Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert Tribute

Here was how the news was reported by NBC, Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, and Andrea Mitchell that Tim Russert had died yesterday. So great was Russert's influence in the political realm that I do not believe that I will forget where I was when I heard the news that Russert had died. For me, it is up there with where I was when I heard that aircraft had crashed into the World Trade Center-one of those generational moments that stick in the memory.

Tim Russert has become my after-Mass buddy every Sunday on television, and I watch Meet the Press religiously. What Russert was best at, however, was covering an election. There was no one in the business of covering election nights that I trusted to give it to me straight more than Tim Russert. His loss to political news and commentary is inestimable, and political coverage simply won't be the same without him.

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Friday, June 13, 2008


Tim Russert, NBC News Washington Bureau Chief and the long-time host of Meet the Press has passed away from an apparent heart attack in the NBC News bureau in Washington. From the New York Post:

Tim Russert, NBC journalist and political heavyweight host of "Meet the Press," has died after collapsing at NBC's Washington news bureau, a source said. He was 58 years old.

Now I am not sure who to watch on Election Night with no Tim Russert and no dry-erase board...

Those of us who really follow the nuts and bolts of politics as a part of our life saw Tim Russert as a friend, even though most of us never knew him personally. He came to us on Sundays like clockwork, as spring followed the winter, so Russert grilled politicos each week. He was at his best covering elections, however, and it was electoral coverage that made me a fan of Russert. I knew he was a Democrat-he didn't keep that a secret from anyone (he was Mario Cuomo's press secretary), but Russert called things like he saw them and he called elections as fairly as he could.

Election coverage on television will never be the same again without Tim Russert.

Our prayers go out to Tim Russert and his entire family.

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Tennessee Dem Thinks Obama Has Terrorist Ties

If you want to know why Barack Obama won't carry Tennessee, take it from a Democratic superdelegate:

The rise of Sen. Barack Obama, to become the Democrats’ presidential nominee has put most of his party’s faithful on his bandwagon — but not Lincoln Davis, a rural Tennessee Congressman with gubernatorial ambitions.

Fred Hobbs, a state Democratic Party Executive Committee member representing part of Davis’ district, said he understands why Davis is not endorsing Obama and is “skeptical” of the Illinois senator himself.

“Maybe [it’s] the same reason I don’t want to — I don’t exactly approve of a lot of the things he stands for and I’m not sure we know enough about him,” Hobbs said when asked why he thought Davis wasn’t endorsing Obama. “He’s got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.”

In Tennessee, despite official press releases from Nashville to the contrary, it isn't just Republicans who don't support Barack Obama, his own party is hopelessly opposed to him. I would guess that many won't say so in public, they'll say it privately in a voting booth in November.

Davidson and Shelby County don't win Statewide elections.

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Old, New, and Earning It

Peggy Noonan gets it right in today's Wall Street Journal when she pinpoints just exactly what this election is about-The Old America vs. the "New" America:

In the Old America, love of country was natural. You breathed it in. You
either loved it or knew you should.

In the New America, love of country is a decision. It's one you make
after weighing the pros and cons. What you breathe in is skepticism and a
heightened appreciation of the global view.
Old America: Tradition is a guide in human affairs. New America: Tradition is a challenge, a barrier, or a lovely

The Old America had big families. You married and had children. Life
happened to you. You didn't decide, it decided. Now it's all on you. Old
America, when life didn't work out: "Luck of the draw!" New America when life
doesn't work: "I made bad choices!" Old America: "I had faith, and trust." New
America: "You had limited autonomy!"

Old America: "We've been here three generations." New America: "You're
still here?"

Old America: We have to have a government, but that doesn't mean I have to
love it. New America: We have to have a government and I am desperate to love
it. Old America: Politics is a duty. New America: Politics is life.

The Old America: Religion is good. The New America: Religion is
problematic. The Old: Smoke 'em if you got 'em. The New: I'll sue.

I make no secret of the fact that I do not at all like this "New America" that our liberal friends want to build. It is not the America of our Fathers, it has nothing to do with the America for which our ancestors fought, shed blood, made tremendous sacrifices, and even died. The people who support Mr. Obama have no concept whatsoever of duty, honor, or sacrifice, because most of them never had to make great sacrifices to achieve anything in their life. Faith to the "new" Democratic Party, to this "new" breed of youngster that we see so impassioned about Barack Obama, is not to be found in Almighty God and His Laws, Statutes, and Judgments, but in the new savior of their secular world, the state.

Liberals see Obama's work as a "community organizer" as a sacrifice. Yes, what a great sacrifice it was. It got him elected to the State Senate, then to the United States Senate, and now he hopes it will get him elected to the White House, all in short order. Public service is not a problem, and it is to be encouraged and applauded. Barack Obama didn't earn his way into the game, however. People who have earned their ticket to political stardom either come into public service after years in private business, now ready to try something new, or they start at the very bottom of the political ladder and work their way up through the system. Politics pays poorly when you start the way that most people do, and that requires sacrifice on the part of the person who wants to serve. The good people who've earned their way into the system and begin to slowly move up, they didn't enter politics to become President of the United States (see Truman, Harry). If that ever happens to them, it occurs because someone found them after years of slaving away and began to talk of them as material for the higher up. In Truman's case, he stumbled on the Vice Presidency because there was no one else seen fit for it in 1944.

I'd be willing to wager that Barack Obama never had to go door-to-door in his neighborhood to ask his neighbors to give him their signature to get him on the ballot the first time (something I know all about). He was set up and had his signatures thanks to the Daley machine that put him in his place. Barack Obama went from being a "community organizer" to the State Senate in 1996, then to the U.S. Senate eight years later. Now he is the Democratic nominee for President, and that is what he wanted. Obama was hand-picked for his seat, he did not have to fight his way into the system. He did not enter politics from private business, as many do, by making business connections with party people. He did not earn his way in the hard-scrabble fashion, by picking up a petition, asking his neighbors to sign it, and taking shoebox donations. He didn't run for State or local party chair, or pay his political dues in a myriad of other ways that anyone who enters the arena in a legitimate way has to do. There are several traditional legitimate ways to enter politics in America, none of which apparently apply to Barack Obama.

As many reservations as I have about John McCain (and they are plenty), he has sacrificed for his place in the American public system and he has earned it. Five years in a POW camp is real sacrifice for your country. After his stint as a POW, McCain served as the Navy's Senate liason, he developed social and political connections while there, and ran for Congress, and later the Senate, and has served in Washington since 1983. One went to war for his country, was a Prisoner of War, was stationed in Washington, made connections, and got his foot in the door the hardest possible way. The other worked as a "community organizer." One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same...

The Presidency is not something that ought to be entrusted to those who didn't earn their place in politics to begin with.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama's Lack of a Bump

The press is rambling on about Barack Obama's apparent "bump" in the polls since winning the nomination, with the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing that Barack Obama has a six-point national lead over John McCain (47-41%), and the press is pretending that this is a huge deal for Obama at this point in the race. It is by no means insignificant, however there are signs of trouble for Obama in the latest results:

The Wall Street Journal on the latest NBC/WSJ poll: “Sen. Obama
leads Sen. McCain by 47% to 41%, a spread that is twice the edge he had in the
previous poll… Still, that lead is significantly smaller than the Democratic
Party's 16-point advantage, 51% to 35%, when voters are asked, without
candidates' names, which party they want to win the White House.

“But Sen. Obama continues to do poorly among white male voters, according
to the poll. More ominous is his weakness among white suburban women, who
generally are open to Democratic candidates and whose votes could be decisive.
While Sen. Obama has a slight lead among white women generally, a plurality of
suburbanites prefer Sen. McCain.

What people who are polled seem to be saying, quite frankly, is that they aren't very comfortable with the Republicans, but they really aren't all that happy with Barack Obama, either. Obama's weakness among both suburban women and suburbanites generally is very telling. Democrats nearly always concentrate their ground machine on large cities. It is within the big city that Democrats get most of their hard-core votes, because the large cities are where people who are more dependent on the state-and hence feel a need for large, bloated, costly, intrusive, and overexpansive government tend to live.

One lesson that the 2000 and 2004 elections should have taught the national Democratic Party is that it cannot rely on large cities alone to pad its vote. Presidential elections are won or lost in the suburbs and in rural America. Apparently, that message has yet to seep through to Democratic leadership, because if suburbanites and rural voters join in a ballot box coalition the way they did in 2000 and 2004, the Democrats will lose yet another election solely because they continue to have the mindset that winning in cities will carry a national election.

The prospect of losing suburbia isn't Barack Obama's only problem:

Nothing personal, Sen. Obama, but our re-election comes first.

Barack Obama, for all his attention and primary successes, does not go over so well in a fair number of Democratic lawmakers' home districts. So it seems there is little
chance that some will endorse him for president.

Some are counting on Republican votes in their re-election bids. Some are
newly minted and in rematches with 2006 opponents. Some may be wary of how their constituents will react to a black presidential candidate. Some, too, have made
it a practice of distancing themselves from the national party, fearing the
inevitable campaign ad that has their face morphing into Howard Dean, the party
chairman, and Obama.

Democratic members of Congress in many districts are running and hiding from Obama as if he is a virus that will kill them if they so much as touch him. Although Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen kept his name anonymous, we now know that it was 4th District Congressman Lincoln Davis who confessed to Bredesen that Obama is "political poison" to him. When a slew of your own members of Congress are either running from you like the plague, or have "officially" endorsed you but just don't want to talk about you, it is not a sign that you are Mr. Popular among the voters who will decide the election.

Barack Obama has gotten a bump, but it really isn't as all as large as it should be.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Far From Insurmoutable

Today we continue the discussion of polls and polling sites by examining Election Projection, a site run by "The Blogging Caesar," conservative Republican Scott Elliott. Whether a person agrees with Elliott's politics or not (for the most part, I do, of course) Elliot's tracking data was dead on for both the 2004 Presidential election as well as the 2006 Congressional ballot, so what his site is saying and the data he is spitting out from week to week can't be ignored.

Today's edition projects that if the election were held today, Barack Obama would win 304 electoral votes to John McCain's 234. As comforting as that might sound to Democrats, Elliot's prediction in 2004 this early in the race showed a very narrow potential John Kerry victory. In addition, Elliot does not seem to have taken into account internal State polls in Michigan and Ohio cited by his own research that show John McCain with narrow leads in those two States at the end of May, when the last internals were taken.

The "swing" States where Barack Obama is presently in the lead are not showing his lead to be insurmountable, and these are States where polls have also shown John McCain to be personally popular. The present numbers look good for Barack Obama, but not great.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The First Poll

AOL has begun their weekly straw poll for the General Election. After you vote in the poll, it might behove you to closely examine the results. Those results so far would give John McCain a hearty electoral vote landslide. Further, the results in Ohio and Missouri show McCain leading by 10 and 15 points in each State, respectively.

Many will argue-and rightly so- that this kind of poll is not reliable. If this were the only poll being taken, I would say that those who make this argument have a real point. However, this will be a week-by-week exercise, similar to the primary straw poll that AOL conducted, and in which the casual observer could clearly see the changes in the national mood. The poll went from Hllary Clinton having a sizable lead among Democrats to Obama having one, and by the time of the last weekly poll, Barack Obama was reflected as the State-by-State choice-albeit just barely.

One thing the AOL poll is showing is where the swing States will be. McCain has a sizable lead in New Hampshire, but leads by only four points in Wisconsin and two in Michigan. I would expect McCain's poll lead in Vermont, which is one of just a few single votes, to ebb away, as with Maine. McCain has a 50-50 margin in Minnesota as well. The online vote in Wisconsin and Michigan is very close.

This is a poll worth watching because if the primary poll that AOL ran is any indication, the leader in the week before the election could be the winner of the General Election. In polling so far, John McCain is carrying all of the base Red States and barely hanging on in swing States. That is all John McCain needs to do to win in November.

While not a reliable arbiter, the AOL poll does show yet aother painfully close Red-Blue election, and regardless of the final outcome, that is very likely how the 2008 vote will be remembered.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Ragsdale Runs Like a Frightened Cat

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, whose corruption and lack of moral compass have been well-documented in this space, has of late decided to run for cover by not even attending the County Commission hearings over his own budget:

Commissioner Craig Leuthold said it's the mayor's budget and he should have been at last week's initial budget session to explain his proposal.

Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert said it appeared Ragsdale's representatives at the meeting "didn't know a lot" and seemed unprepared.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported neither Chief Administrative Officer Dwight Van de Vate or mayoral spokeswoman Susanne Dupes returned telephone calls about why Ragsdale did not appear at the hearing on his $1,179,000 budget proposal.

The Knox County Commission is supposed to be composed of some of the most dreadful characters, amongst whom Mayor Ragsdale is supposed to look like a saint-that is if you believe certain elements of the major Knoxville press. What is Ragsdale running from that he felt so singularly uncompelled to appear before Commission to answer for his own budget proposal? After calls by certain citizens for his ouster in testimony before Commission less than two weeks ago, the latest actions (or lack thereof) by the Mayor and his staff smack of an avoidance of public scrutiny.

The man who would be Governor now runs from his accusers as though he were a frightened alley cat. What a sad ending it would seem is coming to a once promising Tennessee political career.

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The "Safe" Prediction

As The Tennessean pointed out yesterday, there is one State in which we can likely say that Barack Obama will not win in November-this one:

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan political newsletter, has Tennessee and its 11 electoral votes in the category of "likely Republican." As such, Tennessee will probably not be a battleground state, according to Jennifer Duffy, the report's senior editor.

One can sense that Democratic county chairmen in Tennessee know that Obama doesn't have a chance outside of Nashville and Memphis:

"I'm not underestimating McCain at all, but he's going to have to drag George Bush with him like a dead carcass around everywhere he goes," he said. "It's going to be tough for him."

That kind of statement translates roughly into "we're going to drag Bush with John McCain, and it is probably not going to work in Tennessee-we're going to concentrate on the Legislature and our slim chances in the U.S. Senate race."

In no way do I think that the Tennessee Republican Party should underestimate Barack Obama's abilities as a candidate. If he is nothing else, Obama is a shrewd politician who has learned to take advantage of the situation when his opponents let their guard down and fail to plug every hole. However, I have a feeling that in the course of this campaign, information will come to light about Barack Obama that may not hurt him in other parts of the country, but will widen the gulf between his candidacy and victory in Tennessee.

Barack Obama will already have enough of a problem with the electoral math the way it is now. How will Obama's campaign look to make up the difference when some of those "likely" Republican States move into the "solid Republican column?

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hail Holy Queen

What an awesome sight-thousands of pilgrims to Lourdes singing the Salve Regina.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To you we cry, the children of Eve;
to you we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this land of exile.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
your eyes of mercy toward us;
lead us home at last
and show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus:
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary

Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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