Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bill Clinton In Top 10, Barack Obama In Top 5

Obama Shows Confidence in Iowa Sprint New York Times an assertion by former President Bill Clinton that electing Mr. Obama would be “rolling the dice” for America
Bill Clinton Says Obama Isn’t Ready New York Times Former President Bill Clinton made an unusually direct attack Friday night on Senator Barack Obama, one of his wife’s leading rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, suggesting that voters who would support someone with Mr. Obama’s experience were willing to “roll the dice” on the presidency. ........ Appearing on “The Charlie Rose Show” on PBS, Mr. Clinton repeatedly questioned Mr. Obama’s preparedness for the White House ...... “When is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running?” Mr. Clinton said. At another point, he appeared to compare Mr. Obama to a “gifted television commentator” running for president. “They’d have only one year less experience in national politics” than Mr. Obama, he said. ...... When asked about Mr. Clinton’s comments Saturday in Waterloo, Iowa, Mr. Obama smiled and read words Mr. Clinton used in 1992 — “the same old experience is irrelevant” — to answer questions about his own presidential candidacy. It is the second time recently Mr. Obama has used that remark to push back against the former president. ....... “I’ve been involved in government for over a decade,” Mr. Obama said. “The notion that there is a particular kind of experience that he has had or his wife has had that is more relevant, I would dispute. I believe that I have the experience that the country needs right now.” ...... During the Charlie Rose interview, Mr. Clinton looked agitated at times as he talked about recent campaign problems faced by his wife ....... At one point, Mr. Rose said that, in his control room, aides to Mr. Clinton were trying to persuade the show’s producers to end the interview. ........ In Iowa on Monday, Mr. Clinton praised the Democratic candidates as a great field. But on Charlie Rose, he criticized Mr. Obama for making “derisive” comments about Mrs. Clinton, including saying that she had long planned to run for president.
I marvel Bill Clinton's political skills with the knowledge of someone who knows what he is talking about. I have a feel for politics. I have watched this guy in action. He is good. He is skillful.

But not even Bill Clinton can undo the term limit of two imposed on US presidents. This guy thinks he is running for a third term. The beginning of the end of Hillary 2008 was when Bill Clinton asserted to an Iowa audience that he opposed the Iraq War from the very beginning, despite all evidence to the contrary. That is a point Hillary herself has never dared to make. Until 2006 Hillary was trying to kick out Rumsfeld. As in, the decision to go to war was right, but the guy who did the execution part got it wrong.

Bill Clinton gave eight fine years. He is not exactly your stereotypical racist white guy from the South, someone unapologetic like Trent Lott, for example. His economic management was marvelous.

But there was always something fundamental lacking in Bill Clinton that deprived him of true greatness. He did a good job, but he did not become a great president.

And the sexism the Clinton '92 boys have shown in Hillary often being the last to know of the mosquito bites attempted by some of those boys on Obama 2008. Those boys keep wanting to go back to the slash and burn ways of the 1990s. What Ken Starr and the Republicans did to the Clintons, they want to do to Obama. Fat chance. If Hillary can't even run her own campaign, how could she run the White House? Why do these boys keep surprising her with their mosquito bite attempts on Obama 2008?

Barack Obama has not won the nomination yet, and I am not going to count a single caucus or primary victory before it actually happens. He is not president yet. He is not reelected yet. He has not finished with his eight years yet. He has not yet delivered on Iraq, on health care, on global warming. Not yet.

But I am betting my farm on this guy. (On November 7: In Harlem: For Obama) I am saying he is destined for a greatness Bill Clinton never was. America has had more than 40 presidents. I will put Bill Clinton among the top 10. Barack is gunning for Mount Rushmore. He is destined to be among the top 5.

If you ask me, I think Barack stands a chance of becoming the greatest president America ever had. It is because Einstein always happens after Newton. Time is on his side. Great guys like Lincoln and Roosevelt, they already happened. They are dead and gone.

Bill Clinton gave eight years of good economic growth.

Barack will have the opportunity to liberate America from racism like Lincoln liberated America from slavery. If he can do that, he will have scored. Many people think of racism as something mushy mushy, something about matters of the heart, feelings. Like W says, if there were a law that will make people love each other, I would sign it. He was talking about race. Well, guess what, it is not mushy mushy. It is something as concrete as slavery and segregation. There is concrete data on disparity.

Barack could give a new birth to Social Security like FDR gave birth to that program. Barack could deliver on health care.

Barack could do the JFK thing on charisma, youthfulness, vigor, beautiful (brainy) wife, cute kids, and a reach into the far corners of the world. His reach into the far corners of the world could be much more concrete than that of JFK. JFK gave the Peace Corps, Barack could give total debt relief to Africa to bring that continent back in the game. Barack could turn Africa into Latin America, politically and economically. And if he were to do that one thing, I'd feel all my time into Obama 2008 has been worth it. African has been shortchanged like no other continent. (America Is A Senator Country)

A Lincoln, FDR, JFK combo: now that is the greatest president America ever had. I am also going to say he will also be America's first president. America's original promise was it should not be a big deal that someone like Barack becomes president. All human beings are created equal.

As for Bill Clinton, Barack Obama comparisons, I will start at the beginning. Compare Bill Clinton's 1988 convention speech to Barack's same speech in 2004. Now roll the dice.

In The News

Obama is hitting his stride in Iowa Los Angeles Times, USA The candidate once criticized for lacking specifics now peppers his speeches with policy proposals -- and more confidence. ...... Obama burst onto the national political scene with a supernova brilliance ..... pedantic side ..... his delivery is crisper, his footing more assured. ...... The candidate of hope and high ground strikes at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton with unspoken allusions -- no negative campaigner he -- and an occasional sarcastic aside. And the candidate who once seemed alternately bemused and put off by some of the silliness of running for president now takes the occasional left-field question in his long stride. ........... a pledge to reform the healthcare system by holding a nationally televised round table with doctors, patient advocates, hospital administrators and representatives of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. ............ He calls for public financing of elections and raising the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation. He favors closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and a phased withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq over 16 months. He proposes giving college students a $4,000-a-year tax credit in exchange for community service, and boosting federal education funding by $18 billion a year to pay for higher teacher salaries, better early childhood programs and more aid for disabled students. ....... became a convert last weekend when he saw Obama appear in Cedar Rapids alongside Oprah Winfrey. ...... "There's real clarity in what he intends to do," Dirks said. "It's not like some candidates who just ramble it off." ........... Obama is spending several days bumping along on a bus through rural Iowa, from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River. His campaign exudes the confidence that comes when the winds blow favorably. His traveling party of strategists and spokesmen are accessible and exuberant. The campaign-in-disarray stories that battered Obama and his team when the candidate seemed to plateau through the summer and early fall -- "our 60 days in the press penalty box," said campaign manager David Plouffe -- are now being directed at Clinton. .......... "Let me tell you, when I was in kindergarten I didn't write essays," Obama said, drawing laughs from the crowd of about 350 people. "I was smart. I could write my name, 'Barack.' I could write 'mom.' I wasn't writing essays." ....... Clinton's intention to skitter across Iowa today by helicopter. He paused. Smiled broadly. "Magic carpet," he replied.
Boston Globe Endorses McCain, Obama The Associated Press The endorsements followed in-depth interviews with the presidential contenders. ..... The board says Obama's diverse and international life experience helped the Illinois Democrat develop a unique perspective of the world. ...... The newspaper's editorial board praised McCain as a straight talker whose honesty, despite the political cost, might help a polarized nation. The board described the Arizona Republican as a possible antidote to the "toxic political approach" of the last two presidential elections.

Obama Shows Confidence in Iowa Sprint New York Times 22-city tour of the state. ...... he finds himself at the center of a fusillade of criticism from his rivals ...... an assertion by former President Bill Clinton that electing Mr. Obama would be “rolling the dice” for America ..... “A month ago, I was an idiot,” he said. “This month, I’m a genius.” ...... The campaign of Mr. Obama, which slogged uncertainly through a period in the late summer and fall, alarming contributors who feared that he might have missed his moment, is now brimming with confidence as he delivers a closing argument to Iowa voters. His speeches are noticeably crisper, his poise is more consistent and many supporters say they no longer must rely upon a leap of faith to envision him winning the nomination. ............ one week remaining before the campaign pauses for Christmas, Mr. Obama is dashing through a 22-city tour from the Mississippi River in the east to the Missouri River in the west ....... His organization faces its greatest test yet: turning enthusiasm among many grass-roots Democrats into widespread support at the caucuses on Jan. 3 in precincts that will decide the outcome, particularly rural areas where his support still remains uneven after 10 months of campaigning. ...... the race in Iowa remains remarkably unsettled ....... strongly gaining on her in New Hampshire ....... a point underscored by their travel itineraries practically mirroring each other. ........ his judgment, temperament and unifying approach ....... a moment of vulnerability for Mrs. Clinton ...... he has narrowed his focus to a micro-level in Iowa, calling sheriffs, local officials and prospective precinct captains when he passes through town. ....... Her campaign repudiated the remarks, Mrs. Clinton apologized and the adviser resigned. But she and her aides have kept the issue alive by referring to it publicly in what appeared to be an effort to drive up negative views of his character and to raise doubts about his ability to weather a general election. ........ Obama responded that voters would ultimately be turned off by such attacks on him, particularly about his admission more than a decade ago that he used marijuana and cocaine in his youth. ........ “My past and my character seemed to be fine when I was 20 points down” ....... In the final 18 days of the race here, Mr. Obama intends to devote nearly all of his time to Iowa, with the exception of a two-day trip to New Hampshire. He completed his final fund-raiser of the year on Tuesday in Seattle, which freed his schedule for 15-hour days of back-to-back rallies and town meetings, a pace far more hectic than much of the year. ........ “The political climate on the night of the caucuses is as important to turnout as anything,” said Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe. “Right now, we have a good climate, but the next 20 days will seem like 20 years.” ......... 10,000 phone calls every night ..... If you are going away for the holidays, will you be back by Jan. 3? ...... In such a tight race, Mr. Plouffe said, a margin of 2,000 or 3,000 could tip the balance. ....... the older voters who are being gently asked to stick around Iowa until the caucuses before moving to a warmer climate for the winter. ....... “Whoever wins this caucus is likely to win the nomination and is likely to win the presidency.”
Personal Health: Mental Reserves Keep Brains Agile
Late Reversal by U.S. Yields Climate Plan
Gail Collins: Barack’s Blast From the Past
Lead in doubt, Clinton knocks on N.Hampshire doors Reuters The New York senator knocked on doors along a snow-covered block of Manchester ..... "I'd be honored to have your support," Clinton said on the front porch ...... evaporate both in New Hampshire and Iowa ..... Lou D'Allesandro, a New Hampshire state senator who accompanied Clinton as she knocked on about 10 doors ...... "Politics is connecting with people, and this is how you do it here. I'd like to see her here more," he said. ....... "The firewall has largely disappeared now," he said. "If she loses both ... it would be very difficult to recover." ... I wish she would talk more about women, because I think that would be helpful," said Herb Meyer, a 50-year-old physician from Danville ....... "She's got a lot of presence, Barack Obama has a lot of presence," Meyer said, adding that he wasn't yet sure for whom he would vote.
Who Won and Lost at Bali TIME the pounding it took in the tortured all-night negotiations that capped the UN climate change conference in Bali was unprecedented. ...... not one of the allies that had generally stood with the U.S. the past two weeks — Australia, Russia, Canada — rose in its defense. ...... The roadmap is essentially the beginning of a beginning. .... "the Berlin Wall of climate change," the idea that only the rich nations need to take responsibility for fighting global warming. ........ eventually tropical nations could be rewarded for not cutting down their forests ........ For environmentalists who had hoped that the recent avalanche of data underscoring the rising crisis of climate change might prompt tougher action, Bali was a disappointment. .......... the EU showed surprising spine ...... the clear big winners are China and India, which have fully arrived as major players on international climate action. China in particular came to Bali ready to negotiate hard, but also prepared to give something — a vital change after years of insisting that it would take no responsibility for climate change. While India began the negotiations seemingly disengaged, the country elevated its game in the final day, and showed that it was willing to go beyond its own narrow national interests. ........ It should be difficult for a country to make the final concession that allows a landmark deal to fall into place, and still appear selfish and churlish — but the U.S. somehow managed to do that. .......... blocked attempts to make climate diplomacy match the urgency of climate science. ...... "Instead, they just burnished their Darth Vader image." ...... But at least we all seem to be headed in the same direction, if not at the same speed.
A Real End to Pakistan's Emergency?
The Diana Inquest Gets Personal
Vatican Defends Right to Convert
The Huckabee Trap
Nepal's election by mid-April next year: minister AFP
Huckabee tied with Giuliani in Illinois - poll Reuters India
Mitt Romney Roughs Up Mike Huckabee Over Anti-Bush Comments FOX News
Musharraf Restores Constitution in Pakistan ABC News
Two Indian Doctoral Students Shot to Death at US University Voice of America shooting deaths of two doctoral students at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. ..... The two students, both natives of India, were killed late Thursday at an off-campus apartment. One of the men was bound with a computer cable. ...... the deadly shootings were the result of a home invasion, and not part of "an escalating pattern."
Has the tide turned against Clinton? Independent a deepening crisis in her presidential bid amid evidence that her closest rival, Barack Obama, is riding a late surge of support in the two critical states ......... new signs that the tide may be turning against the former First Lady ....... her message has been overwhelmed by headline-making stumbles by her campaign team. ........ a startling reversal for Mrs Clinton ...... Mrs Clinton took off yesterday on a desperate helicopter dash across Iowa ....... That she may be in trouble has not escaped her ....... his remarks sparked a storm of opprobrium and Mrs Clinton found herself having to apologise to her rival on the tarmac of Washington DC's main airport. ......... the national surveys have been more or less static for several months. ...... In New Hampshire, where the primaries come just five days later, her loss of ground seems to be even greater. Once comfortably ahead, she is shown in one poll to be two points behind Mr Obama. ...... Losses in both Iowa and New Hampshire, while they would not necessarily be fatal for the Clinton candidacy, would certainly shatter the myth of her invincibility. .... Bill Clinton ... is now playing the game of lowering expectations. ... "it's a miracle that she's got a chance to win" in Iowa. ...... she has grown sharply more critical of her rivals – a risky tactic, particularly in Iowa, where voters traditionally are turned off by negative campaigning ........ a press release highlighting a kindergarten essay by Mr Obama entitled "I want to Become President". It was meant to show him as consumed by ambition, but voters didn't like the tactic.
Poll: Obama Leads Clinton 2-To-1 in Ill. The Associated Press Barack Obama, 50 percent Hillary Rodham Clinton, 25 percent
Illinois Democrats favor Obama 2-1 Chicago Tribune
Poll: Obama leads Clinton 2 to 1 in Illinois WQAD
For the Democrats: Barack Obama
Boston Globe The most sobering challenges that face this country — terrorism, climate change, disease pandemics — are global. America needs a president with an intuitive sense of the wider world, with all its perils and opportunities. Barack Obama has this understanding at his core. The Globe endorses his candidacy in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary Jan. 8. Many have remarked on Obama’s extraordinary biography: that he is the biracial son of a father from Kenya and a mother who had him at 18; that he was raised in the dynamic, multi-ethnic cultures of Hawaii and Indonesia; that he went from being president of the Harvard Law Review to the gritty and often thankless work of community organizing in Chicago; that, at 46, he would be the first post-baby-boom president. It is true that all the other Democratic contenders have more conventional resumes, and have spent more time in Washington. But that exposure has tended to give them a sense of government’s constraints. Obama is more open to its possibilities.
Barack Obama Straddles Different Worlds The Associated Press He had already navigated the exotic corners of Hawaii and Indonesia, the halls of privilege of Cambridge, Mass., and the poverty-wracked streets of Chicago as a boy, a student and a young man. ........ bridging gaps, making connections, forging alliances. ...... "He walks between worlds," she says. "That's what he's done his entire life." ....... From the very beginning, Barack Obama has blended cultures. ...... the basketball his father gave him, the African records they danced to, the Dave Brubeck concert they attended. ....... plunging the 6-year-old Obama into a land of delicacies such as snake meat and grasshopper, a pet monkey, Tata, and the harsh realities of Third World poverty and disease. ........ From their mother, she says, "he gets his ability to build bridges, to keep an open mind ... his taste for adventure, his curiosity and his compassion." ..... From their grandmother, Madelyn: "his pragmatism, his levelheadedness, his ability to stay centered in the eye of the storm." ..... From their grandfather, Stanley: "his love of the game. My grandfather ... pursued life with great zest and enthusiasm and a great sense of possibility." .......... the prestigious Punahou School, a private academy in Honolulu where he was "intelligent, but not overly intellectual" ........ outgoing, laughed easily and wasn't above showing off. ..... Obama — then known as Barry — had a rebellious streak. One friend remembers they were both suspended in 7th grade for pitching quarters on school grounds. ...... The chubby kid who collected Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics grew into a teen who listened to jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. and Earth, Wind & Fire, tooled around in Gramps' old Ford Granada, golfed, played poker, sang in the choir and joined Ka Wai Ola, the school's literary journal. .......... Obama also loved basketball and as a forward dubbed "Barry O'Bomber," he favored a left-handed double pump shot. During his senior year, the varsity team captured the state championship. ....... a fierce competitor and a sensitive friend ...... an introspective side to Obama, the outsider grappling with his biracial roots. ...... "ethnic corner." ..... discussed interracial dating, education — and, he says, probably "whether we would see a black president in our lifetime." ......... Obama never spoke of the turmoil he revealed in his memoir ........ to "push questions of who I was out of my mind." ..... "I probably questioned my identity a bit harder than most. As a kid from a broken home and family of relatively modest means, I nursed more resentments than my circumstances justified, and I didn't always channel those resentments in particularly constructive ways." .......... Obama arrived in Chicago in 1985 ....... knew little about Chicago's bare-knuckle politics. But living abroad gave him experience as an outsider and a natural empathy for people without money and power, says Gerald Kellman, the man who hired him. .......... Obama's task was to mobilize residents to agitate for themselves, whether it was lobbying for a job training center, pushing for more park services or removing asbestos from a housing project. ......... "He seemed to listen well and he learned fast" ..... he didn't adopt hard-nose tactics. ...... "He did not like personal confrontation," Kellman says. "He had no trouble challenging power and challenging people on issues. When it came to face-to-face situations, he valued civility a great deal. ... When it came to negotiating conflict, he was very good at that." ....... "This kid was so bright — I shouldn't say kid, this man was so bright, but he didn't hit you over the head with it" ..... "He was matter-of-fact and smooth. ... He explained things so nobody would be offended." ........ The women doted on him. They chided him when he would eat just a spinach salad for lunch, laughed when he showed off his dance moves ("He didn't lack confidence, I can tell you that," Augustine-Herron says) and joked about his punctuality and seriousness. ......... "If we don't hurry up, baby-faced Obama is going to be mad," they'd prod one another as they rushed to a meeting with him. ...... Obama prepared them for dealing with bureaucrats, telling them whom to approach, guiding them on what to say — then offering critiques. ...... "He energized us. When you've been a housewife all your life and all you've done is raise kids, you don't know too much about the outside world. He taught us." ...... "'Let me look into it' were his favorite words," says Lloyd, who still calls Obama "my skinny little boy." ......... Obama remained close with his half-sister, Maya, who visited Chicago during the summers. When her father died when she was just a teen, Obama, nearly a decade older, took on a paternal role, taking her on tours of college campuses. ....... Obama also was honing his writing skills, crafting vivid short stories about pastors and crumbling communities, inspired by his Chicago experiences. He showed them to fellow organizer Mike Kruglik, who was impressed by how he had captured the feel of the streets. "I couldn't figure out how he had the time and energy to do it," he says. .......... In three years as an organizer, Obama became increasingly aware of the limits to what he could achieve and grew more pragmatic, Kellman says. His father's experience as a civil servant in Africa was a cautionary tale. ....... "He had this sense of his dad being too idealistic and not practical enough ... and not accomplishing what he wanted" ....... had died "a bitter man." ........ sharing life stories with people "gave me the sense of place and purpose I'd been looking for." ...... He was ready to move on — to Harvard Law School. ...... Obama entered Harvard older than many classmates, stepping into an incubator for America's elite — future Supreme Court justices, Fortune 500 leaders, U.S. senators and presidents. ........ an intellect with mature judgment, a conciliator who could see both sides of an issue. ....... "You wanted to hear him thinking. There was something special about him." ....... The law school had plenty of achievers trying to edge out their competition but that wasn't Obama's style ...... "He was not at all about credit but results," Tribe says. "He would often give credit to others that he did the work for." ....... Obama also could deal with very smart people "in ways that didn't bend them out of shape. He learned how to move through those circles ... made few waves and got things done." ...... "It didn't have the same meaning for him. ... He did not take that pound-on-my-chest attitude, 'Look at me, I'm the first one.' He was conscious of the historical significance but understood ... there was a responsibility." ........ Back in Chicago, Obama joined a small civil rights firm, ran a voter registration drive and lectured on constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. ........ that he understood politics was "a full-contact sport and minded neither the sharp elbows nor the occasional blind-side hit." ....... a pragmatist who'd cross party lines ...... Obama helped change laws governing the death penalty, ethics and racial profiling, and he won tax credits for the working poor. But he failed in his campaign for universal health care. ........ As a newcomer in the clubby atmosphere of Springfield, Obama also encountered cold shoulders. Some lawmakers initially thought he was a bit arrogant. ........ "It took him a while to prove that he was a real guy," says state Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Republican who appears in an Obama campaign commercial. "For the first couple of years, there was some healthy skepticism. ... It was especially true among his fellow African-American legislators." ........ "If you look African-American in society, you're treated as an African-American" "And when you're a child in particular that is how you begin to identify yourself. At least that's what I felt comfortable identifying myself as." ....... that his racial identity is "not the core of who I am." ..... he also wrote, he has faced the "litany of petty slights," including security guards trailing him in department stores and white couples tossing him keys outside restaurants, mistaking him for a valet. ....... "I know what it's like to have people tell me I can't do something because of my color, and I know the bitter swill of swallowed-back anger" ......... a racially mixed group of friends and political alliances. ...... His academic credentials mattered little to some voters who felt Rush better understood them. ..... "Barack was perceived as an outsider," says Link, the state senator. "He wasn't one of the boys." He wasn't deterred. ........ The Speech — a 17-minute star-making turn ...... he had impressed John Kerry, then the Democratic presidential nominee, after the Massachusetts senator heard him speak at a fundraiser, and the two men campaigned together in Chicago that spring. ....... an old Broadway plot line: Barack Obama walked on stage an unknown. He walked off a star. ..... the third black U.S. senator since Reconstruction. ..... Since then, he has had the Midas touch ...... one of the hottest attractions on the 2006 campaign trail, stumping for Democratic candidates around the nation. ...... his hero Abraham Lincoln
The Front-Runners: Barack Obama Washington Post His father had become a ghost to him, an opaque figure hailed as brilliant, charismatc, dignified, with a deep baritone voice that reminded everyone of James Earl Jones. .......... Thoughts of his father continue to 'bubble up,' as Obama puts it in an interview, 'at different moments at any course of the day or week.' ...... At other moments he will be playing with his daughters -- Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6 -- and begin to wrestle with what kind of father he has become." ........ His mother was an anthropologist, and a pioneer in micro enterprise development ....... She recognized early on the importance of supporting poor women, in developing countries, at the village level. ....... David Axelrod, the preeminent political consultant in Chicago, has been with Obama throughout his rise. Abner Mikva, a former federal judge who served in Congress and as a White House senior staffer, has been a longtime mentor. Others have been helpful in his rise, including Illinois State Sen. President Emil Jones. And, Harvard Law School Prof. Charles Ogletree. ........ refreshingly candid. ..... challenged Kenya to "create a govt. that is transparent and accountable. One that serves its people and is free from corruption." ....... As a 51-year-old African American female who admires Clinton for her courage and convictions and had supported her -- I believe this country is ready for new and fresh ideas. ........ the votes will come quickly in a short period of time--Iowa and N.H. within 5 days of each other, and 20 states voting on Feb. 5th. The dynamics of a campaign can shift quickly. .......... he has developed relationships with his siblings from Africa, especially his half sister Auma. ...... Should the Obama campaign make Mark Penn an issue? After all, Penn was "Karl Rove" long before Karl Rove was "Karl Rove." Should the pro-war members of the chattering class be forced to defend their silence on Penn's dominant role in Clinton's campaign? ........ Mark Penn said on Hardball: "The issue related to cocaine use is not something the campaign is in any way raising."
Clinton: I Know When to Stand Firm
The Associated Press spent the morning inching along an icy sidewalk ...... that she knows when to dig in her heels and when to compromise. ...... where she spent more time than usual focusing on her resume ...... citing as examples her work for the Children's Defense Fund after college, her unsuccessful universal health care plan while her husband was president, and her work as a U.S. senator to expand health benefits for National Guard members. ...... Clinton also defended her 2002 vote authorizing military action in Iraq and her recent vote to label the Iranian National Guard a terrorist organization. ...... the votes amount to a pattern of pushing the country into war. ....... since the Iran vote, Iran has stopped sending so many dangerous weapons to other countries to use against Americans. ..... and saying that he found her initial answer "evasive and condescending." .... "I like your programs but sometimes I think you come off as cold and politically calculating," said Roger Tilton, who said his two daughters support Clinton. "There's this disconnect ... what do I tell my daughters?" ..... "Your daughters sound very smart to me," Clinton said. ...... Clinton went door-to-door in the state's largest city, carefully approaching about a dozen snowcapped homes, many decorated with wreaths and holiday lights. ....... While Clinton chatted with homeowners Dianne and Dan Lehoux, their dog sneaked into the kitchen and scarfed down two of the chocolate Christmas cookies the couple had just baked with their nephews. "Now I have to call the vet!" said Dianne Lehoux, who nonetheless described Clinton's visit as "amazing." "I was shaking," she said.

The GOP Race: None of the Above Time Polls point to the political equivalent of a total solar eclipse, with three different Republicans leading in three of the initial primary and caucus states: Mike Huckabee in Iowa, Mitt Romney in New Hampshire and Rudy Giuliani in Michigan. None of these men, at present, would beat Hillary Clinton in a general-election matchup, and each would fare little better against Barack Obama. "If somebody could run as None of the Above," says former McCain campaign chief John Weaver, "he would be the front-runner." ...... Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher from, of all places, Hope, Ark. ...... Republicans have no experience with chaos like this, except in history books. "It is without a doubt," says G.O.P. strategist Ralph Reed, "the most unpredictable roller-coaster ride we've seen in a Republican primary since the rise of the primary in the 1960s." ...... Newt Gingrich went further: he called the G.O.P. contest the most wide-open race the party has held since 1940 — the year Wendell Willkie needed six ballots to capture the nomination before losing to F.D.R. in a third-term landslide. ....... he did not want a Vice President whose loyalties were divided between the Oval Office and the Des Moines Register ........ the revolution that brought the party to power in Congress in 1994 was pretty much a spent force by 2000. Under this theory, Republicans should have lost that election but survived thanks to Bush's qualities, the butterfly ballot and five Supreme Court Justices. Then 9/11 happened, which enabled Bush to win reelection, despite the fact that the G.O.P.'s sell-by date had long since passed. The past seven years, in this view, were an anomaly that postponed the reckoning and made the G.O.P. crash even more severe. ........... the moral and intellectual power outage that now darkens the G.O.P. ....... the party has squandered its bragging rights on running a more efficient government. ..... almost 6 out of every 10 Hispanic voters now call themselves Democrats or lean that way, according to a new Pew Center study — a shift of 13 points in party ID in the past year alone. ...... "Some have lifted a script from the past," he says, "without realizing the setting on the stage has changed." ........ repeatedly naming Hillary Clinton in debates as the real threat facing the nation ......... Republican self-doubt is so marked that if Jesus came back as a candidate, "people would say, 'You know, I don't like his beard.'" ....... A Republican governor put it this way: "If you took any one of these guys and held them up against the light and said, 'Could this guy be President?' you'd say, 'I don't think so.'" ........ his alienated children ..... Romney has been elected to office exactly once, has a record of changing his positions on an unusually wide range of issues, and just announced that he's a Mormon to a nation that might not otherwise have known or even cared. ......... Huckabee is low on cash, light on organization ....... Staffers have fled his campaign in horror throughout the fall, complaining that the candidate listens only to his wife. .......... responded to a picture of the TV actor by saying, "Is he still running?" ........ Romney could be speaking for the entire field when he says, as he has done, "I'm not perfect." ....... why the party's normally ferocious enthusiasm is so far absent in every poll. ....... The falcons heard the falconers — and then flew off in a different direction. ..... another sign of a party whose power structure has uncoupled from the people who put it in power in the first place. ....... Normally the G.O.P. comes to a decision quickly, and the Democrats stretch the process into the baseball season, bickering over delegates, platform planks, rules and speaking rights before everyone swears loyalty to the long-settled nominee. All that, and possibly more, could happen on the other side this time. ....... So uncomfortable is the party with anything that resembles an unsettled race after New Hampshire that its armies typically loose upon one another every nasty charge and attack ad they can afford, desperate to slice the field down to one or at the most two remaining contenders. This stage of the race is under way. It will be up to the lucky survivor to put the pieces of the party back together. ........ McCain's team thinks the party will come to its senses and rally around the veteran. Romney hopes to emerge as the least objectionable choice everywhere. Giuliani's entire campaign is predicated on chaos lasting until late January, when he thinks he can clobber his rivals in Florida. And Huckabee is hoping for a miracle. ...... watching the demolition derby, calls the race "a record setter." But he notes that someone will win it. "All politics is about," says Sears, "is being a little better than the other guy."

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