Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Politics of Crankiness

First of all, you've gotta give Hillary's advisers some credit here. Whether it's fair or not, the female candidate has to show the world she can stand her ground with all the nasty guys, foreign and domestic.

So at the same time, she is duking it out with ...

* The aggressive Pentagon policy chief, Eric Edelman, who called her demands to know of troop withdrawal planning a boost for "enemy propaganda." Clearly she's winning that fight. The defense secretary himself has been falling over himself to smooth things over, sending Clinton a letter that is apologetic almost to the point of groveling.

For Obama, A Breakaway Moment

At long last, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has the fight he has waited for, the one he needed badly, the one Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) started so he didn't have to. Clinton is whooping Obama, having painted him as the wet-behind-the-ears rookie on foreign policy that voters worry he really is. She actually fell into his trap, calling him "naive and irresponsible," and unfortunately for Obama, voters might agree. 

Let Them Eat Locally Grown

Why does Elizabeth Edwards insist upon publicly emasculating her husband?

First, she headlines a breakfast at San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade — an outlandish spectacle of public nudity, baby oil and papier-mâché — where she declares support for same-sex marriage. Her husband is left stuttering on the stump as he explains that Elizabeth speaks for herself, not the campaign.

Then Mrs. Edwards attacks Hillary Clinton for not being half the woman her husband is. Now there’s a winning message to sell throughout America’s heartland.  

Hillary's Preemptive Attack on Obama

We have reached the first major inflection point in the presidential campaign, and with her planned attack on Obama, Hillary Clinton has made a huge mistake.

First, she distorted what Obama said. She made it appear that he wants to immediately negotiate with every bad player on the world stage when that is not his point or position.

Second, she attacked him personally, which is not what Democrats want. 

My Feelings Are Hurt

Hillary, you owe us an apology. By "us" I mean those who covered the presidency of Clinton the First.

You know full well that reporters adhered to a policy, stated and unstated, of leaving your daughter alone. She was off-limits.

About the only times she appeared in our shots during your time at the White House is when your handlers decided it was good PR to provide a photo-op of our happy first family. Otherwise our rule was "leave Chelsea alone." And it was a self-imposed rule. 

Barack Scores

For the first time since he unveiled his candidacy, Barack Obama has moved beyond biography into issues to structure his appeal to the voters. He was original and creative in the debate and really showed that he is learning how to handle issues in a presidential race.

Hillary is not wearing well. Her answers are canned, and the second or third time voters hear them, they realize that they are just being recited from rote memory. By contrast, Obama has grown before our eyes in these three or four debates and now is self-confident, assured and able. 

Grading the YouTube Debate

The Democrats faced off last evening in South Carolina, but they might as well have been on the moon because all of the questions were posed by individuals who posted their queries on YouTube. I know I’m getting up there in age, but I found this more of an attempt by CNN to increase its ratings rather than a serious way to improve the quality of the debate. Why exactly is the video question better than having a live person in the studio actually asking the question himself? I admit that I’m partial to dialogue involving a real person rather than focusing on an image in cyberspace. But that’s just me. Also, it strikes me that the problem with these “debates” is not with the questions asked, but rather with finding a mechanism to force the candidates to actually answer the question asked. Moderator Anderson Cooper tried gamely, but he found diminishing success as the debate wore on (nearly two hours and 20 minutes). 

Reinventing the Political Debate

It was the most different, and the most creative, of all the debates so far – and, clearly, the best.

I admit, I was skeptical ahead of time. Afraid YouTube videos would appear too disjointed, too unfocused, too off the wall. I was wrong.

Coming from average citizens, the questions were more blunt, more direct, and covered more territory than we’ve seen so far. And, as voiced by average voters across America, they were also more real.

It was moving to see a woman recovering from breast cancer remove her wig and start talking about healthcare. It was powerful to see a man in front of flags that covered the coffins of his father and grandfather say he didn’t want his youngest son to come up in a flag-draped coffin from Iraq. It was funny, but effective, to have a snowman ask what the candidates would do about global warming. 

Democrats — and Americans — Shine in Debate

Last night, I was proud to be a Democrat. I was also, as always, proud to be an American. The YouTube questions were clever, funny, substantive and from all walks of life — from gun-toting arms enthusiasts to gay couples to a talking snowman concerned about global warming.

The candidates were funny, substantive and passionate. They were also very experienced, exuded competence and stood in stark contrast to what we are seeing from the Bush administration. 

The New Journalism

Along with most who watched, I found the YouTube CNN debate last night to be a great idea, well-executed. The questions were sharp, relevant and reflected fresh thinking that is so often absent in the normal pack of journalism.

They also raised a disturbing question for those of us who travel in the pack: Who needs us? Hell, anybody can be a reporter.

Anybody, that is, who can tolerate the incredibly long hours of tedium, dealing with the hostility of newsmakers and their paid protectors, who don't want you to get your story.