Saturday, November 17, 2007

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

After ten minutes as a food fight, the Democratic debate settled into an edgy pep rally after Hillary Clinton stopped John Edwards with the magic word, mud. The rest was more or less collegial self-puffery, not Obama's best medium--he needs more time to get on an inspirational roll.

Once again, Joe Biden made a good case for becoming Secretary of State in what's beginning to look more and more like another Clinton Administration, especially if the Republicans end up with a Giuliani-Huckabee ticket.

There are a multitude of good choices for running mate--Obama, if she dares, but more likely someone who has managerial experience, former Gen. Wesley Clark or an ex-governor like Tom Vilsack or Mark Warner, if he wants to preside over rather than become a member of the Senate.

Unless a few thousand voters in Iowa or New Hampshire say otherwise, inevitability is in the air.


Here’s a bit of catch up on what many pundits consider Hillary Clinton’s debate rebound.

Of course, a "rebound" means that what viewers saw did not fit an existing narrative as described by the mainstream media, all-knowing talking heads on TV, and bloggers (some of whom consider themselves superior to the mainstream media that they quote and link to since most bloggers do not do any original reporting and few bloggers fact check reports that they quote — and we don’t either). So a "rebound" means the conventional wisdom is being revised. Until the next deviation from the conventional wisdom as described by The People Who Know.


The President's oath of office commits him to do his best to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." I take these words seriously. I believe these words mean what they say.


I have always found it very hard to actually hate George W. Bush. He maddens me, his policies have shaken my political allegiances and identity to the core, but I've always found him pretty congenial as a person from a distance. I'm glad I've never met him because I'd probably be totally suckered. Even on some of the deepest betrayals - spending and torture - I think his main crime has been criminal negligence and shallowness, not evil. But I do despise what he has done to this country, the wreckage in Iraq, and the dishonor of the torture/interrogation policies. I despise what he has done to conservatism, and the economic and environmental debt he will pass to the next generation. But I really, honestly don't hate him personally. Certainly not in the same league as my visceral dislike for the Clintons.


Two high-profile Democrats, [Barack] Obama and John Edwards, are validating a core part of the anti-Hillary case that Republicans have made for years -- that she's a slippery cynic who cares only about power.


I've been pondering what, exactly, makes the primary season so unbearable and the crux of the matter is that it's the epistemology, damnit. If I had to vote today, I would definitely vote for Obama, because when I think about the factors that I feel certain about they definitely tilt in his favor. On the other hand, when I think about the race as a whole the set of knowable factors is a pretty tiny subset of the set of relevant factors. I know a lot of people who have, for example, really strong feelings about the likely general election performance of these candidates. And if you forced me to make a guess, I think I could make an educated guess. But the reality is that it would just be a guess -- I don't think I or anyone else has any real way of knowing.

Around Democratic Washington -- and among political junkies all around the country -- people have tons of barroom wisdom about the electability, judgment, experience, managerial competence, etc. of the various candidates but frankly I think the evidence available on all of these scores is indecisive and that the issue is pretty inherently unknowable. Unfortunately, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has experience running against a conservative Republican in a "red" or "purple" jurisdiction and neither of them have held executive office. We can make educated guesses about their skillz in these regards, but we're just guessing. The evidence from the campaign trail suggests to me that Obama would have a better foreign policy, but the evidence of history suggests to me that campaign-based evidence is a terrible predictor of how foreign policy will actually be conducted. Which candidate is most likely to be able to get his or her agenda through congress? I have no idea and I don't think there's any way to figure it out. It's just a very frustrating thing to spend one's time thinking about.


The paradox is that Hillary makes far more sense if you believe that times are actually pretty good. If you believe that America’s current crisis is not a deep one, if you think that pragmatism alone will be enough to navigate a world on the verge of even more religious warfare, if you believe that today’s ideological polarization is not dangerous, and that what appears dark today is an illusion fostered by the lingering trauma of the Bush presidency, then the argument for Obama is not that strong. Clinton will do.


If convicted, Barry Bonds will serve more time than Scooter Libby.


Cartoon by Glenn McCoy/Universal Press Syndicate

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