Category Archives: 2008 Election

Sundry Thoughts On Michael Steele at Howard.


1. They couldn’t fill Cramton Auditorium?

2. Apparently, when Michael Steele isn’t being a buffoon talking about “bling,” and hip-hop republicanism, he is the most boring speaker in the world.

3. Shoutout to The Hilltop!

4. Why is it that protesters who are yelling in favor of health care reform are being rude and should be chastised, but those who yell against it (particularly those who are on Medicare) are merely “patriotic” Americans?

5. Steele claims that he would’ve loved it if all Howardites had voted for John McCain…but if Obama weren’t president, would the GOP really have felt the need to appoint Steele?

6. Honestly, he was doing fine (boring, but fine) until he started talking policy. And then it was the same old dishonest Republican boilerplate about the evils of a single-payer system and how health care reform will cost average Americans money — with no mention of how millions of uninsured Americans cost average Americans money.

How Barack Obama Won South Carolina.*


The Times has a long, long profile on Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest advisors during the campaign and who currently serves as a senior advisor in the White House. It begins thus:

On Jan. 25, 2008, the day before the South Carolina Democratic primary, Barack Obama endured a grueling succession of campaign events across the state. When his staff informed him that the evening would conclude with a brief show-up at the Pink Ice Ball, a gala for the African-American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Obama flatly refused to attend. “I’ve been to sorority events before,” he said. “We’re not gonna change anybody’s mind.”

Rick Wade, a senior adviser, Stacey Brayboy, the state campaign manager, and Anton Gunn, the state political director, took turns beseeching their boss. The gala, they told Obama, would be attended by more than 2,000 college-educated African-American women, a constituent group that was originally skeptical of the candidate’s “blackness” and that the campaign worked tirelessly to wrest from Hillary Clinton. State luminaries like Representative James Clyburn — himself an undeclared black voter — would be expecting him. They would be in and out in five minutes.

Obama’s irritation grew. “Man, it’s late, I’m tired,” he snapped. “I’m not going to any sorority event.”

The three staff members knew what their only option was at this point. “If you want him to do something,” Gunn would later tell me, “there are two people he’s not going to say no to: Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama.”

At the day’s penultimate event, a rally in Columbia, Gunn, Brayboy and Wade pleaded their case to Jarrett, the Obamas’ longtime friend and consigliere. When they were finished, Jarrett told them, “We can make that happen,” as Gunn would recall it. Jarrett informed Michelle of the situation, and when the candidate stepped offstage from the rally, Obama’s wife told him he had one last stop to make before they called it a night.

“I told Anton I’m not going to any Pink Ice Ball!” Obama barked.

Then Jarrett glided over to the fuming candidate. Her voice was very quiet and very direct.

“Barack,” she said, “you want to win, don’t you?”

Scowling, Obama affirmed that he did.

“Well, then. You need to go to Pink Ice.”

“And he shuts up,” Gunn recalls, “and gets on the bus.”

Jarrett is a fascinating woman, and her relationship with the first family, as both BFF and senior adviser is intriguing. The piece delves into the pains she took to define her role in the White House, since, as a close friend of both the President and First Lady, she was in uncharted territory.  The story goes on:

Jarrett also serves as the White House’s unofficial champion of minority issues. This may seem superfluous, given that a black man inhabits the Oval Office — until it’s noted that Obama’s inner circle consists largely of white males, same as it ever was. As a top adviser acknowledged, “At the end of the day, when he’s with his closest staff, she’s the only one who has a sense of what it’s like to have a different background from everyone else.”

*Okay, so it probably took more than a few thousand AKAs to win SC, but I know we helped!

And What Color For Zimbabwe?


There’s a website called, and with a single click, you can put a lovely green patina over your Twitter avatar, to show your support the election dissenters in Iran.

After seeing a bunch of newly green avatars today, I tweeted this:

Um, why weren’t people changing the color of their avatars after the Zimbabwe election? Tsvangirai really coulda used it. /hateration

Which sounded really salty, I know. What can I say? I get salty sometimes.

I know there are many, many reasons why the mess in Iran has gotten more attention than the bigger mess in Zimbabwe. For one, Iranians surely have more access to social media, and citizens can tell their own stories. Second, our relationship with Iran is a bit more complex than our relationship with Zimbabwe, presently.

But, perhaps, some of it has to do with expectations. I was talking to Jamelle about it, and he suggested that no one expected the level of dissent we’re seeing in Iran, but that we always expect terrible things to happen in Africa (yes, the continent).


Angling for the Presidency.

Dick Cheney official photo

Dick Cheney official photo

In his inaugural column for the Times, Ross Douthat argues that Cheney should have run for president so that America could have had a stouter debate on torture during the campaign.  McCain couldn’t hold the pro-torture platform because he didn’t agree with the Bush/Cheney stand, and so the Bush/Cheney stand and the viability of their brand of conservatism could really only have been tested with a Cheney run. He doesn’t argue that Cheney would have been good for the country, but that the debate would have been.

. . .and Obama didn’t see a percentage in harping on the topic.

He wasn’t alone. A large swath of the political class wants to avoid the torture debate. The Obama administration backed into it last week, and obviously wants to back right out again.

But the argument isn’t going away. It will be with us as long as the threat of terrorism endures. And where the Bush administration’s interrogation programs are concerned, we’ve heard too much to just “look forward,” as the president would have us do. We need to hear more: What was done and who approved it, and what intelligence we really gleaned from it. Not so that we can prosecute – unless the Democratic Party has taken leave of its senses – but so that we can learn, and pass judgment, and struggle toward consensus.

Here Dick Cheney, prodded by the ironies of history into demanding greater disclosure about programs he once sought to keep completely secret, has an important role to play. He wants to defend his record; let him defend it. And let the country judge.

It’s an intriguing argument, but I’m not sure I buy it. First, you have to assume that the kind of debate would only have happened during the election, and that people hadn’t made a decision about torture based on what we knew about Abu Ghraib and waterboarding beforehand. You could argue that if the American people didn’t care then, they weren’t going to care during the campaign, when their home and 401(K) values began plunging. Or you could argue that the debate did happen in people’s families, homes and communities, and the Bush/Cheney torture policy was soundly rejected when Barack Obama won in November. Obama didn’t bring out those horrible photos, but he often spoke about the threat to civil liberties and our American ideals under a policy that condoned such activites and wiretapped it’s civilians and had “federal agents poking around in our libraries.” The election wasn’t just a defeat of McCain, but an overall rejection of the Republican party and the last eight years. And, in case you didn’t know, the previous eight years were run by the Cheney administration.

Which makes this a perfect time to tell you to read Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, the book Barton Gellman published after he and Jo Becker won the Pulitzer Prize for their series about Cheney for the Washington Post. Even if you read the series, the book contains revelations so astounding that you wonder if you ever know what’s going on in this country at all.

On giving exclusive authority to the Pentagon to decide which suspected terrorists to try with military tribunals, for example, Cheney, who “liked to remind the White House staff that ‘the president’s most precious commodity is his time,'” arranged a meeting with former Attorney General John Ashcroft and overruled his objections to tell him John Yoo had already recommended the Pentagon could do it.

Three days later, Cheney brought the order to lunch with the president. No one told Colin Powell or Condi Rice. No one told their lawyers. . .

Cheney emerged from lunch with a thumbs-up from the president. . .

In less than an hour, the document traversed a West Wing circuit that gave its words the power of command. It changed hands four times, with emphatic instructions to bypass staff review. Cheney’s days of ‘orderly paper flow,’ of shunning ‘by the way decisions,’ were long behind him.

Continue reading

Random Open Thread.

I know, I know: “the work has just begun.” But … am I the only one who stopped reading e-mail from David Plouffe back in September? I got one today from him, asking me to watch this video:

Anyway, what’s happening, folks? Got some news? Links? Random insights? Share ’em here.

The Engagement’s Off.


Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have apparently ended their engagement:

It’s surprising because in an interview just last month with FOX’s Gretta Van Susteren, Bristol said the 19-year-old Levi is a hands-on dad and that they planned on marrying after finishing their education.

But in a new interview with Star Magazine, Levi’s sister Mercede Johnston says Bristol actually broke up with Levi more than a month ago, is not attending school and rarely lets her baby daddy see their young son. Mercede also says Bristol even told him that she hates him and, when she learned she was pregnant, wished the baby wasn’t his.

Sad teenage parent drama aside (and believe me, this post isn’t exactly schadenfreude), what do you think would be happening if Sarah Palin were our vice president? Would Bristol and Levi be married by now? Frankly, I suspect not.

Since words like ‘white trash’ are being thrown around in reference to the Johnstons, I think the GOP would have found a way to moralize their beloved vice-president’s daughter out of a shotgun wedding to the high school dropout son of an alleged drug dealer.

Pocketbook Politics.

A look at how each state voted in the presidential election, based on the income of the voters, via Andrew at FiveThirtyEight:


The five income categories I used in the analysis are: 0-20,000; 20-40,000; 40-75,000; 75-150,000; over 150,000. The graphs above show the estimates for the highest, middle, and lowest of these five categories. I assume the numbers represent family income (as reported by the survey respondent).

I have to admit that I’m a little surprised. Despite legitimate fears about whether poorer Whites in the Rust Belt would go blue, I figured Obama had a good shot at those Democratic voters. But I really didn’t think he would have so completely edged out poorer voters in the Deep South. Then again, these maps don’t tell us what the margins were.

But what’s up with Idaho and Wyoming? They’re as solidly red regardless of socioeconomic status as the Northeast and Cali are blue. Any ideas why?