . . than from a former surgeon’s wife who says she’ll rely on her experience!
Unfortunately, I fear Obama might not be such a good judge of who is a suitable expert!

I can only hope that Obama actually knows better, and that although he figured dropping Arnold’s name might earn him a few independent votes in the pre-California primaries, he will drop Arnold from his list of “respectable” Republicans well before Super Tuesday!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mike Huckabee is a “Good Guy” like Chuck Norris is a “Good Actor!”

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Now that Mike Huckabee is surging in the polls on the strength of a tiny shred of likeability notably absent from any of the other GOP frontrunners, he’s decided he needs to pull together a crack team that is ready to take his “good guy” message to the people.

He’s already got Chuck Norris at his side to neutralize the pull of Oprah, should he face Barack Obama in the General Election!

And now, he’s got a new National Campaign Chairman. That’s right - the same Ed Rollins who is behind the sleazy California ballot initiative to steal electoral votes, whose operatives have been caught using a “bait and switch” scheme to get petition signatures from people thinking they are fighting children’s cancer!

Yeah, Mike Huckabee’s a real good guy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

What do George Bush and Sarah Connor Have in Common?

I copied this image some time ago, in the hope that I would eventually have a good opportunity to use it.

Looks like I don’t have to wait any longer, as the Bush Administration just denied California’s attempt to establish it’s own tougher fuel efficiency standards, prompting Arnold Schwarzenegger to threaten a lawsuit against the Federal Government.

Apparently, George Bush doesn't think the risk of drought from reduced snowpack and of rampant wildfires are “compelling” reasons to allow California to push for a stronger, quicker, response against global climate change!

To which I can only say:

"Go on, Arnold. Sarah Connor may be long gone, but you can still be the Terminator!"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who Goes to the Hospital for “Flu Like Symptoms?”

Howie Klein suggests that Rudy Giuliani’s trip to the hospital might turn into a case of the runner who suddenly pulls a hamstring after realizing he can’t win the race!

Or maybe he just ate too much “fwuitcake!”

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Memo to Bill Clinton: A Vote For Any Candidate is Like “Rolling the Dice!”

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In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, Bill Clinton let loose on Barack Obama, among other things claiming that a vote for Obama is like “rolling the dice” because he lacks Hillary’s “experience,” and then continuing with some even more ridiculous comparisons.

I hate to break it to you, Mr. President, but that’s the nature of voting for any candidate based on campaign promises. For all we know, a vote for Hillary Clinton as an “agent of change” may be no more effective than were votes for George W. Bush as a “compassionate conservative!”

When you cast a vote, you can only hope (and believe, I suppose) that your candidate will actually try to do what he or she promised. And I don’t just mean looking like they are trying, while secretly planning or actually enabling the opposite outcome. I mean actually trying to walk the talk that got them elected! Otherwise, your vote is just a losing roll of the dice!

And if you really think a vote for Obama is like "asking a plumber to perform surgery," let me remind you that your wife is not, by any account, a “surgeon” when it comes to the Presidency. In fact, I would prefer my surgery be done by a plumber who is honest and bright enough to rely on the careful assistance of experts to help him . . . than from a former surgeon’s wife who says she’ll rely on her experience!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Honesty, Not Defensiveness, Can Be the Great Disarmer For Obama!

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This insightful piece, by M.J. Rosenberg at TPM Cafe, hints at the one unassailable strength that Barack Obama would have in his Presidential run:
Anyone who thinks that Billy Shaheen's Obama slur was a blunder, rather than a calculated piece of the politics of personal destruction, should note that Mark Penn repeated it hours after Sen. Clinton apologized.

Penn got this right out of the Rove play book. Just as Rove took John Kerry's greatest asset -- his military record -- and lied it into a negative, so Penn takes Obama's -- his biography -- and tries to do the same.

The difference is that the tactic won't work with Obama. The patrician Kerry did not know how to deal with guttersnipe attacks. He was so utterly unused to them.

All African-American men are used to them, especially one who made it to Harvard Law, the US Senate and a Presidential candidacy despite his race, his name, and his exotic heritage.
Rosenberg’s conclusion is that there will be more attacks:
So get ready. The worst people in America are going to use Barack Obama's race and his personal struggle against him. They are going to try to transform his unique assets into negatives.
But Obama has what none of the other candidates in either party can match: an seeming ability to be open and honest about who he is and where he came from that will, any time he uses it to disarm an attack, remind voters of all the things they hate about other politicians in general, and the Republicans of the Bush II Era in particular.

Whenever opponents try to attack his personal history, Obama can simply respond that “he has learned a lot of valuable lessons from those struggles, and they have made him appreciate the person that he is today.”

He won’t even have to mention the plentiful denials of personal history, including sexual identity and corruption, on the other side of the aisle, for voters to be reminded of them!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Top Ten List – Not Licensed to Kill Waterboard Edition.

In yet another reminder that there is no IQ requirement for membership in the United States Senate, Missouri’s James Kit Bond apparently thinks waterboarding is like swimming the backstroke!

While it amazes me the lengths Republicans will go to make light of their propensity for illegal, and often violent, behavior, there are still a few excuses they haven’t tried. Yet!

So with that in mind, here’s my:

Top Ten List of Excuses Republicans Haven’t Tried Yet Regarding Waterboarding:

10. It’s just a warmer version of snowboarding!

9. It’s just like dumping Gatorade on a winning football coach!

8. We thought we were using flax seed oil!

7. It’s a little known fact that this Administration wanted to delay waterboarding until after the 2004 elections, but Congress wanted something they could be deceived about!

6. We were just trying to counteract the dehydrating effect of severe beatings!

5. Freedom needs waterboarding, just as waterboarding needs freedom!

4. It’s just like a form of baptism - falling somewhere between sprinkling holy water and total immersion!

3. The American people don’t seem to mind watching the Wicked Witch get doused in The Wizard of Oz . . . because they understand that innocent munchkin lives are at stake!

2. Bill Clinton was known to pour water himself, right in the Oval Office!

And the top excuse Republicans haven’t tried yet regarding waterboarding:

1. We have a wet stance!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Romney Quote of the Day

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Reiterating a recurring theme from his campaign, I’ve paraphrased this from today’s GOP debate when asked what is more important, electing a fiscal conservative or a social conservative:
We need to bring together fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and defense conservatives - the three legs of the Republican stool!
My suggested response from the Democrats would be the following:
We need to rid ourselves of foreign policy failure, domestic and economic failure, and constitutional failure – the three floaters of the Republican stool!
OK, so I wasn’t the first person to think of it, and as long as Romney continues his “stool fixation,” I doubt I’ll be the last!

But here’s one you won’t find anywhere else (warning - timed release punchline):
Is Mitt Romney’s campaign call for returning to a “three-legged Republican stool” a backhanded swipe at Hillary Clinton in favor of him (or any of the other GOP candidates) in the White House?
OK, maybe a barely perceptible punchline!

And here's Mitt, talking about his stool:

This isn't mocking, either. It was uploaded to YouTube directly from the Romney campaign!

New Huckabee Ad


Monday, December 10, 2007

Scooter Ends His Quest for the Holy Grail!

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When Scooter Libby’s sentence was commuted by his co-conspirator the President, he immediately filed an appeal and strongly re-asserted his innocence. Seemingly, he was going to fight to the bitter end in order to advance a PR agenda clear his good name.

Apparently, Libby’s quest for the holy grail of redemption has ended.
“We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby's innocence," attorney Theodore Wells said Monday. "However, the realities were, that after five years of government service by Mr. Libby and several years of defending against this case, the burden on Mr. Libby and his young family of continuing to pursue his complete vindication are too great to ask them to bear."
OK, so now that “complete vindication” is out, what about the less noble goal of “illusionary legal vindication?”
The decision to withdraw his appeal means Libby will remain a convicted felon. President Bush could wipe away the conviction with a full pardon, something he has refused to rule out. Wells said Monday that he has not spoken to the White House about a pardon and does not know what Bush will do.
Regardless of the somewhat meaningless nature of a potential pardon toward Libby’s long-term reputation, it seems clear that Libby did stand a much better chance of achieving “complete vindication” than, say, O.J. Simpson had of “catching his former wife’s killer!

And Scooter will surely receive enough in hush money conservative think tank salary that he won’t have to associate with sleazy Las Vegas characters dealing in “Presidential memorabilia” in order to support his imperialism golf habit.

In fact, the noted smut peddler author could even supplement his retirement income by writing a confession fictitious memoir.

Perhaps he could call the work, “If I Leaked It!”

Update: Rumor has it that Scooter may have to choose a different title, as this one’s already earmarked for Judith Regan’s new book about urinary incontinence in the Giuliani mayoral administration!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Romney Just Got My Vote!

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Not my vote for President, but my unofficial vote for the person I want to be the Republican nominee in the general election.

For a long time, I’ve been leaning toward Giuliani as the guy any Democratic candidate would easily be able to reduce to rubble - by emphasizing his slimy past and calling him on his many transgressions. But now I’ve changed my mind!

Half-Mitt Romney’s recent speech, presumably to make Republican voters comfortable with his Mormonism, has convinced me beyond all doubt that this is the guy I want to see debating a Democrat.

This is the guy I trust most to make a fool of himself every time he opens his mouth. In his speech, he uttered yet another memorably idiotic line:
Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.
Freedom requires religion?

Kind of like “national service” requires “helping Dad win elections?”

Instead of making voters comfortable with the idea of Romney as the first Mormon President, Dim-Mitt Romney is a constant reminder of why America should be uncomfortable with the idea of Romney as the first second Moron President!

I would greatly enjoy seeing how much of his own personal fortune Mitt-Less Romney would continue to blow in another year of campaigning, before he is eventually crushed and sent back to his former career of “raping and pillaging” the American business world.

And of course there’s my favorite line from Romney’s speech, which coincidently occurred right at the moment the above image was taken:
President Bush may be stronger than a rock, but now America needs a President who can beat paper!
(For any Romney supporters who might read this, I made that part up!)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lying Makes You Thirsty!

Just finished watching today's press briefing with White House Spokesmodel Dana Perino. On the press' mind - the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes and the President's knowledge of the events.

Here are the first couple of questions:

Q Thanks. On these CIA videotapes, did either the President or Vice President or Condoleezza Rice, when she was National Security Advisor, or Steve Hadley, see them before they were destroyed?

MS. PERINO: I spoke to the President, and so I will have to defer on the others. But I spoke to the President this morning about this. He has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction before yesterday. He was briefed by General Hayden yesterday morning. And as to the others, I'll have to -- I'll refer you to the Vice President's office and I'll see if I can get the others.

Q Was there any White House involvement in approving or commenting upon their destruction?

MS. PERINO: As I said, the President has no recollection knowing about the tapes or about their destruction, and so I can't answer the follow-up.

Here we go again with the "no recollection" answers. She did not deny that the President was given the information or that he even viewed the tapes - just that he told her that he can't remember - hmm! I guess unless some evidence, that hasn't been destroyed, comes to light to jog his memory!

I think today was Perino's "What Happened" moment. Can't wait for her to hit the book circuit in a couple of years - when she will finally reveal that she was given things to say that were "not true".

The entire press conference was incredibly somber. It was easy to tell that Perino did not want to be there, did not believe what she was saying and knew that the reporters did not believe any of it either.

But my favorite part was as Perino ended the conference, left the podium, turned and said - "I am so thirsty"?

I guess lying does that to you!

Olbermann, Bush and the Iran NIE

If you haven't seen Olberman's latest special comment - here it is.
Nailed it again!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why I Prefer Judgment Over Experience: Hillary Clinton, Meet Joe Gibbs!

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As I watch the Hillary Clinton campaign step up their negative rhetoric toward Barack Obama, in response to Obama’s challenges to her “inevitability” as the Democratic nominee, I like this characterization of the contrast by the Wall Street Journal:
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have taken off their gloves. In one corner stands the champion of experience, with the best executive coach in the free world at her side and a dog-eared playbook of strategies that have won in the past. Standing in the opposite corner is a young contender, fairly new at the game, underweight and probably overmatched, but a natural, as they say. Mr. Obama and his handlers are putting their money on his judgment, disdaining the experience card as a stale rerun of earlier campaigns.
The point was driven home recently during a short trip to a Nevada casino for a weekend of (small-time) football betting, when I lost a bet in a game that ended as described by the Los Angeles Times:
The grief of the Washington Redskins was on full display, in front of 85,000 fans waving their No. 21 towels (in memory of murdered player, Sean Taylor), but their emotions were shattered when Ryan Lindell kicked a 36-yard field goal with four seconds left to give the Buffalo Bills a 17-16 victory.

Lindell made a 51-yard attempt that didn't count because the Redskins (5-7) called timeout just as the ball was snapped. Coach Joe Gibbs then tried the same tactic again, but consecutive timeouts aren't allowed when attempting to freeze the kicker. The resulting 15-yard penalty gave Lindell an easier kick and helped the Bills improve to 6-6.
That would be the very experienced Joe Gibbs, whose resume as an NFL coach is clearly beyond what Hillary Clinton claims as her qualifications to be President, as described in his official website biography:
During Joe Gibbs' first tenure with the Redskins, from 1981-1992, he led them to eight playoff appearances, four NFC championships, and three Super Bowl titles. He was known for his hard work and extremely long hours.

In 1996 he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with a record of 124 wins and 60 losses and a post season record of 16 wins and five loses. His winning percentage of .683 was behind only the legendary Vince Lombardi and John Madden.
He’s been back coaching the Redskins since 2004. And to be fair, Gibbs has surely built his career by using better judgment than he displayed at the end of the Bills game (although perhaps he's now showing the effects of breathing too many NASCAR gas fumes!) To top it off, he was coaching the game under emotional, pressure-filled, stressful conditions after Taylor’s death.

But, according to Hillary, isn’t “experience,” supposed to be the thing that allows one to perform effectively in the sometimes emotional, pressure-filled, stressful conditions of being President?

And if “experience” didn’t prevent Joe Gibbs from using poor judgment under the stress of an emotional game, how can we expect Hillary Clinton’s “experience” to prevent her from using poor judgment under the stress of being President?

Or the stress of an emotional campaign?