Saturday, May 3, 2008

Obama Dropping Like a Rock

Post below recycled from STACLU.

Hopefully this trend continues…not enough for Hillary to win out…but just enough to have him hobble into the general.

Indiana Poll Shows Clinton With Big Lead Over Obama

Obama loses 24 points among men in Indiana - in five days

Rasmussen: 10 point swing towards Hillary Clinton 46%, Obama 44%

In the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, the Wright impact is especially evident. Clinton now has a statistically insignificant two-point edge over Obama, 46% to 44%. However, that represents a ten-point swing since Wright's press conference. Before Pastor Wright appeared at the National Press Club, Obama led Clinton by eight points.

Gallup: Clinton takes the lead Clinton 49%, Obama 45%

FOX: Clinton 44%, Obama 41%

Pew Research Poll: Obama’s Image Slips, His Lead Over Clinton Disappears

CNN Poll: Obama Losing Support.

North Carolina was supposed to be a slam dunk for Obama…not if this Insider Advantage Poll is correct.

Hillary Clinton: 44%

Barack Obama: 42%

Undecided: 14%

Michael Goldfarb sums it all up:

Looking at one poll is sometimes dangerous. But several together–all pointing in the same direction–can tell a story. And for Barack Obama, this narrative is scary.

Susan at Wake Up America is on the same page.

Please, can I find a moonbat that wants to argue there isn’t a trend here?


Barack Obama has increasingly faced the charge that he seems aloof and disconnected, but in some appearances lately he actually seems downright disoriented. Mayhill Fowler (via Instapundit) offers the following slightly disturbing description of Obama on the stump:
Did Senator Obama know to whom he was speaking? Likely not. That's been his problem lately on the campaign trail-not knowing exactly where he was. He even made a joke about it in Hickory when he tried to recall where he had just met someone whose story he wanted to tell. "We were down in-where were we?" Quickly he came up with Winston-Salem, and everybody laughed. Monday in Wilmington, however, not only did he seem not to know Wilmington but the date and time, saying that it was "March" and "nine months to November." The fact that his audiences are largely composed of die-hard fervent loyalists usually masks this underlying dis-connection.

Those of us nerdy enough to watch the candidates' stump speeches in full on C-SPAN can attest that this kind of disorientation is actually a striking feature of a good number of Obama performances (though I don't think I've seen one quite as bad as Fowler describes here). Surely the immense pressure and long days of a presidential campaign can be quite disorienting, but so can the immense pressure and long days of serving as president. That's one way in which the long campaign actually is a test of some relevant abilities, and especially of sheer endurance. Hillary Clinton and John McCain somehow seem younger in this regard than the whippersnapper in the race. It's not so hard to lose track of what particular city you're in when you're on the road so much, and for so short a time at each stop (though other candidates nonetheless manage not to do it). But shouldn't a prospective president know what month it is?


The Real Question

The New York Times says this is the question: The question is whether Mr. Wright keeps his peace, or raises his voice. “Its easy to hurt his feelings,” said Richard Sewell, a Trinity deacon who has known both men for two decades. “He’s extremely sensitive.”

That's not the crucial question. The crucial question is whether Jeremiah Wright believes his own rhetoric. If he does, how can he silently endure being branded a whacko by the man he helped raise to some very high heights?

The ingratitude displayed by Obama this week is staggering to an outsider, and must be deeply hurtful to Wright and Wright's friends and associates at Trinity.

But even more hurtful is having your worldview dismissed by a close friend as a series of "rants" before an audience of millions around the globe. I don't think there is a parallel episode in American political history, and I am certain this drama is far from played out.


The Taranto roundup

Jeremiah Wright may be a kook, but he has Barack Obama's number. The two men, who once either were intimates or barely knew each other, are now engaged in a kerfuffle about, among other things, whether they were intimates, as Wright asserts, or barely knew each other, as Obama claims. Wright says that Obama is playing politics in distancing himself from Wright, while Obama is offended by the notion that he would play politics. After all, he's a different kind of politician!

Today's New York Times describes the scene as Obama made the fateful decision to break with the man he says he didn't really know all that well anyway:
Late Monday night, in the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C., Barack Obama's long, slow fuse burned to an end. Earlier that day he had thumbed through his BlackBerry, reading accounts of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.'s latest explosive comments on race and America. But his remarks to the press this day had amounted to a shrug of frustration. Only in this hotel room, confronted with the televised replay of the combustible pastor, did the candidate realize the full import of the remarks, his aides say. At the same time, aides fielded phone calls and e-mail from uncommitted superdelegates, several demanding that the candidate speak out more forcefully. As Mr. Obama told close friends after watching the replay, he felt dumbfounded, even betrayed, particularly by Mr. Wright's implication that Mr. Obama was being hypocritical. He could not tolerate that.

Obama listened to his gut and did what it told him to do. If the uncommitted superdelegates happened to be saying the same thing, why, that was just a happy coincidence. The real proof that Wright is right about Obama, though, comes from this passage in a New York Times story from April 30, 2007--a year ago yesterday:
Mr. Wright, who has long prided himself on criticizing the establishment, said he knew that he may not play well in Mr. Obama's audition for the ultimate establishment job. "If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me," Mr. Wright said with a shrug. "I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen."

Assuming Wright's account of the conversation was accurate--and as far as we know, Obama has never disputed it--Obama not only is acting out of political expediency now, but was making plans a year ago to do so. All part of the effort to sell him as a new kind of politician--and if you buy it, we've got some change you can believe in.

On Tuesday we asked, "Where are the moderate black clergymen and political leaders who have stepped up to say that [Jeremiah] Wright does not speak for them?" Our next item offers some encouragement on that score, but first a very discouraging column from Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times. She notes with disapproval Barack Obama's rejection of Wright's crackpot ideas:
"When [Wright] states and then amplifies such ridiculous proposition[s] as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices in the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime effort with terrorism, then there are no excuses," Obama said during a press conference. "They offend me. They rightfully offend all Americans and they should be denounced," Obama said.

This is a sad day for Black America. . . . When Obama says he is "offended" by Wright's latest comments--given in defense against an orchestrated assault on his character and on his ministry--he's opening up a can of worms. There is no institution in the black community more respected than the black church. And the notion that white pundits can dictate what constitutes unacceptable speech in the black church is repulsive to most black people.

We have no idea if Mitchell really speaks for "most black people," and we devoutly hope that she does not. But she does make clear that she endorses the view she ascribes to them: "As much as I want to see Obama make history by becoming the first black man to be elected president, I don't want to see a warrior like Wright denigrated to prove to white voters that Obama is not a radical."

So if "a warrior like Wright" declares, say, that AIDS is an invention of the U.S. government, and a "white pundit" denies it, Mitchell apparently evaluates the claim as follows: Wright is black, black is right, white is wrong. Never mind that Wright's claim is false, or that propagating such lies may encourage the spread of HIV among blacks. The color of the speaker's skin matters more than the truth of his words.

How exactly does this sort of race-centered worldview differ from old-fashioned white supremacy? Only in this way: White supremacy, in its heyday, was an exercise of power, directed outward. White people kept black people down. Mitchell-style black solidarity is an expression of impotence, directed inward. If black leaders like Wright use their pulpits, bully and actual, to disseminate pernicious lies, it is blacks, not whites, who are harmed.

Black Churchmen Against Wright: The Los Angeles Times interviews some local black ministers and finds few fans of Jeremiah Wright:
"This didn't have anything to do with the black church--it was basically an attack on the individual message he proclaimed, which hurt some individuals," said the Rev. K.W. Tulloss of Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Boyle Heights. "My own members were offended by Rev. Wright's words. His views have cast a wedge between people, and that's the exact opposite of the unity Jesus represented." . . .

Bishop John Bryant of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who has known Wright for 30 years, said he would have used less provocative language. "How one speaks is as important as the right to do so," Bryant said. "If it is done in an inflammatory way, the substance of the message gets lost in the rhetorical style."
in Los Angeles, said that he had listened to hundreds of sermons in black churches nationwide as part of his political and community work, and that Wright's messages did "not represent mainstream black thought on Sunday morning." He said he had never heard pastors curse America or proclaim, as Wright had, that the U.S. government caused AIDS among blacks. He said the common pulpit themes had long been unity, personal responsibility, loving your neighbor and improving your neighborhoods.

If this is an accurate piecture, then Karl of has a point when he criticizes "the establishment media," saying they "not only avoided soliciting the opinion of other black religious leaders, but also promoted the notion that Wright was expressing views commonly expressed within black churches." Karl attributes this media failure to pro-Obama partisanship, but it occurs to us that another factor may be at work. There is an ideological symbiosis between whites of the far left and black extremists like Wright: The former find moral justification for their anti-American views in the marginalization of blacks that the latter promote. Anyone with an ideological hostility to America has an interest in promoting the notion that America is inveterately racist, and this may come into play in some newsroom decisions.

Too Good to Be an Elitist: Reuters reports on Barack Obama's latest effort to escape the "elitist" tag:
Democratic presidential candidate on Thursday said he had grown up in less privileged circumstances than his rivals as he fought a perception among some voters that he is "elitist." . . . "Let's be honest, here I am an African American named Barack Obama who's running for president. I mean, that's a leap for folks," he said.

"Let's be honest, here I am." That's not elitism, it's narcissism.

Pretty Vacant: Barack Obama should be careful what he wishes for, to judge by this Associated Press dispatch:
Obama's presidential campaign wants federal regulators to investigate fellow Democrats who are backing Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy, taking intraparty discord to a new level of confrontation. Obama's campaign lawyer, Robert Bauer, filed a complaint Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, accusing the pro-Clinton American Leadership Project of violating campaign finance laws by running ads against Obama. The group is spending $920,000 for an ad in Indiana questioning Obama's economic policies.

There's just one little problem:
Complicating matters is the FEC's lack of a quorum to act on any investigation or regulatory matter. The six-member commission has four vacancies. Though the commissioners would be unable to act on such a complaint immediately, FEC investigations typically take more than a year to resolve.

What the AP doesn't note, though our John Fund did last month, is that the FEC's inability to conduct business is Obama's own fault:
Democrats balked at confirming Hans von Spakovsky, who had served on the FEC for two years. Sen. Barack Obama put his nomination on hold for years because Mr. von Spakovsky, as a Justice Department official, supported laws requiring voters to show photo ID.

It's like that old joke about the definition of chutzpah: when someone murders his parents, then pleads for mercy because he can't raise a quorum at the family meeting.


Sons Of Privilege

OK, Now I'm peeved. Here is Barack Obama on his life and hard times:
After those San Francisco remarks, he was hit with the elitist tag. "The irony is that I think it is fair to say that both Michelle and I grew up in much less privileged circumstances than either of my two other potential opponents," he said.

John McCain had a "privileged" upbringing? I have no doubt he would agree - his grandfather was an admiral, his father eventually made admiral, and John Sidney grew up in a household where the young men were expected to embrace the privilege of entering the military and getting their sorry asses shot at, which McCain experienced in spades. As I further recall, a son of McCain's from his first marriage served in the military and he currently has two sons from his second marriage in uniform (one in Iraq), so I guess they are privileged, too. Is it possible for the Democrats to nominate a bigger assclown?

MORE: John McCain from his 2000 announcement, echoed in 2007:
I do not announce my candidacy to satisfy my personal ambitions. My life has already been blessed more than I deserve. I don't begin this mission with any sense of entitlement. America doesn't owe me anything. I am the son and grandson of Navy admirals, and I was born into America's service. It wasn't until I was deprived of her company that I fell in love with America. And it has been my honor to serve her and her great cause - freedom. I have never lived a day since that I wasn't thankful for the privilege. It is because I owe America more than she has ever owed me that I am a candidate for President of the United States.

If Barack ever said that, and managed to keep a straight face, Michelle would fall down laughing.


Obama supports Voter Fraud

In ruling on the constitutionality of Indiana's voter ID law - the toughest in the nation - the Supreme Court had to deal with the claim that such laws demanded the strictest of scrutiny by courts, because they could disenfranchise voters. All nine Justices rejected that argument. Even Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the three dissenters who would have overturned the Indiana law, wrote approvingly of the less severe ID laws of Georgia and Florida. The result is that state voter ID laws are now highly likely to pass constitutional muster.

But this case, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, also revealed a fundamental philosophical conflict between two perspectives rooted in the machine politics of Chicago. Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the decision, grew up in Hyde Park, the city neighborhood where Sen. Barack Obama - the most vociferous Congressional critic of such laws - lives now. Both men have seen how the Daley machine has governed the city for so many years, with a mix of patronage, contract favoritism and, where necessary, voter fraud.

That fraud became nationally famous in 1960, when the late Mayor Richard J. Daley's extraordinary efforts swung Illinois into John F. Kennedy's column. In 1982, inspectors estimated as many as one in 10 ballots cast in Chicago during that year's race for governor to be fraudulent for various reasons, including votes by the dead.

Mr. Stevens witnessed all of this as a lawyer, special counsel to a commission rooting out corruption in state government, and as a judge. On the Supreme Court, this experience has made him very mindful of these abuses. In 1987, the high court vacated the conviction of a Chicago judge who'd used the mails to extort money. He wrote a stinging dissent, taking the rare step of reading it from the bench. The majority opinion, he noted, could rule out prosecutions of elected officials and their workers for using the mails to commit voter fraud. Three years later, Justice Stevens ordered Cook County officials to stop printing ballots that excluded a slate of black candidates who were challenging the Daley machine. The full court later ordered the black candidates back on the ballot.

Barack Obama has approached Chicago politics differently. He came to the city as a community organizer in the 1980s and quickly developed a name for himself as a litigator in voting cases.

In 1995, then GOP Gov. Jim Edgar refused to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law. Allowing voters to register using only a postcard and blocking the state from culling voter rolls, he argued, could invite fraud. Mr. Obama sued on behalf of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and won. Acorn later invited Mr. Obama to help train its staff; Mr. Obama would also sit on the board of the Woods Fund for Chicago, which frequently gave this group grants.

Acorn's efforts to register voters have been scandal-prone. St. Louis, Mo., officials found that in 2006 over 1,000 addresses listed on its registrations didn't exist. "We met twice with Acorn before their drive, but our requests completely fell by the wayside," said Democrat Matt Potter, the city's deputy elections director. Later, federal authorities indicted eight of the group's local workers. One of the eight pleaded guilty last month. In Seattle, local officials invalidated 1,762 Acorn registrations. Felony charges were filed against seven of its workers, some of whom have criminal records. Prosecutors say Acorn's oversight of its workers was virtually nonexistent. To avoid prosecution, Acorn agreed to pay $25,000 in restitution.

Despite this record - and polls that show clear majorities of blacks and Hispanics back voter ID laws - Mr. Obama continues to back Acorn. They both joined briefs urging the Supreme Court to overturn Indiana's law. Last year, he put on hold the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky for a seat on the Federal Election Commission. Mr. von Spakovsky, as a Justice Department official, had supported a Georgia photo ID law.

In a letter to the Senate Rules Committee, Mr. Obama wrote that "Mr. von Spakovsky's role in supporting the Department of Justice's quixotic efforts to attack voter fraud raises significant questions about his ability to interpret and apply the law in a fair manner." Of course, now an even stricter law than the one in Georgia has been upheld by the Supreme Court, removing Mr. Obama's chief objection.

The hold on the von Spakovsky nomination has left the Federal Election Commission with less than a quorum. As a result, the FEC can't open new cases, hold public meetings, issue advisory opinions or approve John McCain's receipt of public funding for the general election. Now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims that, even without the von Spakovsky hold, filling the FEC's vacancies will take "several months."

All of this may be smart politics, but it is far removed from Mr. Obama's call for transcending the partisan divide. Then again, Mr. Obama's relationship to reform has always been tenuous. Jay Stewart, the executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, notes that, while Mr. Obama supported ethics reforms as a state senator, he has "been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state, including at this point, mostly Democratic."

So we have the irony of two liberal icons in sharp disagreement over yesterday's Supreme Court decision. Justice Stevens, the real reformer, believes voter ID laws are justified to prevent fraud. Barack Obama, the faux reformer, hauls out discredited rhetoric that they disenfranchise voters.

Acorn's national political arm has endorsed Mr. Obama. And its "nonpartisan" voter registration affiliate has announced plans to register hundreds of thousands of voters before the November election. An election in which Mr. Obama may be the Democratic candidate.


Another Dowd comment

Barack Obama has spent his life, and campaign, trying not to be the Angry Black Man. Early on, he wrote in "Dreams From My Father," he discerned the benefits of playing against the '60s stereotype of black militancy. "I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds," he said. "One of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves. They were more than satisfied; they were relieved - such a pleasant surprise to find a well-mannered young black man who didn't seem angry all the time."

Obama and his aides often brag about his Zenlike serenity. "I've learned that I have what I believe is the right temperament for the presidency, which is I don't get too high when I'm high and I don't get too low when I'm low," he told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."

The next morning, he was hurtled into the worst political crisis of his life. On Tuesday, the Sort Of Angry Black Man appeared, reluctantly spurred into action by The Really Angry Black Man. Speaking to reporters in the heart of tobacco country in Winston-Salem, N.C., the poor guy looked as if he were dying for a smoke. "When I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it," Obama said. "It contradicts everything I am about and who I am." He said that the riffs of the man he prayed with before his announcement speech give "comfort to those who prey on hate." Obama, of course, will only ratchet up the skepticism of those who don't understand why he stayed in the church for 20 years if his belief system is so diametrically opposed to Wright's.

He's back on the tricky path he faced as a child, navigating between two racial cultures. At Trinity, he may have ignored what he should have heard because he was trying to assimilate to black culture. Now, he may be outraged by what he belatedly heard because he's trying to relate to the white lunch-pail set. Having been deserted at age 2 by his father, Obama has now been deserted by the father-figure in his church, the man who inspired him to become a Christian, married him, dedicated his house, baptized his children, gave him the title of his second book and theme for his presidential run and worked on his campaign.

At the very moment when his fate hangs in the balance, when he is trying to persuade white working-class voters that he is not an exotic stranger with radical ties, the vainglorious Rev. Wright kicks him in the stomach. In a narcissistic explosion that would impress Bill Clinton, the preacher dragged Obama into the '60s maelstrom that he had pledged to be an antidote to. In two days worth of solipsistic rants, the man of faith committed at least four of the seven deadly sins - wrath, envy, pride and greed (book and lecture fees?) - while grandiosely claiming he was defending the black church.

He was certainly sore at Obama, after helping him get connected in Chicago politics, for distancing himself. But he was also clearly envious that Obama has been hailed by his flock as the halo-wearing Redeemer of America's hope.

If Obama was going to co-opt his role as charismatic evangelist, why couldn't he morph into a spinning politician? Obama's anger, an unused muscle, had to be stoked by his advisers, who pressed him with drooping poll numbers and the video of Wright at the National Press Club. He again heard the preacher turning Farrakhan into an American idol, and his flame-throwing assertions that the U.S. government had infected blacks with the AIDS virus and had brought terrorist attacks on itself by practicing terrorism abroad.

But in the end, it was Wright showing "disrespect" by implying that Obama was a phony that sparked the candidate's slow-burning temper. "What I think particularly angered me," he said, "was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks was somehow political posturing."

For some, Obama didn't offer enough outrage. "He talks about Reverend Wright violating his core beliefs as if he is detailing why he doesn't like cheesecake or cream cheese," said one Hillary Democrat. "He's more passionate about basketball."

The Illinois senator doesn't pay attention to the mythic nature of campaigns, but if he did, he would recognize the narrative of the classic hero myth: The young hero ventures out on an adventure to seek a golden fleece or an Oval Office; he has to kill monsters and face hurdles before he returns home, knocks off his father and assumes the throne.

Tuesday was more than a Sister Souljah moment; it was a painful form of political patricide. "I did not vet my pastor before I decided to run for the presidency," Obama said. In a campaign that's all about who's vetted, maybe he should have.



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