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Old 05-03-2008, 02:49 PM   #801
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In ’88, a Lesson on Using Symbols as Bludgeons

By ROBIN TONER

WASHINGTON — Sometimes, as Senator Barack Obama seemed to argue earlier this year, a flag pin is just a flag pin.

But it can never be that simple for anyone with direct experience of the 1988 presidential campaign. That year, the Republicans used the symbols of nationhood (notably, whether schoolchildren should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance) to bludgeon the Democrats, challenge their patriotism and utterly redefine their nominee, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts.

The memory of that campaign — reinforced, for many, by the attacks on Senator John Kerry’s Vietnam war record in the 2004 election — haunts Democrats of a certain generation.

The 1988 campaign was, in many ways, the crucible that helped create Bill Clinton’s centrist philosophy and his fierce commitment to attack and counterattack, which drove the politics of the 1990s.

Senator Barack Obama has promised a different politics, one that rises above the fray and the distractions of wedge issues. As Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for Salon, recently put it, “The entire Obama campaign is predicated on the belief that it is no longer 1988.”

But is that true?

The assertion looks more debatable in recent weeks, after the furor over Mr. Obama’s former pastor and his inflammatory views on America, the biggest of a series of “distractions” that have knocked the Obama campaign off stride. And if he wins the nomination, such issues will almost certainly rise again, given that he will run against a war hero, in Senator John McCain, who is advised by several veterans of the campaign against Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Obama himself seemed chastened by the re-emergence of the old politics last week. “Let’s be honest,” he said in an interview on NBC. “You know, here I am, an African-American named Barack Obama who’s running for president. I mean, that’s a leap for folks. And I think it’s understandable that my political opponents would say, ‘You know, he’s different. He’s odd. He’s sort of unfamiliar. And what do we know about him?’ ”

There is a subtext for this history lesson: Mr. Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, is running hard on the notion that she is the more electable candidate, that what she calls her “baggage” has been thoroughly vetted, and that she has survived 16 years of the harshest Republican attacks.

But David Axelrod, chief strategist to Mr. Obama, argues that any Democratic nominee will be subject to the same withering attacks on values and character.

“The question,” Mr. Axelrod said, “is whether given the abysmal state of our economy, given the war, given all the challenges that people sense we face that have led George Bush to have the lowest rating ever, do you believe that voters are going to be distracted from the fundamental need for change? I think the answer to that is no.”

In fact, as Mr. Axelrod suggests, these are very different times.

Twenty years ago, the nation was in an era of comparative peace and prosperity; a sense of crisis did not hang over the election. Today, with the war in Iraq in its sixth year and the economy stumbling, more than eight in ten Americans say the country is on the wrong track. A new generation of voters have entered the electorate, who may not be as susceptible to values issues.

In such a climate, it would presumably be far more difficult than in 1988 to keep the campaign focused on symbolic, values-related issues, or matters of personality.

There are differences, as well, in the political skills of the candidates then and today: Mr. Obama rose to national prominence largely on the basis of his oratorical skills, and has never been accused of lacking vision; Mr. Dukakis based his campaign on a prosaic promise of managerial competence and “good jobs at good wages.”

And yet, some veterans of past Democratic campaigns say, there are similarities, as well.

Even with so many big issues at stake this time around, the race between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton has often been focused on questions of values, background and character — witness the recent fixation on Mr. Obama’s ties to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., or the continued unfounded rumors that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.

Like Mr. Dukakis in 1988, Mr. Obama is relatively new to the national scene, and thus vulnerable to being defined by Republican attacks. And like Mr. Dukakis, Mr. Obama lacks experience with the politics of wedge issues on a national stage.

Attacks on a presidential candidate’s patriotism, are hard for many politicians to take seriously. “Unless you’re talking about the Manchurian candidate, the idea that someone who put their heart and soul into running for president didn’t care deeply for their country is kind of ridiculous,” said Drew Westen, a psychologist and political consultant.

Still, one of the clearest strategic errors of 1988 was the Democrats’ failure to realize that such attacks could stick and open the door to broader efforts to portray Mr. Dukakis as fundamentally out of sync with the nation’s values.

“The attacks against Dukakis, which were systematic and attacked his patriotism, did a lot of damage to him,” said Tad Devine, a top advisor to the Dukakis campaign and the campaign of Senator John Kerry in 2004. “They developed words and phrases that essentially said this guy is not part of the mainstream.”

If Mr. Obama is the nominee, Mr. Devine said, “I think it will happen again, and it will be aimed at both the candidate and his wife.”

Michelle Obama has already drawn conservative fire for declaring that, because of her husband’s success and the voters’ hunger for change, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” And Mr. Obama has been questioned about why he does not wear a flag pin every day.

In 1988, one of the central attacks revolved around the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Dukakis, as governor, had vetoed state legislation in 1977 that required teachers to lead their students in the pledge. He did so on the basis of an advisory opinion from the state court, which said the legislation was unconstitutional.

Mr. Dukakis, a Harvard lawyer surrounded by other Harvard lawyers, believed himself on very firm ground. But by August 1988, his Republican opponent, Vice President George H.W. Bush was rousing huge crowds with a contemptuous question: “What is it about the Pledge of Allegiance that upsets him so much?”

Mr. Dukakis, Mr. Bush said, was “out in deep left field on these issues.” He was also “a card-carrying member of the A.C.L.U.,” more concerned with giving furloughs to criminals — like Willie Horton — than upholding national values, the vice president asserted.

“I simply can’t understand the kind of thinking that that lets first-degree murderers out of jail on a furlough and won’t deal with the Pledge of Allegiance,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Dukakis defended his patriotism and scoffed at Mr. Bush for wrapping himself in the flag, but, in essence, lost control of the campaign and his own image.

“After his loss, in 40 states, many Democratic leaders swore they would never be caught off guard that way again.

Mr. Obama faces different issues, beginning with Mr. Wright, who suggested last week that the United States was attacked by terrorists because it had itself engaged in terrorism; Mr. Obama has now denounced his former pastor. He has been challenged, as well, about his relationship with a former radical from the 1960s; Mr. Obama says he simply served on the board of a foundation with the man.

The questions may be taking a toll: The New York Times/CBS News Poll last week found 29 percent found him “very patriotic,” compared with 40 percent who felt that way about Mrs. Clinton, and 70 percent who felt that way about Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war.

The lessons of history are fairly clear for Democrats, said Bruce Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council and a longtime Clinton ally. “Republicans have been trying to put us in the same box for 40 years now,” Mr. Reed said. “We win elections when we don’t let them.”
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Old 05-05-2008, 02:18 PM   #802
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After the primaries Tuesday

Obama will be much closer to securing the nomination.

I expect on Wednesday more super? delegates will break for him.

It is the politically safe thing to do.

Like voting to give W the right to use force in Iraq.
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:07 PM   #803
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One good reason to vote for McCain

Quote:
John McCain and other Senators call for EPA to reconsider ethanol output mandate

By MATTHEW PERRONE – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans have asked environmental regulators to use their power to halt the country's plans to expand ethanol production amid rising food prices.

Twenty-four Republican senators, including presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona, sent a letter Friday to the Environmental Protection Agency suggesting it waive, or restructure, rules that require a fivefold increase in ethanol production over the next 15 years.

Congress passed a law last year mandating a ramp-up to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2015 and 36 billion by 2022. But McCain and other Republicans said those rules should be suspended to put more corn back into the food supply for animal feed, and to encourage farmers to plant other crops.

"This subsidized (ethanol) program — paid for by taxpayer dollars — has contributed to pain at the cash register, at the dining room table, and a devastating food crisis throughout the world," said McCain, in a statement.
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i...S0ZpwD90FKT800
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Old 05-05-2008, 04:06 PM   #804
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Hillary wants Oil companies, that have made windfall profits, to pay the oil tax.

Obama says "No, No, No."


Quote:
Barack Obama still takes in oil money

The Illinois Democrat received $46,000 in donations from executives and workers last month. In a campaign ad, he said he took no money from oil companies.

By Dan Morain
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

10:45 PM PDT, April 23, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama continued accepting donations from oil company executives and employees last month even as he aired ads in which he stated he took no oil company money, his campaign finance reports show.

Obama has taken at least $263,000 from oil company executives, family members and employees since entering the presidential race last year, including $46,000 last month. At least $140,000 has come in chunks of between $1,000 and $2,300, the maximum permitted under federal law.

Texas oil executive Robert L. Cavnar of Milagro Exploration and his wife, Gracie, have helped the Illinois Democrat raise at least another $50,000 by helping host a fundraiser earlier in the campaign.

Other oil industry donors have included Sinclair Oil President Ross Matthews of Texas and John B. Hess, chairman of Hess Corp., a New York-based oil producer and retailer with operations worldwide. Hess, who has given to other presidential candidates, including Sen. John McCain, gave $2,300 to Obama last year, as did his wife, Susan. Hess gave $14,000 to Obama's Senate run in 2003. The oil executives did not return phone calls.

In the weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania primary, Obama aired a campaign spot in Indiana and Pennsylvania that sought to reinforce his theme that he would change the Washington culture, while also tapping into voter distress about the high price of gasoline. In the ad, he called for a windfall profits "penalty."

"Since the gas lines of the '70s, Democrats and Republicans have talked about energy independence but nothing's changed -- except now Exxon's making $40 billion a year and we're paying $3.50 for gas. I'm Barack Obama. I don't take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists, and I won't let them block change anymore," says the spot, which aired as recently as April 8.

Obama's ad is factually correct. He does not take money from oil companies. A 1907 federal law bars all corporations from giving money to political candidates. However, oil company employees can make donations.

As the ad aired, Obama took $12,400 from oil company executives and employees in increments of $1,000 or more. Altogether, people who identify themselves as working for oil and gas companies donated $46,000 in March.

Obama spokesman Ben Labolt said unlike Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and McCain, Obama refused to take money from federal lobbyists and political action committees.

"He accepted no contributions from oil and gas company political action committees, or from those who are paid to lobby Congress on behalf of oil and gas companies -- the money that is intended to purchase influence and access on behalf of corporate interests," Labolt said.

Clinton countered Obama's ad with one detailing his oil company-related donations from employees and executives of Exxon and other major petroleum companies. Factcheck.org, part of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, also chastised Obama for airing the spot.

"They all represent the same interest -- oil." said Sheila Krumholz, director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:31 PM   #805
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Quote:
Clinton: OPEC 'can no longer be a cartel'

Clinton's attacks on oil prices as artificially inflated, Enron-style, keep escalating, and today she appeared to threaten to break up the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"We’re going to go right at OPEC," she said. "They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world, they decide how much oil they’re going to produce and what price they’re going to put it at," she told a crod at a firehouse in Merrillville, IN.

"That’s not a market. That’s a monopoly," she said, saying she'd use anti-trust law and the World Trade Organization to take on OPEC.

Clinton has cast herself as a warrior for working people against the oil industry and malicious "speculators," and made that -- along with her push for a gas tax holiday -- central to her closing message in Indiana.

It's a potent message, like the attack on "Wall Street money brokers," with deep roots in American politics. It' It's also very hard to figure out what exactly she means by the threat to break OPEC.

Good stuff here!

I don't know what is possible

but, at least we have a politician that is able to put their finger to the wind
and knows which way the wind is blowing
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:44 PM   #806
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Everything is possible. Just close your eyes. And if you keep pretending hard enough, maybe you will truly believe it yourself.

But please wake up to reality in time.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:50 PM   #807
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Me?

I have no illusions

Quote:
Originally posted by deep
After the primaries Tuesday

Obama will be much closer to securing the nomination.

I expect on Wednesday more super? delegates will break for him.

It is the politically safe thing to do.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:52 PM   #808
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Hillary's gas tax holiday idea is STUPID beyond belief.
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:06 PM   #809
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McCain's plan is don't collect it

Hillary's plan is let the oil companies pay it out of their windfall profits

Obama's plan is what? suck it up bitter people keep paying more for gas and send in those donations
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:08 PM   #810
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They are both idiotic plans and every economist has said as much.

The fact Hillary is making this about "elitism" is embarrassing for her. It's a horribly stupid and ineffective economic initiative, something on the level of Bush, and I'm glad that essentially everyone has called her on it.
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:13 PM   #811
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I think the Bush stimulus plan is stupid, too

give people a check for $300 - $1800 and run the national debt even higher on the hope they may spend it and help the economy


economist won't determine these two primary elections tomorrow

it will be working folks that are upset about gasoline prices
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:30 PM   #812
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Big Grin

Just got back from an Obama rally in Indy. We were about 15 yards from Obama and Stevie Wonder. Pretty cool.

Should be an interesting day in Indiana tomorrow.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:48 PM   #813
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Originally posted by zoney!
Just got back from an Obama rally in Indy. We were about 15 yards from Obama and Stevie Wonder. Pretty cool.

Should be an interesting day in Indiana tomorrow.
what is your prediction?
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Old 05-05-2008, 11:07 PM   #814
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Tuesday if the first day of practice for the 92nd Indianapolis 500.

Is there something else going on?
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Old 05-06-2008, 04:05 AM   #815
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep
Me?

I have no illusions

No, I think Hillary has some illusions.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:31 AM   #816
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep

give people a check for $300 - $1800 and run the national debt even higher on the hope they may spend it and help the economy


i'm spending mine in Mexico.

i'm also thinking that the only way out of this jungle for the Democrats is a unity "dream" ticket in some shape or form -- and i do think HRC would accept the VP.

they hate each other too much? nah.

JFK and LBJ hated each other. Reagan and GB1 weren't good friends either.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:05 AM   #817
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President Bartlett and Vice President Hoynes were barely on speaking terms.





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Old 05-06-2008, 10:28 AM   #818
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511




i'm spending mine in Mexico.

i'm also thinking that the only way out of this jungle for the Democrats is a unity "dream" ticket in some shape or form -- and i do think HRC would accept the VP.

they hate each other too much? nah.

JFK and LBJ hated each other. Reagan and GB1 weren't good friends either.
I don't really think they hate each other as much as some people think


I don't think HRC or even Obama want her to be his VP

I do think that with Obama as the nominee, Hillary and Bill will sincerely campaign for him.

Much more and more believable than McCain for bush in 2000 or even 2004
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:48 AM   #819
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511




i'm spending mine in Mexico.

i'm also thinking that the only way out of this jungle for the Democrats is a unity "dream" ticket in some shape or form -- and i do think HRC would accept the VP.

they hate each other too much? nah.

JFK and LBJ hated each other. Reagan and GB1 weren't good friends either.
Has Edwards endorsed anyone yet? I've thought he's laid pretty low after bowing out of the race. I think he'd make a great VP. Actually, I think he'd make a better POTUS.
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Old 05-06-2008, 12:58 PM   #820
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Any predictions for tonight?

I say Obama wins NC by 10. Hilliary wins IN by 6-7.
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