John McCain is a Monster We Created

The biggest irony in American presidential politics is that during elections we laud someone for having a firm, unwavering, axiomatic position on a topic because it means that that person is dependable and firm enough to hold the highest office in the land. But in the day to day of this person's term, we criticize him or her for not changing positions and bending his or her policy to the will of the American people.

John Kerry flip-flopped in 2004 over the most minor topic. We ended up with someone who didn't. And what we continued to get is a president who has no intention of listening to the will of the American people and ratcheting down our involvement in Iraq.

In a lot of ways, John McCain is a monster that we created. I'm reminded of Arianna Huffington's ebullient praise in 2004 and 2005 for his judgment, "straight-talk" and willingness to go against party leadership. But his resolve was deeper than that: he went against the grain because it appears to be in his nature to stake out a position and ride it to its grave. Every four years, that's exactly what we want.

So tonight during the debate in an election year that is once again about who's the most consistent, it seems only natural that Barack Obama would snipe at Hillary Clinton for being "for" drivers licenses for undocumented workers before she was against it. (Clearly that is a lie because she was asked if she endorses Spitzer's attempt to provide tiered license privileges to undocumented workers-- her answer was No, but that "it made sense" to her why he would do that.) And the damage was done, because it carries a stigma in the same kind of race where McCain gains political capital on his nonsensical belief that because he was for the war, he must consistently be for war forever until it's "complete."

Of course, I understand our inclination to want to make a clean break and start over what has been consistently an overridingly gloomy political outcome the past seven years. Barack Obama's main narrative pivots on the notion that because he had a position on Iraq that's popular today and that he's had other positions in his brief tenure as a U.S. Senator that he's not had to re-evaluate, that he must be consistent and consistently right. Bill Richardson was right to denounce that kind of attitude as "holier-than-thou" in a previous debate, because in reality nothing could be further from the truth than the signals Obama has cast: every politician is a real person with real flaws, real drawbacks, and real issues.

And Hillary Clinton is one of those real people having been on the scene for nearly 20 years: she has fantastic qualities and drawbacks, victories and failures to show for her experience- just as John Edwards did. But she is a politician that we know. She is a public servant who has delivered. She is a Democrat who has earned the begrudged respect of people from across the aisle.

When are we going to reject the politics of "down with the ship" and say with resolve that it's okay for someone to have one position and then change course? When are we going to reject the politics of "anyone previously well known is old news"? When are we going to realize that the people whose past failures are plain as the eyes can see are not damaging to that person's credibility, but more likely evidence of future lessons learned?

I reject the notion that someone whose mistakes are ahead of him in his short tenure in national politics makes him a better candidate with better judgment or even likely to be right on day one. John Edwards was no less a candidate for having voted for trade deals in the past and then reacting to the evidence he saw in order to change course. And Hillary Clinton is no less a candidate for voting to give authorization (the terms of which had mutually-agreed-upon conditions) to use force in defense of the United States going on to say as she has repeatedly that if she had it do over, she wouldn't have done it. If either Edwards or Clinton were President at the time, there wouldn't have been a war. Their judgment is fine.

And it's not enough to inspire confidence that a position one took and which he continues to take is enough to ensure that a candidate is reasonable and wise enough to be POTUS. The politics of "Right from the Start" is the politics of John McCain: take a position and ride it to the end. It's time to elect someone with experience for a change-- experience taking stumbles and being gracious enough to get back up and chart a new course.

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WaPo Columnist Uses Republican Talking Points to Endorse Obama

Michael Gerson, fresh on the heels of the Republican debate, reasons in a new editorial that a race between Obama and McCain would be the best for America. Obama's message of change is better suited, he writes, because Hillary's positions on abortion are too radicial-- "safe, legal, and rare."

Gerson, a member of the much frothed-over CFR and author of Heroic Conservatism, regards Obama as more honorable despite what he sees as Clinton's strengths:

Her health-care plan, for example, could be the basis for serious discussions with Republican congressional leaders. Her national security team seems more skilled and experienced than Barack Obama's. And her various positions on Iraq have always been slippery enough to avoid specific, hand-tying commitments on troop withdrawals, leaving her the option of responsibility (though, like the other Democratic candidates, she seems incapable of using the word "victory" in a time of war).

Still, he goes on, her candidacy is an invitation for reminisces of:

"I didn't inhale." Kathleen Willey. Whitewater. "Two for the price of one." Polling to select vacation sites. Baking cookies. Joycelyn Elders. Hillarycare. "What the meaning of the word 'is' is." Blue dress. "That woman." Lewinsky, as noun and verb.

Nevermind that thoroughly disgraced Jeff Gerth published a book harping on just those details that failed to earn money even as NewsMax magazine's subscription free gift.  (Obama might have acceded to the offer as his campaign clearly owns a copy of the book. He has frequently repeated a discredited claim from it on campaign stops.)

The Clintons are unprincipled and untrustworthy, he proclaims, likening them to racist Alabama governor George Wallace and denouncing them for their criticism of Obama's choice to be, "God forbid, ... defending Ronald Reagan."

And so, Reagan-loving abortion-hating, Gerson reasons that Obama would be the best choice for the Democratic nomination. In light of these new facts, I must rethink whether or not I am supporting the right candidate. I hope everyone does the same.

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The Better Democrat on National Health Policy

This post is one of many I hope to write over the course of the next few weeks to flesh out more details with respect to Hillary Clinton's record of accomplishments to show why she is more dependable, more able to deliver, and a better Democrat on core Democratic issues than Barack Obama. Take it as you will.

Hillary's Record on Health Issues

In 2001, Hillary Clinton joined a list of distinguished public icons including Studs Terkel, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Betty Freidan to receive the American Public Health Association's Presidential (APHA) Citation honoring public servants with a distinguished record and commitment to public health. APHA is the largest conglomerate association of health professionals, educators and community leaders worldwide and has rated her voting record as 100% in line with their political philosophy. They recognized her not simply for her valiant effort to make universal health care a reality in 1993 and 1994, but for her other works as a policy advocate-- someone willing to go against the Clinton Administration at times to work on behalf of hospitals; fighting behind the scenes for children's health care; securing commitments to child care funding, and more...

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Actions, words, and results.

Hillary Clinton said during last night's debate that New Hampshire's voters never had quite as big a decision to make about the future of this country than they do on the 8th. She said that not because the national security of America hinged on it, not because our economy depended on it, not because our longevity depended on it-- but because it's their chance to ask themselves having learned the lessons of George W. Bush whether it was time to value accomplishments over charisma.

I read somewhere once that part of the reason the English loved the show "The West Wing" was because of their fascination with American politics: specifically the tremendous amount of faith we put behind our candidates in their views of the world and their morality, verging on religiosity. This faith that gets heaped on time and again in elections is very pretty and it makes stories for the newspapers: but is that enough to elect a President?

Is it enough to rely on faith that someone's intuition will prevail over the problems we know we already have? Is it enough to rely on faith that someone's experience, or lack thereof, is relevant to hunkering down and getting the policy work done that we desperately need? Is faith enough to ensure that the next president will not have wasted time learning the ropes and the hard Washington lessons the come with serving?

I don't think it is. I don't have that faith, because the Washington outsider always learns the same lesson-- I just want results. Faith isn't enough today, because words are not action. The best way to secure results is to elect someone who knows how to get them in Washington.

Chris Dodd and Joe Biden had a reason why they believed their campaigns would take hold (although Biden had a long history of working against the interests of progressives). They have gotten results, even under hostile administrations. But Democrats largely either didn't know or didn't care. Dodd implored in one debate: "This isn't about celebrity, this is about picking the best president," an argument that the Clinton campaign has been eager to take on. She too has gotten results, in Washington, under a hostile administration and she happens to be well known.

When I look at saving some money and investing it in a mutual fund, I read the prospectus. The words are lovely, but the results are what matter. And so, it's nice that words can possibly do a number of things. But that's not enough.

It'd be revolutionary to elect a president who isn't just a salesman. It'd be revolutionary to elect a president who has overcome a hostile press and earned the begrudged respect of numerous Republicans in the Congress and millions across rural America. It'd be revolutionary to elect a president who actually knows the mechanics of day, week, month, and year one in the White House and knows what to expect.

Change would be nice. Electing someone who isn't a Dark Horse candidate and who actually has something to show for her experience is a change. Electing someone who has suffered from no lack of criticism about her record even as it bears repeating that her record overshadows most of her rivals, barring Richardson, is a change. And of course, electing a woman president is a change.

But this election should be about results. Who will make them happen in Washington? I don't have to rely on faith to back Hillary Clinton's candidacy for change. She has a record of results to prove it.

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The United States Mint Expects Hillary to Win

As the U.S. Mint continues to roll out various gold coins to scattered fanfare, something interesting has developed on its website.

A number of coins are being released under its "First Spouse" program. All of the spouses in history have been women. Yet, rarely do we hear Laura Bush being referred to as First Spouse, nor was Hillary Clinton called First Spouse. So why the change in terminology? Could it be that they expect that sometime in the near future there might be a First Spouse that isn't a woman?

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Hillary Clinton as First Lady

Preface

"This position is such an odd one," the First Lady said. "In our country we expect so much from the woman who is married to the President--but we don't really know what it is we expect." The only way for a First Lady to "escape the politics of one's time," Hillary said, is "to totally withdraw and perhaps put a bag over your head, or somehow make it clear that you have no opinions and no ideas about anything--and never express them, publicly or privately." The audience cheered, egging her on, and Hillary became even more combative and self-revelatory. "There is something about the position itself which raises in Americans' minds concerns about hidden power, about influence behind the scenes, about unaccountability. Yet if you try to be public about your concerns and your interests, then that is equally criticized. I think the answer is to just be who you are and do what you can do and get through it--and wait for a First Man to hold the position." - Time's coverage of Hillary Clinton's remarks at a gathering in Sydney, Australia in 1996.

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On Chimerical Portrayals of Hillary Clinton and What She Actually has to Offer

Rather than starting off with the tired meme of Change vs. Experience as though change can be had without experience making change, why don't we look at Hillary Clinton's experience. The Republicans running seem to be of the opinion that she hasn't any experience, supposedly having never run anything in her life. But then why was the GOP aghast at her in 1992 when she became the first First Lady with a post-graduate degree and a career of her own? Actually, they had known of her from before as a lawyer who had fought against Ronald Reagan's so-called reforms. Hillary Rodham, as the head of the Legal Services Corporation (being appointed by President Carter), led the fight against Ronald Reagan's conservative judicial appointments refusing to meet with them and pressuring Democratic lawmakers to block their confirmation. She had also caused a stir when she filed a successful restraining order against the Reagan Administration for its attempts to squash the LSC from the federal budget.

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What's with Florida Republicans anyway?

State representative Bob Allen of Florida (R - Merrit Island) was arrested yesterday by an undercover officer for soliciting oral sex in a public restroom at a Brevard County park. There are conflicting reports about how it went down, but investigators claim that they were initially tipped off by his suspicious behavior: repeatedly entering and exiting the restroom. What's been especially, and comically, unclear until now is whether Bob Allen offered to pay the officer $20 in order to perform said act, or whether he offered to perform the act for $20.

Police revealed new details about Allen's arrest on Thursday. His arrest affidavit says Allen followed the male undercover officer into the men's restroom and then, after talking to him from over the stall door, Allen stepped into the officers stall with him and stood against the door.

According to the report, Allen asked the officer, "This is kind of a public place isn't it?" The officer replied, "Do you have somewhere else we can go?" Allen then responded, "How about across the bridge? It's quiet over there."

The conversation continued and, police said, Allen told the officer he wanted the undercover officer to ride with him to the wildlife refuge and Allen would give him the $20 and perform the sexual act on the officer there.

The money was never exchanged because, as soon as they left the bathroom, the lawmaker was arrested.

Ironically, Bob Allen sponsored a failed Florida bill that would dramatically expand what constitutes a felony lewd public sex act to include images and video of voluntary exposure online. Also, Bob Allen is the chair of John McCain's presidential campaign in Florida which may be especially disconcerting for McCain since he has recently blamed his campaign woes on the "gay sweaters" he was forced to wear by his staff. (Personally, I thought they were a nice touch.)

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Barack Obama: Future President (of Illinois)

My fellow Americans, I am writing to inform you that Barack Obama is running for President (of Illinois). I was truly enthralled by his latest ad airing in Iowa about his pragmatic history doing good for the country.

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Arianna Huffington is a Hypocrite

Why Arianna Huffington has become the #1 source of daily 'Do As I Say and Not What I Do.'

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Diaries

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