Sunday, June 1, 2008

Obama's Mythical Intelligence

Much has been written about Obama's "mythical intelligence" by a media completely in the tank for the boy blunder. His intelligence is , in fact, a myth. Atlas reader Carolyn wrote an excellent piece peeling back the layers of the mendacious narrative to uncover what a lightweight the Soros stooge really is. She describes the unmeritorious means Obama used to achieve his goals - particularly President of the Law Review. When I was in Washington yesterday we were discussing this little mentioned truth - Obama's year as President produced little worthwhile or significant. Obama's year is the least cited review. He produced nothing of import.

The smoke of Obama's 'intelligence' Carolyn
Obama's much vaunted intelligence is in reality nothing but smoke and mirrors.

As nearly everyone has noted lately, Obama's grasp on facts is being revealed as tenuous at best and embarrassing at worst, as evidenced by his recent gaffe about his uncle having 'liberated' Auschwitz when in fact NO American soldier did anything of the kind (in fact - as the quickest glance at a history book will tell you, no American soldier ever set foot in Poland where Auschwitz is located). Now, this kind of lapse could be excused as a typical political mistake, etc. - but in Obama's case, that excuse can't be used. It's not just because this type of typical 'political' mistake is what Obama has sworn he's not - i.e., a typical politician - more to the point, this silly mistake reveals Obama's ignorance of the bare minimum of historical fact. And such ignorance shakes the very foundation of Obama's chief qualification for being President - i.e., Obama's vaunted intelligence. Since everyone acknowledges he lacks experience for the job, the only reason left to support Obama's claim to the position is because of his intelligence.

Constant references have been given as to Obama's near-mythical intelligence - and over and over again, every one claims that the 'proof' of that intelligence is the fact that Obama was President of the Harvard Law Review. And that is a staggering achievement. Only the best and the brightest achieve that - only a student at the top of the grade scale, only a student of outstanding writing skills and superb legal acumen is accorded that honor. It is such a high honor that this accomplishment follows that student through to the rest of his life - it is mentioned in his vitae, his honors, indeed in his very obituary as the incontestable proof of his intelligence. Therefore, it is understandable that all doubts of Obama's intelligence are instantly assuaged by revealing he was President of the Harvard Law Review.

Assuaged, that is, until one looks a bit closer. To begin with, the NY Times 1990 article on Obama being elected President of the Harvard Law Review casts the first troubling clues that all is not what it appears to be.
"Until the 1970's the editors were picked on the basis of grades, and the president of the Law Review was the student with the highest academic rank. Among these were Elliot L. Richardson, the former Attorney General, and Irwin Griswold, a dean of the Harvard Law School and Solicitor General under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

That system came under attack in the 1970's and was replaced by a program in which about half the editors are chosen for their grades and the other half are chosen by fellow students after a special writing competition. The new system, disputed when it began, was meant to help insure that minority students became editors of The Law Review."

There is the Achilles heel. The former high standards which all previous Presidents of the Harvard Law Review had been forced to meet - grades, papers, etc.- no longer existed by the time Obama was elected. Instead, the post was selected on something different than grades, papers, etc. It was selected on race. Obama was the 'right' race. He was black. Now of course, that doesn't mean Obama did NOT have intelligence - but what it makes clear is that by the time he was elected, Presidency of the Review no longer proved he DID. Indeed, at the very moment of his election, the proof of his intelligence was so missing that his predecessor at the job refused to confirm it. Of course, the predecessor trode very cautiously and carefully in his statement issued after Obama had just been elected - but the meaning was clear.:

"Mr. Obama succeeds Peter Yu, a first-generation Chinese-American, as president of The Law Review. After graduation, Mr. Yu plans to serve as a clerk for Chief Judge Patricia Wald on the of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Mr. Yu said Mr. Obama's election ''was a choice on the merits, but others may read something into it.''
Mr. Yu's words are ominous - 'others may read something into it." Clearly, Mr. Yu clearly can't say he's one of those 'others' recognizing 'merits' to instead mean 'race'. After all, Yu sees which way the PC winds are blowing and he certainly doesn't want them howling in his face by saying Obama got his post for something other than his intelligence. At the same time, however, Yu's unease at the choice of Obama is telling for what Yu does not say, as for what he does. For instance, Yu does not cite Obama's grades nor does Yu cite Obama's legal writings. Yu says nothing about them at all - and the silence is deafening.

Reading the NY Times further reveals other telltale signs that Obama did not possess the intelligence for that position. As with Mr. Yu's painfully parsed statement, the signs are noticeable more for what they do not say, than for what they do.

We begin with a brief explanation of the legal world Obama claims to belong to by reason of his intelligence. That world is defined by 3 inescapable proofs of such intelligence. They are: (1) high grades, (2) prestigious organizations (i.e, the Law Review) and (3) clerkship with a judge.

We will begin with the first and most obvious sign of intelligence - grades. Obama doesn't have them. Oh, he's given the aura of possessing them - but when one looks closely at that aura, it disappears like smoke before your eyes. For instance, not once has anyone, ever, at any time, produced those grades. In no publication, either Obama's or anyone else's, has any cite been made of that average - was it a 4.0? (Straight A's?) Was it even higher - 4.3? (A+) (And today's high school seniors are graduating with 5.0.) Okay, how about a 3.9 or 3.8? No. The answer is none. Never. At no time have Obama's grades ever been cited. And that is damning. Because as any person who's ever graduated from elementary, high school or college will tell you, their grade point average is so close to their identity as to be the identity itself. Therefore - for that 'identity' to be invisible as is the case with Obama, is quite revealing. In plain words, if someone doesn't mention a high grade point average, it's for only one reason - there isn't a high grade point average.

(2) prestigious organizations

Yes, Obama was elected President of the law review. But, as I've already cited, this election came when the qualifications of high grades had been eliminated. Therefore one has to look at the other reasons for that election - which necessitates looking at how Obama was elected.

As the NY Times article cites, "Mr. Obama was elected after a meeting of the review's 80 editors that convened Sunday and lasted until early this morning, a participant said." In other words, 80 people got together and in a wearying all night session in which fists were banged on the tables and the air was loud with 'we have to get a BLACK in this position, it's 1990, for crissakes and we haven't got one" - the weary people in the early morning hours, exhausted, worn out and unable, unwilling to fight any longer simply chose the only candidate they could think of to be President of the Review. Obama.

And if you think I'm laboring too much on the PC reasons for Obama's election, the NY Times itself describes the vicious political background against which Obama was elected.
"...Mr. Obama was the most prominent minority student on a campus shaken by racial politics. A group agitating for greater faculty diversity occupied the dean's office and sued the school for discrimination; Derrick Bell, a black law professor, resigned over the issue.

The law review struggled to decide whether affirmative action should factor into the selection of editors, and how much voice to give to critical race theorists, who argued that the legal system was inherently biased against minorities."

Well, it is clear the committee choosing the President of the Review did 'factor in' affirmative action. And it is just as clear they didn't factor in his grades. Nor did they cite his papers written. In fact, there was not a mention of either. Instead, the committee abandoned them altogether and went to something completely unrelated - politics. In citing Obama's qualifications, they pointed out that he had worked the political wards in Chicago before he came to Harvard. You may well ask - what does this have to do with grades or legal acumen? The answer is - nothing. And the answer gets even more troubling when one then realizes that after Obama was elected to President of the Law Review, he wrote no papers. That's totally unheard of. Writing no papers for the Law Review is like taking a class in gymnastics without even putting on your leotards to work out. The whole reason for existence of the Review is to write a paper. And yet the very President of it writes none.

(3) clerkship with a judge

This is a shocking failure of Obama's that he did not clerk with a judge after graduation. The fact that it is a shocking failure is evidenced by the embarrassed committee admitting it up front so as to beat others to it.:
"The president of the law review usually goes on to serve as a clerk for a judge on the Federal Court of Appeals for a year, and then as a clerk for an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Mr. Obama said he planned to spend two or three years in private law practice and then return to Chicago to re-enter community work, either in politics or in local organizing."

"..usually goes on to serve as a clerk". This polite sentence means ALL Harvard Law Review presidents serve for judges after graduation. Even Obama's predecessor, Mr. Yu, did that. Indeed, Yu cited his clerkship with a judge so fast you almost thought it was part of his name. And in a sense, it is. There's a reason why ALL graduates who clerk with a judge trumpet their clerkships instantly in your face. Clerking with a judge is the sign of a law graduate's intelligence. Bar none. That's why it's on their resumes, why it's the first thing they talk about in conversation "ah, yes, when I clerked with Judge so and so," etc. It is so prestigious it's the first thing other attorneys cite when they discuss that particular person - 'Ah yes, HE clerked with Judge so and so", etc. In short, clerkship is the shining golden symbol that this attorney is smart. Why? Because judges do not pick stupid people. Why not? Because the clerks oversee the papers for the judge, help write them, do the bulk of research for them, etc. The judge then stands on that work in reaching his decisions, rendering his judgment. Thus, if the work produced by that clerk is faulty - which it will be if the clerk is stupid - than the judge pays for it with his own career, his own reputation. And of course, no judge will do that. Which is why no judge will hire a stupid clerk.

Which thus brings us to the unstated but painfully obvious sign of Obama's lack of intelligence. Despite holding the staggering position of the Harvard Law Review - NO judge, not one, not a single one, offered a clerkship to Obama. It wasn't because Obama wasn't free for the asking. As he made clear in his statement upon accepting the position of President of the Review, Obama eagerly made his availability known by declaring that he would be practicing law for 'two or three' years after leaving Harvard. I.e., he was open for the clerk's position. Except - no judge gave it to him. None.

And Obama painfully admitted he knew this would happen. While other graduates went on to clerkships with judges, the Court of Appeals, even the Supreme Court, etc. or even to prestigious top flight law firms which take only the best of the best, Obama admitted he was not in line for any of that. He would be going for something else. The same 'something' which had landed him the title of President of the Harvard Law Review - but not the benefits of such. Once the glitter and glisten of that title had worn off, the bare reality beneath was that Obama was nothing a politically glib individual able to talk well in abstract - but not produce in concrete. And the judges had recognized that fact by refusing to give him a clerkship. The brutally competitive law firms had also recognized that by not giving him a position at their firms. Therefore, there was only one venue open to him - politics. As the NY Times put it, Obama would be returning to Chicago to "re-enter community work, either in politics or in local organizing."

Such then is the smoke and mirrors of Obama's vaunted 'intelligence'. To this day, he has blown that smoke skillfully in the faces of the liberals to lull them into not asking questions - much the same way the ancient Kings of France blew smoke into the faces of their hunting birds to quieten and lull them into inaction. The terrible problem is that modern bloody birds of prey like Ahmadinijad, Chavez and the Taliban, etc. are not lulled by smoke. To the contrary, these terrorists have mastered the art of blowing their own smoke into the world's face to lull it into submission and inaction. Such years of mastery means these terrorists will make short shrift of the untested Junior senator from Illinois's huffing and puffing. Obama's smoke will be blown back instantly into his face by the hot breath of their hate and insane contempt for human life.

Which will leave Obama with only his intelligence to defend him - and us. Unfortunately, as the above arguments sadly prove, Obama's intelligence itself appears to be smoke. Thus leaving us with a potential Commander in Chief able to defend this country with --- what?

For this country's safety, we must pierce the smoke of Obama's 'intelligence' at the earliest possible moment. If Obama's smoke of obfuscation obscures long enough to gain him the White House, that fatal smoke could be blown away only to reveal a greater smoke rising from the ruins of America - a deadly smoke which next time will surely dwarf the ghostly clouds which broiled up from the burning buildings and planes on 9/11.


Obama distances himself from another hate-filled supporter

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday that he was "deeply disappointed" by a supporter's sermon at his church that mocked Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Chicago activist, also apologized for last Sunday's sermon at Obama's church, in which he said Clinton's eyes welled with tears before the New Hampshire primary because she felt "entitled" to the Democratic nomination and because "there's a black man stealing my show."

In video circulating on the Internet, Pfleger said the former first lady expected to win the nomination before Obama's sudden popularity. "She just always thought that, 'This is mine. I'm Bill's wife. I'm white.' ... And then, out of nowhere, came 'Hey, I'm Barack Obama." And she said, 'Oh damn, where did you come from? I'm white. I'm entitled. There's a black man stealing my show,'" Pfleger said at Trinity United Church of Christ. He then went on to parody Clinton, sobbing and wiping his face with a handkerchief. "She wasn't the only one crying," he said. "There was a whole lot of white people crying."

Obama won the Iowa caucuses, the first contest of the nominating season, in January. Days later, Clinton's eyes brimmed with tears and her voice broke as she talked with New Hampshire voters on the eve of the primary, which she won.

Obama said he was "deeply disappointed" by Pfleger's comments. "As I have traveled this country, I've been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that that unites us," he said in a statement. "That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn't reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause."

Pfleger, the white pastor of predominantly black Saint Sabina Roman Catholic Church on the city's Southwest side, said he regretted his choice of words. "These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama's life and message and I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them," Pfleger said.

Clinton's campaign denounced Pfleger's comments. "Divisive and hateful language like that is totally counterproductive in our efforts to bring our party together and have no place at the pulpit or in our politics," the campaign said in a statement. "We are disappointed that Senator Obama didn't specifically reject Father's Pfleger's despicable comments about Senator Clinton, and assume he will do so."

In March, Pfleger invited Obama's embattled former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to speak at Saint Sabina, embracing Wright in the church. Obama recently broke with Wright, who had been his longtime pastor, after video of his sermons blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks and his calls of "God damn America" became fixtures on the Internet and cable news networks and created a political problem for the candidate.

Pfleger, known locally as a community activist and organizer, was arrested in June 2007 with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during a protest outside of a south suburban Chicago gun shop. The criminal trespass charges were later dropped. He also has hosted Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, at St. Sabina and has called him "a gift from God to a sick, sick world."


When Does 'Iraq Made Us Less Safe' Become Inoperable?

Expanding a bit on this thought from Jen Rubin: A standard, almost rote part of Obama's argument is that the war in Iraq "hasn't made us safer, and has in fact made us less safe."

But we haven't had a (knock on wood) terrorist attack on American soil since the anthrax, and nothing that was clearly by al-Qaeda on our soil since 9/11. It's actually been a while (again, knocking on wood) since a major terrorist attack in the West - London? Looking back on the immediate post-9/11 era - Daniel Pearl's murder, the Bali bombings, the Limburg tanker bombing, the Riyadh compound, the Istanbul consulate bombings, the Madrid train bombings - a case can be made that al-Qaeda pulled off more big attacks before and immediately after the start of the Iraq War than lately. CIA Director Michael Hayden's assessment won't be the last word, but it ought not be ignored by the candidates:
While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, Hayden said Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.

All that has changed, Hayden said in an interview with The Washington Post this week that coincided with the start of his third year at the helm of the CIA. "On balance, we are doing pretty well," he said, ticking down a list of accomplishments: "Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally - and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' - as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam," he said.

The U.S. can't necessarily claim all the credit for this. But think about how many Jordanians now loathe al-Qaeda for blowing up the wedding in Amman. Bizarrely enough, if America never invades Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi probably never launches that attack. If the war in Iraq never begins, al-Qaeda never tries the strategy of massacring Shia and Sunni Iraqis alike - turning clerics of both sects against their movement. The television network of al-Jazeera, hardly a pro-American voice, inevitably has to cover acts of al-Qaeda violence against Muslims, and day by day, the message that al-Qaeda are indiscriminate, psychopathic mass murderers gets pounded home. Zawahiri's answer to angry Muslim questioners was the biggest deer-in-the-headlights moment since... well, Scott McClellan, come to think of it.

"The Iraq War made us less safe" - well, that sounds credible when you just want the war to end, and you imagine thousands of Iraqis signing up with al-Qaeda. But if the war didn't turn into such a propaganda tool for bin Laden... then we're left with a big pile of dead al-Qaeda and a country full of Arabs who hate them. Does that result really make us less safe?


What was missing

A presidential candidate gave a commencement address. We noticed that a couple of things were missing in his pitch. Here's an excerpt of the awful thing:
Each of you will have the chance to make your own discovery in the years to come. And I say "chance" because you won't have to take it. There's no community service requirement in the real world; no one forcing you to care. You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should by. You can choose to narrow your concerns and live your life in a way that tries to keep your story separate from America's.

But I hope you don't. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, though you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get here, though you do have that debt.

It's because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role you'll play in writing the next great chapter in America's story.

There are so many ways to serve and so much need at this defining moment in our history. You don't have to be a community organizer or do something crazy like run for President. Right here at Wesleyan, many of you have already volunteered at local schools, contributed to United Way, and even started a program that brings fresh produce to needy families in the area. One hundred and sixty-four graduates of this school have joined the Peace Corps since 2001, and I'm especially proud that two of you are about to leave for my father's homeland of Kenya to bring alternative sources of energy to impoverished areas.

I ask you to seek these opportunities when you leave here, because the future of this country - your future - depends on it. At a time when our security and moral standing depend on winning hearts and minds in the forgotten corners of this world, we need more of you to serve abroad.

Missing bits from Senator Obama's speech, among many others: (a) any mention of the great blessing of being able to be part of, and a contributor towards, the continued success of this America with its "big house and nice suits" that have made his campaign possible; (b) any mention of the parents whose sacrifices made their kids' college educations possible; and (c) in his particularly offensive remark that "we need more of you to serve abroad," he notably omitted to mention a certain 300,000 Americans serving abroad, many of whom are daily involved in "winning hearts and minds in the forgotten corners of this world." What a jerk.


Nader on Obama

Nader's hatreds are obsessive

He's really a . . . the Wall Street Journal's editorial page wouldn't describe him as such . . . but he's really a corporate Democrat. His record in the Senate is not one of challenging corporate power." So says Ralph Nader when I ask him about Barack Obama.... It's halfway through our bottle of Cabernet that the subject of Sen. Obama comes up. I ask Mr. Nader: Why run against him when he's carrying a progressive reform banner into the campaign? "He isn't," is the swift riposte.

"I think the central issue in politics in this country is the domination of corporations over our government, and over our elections, and over so many things where commercial values used to be verboten . . . I mean, they're commercializing childhood, they're commercializing universities. What's happened in the last 25 years is an overwhelming swarm of commercial supremacy, and he, Obama, has bought into that."

I point out here that Mr. Obama has opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement, and said that he wants it renegotiated; that he's chastised the Big Three in Detroit for opposing higher CAFE standards; and that he emphasizes at every opportunity that he takes no money from lobbyists. What does Mr. Nader think of that?

"You see, that's all permissible populist rhetoric that the corporations understand and wink at. Look at who gets the corporate money. Six out of seven industries giving money, through PACs and individual executives, etc., are giving more money to the Democrats than to the Republicans. I mean, John McCain's having trouble raising money, even now. Obama's taking large money from the securities industry, the health insurance industry . . . I've gotten used to this ritual where the companies give Democrats this leeway, and say, 'Well, Obama's gotta say that stuff, but he'll come around. There's no way he'll touch Nafta or touch the WTO.'"

So is it all just a charade? "Yes," says Mr. Nader, implacably, "a charade. His health-insurance plan lets the health insurance companies continue their redundant, wasteful, often corrupt - in terms of billing fraud - ways, ripping off Medicare. My vice-presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez, has written a 3,000-word tract on Obama that's on our Web site, You should read it."

I persist with Mr. Obama, pointing out that a lot of Democrats would find it hard to accept Mr. Nader's characterization of him as an agent of corporate America. After all, many non-Democrats find Mr. Obama disconcertingly left wing. "He's not an agent," Mr. Nader grants, "but he moves in an environment that's conditioned by corporate power. If he wins, you'll see his appointments in the Defense department, the Treasury and so on, they'll be pretty much what the lobbies and PACs want."

Mr. Nader is clear that he prefers Mr. Obama to Hillary Clinton. "With her, we'll just get what Bill gave us. I think she's like Bill Clinton. With Obama, there's the possibility of some fresh start, just like Kennedy did the Peace Corps. You see, when Obama got out of Harvard Law School, he went to work for a short period with a group I started in New York, the New York Public Interest Research Group. Then he went and did neighborhood work in Chicago, so it's not like he's coming off some corporate mountain. "But he's made up his mind to be a very conciliatory, concessionary, adaptive politician to the reality of corporate power. And people like him are told, 'Look, if you don't adhere to certain parameters and expectations, you're going to have a hard time winning any nomination or election.' And Obama's made his peace with that."

Proof of this, in Mr. Nader's view, is Mr. Obama's position on Israel. "So many people in Chicago regaled him because he was for Palestinian rights, a two-state solution. Now, he won't say many things on behalf of the Palestinians. After a while, you get an idea of his political character, his political personality. He's not a transforming leader. He was not a transforming senator. He was not a challenging senator, the way [the late Paul] Wellstone was."

What is it exactly that Mr. Nader would like Barack Obama - and the Democratic Party - to do in order to be kosher in his eyes? "Where do I start?" he asks with a twinkle. "Labor reform, repealing Taft-Hartley. You see, the labor unions line up in favor of the Democrat Party and they get nothing. For heaven's sake, they went 'x' number of years without even adjusting the minimum wage to inflation. I've never seen a less demanding organized labor movement, but what have the Democrats given them?"

Mr. Nader wants an end to "lip service" on Nafta and the WTO, and "better protection of individual investors' rights, rights that corporate capitalism violates repeatedly." On health care, "we believe in single-payer health, full Medicare for all." He is also "opposed unalterably to nuclear power. We think the country should go solar, in all of its different manifestations, including passive solar architecture." The Democrats are a world away from that position.

There's more: Mr. Nader wants to slash "the bloated, wasteful military budget. This thing is so out of control that it's unauditable. But Obama wants to increase the military budget, which is currently distorted away from soldiers and towards these giant weapons systems, and keeping troops in Korea and Japan." And as for the tax system, Mr. Nader wishes that the Democrats would adhere to his philosophy, which is that "we should first tax things that we like the least, or dislike the most, as a society, before we tax human labor, and necessities . . . through a sales tax.

"So we should tax securities speculation first, before we tax labor. If you go to a store and buy $1,000 worth of products, you pay a sales tax. You buy $1 million worth of derivatives, you pay no sales tax!"

Has he had trouble getting his message out to the American voter? Here, Mr. Nader shows a mild - and understandable - flash of anger over being shut out of the televised presidential debates. He is also critical of the media. "Since I announced my run, I can't get on Charlie Rose. Or Diane Rehm or Terry Gross [of NPR]. I haven't been on Jim Lehrer yet. I got on Wolf Blitzer twice, on CNN. Fox News calls me more than anybody. They have the same attitude, of course - 'Here comes the spoiler!' But how can you spoil something that's spoiled already?

"I don't complain much publicly. I've been told by a lot of the television bookers around the country, 'Ralph, they don't like you.' So the door is shut. But I say to myself, 'Should we close down and go to Monterey and watch the whales?' No. Better to fight when you have a small chance, than to fight later when you have no chance at all."

Those stirring last words are from Winston Churchill, and Mr. Nader quotes the old conservative with relish - even though his favorite British politician, he tells me, is Aneurin Bevan, the man who gave Britain its National Health Service after World War II. Bevan and Churchill were from different planets, and we chuckle at the incongruity of Mr. Nader's rhetorical inspiration. Then we rise slowly from our table and leave - I for my hotel room in Georgetown, and he for the battle that never ends.


A few Republicans have fallen for the con-man

Beverly Fanning is among the campaign donors who will be joining President Bush at a gala at Washington's Ford's Theater on Sunday night, but she says that won't dissuade her from her current passion: volunteering for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. She isn't the only convert. A McClatchy Newspapers computer analysis, incomplete due to the difficulty of matching data from various campaign finance reports, found that hundreds of people who gave at least $200 to Bush's 2004 campaign have donated to Obama.

Among them are Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the granddaughter of the late GOP President Eisenhower; Connie Ballmer, the wife of Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer; Ritchie Scaife, the estranged wife of conservative tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife; and boxing promoter Don King.

Many of the donors are likely "moderate Republicans or independents who are dissatisfied with the direction of the country now and are looking for change," said Anthony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College in Maine who specializes in campaign finance. "There is a large bloc of Republicans, particularly economic conservatives, who just feel that the Republican Party in Washington completely let them down" by failing to control spending and address other problems, Corrado said. "The Republicans have really given these donors no reason to give."

Lawyer Allen Larson of Yarmouthport, Mass., a political independent, contributed $2,000 to Bush's 2004 re-election campaign but said he gave Obama the maximum $2,300 in hopes Obama can use "unique skills" to rebuild fractured foreign alliances. Larson said he's "not anti-Iraq war," but he said that Bush promised to bring people together when he ran for president and has failed to do so, while Obama has demonstrated in his campaign "that he has the ability to connect in ways that no other candidate can." While they represent a tiny slice of Bush's 2004 donors, he said, a shift of longtime Republicans committed enough to write checks reflects "a real strain" in the GOP.

Detroit attorney Michael Lavoie, a moderate Republican who backed Bush in 2000 and 2004 with $3,000, said he donated to a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time this year because Obama offers "the greatest hope for healing divisions" at home and abroad. Katherine Merck, 84, of Lexington, Mass., said she preferred not to recall her donations of $2,000 to Bush in 1999 and $2,000 in 2004. "I just can't get over it that my name is in there for sending money to that miserable president," she said. "I think Obama is something we all need badly, really badly."

Corrado said he thinks some of the ex-Bush donors have given to Obama to hurt Hillary Rodham Clinton - a suspicion confirmed by Henry Corey, 86, of Bronxville, N.Y., a longtime GOP donor. He said he gave Obama $250 because, "Frankly, I wanted to be sure that someone nudged Hillary Clinton aside. I think she'd be a disaster."