The Late Great Commonwealth: Catching Up to the Republican Primary

                                                     by WALTER BRASCH


It’s the beginning of April, and that means I have just finished celebrating New Year’s Eve, and will soon begin shopping for Valentine’s gifts. In a month or two, I may even get around to toasting St. Patrick.

It’s not procrastination, it’s just that I’m a Pennsylvanian, and the state encourages me to be behind the times. At one time, Pennsylvania was first in just about everything-—and then Ben Franklin died. Since then, we’ve been first in ridiculous license plate slogans.

When other states, including those settled by Puritans, got rid of their “blue laws,” Pennsylvania still bans the sale of cars on Sundays. By archaic practices, it still allows municipal governments and school districts to raise taxes and create more buildings without giving the people the right of a vote, common in most states. It is also the only state that still taxes people for income, property, and their occupation. Forty-nine other states believe pigeon shoots are animal cruelty; we proudly proclaim our state as the last bastion of the right to “bear arms and blast birds.” And, we don’t allow Independents to vote in our primaries.

Iowa, with anomalies known as a straw poll and a caucus, is the first major battleground in presidential races, having usurped New Hampshire, which thought having the official primary was a birthright dating to when granite first showed up in the state. Nevertheless, whether Iowa or New Hampshire, Americans understand that the people need something to break them out of their Winter funk when snow covers what will eventually become cornfields in Iowa and the ski lifts of New Hampshire will no longer be inoperable because of blizzards.

With nothing else to do in January, the media schussed into the Hawkeye State—just as soon as they could find enough chauffeurs to drive them to wherever Iowa is. With megawatt lights and dimly-lit minds, they infiltrated the state so that the voters not only had their own individualized politicians, they also had their own puppy-dog reporters prancing brightly behind them to the coffee shop, factory, and bathroom.

Surrounded by the media who smugly said they were only telling the public what they needed to know to defend and preserve democracy—and millions in advertising revenue—the candidates played to the press, attacking each other rather than attacking the issues. In neatly-packaged seven-second sound bites, politicians and the media sliced, diced, and crunched the campaign to fit onto a 21-inch screen.

Because of an inner need to believe they matter, the media predict who will win the nomination, changing their predictions as quickly as a fashionista changes shoes. For what seemed to be decades, the ink-stained bandwagon has pulled voters and campaign dollars, and left Pennsylvania voters waiting at the altar for candidates who don’t care anymore, abandoned by the media who have found other “stories of the week.”

For all practical purposes, the Pennsylvania primaries, with large slates of uncontested local and state races, is about as useless as a Department of Ethnic Studies at Bob Jones University. By the time the 2000 primary rolled into Pennsylvania, Al Gore and George W. Bush each had 65 percent of the delegate vote needed for their parties’ nomination. In 2004, Bush and John Kerry had already locked up the nominations. In 2008, Pennsylvania became a pivotal state for the Democrats for the first time since 1976, with Hillary Clinton defeating Barack Obama before losing the nomination by June. For the Republicans, it was “business as usual,” with John McCain having already sewn up the nomination.

A Republican needs 1,144 delegate votes to get the nomination. Mitt Romney, America’s best runner-up, has 568; two-term senator Rick Santorum, recovering from a blistering loss to a moderate Democrat in Pennsylvania’s 2006 Senate campaign, has 273; Ron Paul, who may or may not be a Republican, has 50. Newt Gingrich has 135 delegates; however, this week he announced he downsized his staff and campaign, and is layin’ low—except, of course, for the times he can get free TV time to lambaste Romney and Santorum who are engaged in a vicious personal battle that has bubbled out of the TV ad cauldron.

The April 3 primaries will add a maximum of 98 delegates. And that brings Super Northeast Tuesday, April 24. The Republican leftovers and their never-ending TV ads will blitz Pennsylvania, which might even become relevant.

Even if Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island—and Pennsylvania with 72 of the 231 delegate votes—go for Romney, it won’t be enough to get him the nomination. However, it will be enough to cause major financial backers to pull their support for Santorum and what’s left of the Gingrich campaign, leaving Romney to flip-flop into the Republican nomination convention, Aug. 27, in Tampa, Fla.—which seems to be the Republicans’ destiny.

[Dr. Brasch has covered political campaigns for more than three decades. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed fast-paced mystery Before the First Snow, available at and his publisher, Greeley & Stone.]Within the next week, another nine states voted.



DNC Working On Changes to 2012 Presidential Nominating Calendar

Tim Kaine yesterday announced the formation of a new commission to change the process by which the Democratic presidential nominee is chosen.

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina will lead the Democratic Change Commission, which is scheduled to report its findings no later than Jan. 1, 2010. The commission, which is largely comprised of Democrats who supported Mr. Obama (and a few who backed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in last year's contentious primary season), will review and streamline the 2008 calendar.

"This commission will focus on reform that improves the presidential nominating process," Mr. Kaine said in a statement, "to put voters first and ensure that as many people as possible can participate."

An ironic statement perhaps considering how many people voted in the primary last year; lack of participation was not the problem, although I suppose that's probably a reference to making sure we don't have another Florida or Michigan situation in the future. To do that, they're going to have to somehow deal with Michigan's desire to break the first in the nation stranglehold Iowa and New Hampshire have on the process. All 4 of the first in the nation states are represented on the commission.

Tim Kaine's rather vague goals for improving the system include:

...changing the window for primaries and caucuses, reducing the number of superdelegates and improving the caucus system.

In addition:

Next time, party leaders say, the primaries and caucuses will start no sooner than Feb. 1, which is a month later than the 2008 race.

While last year's nominating process demonstrated that having an earlier primary does not necessarily mean having the most influential one, states also saw unprecedented benefits of having a contested primary, so it's hard to see states volunteering for later and, hence, more likely uncontested primaries. But glad to see the DNC embarking on reform of a system that badly needs it.

There's more...

PUMA Pac Founder, Murphy, "NOT a Republican" (Updated 3x)

PUMA Pac founder and Democratic activist, Darragh Murphy, has been the target this week of allegations that she is a closet McCain supporter working for the Republicans to "to set up a secretive operation" to make McCain look moderate and make feminists look like "hysterical bitches" -- (Really Amanda, anyway).

Like some of you, I was alarmed that a Republican might have infiltrated PUMA disguised as a disgruntled Democrat and formed a group that is now a leader in the PUMA movement. Like some of you, I was angry and wanted to get to the bottom of it. PUMA is a growing group of disgruntled Democrats, not a Republican secret op, so any Republican mischief-maker would need to get the boot quickly. So, I decided to go right to the source to verify the veracity of these allegations.

Hear what Darragh has to say over the flip...  

There's more...

Help Hillary Retire Campaign Debt

Wow, what a ride! We took our girl all the way to the finish line and crossed it with all the grit, guts, and glory of champions. I'm sure we are all still decompressing and determining our next steps. Whether you are fading into the Obama-nation or moving forward with Just Say No Deal, PUMA, Write Hillary In, Democrats for McCain, or joining one of the various NObama groups, we still have one piece of unfinished business to attend to - retiring Hillary's campaign debt.

Hillary stayed in the race because of us and for us. We gave her the financial support she needed to keep going and to finish the journey we all started together. So, her debt is our debt and we need to take care of it. I contacted her campaign finance office to verify how/where we can send contributions to help retire the campaign debt. Here are the options:

1. Donate to Hillary online at the Hillary Clinton For President campaign website. There are also other bloggers fund raising to retire campaign debt. If you want to join their fund raising efforts, check out the Forum, Heidi Li's Potpourri, or Lady Boomer NYC.

2. Mail checks to HRC's presidential campaign finance office in New York:

Hillary Clinton For President
420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 3030
New York, New York 10170

3. Purchase merchandise from the Hillary Store. There are still some selections of shirts, stickers, hats, signs, buttons, lapel pins, and accessories.

I bought a few more shirts and bumper stickers and contributed online.

Contribution Details
Date:     June 18, 2008 2:42 PM EDT
Amount: $100.00

We've done it before, let's do it again. Cough up what you can and show Hillary some love. Skip another latte, brow wax, or manicure, skip a few beers or martinis, just walk by that pair of shoes. Stay in for date night, rent a movie, or hold your honey under the stars. Give it up for Hillary just one more time.

Help spread the word far and wide!

There's more...

Come Out, Stand By Hillary Clinton (updated)

I support Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee and as the next President of the United States for reasons which I've expressed over the last 6 months. So, most of you here on MyDD know that I'm an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton. But, you don't know that I'm like 1 in 10 Americans who many still refer to as a sinner, a sexual deviant, or as an abomination. So, today, in honor of Gay Pride month, I'm coming out of the closet on MyDD to share my very personal story why I will continue to support and stand by Hillary Clinton.

I grew up in a small town in central Virginia in the 1980's. Luckily, I passed. Passed? Passed as a heterosexual. It helped that I was popular and my quirkiness wasn't questioned. I wasn't subjected to the harassment, bullying, and teasing of which other tomboys or sissies became targets. But what happened to me was just as harmful. I hid. I hid from my family, my friends, and my community. In my last two years of high school, I was confused, alone, and becoming increasingly more depressed to the point of suicidal. By sheer will (and maybe a touch of grace), I made it to college. I started meeting people who were different, men and women who weren't afraid to express themselves outside of the norm, outside of social expectation, outside of heterosexuality. They didn't conform.

[continue over the fold]

There's more...


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