"... They're Heading Into the First Turn, ..."
With the first primary, the Washington, DC non-binding Democratic primary, occuring on January 13, I thought I would do something a bit different in the candidate coverage.
As you will read below, the campaign of Carol Moseley Braun is on its last legs. I fully expect that after the early February primaries, she will be relegated to the sidelines by the media whether or not she drops out.
As no one on The Left Coaster has picked up coverage on Lieberman, Kucinich, or Gephardt, I include some coverage on their activities as well.
But to begin, I look at the man who gets more press than most of the candidates, the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Fresh from opening his newest South Carolina campaign office, Sharpton is pushing for media coverage of the DC primary. He's taking this so seriously, maybe as a way of establishing his credibility, that he's spending a sizeable portion of his meager funds on radio advertising:
Sharpton Uses First Media Buys in DC
Washington (AP) - The Reverend Al Sharpton is making a big investment in next week's D.C. Democratic presidential primary. Sharpton is low on cash and lagging in the polls, but he's buying his first advertising of the 2004 presidential campaign on several D.C. area radio stations. Sharpton says he's the most vocal supporter of full voting representation in Congress for the District. He's also criticizing front-runner Howard Dean because Dean isn't participating in Friday's debate among the candidates. Although no delegates will be selected for the national convention in Tuesday's vote, Sharpton says it will still be important. He says a low turnout will send the wrong message about D.C. voting rights.
The only group who really cares about this issue are the people who live in DC. But as you will read below, they aren't very politically active in DC - at least for primaries.
More on the Sharpton radio blitz:
WASHINGTON -- Al Sharpton, admittedly running a low-budget presidential campaign, introduced a radio advertisement Thursday that he said cost him an arm and a leg -- or at least a leg. Sharpton spoke at a news conference where he was endorsed by New York assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., whom Sharpton considers his political hero.
The Democratic candidate said his ad will run on five area stations ahead of Washington's non-binding Jan. 13 primary, which most of the other candidates have largely ignored while focusing on Iowa, New Hampshire and early states that will allocate delegates. Sharpton spent the day touting Washington's primary, expected to have low voter turnout but which organizers hope will raise the issue of full voting rights for the city in the U.S. Congress.
Only Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and Sharpton -- along with seven lesser known hopefuls -- appear on the ballot. The other Democratic candidates requested their names be removed and have spent little or no time campaigning here.
Asked how much was spent on the ad, Sharpton said it was significant for a campaign that has raised little money, but only gave a numberless response: "It's like the conversation between the chicken and the pig over a ham and egg sandwich," he said. "The chicken made a contribution. The pig dropped a leg. I dropped a leg in Washington, D.C."
Campaign manager Charles Halloran said it was a "healthy five-figure buy."
You're pushing it a bit , Al. No offense to Adam Clayton Powell IV, but he's hardly a household name, and his father has a bit of a smirch on his character having been expelled from the House You can certainly do better than this, can't you? Let's see:
DC primary tests Sharpton, Dean
Washington Times, DC
The Rev. Al Sharpton views the upcoming D.C. presidential primary as the perfect opportunity to gauge how he will fare with urban voters this spring and will accept nothing less than a win. With the nonbinding contest just six days away, the Sharpton campaign refuses to entertain any notions of coming in second to national front-runner Howard Dean after the votes are cast. "Winning and winning is our only barometer in the D.C. primary," Sharpton campaign spokesman Andre Johnson said.
The District's mostly Democratic City Council moved the primary up to Jan. 13 last March after a deal was struck between local Democrats and the Democratic National Committee to hold the primary before New Hampshire's and the Iowa caucuses, as long as it was nonbinding with no delegates up for grabs.
Mr. Sharpton sees the major prize on the horizon if he is able to win in the District and then South Carolina, where blacks constitute about 50 percent of Democratic primary voters. There, Mr. Sharpton is tied for second with Wesley Clark in one recent poll (trailing Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina), and in second by himself in another. "This primary will test the rest of the election, because if we can win here and target South Carolina, a win there we will be in a great position to open the eyes of a lot of people," Mr. Johnson said.
The Tuesday ballot includes Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio and former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun. Mrs. Moseley Braun, who has found it tough to raise significant money to support her campaign, is seeking validation — to tout her urban universal family health care, after-school and inmate rehabilitation and integration programs — from the primary to bolster her efforts. "We want the win, but if we don't do as well as we would like to, if it's second or third, that will tell us how much more work we have to do," said Peb Ali, spokesman for the campaign.
Mr. Kucinich also expects to perform well in the primary, and will appear in the city for a debate with Mrs. Braun and Mr. Sharpton tomorrow conducted on WTOP's "Political Hour With Mark Plotkin." It remains uncertain whether Mr. Dean will attend.
Mr. Sharpton challenged Mr. Dean in a statement released Tuesday, saying he has disrespected District residents by "continuing to ignore the D.C. primary."
"You would think that a man who has a suspect record on civil rights and minority issues ... would want to campaign in one of the most significant urban communities in the nation," Mr. Sharpton said. Representatives for the Dean campaign did not return numerous calls seeking comment on their expectations, but have repeatedly said the former Vermont governor intends to win the primary.
The other five among the nine major presidential candidates — Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Edwards, plus Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Mr. Clark — asked to be left off the ballot, not wanting to break tradition and be shunned by the DNC, which doesn't allow any jurisdiction other than New Hampshire to go first. The five candidates have said they will participate and fight for delegate votes in two binding D.C. caucuses Feb. 14 and March 6.
All four of the remaining major candidates on the primary ballot, including Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio and former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, view the primary as a first test to see how urban minority voters have responded to their messages. The District is more than 60 percent black and nearly 80 percent Democratic.
Al's bitten off quite a mouthful. Here's something else for him to chew on:
Dean seen as leader in D.C. primary
The four remaining candidates on the District's Jan. 13 presidential primary ballot will hold a number of events this week to present themselves to voters, although the favorite is former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who might not be around. "I think Howard Dean is clearly first, the Rev. Al Sharpton second, and former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and Rep. Dennis [J.] Kucinich of Ohio flip-flopping between third and fourth," predicted Lawrence Guyot, a 30-year veteran of civil rights and political activism in the District.
Donna Brazile, chairman of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, said she also sees Mr. Dean having an edge in the primary. "I talked with Al Sharpton today, and he intends to campaign vigorously and has mentioned voting rights at every turn in his campaign. But there is no question that Howard Dean is ahead," she said.
Miss Brazile said voter turnout would be key, an issue that is causing friction between national Democrats and local party activists. "If it is a low voter turnout, Dean will probably win because of his strong grass-roots campaign in the city," she said. "But if participation is high, it could be a close race."
The District's Democratic party chairman, A. Scott Bolden, said Mr. Dean could lose the vote if he fails to appear in the city this week. "Ranking candidates is unscientific, and as far as I'm concerned, the race is wide open and I would not take a single vote for granted," Mr. Bolden said.
The District's mostly Democratic city council moved the primary up to Jan. 13 in March of last year. Although the D.C. Democratic State Committee voted against the move, they struck a deal with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to hold the primary before New Hampshire's and the Iowa caucuses as long as it was nonbinding with no delegates up for grabs.
Five of the nine major presidential candidates — Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, John Edwards of North Carolina and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, and Wesley Clark — asked to be left off the ballot, not wanting to break tradition and be shunned by the DNC, whose rules will not allow any jurisdiction other than New Hampshire to go first.
The Washington Times reported last month that state committee members were worried that the primary could be a flop because of minuscule voter turnout.
[But] Mr. Guyot said yesterday that he thinks the DNC does not want Mr. Dean gaining momentum with a win in the District and is seeking to minimize the primary's profile by giving it little publicity or resources. He also accused the local Democratic Party structure of helping bury the city's primary. "The party is not working for a good turnout. If you really look at it, it is the activists and council members and elections board officials working hard to get people to the polls," he said.
Mr. Bolden said those comments were absurd. "Ironically, it would seem the party is taking more of a responsibility for getting out the vote than was originally anticipated, considering we voted against it," he said.
Radio, print, and TV advertising is ready to go, Mr. Bolden said. The local party also has hired Chris Benjamin, through a contract with Miss Brazile's company, as a consultant and communications director to handle media inquiries. Mr. Bolden said his party also has enlisted volunteers from labor unions to operate phone banks.
Political activist Sean Tenner of the D.C. Democracy Fund, a think tank advocating D.C. voting rights and statehood, said the primary already has succeeded regardless of who wins or what the turnout is. "We have 250 pages of media articles from across the country on D.C. voting rights because of the primary, and getting that attention was the primary goal," Mr. Tenner said.
I bet this is the first most of you have heard about the issues of DC voters. Certainly, with the outrages of the (mis)Administration of George Warmonger Bush and the Potomac Petroleum Pirates, this isn't that big an issue today. The Washington Times is of the opinion that DC voters will agree.
An unattainable primary goal
Washington Times, DC
Most of the big-name Democrats seeking their party's nomination do not care and most D.C. voters probably do not even know it, but the District will hold a presidential primary next week. It is not a sanctioned primary. In fact, it is nonbinding. Republicans will not be voting in the Jan. 13 primary — and the vast majority of the city's registered Democratic voters probably won't be lining up at the polls. D.C. lawmakers and the D.C. Democratic State Committee knew all those facts going in.
The chief reason for switching the primary from May to January was to draw attention to the District's lack of full congressional representation. A. Scott Bolden, chairman of the D.C. Democrats, said this week that he and other D.C. leaders will "continue to push and continue to fight" for full voting rights.
Yet, the presidential candidates themselves are not playing along. The names of only four major Democrats are even on the ballot — Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton — and none is a leading voice for D.C. voting rights. They haven't even tried to rouse the interest of D.C. voters.
If the 2000 primary stands as a clear indicator, Mr. Bolden and the others shouldn't set their voter-turnout expectations too high. While registered Democrats outnumber Republicans better than 10-to-1 (257,330 vs. 25,707 as of Oct. 31), only 8.8 percent of Democrats even bothered to cast ballots in the 2000 primary.
Indeed, there are two certainties following next week's primary: 1) either Mr. Dean or Mr. Sharpton will emerge victorious; and 2) the District remains without full voting representation. That is because try as D.C. leaders might to change the city's status, the Constitution mandates limited home rule for the District — and that is as things should be.
To the financial misfortunes of D.C. taxpayers, the Jan. 13 Democratic primary (or "beauty contest," as D.C. Republican Chairman Betsy Werronen rightly characterized it) will cost $350,000. That is money that could have been well spent on schools, social services or law enforcement. It certainly can't buy the two-thirds votes needed in Congress to change the Constitution.
This is kind of a backhanded slap coming from a newspaper that can't seem to criticize George Warmonger Bush and his costly Oil Grab in Iraq, for which he recently asked Congress for an amount over 20,000 times as much. I'm sure there are A LOT of things that money could have been put to better use.
But we can't exclusively blame GOP news whores for backhanded slaps. None other than George Warmonger Bush's Favorite Endorsing Blue-Dog Democrat, Zell Miller, offers up some as well. We'll only look at the one pertinent to Al Sharpton.
Democrats Trying to Run the Train on Pure Anger
The Democratic candidates continue to amaze the non-liberal observer. It's difficult to take it all seriously, but who really knows how far one can ride the hate-Bush wagon. Ridiculous candidates like Kucinich and Sharpton stay in the hunt. Democratic Senator Zell Miller is in a unique position to comment on all this. He does so in the Wall Street Journal.Memo to Terry McAwful:
[Nice touch, Zell! Get him on your side immediately! - ed]May the Democratic leaders get the anger they deserve.
Conventional wisdom says native Southerners John Edwards and Wesley Clark and moderate Joe Lieberman will have the edge when the primaries move South. Don't count on it. I'd be willing to bet a steak dinner (mad cow or no mad cow) that Al Sharpton will get almost as many votes as Messrs. Edwards, Clark, or Lieberman in this supposedly more friendly territory. (If they're still around, that is.) The last time there was an African-American in the primaries, Jesse Jackson blew everyone away, getting 96% of the African-American vote in the South, carrying Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and placing second in North Carolina, Florida, Maryland, and Tennessee. It would be a tall order to match that. But Rev. Sharpton could do well because he's even more appealing than Rev. Jackson. While Jesse is sullen, Al is engaging. Can you imagine Rev. Jackson poking fun at himself? Can you imagine him on "Saturday Night Live" belting out James Brown's "I Feel Good" with a few cool moves?
Al Sharpton did a pretty good impression of the "Godfather of Soul." Of course, the rotund reverend has long been the "Godfather of Con." He's slick as a peeled onion. In just one short primary season, his timid fellow candidates and the even more timid media have erased the criminal Tawana Brawley shakedown. They've given this trickster who has never been elected dogcatcher a legitimacy he does not deserve: their Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval as a bona fide presidential candidate. So, get ready to start counting Rev. Sharpton's delegates. They will be impossible to ignore on national TV when the Democrats take center stage in Boston. Memo to Democratic Chairman Terry McAwful: It's called "reaping what you sow."
If you think this could not possibly happen, consider that not-too-distant history. Take the Georgia primary in 1988. Georgia's senior U.S. senator, governor, House speaker, and largest newspaper endorsed Al Gore. Mr. Gore was running right of center, warning that a vote for Michael Dukakis would spell defeat for the Democrats. But Jesse Jackson won Georgia with 40%. Al Gore got 32% and Mr. Dukakis, who later would carry 10 states as the nominee, got 16%.
What wit! What style!
What an idiot! We'll see if Zell Miller's political sense shines brighter than his common one.
I'll be adding in the other candidates here, and begin a farewell for now to Al.
Candidates have NY primary petition problems
ALBANY, N.Y. -- [C]andidates, including former Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Richard Gephardt and Al Sharpton, filed petitions for delegate slates that appear to contain an insufficient number of signatures from Democratic voters to qualify those slates for the March 2 primary ballot, according to a review by The Associated Press.
When filing petitions, the campaigns must certify that the documents contain the required number of signatures. To qualify for the ballot, a candidate must file petitions containing the signatures of at least 5,000 party members.
In New York, because there are separate petitions for candidates and for delegate slates and separate voting at the primary for them as well, the bottom-line effect of not qualifying delegate slates is minimal. Filing the slates is, however, a demonstration of a campaign's organizational strength and financial resources, potentially important factors in primaries.
Among the nine major Democratic candidates, only former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois chose not to file petitions to get on the statewide primary ballot in New York.
Great display of team leadership, guys! With organizational skills like yours, Karl Rove can go back to worrying only about being indicted for leaking the top secret information on Mrs. Wilson's employment.
But to demonstrate this isn't merely a guy thing, ... :
Braun opts out of New York primary
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Democratic presidential hopeful Carol Moseley Braun's campaign said Tuesday that she will not be on the ballot for New York's March 2 presidential primary. New York requires Democratic candidates to collect the signatures of at least 5,000 party members statewide to be in the primary. Campaign manager Patricia Ireland said the former senator from Illinois is on the ballot in at least 20 states so far.
But with the polling numbers she's gathering, I'd say she's about done. The real issue is: To whom will she throw her support? Will anyone care? After all, she's no Jim Clyburn!
GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) -- Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn says he's no kingmaker, he's just good at networking. Clyburn, the first black congressman from South Carolina since Reconstruction, has endorsed fellow Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri in South Carolina's first-in-the-South Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 3. That endorsement could be crucial as some officials estimate that half the primary voters may be black. "All that talk about kingmaker is somebody else's words," Clyburn said Wednesday during a Gephardt rally near a shuttered steel mill. "I would never use that word, and I feel very uncomfortable with it, " said Clyburn, who then quipped, "Well my staff seems to relish in it."
"I don't have an organization," Clyburn said. "I do network very well and often." Clyburn says he often networks through churches. "I was born and raised in a parsonage. I am very active in the AME church -- you can't be much more political than the AME church. That's the way I do things."
Actually, I think we can make a fairly strong case for Karl Rove being much more political than the AME church.
Clyburn's endorsee, Richard Gephardt, spoke to a small rally of steelworkers in an attempt to bolster his union support.
GEORGETOWN, South Carolina (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt said Wednesday that his campaign is about jobs and fair trade policies for all American workers. "Everything I'm talking about in this campaign is designed to build new jobs in this country," Gephardt told about 150 people, many of them steelworkers, at a rally near the idle Georgetown Steel Co. mill. The plant closed last year, throwing about 500 people out of work.
The state, which holds its Democratic presidential primary on February 3, has lost tens of thousands of textile and apparel jobs in 11 years. Aware of that reality, Gephardt highlighted his opposition to both the North American Free Trade Agreement and relaxed trade rules for China. "When you're talking about trade and jobs and Georgetown Steel, you're not just talking about jobs -- you're talking about families, you're talking about lives, you're talking about schools, you're talking about churches," he said.
Gephardt also said the state has an important role in the nominating process, since it holds the first primary in the South. "The whole country is going to be looking at South Carolina," he said.
Gephardt asked for their votes, predicting, "We're going to win in Iowa, we're going to get a better-than-expected result in New Hampshire, and if we can win in South Carolina, I'm going to be on my way to the Democratic nomination." A recent South Carolina poll by the American Research Group showed Gephardt in the middle of the pack among the nine Democratic candidates, but 30 percent of likely voters described themselves as undecided.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina, who has endorsed Gephardt, said people are just starting to focus on the campaign now that the holidays are over. "A lot of people are going to wait as long as they possibly can," Clyburn said. "Because we have this many candidates out there, it's confusing to people."
I don't think we will have to worry about that very long, Congressman. I think the number of candidates will drop quickly next month.
I do, however, find this next on Gephardt a bit confusing. More at the end of this article.
Gephardt Says Union Workers Losing Faith
DES MOINES, Iowa - Warning that union workers are losing faith in politics, Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt on Monday urged their leaders to help elect someone "who will deliver on issues like trade."
The Missouri congressman told about 200 leaders of the Alliance for Economic Justice that union workers are told in election after election that trade must be fair, but that nothing ever happens. "There's a lot of rhetoric, but there's never action," he said. Gephardt warned officials that "it's in their own interest to elect a candidate who will deliver on issues like trade."
The Alliance for Economic Justice is a coalition of 17 national labor unions that was formed to focus attention on jobs, health care and trade issues. The group has endorsed Gephardt, largely because of his opposition to trade deals. Gephardt opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement and is making trade an issue in the campaign.
The union leaders were brought to Iowa for the closing two weeks of the campaign and hope to organize workers for Iowa's precinct caucuses, which open the nominating season on Jan. 19.
Polls show Gephardt locked in a tight race in the state with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean atop the Democratic field. The turnout of union members is crucial for Gephardt's campaign because he has more union endorsements than any of his rivals. About 135,000 workers in the state are union members, said Mark Smith, president of the Iowa AFL-CIO. For every 100 members, about 40 are registered Democrats and 15 are Republicans. The rest are independent.
About 100,000 Democrats are expected to show up for caucuses and about a third will come from union households, Gephardt said. Unions represented by the coalition have 80,000 to 90,000 members in Iowa. "If you can get even a third, or a fourth, or half of those members, we're gonna win," Gephardt said.
Gephardt said his stance on trade issues sets him apart from Dean and his rivals. "I'm the only candidate in this race that has been there," Gephardt said. "I'm from the show-me state. I don't talk it. I do it."
I said above that I found this a bit confusing. Here's why:
First, Gephardt is addressing a bunch of union leaders who have lost the political influence they once had with 60% of their Iowa membership. As a union member myself, I certainly agree that union workers have lost faith with the Democratic Party. But instead of addressing the members themselves, who probably aren't too keen on supporting Gephardt again - "Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, we won't be fooled again!" he addresses the union leaders, whose influence is not necessarily great. As the South Carolina article above indicates, only 150 versus 500 laid off workers bothered to show up to hear Gephardt speak.
Second, As a union member, I have been pitched by my union to support Gephardt. But I can't vote for a guy who asks for money, then forgets where he got it from when the election is over. I can't say that Gephardt has done exactly nothing for America's workers, union or otherwise, but I doubt I'd find much of substance if I looked.
That's enough on Dick. Now we'll focus on Holy Joe, GOP Schmoe!
JUST SAY NO TO JOE
by CHERI DELBROCCO, Mamphis Flyer
Lieberman’s inability to gain votes on his own merit, leave him with only cheap shots designed to undermine Dean and other front runners. With his recognition of that fact and all his fund raising frustrations, Lieberman can only offer undecided voters cheap shots aimed at his rivals without regard to the long-term cost to the Democratic Party. When it comes to money, the Republicans, and their corporate donors will spend almost a quarter of a billion dollars to gain victory this fall. What Democrats resent is Lieberman’s willingness to cut Bush slack, his inability to define what our country would look like today had Al Gore been properly recognized as President of the United States and providing Karl Rove sound bites ad nauseam about Howard Dean’s Republican media fabricated deficiencies.
Senator Lieberman’s willful attempts to defeat the other candidates, specifically Howard Dean, by name calling and character assassination are desperate attempts that could potentially destroy the Democratic party’s chances of beating George W. Bush. In fact, they serve as a demonstration of his continual promotion of Bush. His barb that Howard Dean is so divisive that he is unfit to lead the nation is both below the belt and over the top. While claiming Dean had crawled into a spider hole of denial regarding the capture of Sadaam Hussein, it appears Senator Lieberman has crawled into his own hole of denial regarding his party affiliation. His pronouncement that Governor Dean is not electable because he makes all Democrats look like untrustworthy weaklings is beyond the pale. That outrageous comment makes Lieberman look desperate and weak. No respectable candidate would assail another with such reckless abandon in the distinct hopes of taking down the entire party. Most are finding this contentious lashing out to be inexcusable and it is likely the reason the senator’s polling numbers have fallen into single digits. Apparently, Lieberman has decided to prove he is the Democrat mostly likely to assist in helping the re-election of George W. Bush by slicing and dicing members of his own party. The old saw, "with friends like this..."is definitely applicable.
While Americans appreciate Senator Lieberman’s years of contributions to civil rights, women’s rights, and affirmative action, most Democrats find alarming his close alliances with high profile advocates for the Republican party such as Bill Bennett, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, and Jerry Falwell. These relationships are wholly inconsistent with most Democrats’ view of the nation. He is clearly out of touch with his support of the war in Iraq, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, school vouchers and calls for the partial privatization of Social Security. In other words, when it comes to most of the issues, he offers little change and virtually no opposition to the Bush way of running America.
The Democrats have had enough of the back room guffaws from the party in power. The only belly laughing and back slapping Democrats want to hear in November are celebrations and congratulations on a job well done in taking back this country.
Who needs to watch The Mole when real life is so much more exciting?
It's not all bad for Joe! At least ONE GOP-leaning publication seems to like him:
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman received a strong endorsement Wednesday from The New Republic magazine, which said the senator from Connecticut offers the "clearest, bravest" vision for the Democratic Party: "Only Lieberman -- the supposed candidate of appeasement -- is challenging his party, enduring boos at event after event, to articulate a different, better vision of what it means to be a Democrat." The endorsement came as new polls show Lieberman remains far behind.
The New Republic applauded Lieberman's support for the war in Iraq and blasted Dean for throwing "red meat" to the party faithful in his criticism of Bush. "The problem with Dean's vision of the Democratic Party is more than electoral; it is intellectual and moral. And the candidate who offers the clearest, bravest alternative is Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman," the magazine said.
It went on to say that in the current security environment a president may have to make bold decisions, even if it means upsetting traditional allies. "A Democratic president may have to defy both America's allies and his domestic political base to aggressively fight terrorism and defend freedom. So far, at least, Dean's record on the national stage suggests he doesn't understand that. Lieberman does."
Speaking by phone with CNN, Lieberman said he was honored to receive the endorsement. "I've been saying I'm the mainstream alternative here to George Bush on one side and Howard Dean on the other," he said. "I'm real grateful for it."
I bet you are, Joe! So what do you say to your supporters in New York about this?
Sen. Joseph Lieberman has failed to qualify delegate slates for New York's Democratic presidential primary in more than a third of the state's congressional districts, an examination of records showed Thursday.
In New York, because there are separate petitions for candidates and for delegate slates and separate voting at the primary for them as well, the bottom-line effect of not qualifying delegate slates is minimal. Filing the slates is, however, a demonstration of a campaign's organizational strength and financial resources, potentially important factors in primaries.
Lieberman failed to file petitions for delegate slates in 11 of the state's 29 congressional districts, according to campaign aides. The Connecticut senator filed delegate slate petitions in only three of the state's 12 congressional districts north of New York City, according to state Board of Election records. "We're proud we accomplished our goal of getting Joe Lieberman on the ballot in New York and slating our supporters as delegates in most congressional districts because getting on the ballot is the first, most important threshold test and delegates can be allotted after we win the primary," said Lieberman spokesman Adam Kovacevich.
Lieberman's main backer in New York, Manhattan Democrat Sheldon Silver, the powerful speaker of the state Assembly, said the Lieberman camp was close to having enough signatures to qualify delegate slates in a number of the districts where it didn't file petitions. "We made a determination not to make the certification that it was enough (signatures), as was done in a lot of the other campaigns," Silver added.
In New York, a presidential candidate who wins enough votes in the primary to qualify for delegates in a congressional district where he has no delegate slate running, has delegates appointed for him by the state party. Those appointed delegates are pledged to vote for the candidate on the first ballot at the national convention.
Which means you have only ONE shot at the Convention, Joe. Better practice your aim, because you're up against sharpshooters like this:
Dean has to reassure everyone else.
Some of the criticisms of Dean have crossed the line. Joe Lieberman in particular has behaved appallingly. No Democratic candidate should ever say that 'Democrat X can't win in November' as Lieberman has said and/or hinted repeatedly of Dean. Suppose Dean becomes the nominee. How does Lieberman endorse him?
The answer is that either he doesn't, which would be an act of apostasy that should get him thrown out of the party, or he does, but in such a way as to be completely meaningless. In any event, he has already made it as clear as spring water to his supporters, such as they exist, that if Dean's the nominee, they might as well sit it out.
But for whatever reason, St. Joe enjoys the protective immunity of the pundit class, so he'll never be reproached for his behavior in the way that he deserves. Criticisms and attacks are fine, but saying, repeatedly, that a member of one's own party will lose in November is way, way, way out of line -- it's the kind of mischief one would have expected from Al Sharpton.
And, because Lieberman's pundit protectors seem intent on equating him with the Clintons, it should be noted that the Clintons, however they may feel privately about this race in general and about Dean in particular, have publicly spoken very differently than Lieberman has. Bill Clinton told me for the November issue of the Prospect: "I don't believe that either side should be saying, 'I'm a real Democrat and the other one's not,' or, 'I'm a winning Democrat and the other one's not.' . . . [T]hese kind of ad hominem attacks . . . are dead-bang losers." The first formulation is an implicit criticism of Dean, to be sure; but the second one is an equally clear warning against the kind of game Lieberman has been playing.
As for Hillary, she was asked point-blank in early December if Dean could beat George W. Bush. She did not equivocate or play any kind of coy game. "Sure," she said. "Absolutely. Any of our candidates can. Whoever emerges from this nominating process will be a competitive candidate. … We can put together a winning combination to take back the White House, and that's what I'm going to work on."
So Lieberman -- and, to a lesser extent, Dick Gephardt and John Kerry -- are playing dirty pool. They would all do well, with each in his own way clambering to grasp the Clinton mantle, to emulate the Clintons' example here. And Dean is absolutely right that Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe should have quietly drawn a line in the sand weeks ago: Attacks on policy grounds are totally fair game, but attacks on electability are beyond the pale.
Joe, you're not a stupid man, unlike the pResident you seem to admire so much. I think you can actually change if you see a reason to. Read this next article and get a clue, will you?
Up for Grabs
The talk is not about "New Democrats" anymore, and no one is demagoguing on the race issue (e.g., Sister Souljah) the way Clinton did. Even Al Gore, when he endorsed Dean, spoke of the need to reclaim the Democratic Party. The Democratic race for the Presidency has been a triumph of progressive politics. With the exception of Joe Lieberman, every other candidate in the race has, for the most part, embraced the liberal tradition of the party. All the energy, all the passion, all the momentum is from the left. After suffering through eight years of Bill Clinton's neoliberalism, progressives are now prevailing on issue after issue.
The whole electability question is a loaded one. Kucinich barely got any media attention during the campaign, even when he performed well in a few of the debates. It's hard to appear electable when you get precious little ink or air time. (On the other hand, Kucinich hasn't run a perfect campaign, either. And he often has come across as almost robotic in his delivery.)
We should recognize, however, that the Dean phenomenon is a progressive one. Whatever the flaws of the candidate himself, and they are significant, we are witnessing a peace-oriented, participatory campaign the likes of which we haven't seen since the days of Eugene McCarthy. Making ingenious use of the Internet, the Dean campaign has enlisted hundreds of thousands of supporters. And it has persuaded many of those supporters to get actively involved in the campaign: writing letters, hosting house parties, and rounding up friends, colleagues, and family members. This style of fundraising may be the only way Democrats will be able to compete with the oodles of cash that Bush has stashed away for the donnybrook to come.
But can the Democrats win? According to several recent polls, the electorate is split 45-to-45 right now. So, despite all of Bush's advantages, the Democratic nominee will be within striking distance of the President. It's quite conceivable that a Democrat could make up the remaining ground.
Number one, Bush has ensnared himself in Iraq. While he hastily posted an artificial hand-off date of June 2004, this won't be practical. And he still plans on having more than 100,000 troops in the country afterwards. The insurgency shows no signs of dwindling. If U.S. troops keep getting killed over there, Bush may not be able to get out of the Iraq trap he set for himself. And his "bring 'em on" taunt may come back to haunt him.
Number two, the economy is simply not producing jobs. "Since the recession ended twenty-four months ago in November 2001, 726,000 jobs have disappeared--an 0.6 percent contraction," says the Economic Policy Institute. "This is the first time since monthly job statistics began in 1939 that there has not been positive growth in jobs for two years after a recession ended."
In this job-loss recovery, the manufacturing sector--traditionally with the highest-paid workers--has taken the biggest hit, bleeding 2.4 million jobs. "In the last two years, manufacturing employment declined by . . . 9.1 percent," the Economic Policy Institute notes. "That record is far worse than the first two years following any previous recession." The manufacturing sector has lost jobs for an astonishing forty months in a row. For Bush, this spells trouble, especially in Ohio, with twenty electoral votes, and a lot of idle and irate manufacturing workers. Bush took Ohio last time. He may not be so lucky this time around.
Also going for Democrats is the lack of enthusiasm for a leftwing third party challenge. Four years ago, after seeing the Democrats move rightward for eight years and after watching their views vanish from the political debate, many progressives threw themselves into the Green Party's Ralph Nader campaign. But this season, recognizing how dangerous Bush has turned out to be, few progressives are likely to side with Nader or the Greens. (And those stubborn but principled people who do so would probably not vote Democratic in any circumstance.)
"For the sake of peace, democracy, social justice, and racial equality, George W. Bush must be defeated in 2004," reads an open letter to the left, entitled "Bush Can Be Stopped." The letter, signed by such leftwing luminaries as Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Ossie Davis, Manning Marable, Elizabeth Martinez, and Pete Seeger, says it's imperative for leftists to work to defeat Bush. "The forthcoming election is unlike any other in recent memory," it states. "The Bush Administration, arguably the most rightwing in the nation's history, has sought to effect a qualitative change of frightening proportions in the conduct of the nation's foreign and domestic policies."
With almost everyone ranging from Joe Lieberman to Noam Chomsky eager to defeat Bush, the Democratic nominee ought to have a chance. And if that nominee manages to boost the turnout of African Americans, Latinos, working women, and activist students, things would look up for the Democrats. The Presidential election is sure to be one of the most polarized in decades. The rightwing is organized and united behind Incurious George. The left and the Democrats are energized as never before to put his reign to an end.
Intervening events may prove decisive. Another terrorist attack against the United States, horrible as it is to contemplate, would likely boost Bush's ratings (and could, in the view of now-retired General Tommy Franks, bring about martial law!). A flare-up elsewhere (say, in North Korea, though Bush may have that up his sleeve for his next term) might also play to his advantage, as would the sudden capture or killing of Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.
But barring these developments, the Democratic nominee ought to have a fighting chance. If he puts up a fight.
Truer words were never spoken. There is one thing that wasn't mentioned - the fight put up needs to be directed at the GOP, not the other Democratic candidates! Listening Terry "McAwful"?
I stumbled across this next article while researching the above candidates. I thought I would include it so you would have an idea of who is covering which candidate, and a bit about how they see their role in the campaign.
Marc Ambinder says he spent so many hours with Howard Dean that he knew a month in advance that the candidate would pass up federal funding and raise the campaign cash himself. "You build enough trust with the candidate and his staff that they begin to act normally around you, even though you're a member of the press," the ABC News producer says.
Ambinder, 25, was until recently one of the campaign "embeds," a term appropriated by MSNBC to describe the boys-who-never-get-off-the-bus approach to campaign reporting. It is a costly endeavor that yields considerable benefits for the news organizations willing to pay the freight, but also contains its share of frustrating wheel-spinning. And the constant presence of notebooks and cameras means that many candidates are constantly on guard, their every move recorded, every offhand comment a potential gaffe.
Marisa Buchanan, an MSNBC producer traveling with Wesley Clark, was there after his first campaign manager quit and new advisers started showing up. "I was introducing staff members to one another," says Buchanan, 24. ABC's Deborah Apton was with Clark in a Florida synagogue when, in response to an audience question, he began naming potential members of his Cabinet. "I was pretty much the only one who had it," says Apton, 25. "I end up in places where the national press wouldn't."
Becky Diamond, covering John Kerry for MSNBC, says she understands "what makes him tick" and that "camera crews that come in and out just can't compete with the access I have." Sometimes this produces small but intriguing moments, such as when Diamond, 34, taped the senator playing guitar on his campaign bus. "MSNBC loved it and ran it quite a bit," she says.
Not that campaign officials always hang out a welcome sign, as ABC's Beth Loyd discovered while following Al Sharpton. "They tried to limit my access as much as they could," says Loyd, 25. "They wanted to control it. Sometimes it was hard to get people to return my phone calls," and Sharpton "didn't want someone around him all the time."
Mark Halperin, ABC's political director, who had the same producer's job with the 1992 Clinton campaign, says the sources developed are invaluable. Besides, he says, "there's no greater way to understand the mood of America than to see which lines in the stump speech work."
ABC stirred controversy last month by scaling back its round-the-clock coverage of Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun, with Kucinich complaining about "the media trying to pick candidates." As Halperin notes, though, ABC has still covered these lower-tier contenders more thoroughly than most news organizations.
CBS has six reporters shadowing the major candidates -- some more embedded than others -- who shoot footage and file for radio and the Web. Eric Salzman, for example, got some on-the-plane video that was used in a "CBS Evening News" piece on Dean's reaction to the capture of Saddam Hussein. Salzman also has written some anecdote-filled online pieces about Dean's evolution as a candidate, such as his improvement in television interviews and how he switched to shirts with bigger collars to cover his sizable neck.
In one sense, the embedding process -- the name was lifted from the Pentagon program under which journalists lived with the troops during the Iraq war -- is nothing new. The New York Times has a reporter on every major candidate. When the field dwindles to two or three, some newspapers, magazines and networks routinely assign reporters to follow them -- though many prefer a "zone defense" approach of switching off to avoid having a correspondent get too close to one campaign and lose perspective. What's unusual is for reporters to trail nine candidates for months before the voting begins. And in a high-tech era, they can quickly post their video online or feed it to their network.
Some campaigns are happy to play. Dean recently granted exclusive interviews to ABC's Reena Singh and, separately, MSNBC's Felix Schein, who elicited some revealing comments from Dean: "I am somewhat of a street fighter. If someone punches me I am apt to chase them down and I need to be restrained by the people who know better and have been in the game longer than I have." And: "I usually wake up at 4 in the morning and think about politics for three hours."
The tricky part is the tradeoffs that come with constant access. Ambinder wasn't able to break the story of Dean's decision to reject public financing because the information was provided off the record. "It's a difficult balancing act," he says. "You want to be able to communicate what you know to people, but you have to respect their confidences. Obviously when you spend 24/7 with people, you become friendly with them."
At least until their publisher or news director tells them not to be.
I found some trivia that might be of interest to some, so I will close with it.
Sizing Up the Presidential Candidates
[E]ver wonder as you watch them on television which of the presidential candidates is sitting on a telephone book or standing on a box? The height of each, in descending order, is John Kerry, 6'4"; Dick Gephardt, 6'1"; George W. Bush, 5'11"; John Edwards, 5'11"; Wesley Clark, 5'10"; Al Sharpton, 5'10"; Joe Lieberman, 5'9"; Howard Dean, 5'8 3/4"; Dennis Kucinich, 5'7"; Carol Moseley Braun, 5'4". The shortest president of the modern era was Teddy Roosevelt 5'8" and, well, maybe 3/4.
The population of the U.S. at 290,809,777, and the fastest-growing states are, in order: Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Idaho.
[NOTE TO DNC - Population increases usually result in increased Democratic vote counts. All of these states went GOP last time. Nevada should be vulnerable after Bush turned their state into the National Nuclear Waste Dump. Arizona is losing the Goldwater hard-core to the Grim Reaper, so there may be a chance there as well. Florida certainly was yours the last time if you had bothered to fight for it, and there should be a lot of mad redistricted Texans! Don't know what to say about Idaho right now, so I won't.]
BY THE NUMBERS:
1 -- Divorced presidents, Ronald Reagan. Kerry, Dennis Kucinich or Joe Lieberman would be the second, if elected. (Source: Facts About the Presidents)
See you next time, on the next episode of Political Survivor!
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