Friday, August 29, 2008

Huffpo on Palin - First look

I don’t right now know enough about Sarah Palin to comment on her substantively so I’ve contented myself with reading what others have to say. After looking through some right-leaning blogs, I headed over to the Huffington Post to see what they were saying.

Linda Bergthold has up an article entitled “The VP Choice that Lost the Presidency for McCain”. Looked at the right way, it’s pretty funny. Bergthold begins by expressing dismay due to the list of things Palin is not (my comment in italics):

She is NOT pro-choice. No, she’s a Republican. Remember?

She has NO national experience. True. As opposed to Obama’s 1-4 years depending on when you figure he stopped doing Senator stuff and started running for President.

She has never been under the intense scrutiny of a national campaign. Neither had Obama until last Fall. Is Bergthold suggesting Palin is a slower study than Obama?

She is under investigation for some incident in Alaska that is messy and personal. Yes and that’s been known for quite some time. Sort of like Rezko. Except that Palin's activities are actually being investigated and Palin is turning over everything the investigators want.

She has no international experience. Unlike Obama who has, what, junkets?

Her experience governing is in a very small state, Unlike which very large state Obama governed?
famous for its "Bridge to Nowhere" Which she was responsible for killing.
kind of political graft. Unlike Chicago which has long been known as a bastion of political virtue.

Her Republican colleague in that state, Senator Ted Stevens has been indicted for corruption. I know Palin is a new name for the Democrats, but Bergthold really needs to read at least Palin’s Wikipedia bio. It's pretty clear Palin made her name fighting that corruption.

I must admit my sense of humor failed me as she got into her main thesis. Her overall point is that McCain’s pick is cynical and insulting to women because it implies that “any woman” will do. Bergthold explains how this is insulting to women on both sides of the aisle.

It's a slap in the face of other Republican women like Kay Bailey Hutchison, bless her heart, who was forced to stumble through an interview on TV trying to make the case for Palin whom she has never met. There are certainly women in the Republican party who were "in line" for this before Palin.

In line before Palin? Oh, you mean like Clinton was in line before Obama?

As for Democrats:

It's also a slap in the face of Democratic women voters. They don't get Hillary but they get Sarah as the first potential woman President?

So the Democratic women who were enraged at the sexism of the Democratic primaries are going to turn their anger on the party that did pick a woman? I’m not quite sure how that transformation is going to work.

It just boggles my mind that after viciously attacking Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries, the Huffington Post is suddenly concerned about Republican women who have worked hard for their party, played by the rules, done everything they were supposed to, and are now being shoved aside for some cute newcomer. And it boggles my mind even more that the Huffington Post is suddenly concered about any Democratic woman who supported Hillary.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

2008 DNC Wednesday - Part Two

I’ve definitely watched too much convention - almost all the speakers from the last half of Wednesday’s convention put me to sleep.

I did listen to all of Robert Wexler’s speech. He was clear, forceful, and definite. He used “Israel” or “Israeli” twelve times in his speech so his role was to reassure Israel’s supporters that Obama’s government would remain a staunch friend and ally. At the end he said something to the effect that Obama would finally help engineer a two-state solution that left Israel a Jewish nation. I assume that means Obama would not support a right to return for Palestinians.

Madeleine Albright gave an excellent speech also and I would think getting her to speak for Obama (and Biden) was quite a coup. Her indictment of McCain as believing he knew everything there was to know and her statement that what we really need is a President with the ability to learn was an inspired recasting of the experience/inexperience issue.

Bill Clinton’s speech was uneven. I found him engrossing and energizing when he was speaking generally about how bad Republicans have been and how good Democrats are but rather draggy when speaking about Obama specifically. Of course, that may be because I am not enthusiastic about Obama myself. I very much appreciate his beginning by speaking well of his wife and her campaign and I liked his statement that the long primary fight had tested and strengthened Obama.

Bo Biden did a very good job introducing his father. I didn’t think Joe Biden’s speech was either particularly good or particularly bad.

Bill Clinton is the only speaker I heard raise the issue that makes me most uncomfortable about voting Republican: the increasing income inequity. Reasonable people can reasonably disagree about almost every issue and reasonable people can reasonably disagree about whether the country is, as a whole, heading in the right direction. But an increasing gap between have and have-nots is simply wrong. The problem is I fear the Democrat’s approach will not close the gap by making the have-nots better off but by attempting to make the haves worse off. That’s not helpful. On the other hand, if the Republicans approach simply widens the gap further that’s not helpful either.

I haven’t watched Obama’s acceptance speech yet tonight. I imagine I’ll get to it in the next day or so. Or I may just read it instead.

2008 DNC Wednesday - Part One

As with the Tuesday DNC, I taped Wednesday night’s proceedings and watched them this morning. I started taping about 4:30pm EDT so I caught a little of the pre-game hoopla. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek was interviewed. He told us that watching CSPAN was great because it let us see the speeches in their entirety without chatter (including his chatter he pointed out) telling us what we were seeing and hearing. He then proceeded to tell us what to look for in the Biden and Bill Clinton speeches. Sigh.

Alter also - apropos of no question I heard - began talking about the McCain people complaining Newsweek was giving Obama too much coverage and the Obama people complaining Newsweek was giving McCain a free ride. Before even considering his further remarks, I’m not crazy about the equivalency he’s setting up here. The Obama campaign may well have complained that Newsweek is giving McCain a free ride; I haven’t seen anyone else complaining about that. On the other hand, I have seen quite a few complaints from a variety of sources that Newsweek is in the tank for Obama.

As for Alter’s take on this, I’m not entirely sure what it was, but what I got out of it was that when a candidate is hot, the press talks about him a lot. Alter’s explanation (if I understood it correctly) seems rather disingenuous. Surely one could just as plausibly argue that a candidate is likely to be hot if the press talks about him a lot. On the bright side, thought, I found it a positive sign that elements of the media are beginning to feel they have to address the nature of their coverage.

When asked about Sean Wilentz’ Newsweek essay comparing Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter, Alter pointed out that Wilentz was a Clinton supporter and had been, Alter believed, recently in Africa with Bill Clinton. Further, Alter felt the comparison was unfair. Oh, please. The essay was in Alter’s own magazine; his failure to let it stand or fall on its own merits doesn’t do much to support Alter’s claim that Newsweek is not favoring Obama. (After listening to Alter, I read Wilentz’ essay. I thought he had some interesting ideas and facts but he did not link them together into a coherent argument leading to a clear point.)

Perhaps because I watched from before the convention was actually gaveled to order, I found myself paying attention to the music which seemed to date from the 60s, 70s, 80s. I thought it was an odd choice given Obama’s reliance on young voters but when I paid attention to the actual delegates they seemed to be largely in their 40s or older which explains the music. Plus if you’re trying to convince Middle American to vote for you, rap is probably not the way to go.

I also noticed that as each speaker is introduced, a snippet of song is played. Do you suppose the speakers get to choose their own signature tune like baseball players do?

The invocation was given by Archbishop Demetrios, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of the United States. I thought he looked very impressive and, more important, did an excellent job, expressing gratitude for being part of the United States and appreciation for all who sacrificed to give us what America has to offer; referring to the United States as a model for the world; and asking for wisdom for those who were to be nominated.

After the prayer I went back to fast-forwarding through the speeches, giving each speaker about 60 seconds to catch my interest. Hillary Clinton had one nominating speech and two seconds; Barack Obama had one nominating speech and three seconds. I wonder how long it took to work that out.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz did an excellent job seconding Obama - at least until she started talking about her kids. (Someday I want to listen to a female American politician who doesn’t feel the need to reference her children to make her point.) Since she had worked for Hillary Clinton, I liked that she addressed that issue head-on and reminded everyone that - in the immortal words of BtVS - “that was then, this is now”.

Senator Ken Salazar annoyed me for two reasons. First, he wore his hat indoors. Second, talking about the American dream, he said:

Just 500 miles southeast of here, in El Dorado, Kansas, another mother instilled that same dream in her son, Barack Obama.

I’ve run across this before so perhaps it’s becoming an official version of Obama’s life. Nonetheless, while Obama’s mother’s was born in Kansas, Obama did not live there. Implying Obama is suited to be President because he’s from Kansas is only going to backfire when voters - who are not as dumb as some people think - figure out he’s from elsewhere.

The roll call vote was a mistake. If the roll call had accurately reflected the results of the primaries the roll call would have worked - we would have gotten to New Mexico with Clinton making a close showing. That would have validated Clinton’s claim to have been a contender and would have made her call for an acclamation of Obama a powerful gesture. Unfortunately, that’s not how it happened. Votes Clinton had won went to Obama: New Jersey, for example, cast all its votes for Obama even though Clinton won 59 of those votes and Obama 48. If the point was to give Clinton her due and make her supporters feel respected, watching the States give Obama delegates he did not win is unlikely to have accomplished that.

I did enjoy watching and listening to Alice Travis Germond, Secretary of the DNC, run the roll call. She reminds me of all the women I knew growing up who ran so much, always on a volunteer basis. I noticed that once things got interesting - once Hillary Clinton moved to nominate Obama by acclamation - Nancy Pelosi took over again. Perhaps that was to insure that the “any discussion” question was followed so closely by the “all in favor” question that there was no time for discussion. And, similarly, that the “all opposed” question was stepped on by the “passed” proclamation. I understand the desire to keep things under control but a little less haste would have been more seemly. Especially since everyone knows some people would have liked to discuss the matter and some people would have voted “Nay”.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten in reviewing Wednesday night. (I’m afraid I lingered too long with Alter and the Archbishop.) At this rate, I’ll be writing about Obama’s acceptance speech while McCain is making his.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2008 DNC Tuesday

Updated: The Jackals won. Bases loaded, bottom of the 13th, a wild pitch let in a run. Final score: Sussex Skyhawks 6, New Jersey Jackals 7.

I've changed the post title from "DNC Tuesday" to "2008 DNC Tuesday" just in case I want to write about the 2012 DNC. I've also added a comma between "getting" and "had" in the sentence that begins "I imagine her long narrative". And I've fixed my mental typo by changing "self-composed" to "self-possessed" in the antepenultimate sentence.

Finally, I thought Hillary Clinton's orange pantsuit looked fine.

I was at a New Jersey Jackals baseball game (still tied when I left after 11 innings) last night, so I taped the CSPAN coverage of the Democratic National Convention from about 6:15pm EDT on. (I did tape Monday’s coverage but haven’t yet watched any of it. I plan to watch Michelle Obama’s speech at least.)

I watched the Tuesday night coverage this morning by giving each speaker roughly 60 seconds to catch my attention before fast forwarding to the next. Kathleen Sebelius held me for about 2 minutes but after that I didn’t find anything new in her message and wasn’t swept up by her rhetoric.

The speaker who did hold me for all of his speech was Deval Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts. His personal story was compelling, he gave it an “only in America” nod, and he tied it into what we could hope for from the Democrats and an Obama Presidency. Furthermore, his delivery was excellent.

Montana’s Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer followed Patrick. I found him difficult to watch - too fidgety on stage - but I made it through his description of how he selected a Republican as his Lieutenant Governor because he believed he could achieve more working with the Republicans than against them. After listening to what they’d accomplished during his time as governor - lowered taxes, more energy production, more money for schools - I was wondering if I could just vote for him for President.

As for Hillary Rodham Clinton, it is impossible for me to imagine any way in which she could have done a better job convincing her supporters to vote for Barack Obama. I imagine her long narrative of what she believed in, why she ran, and the people she met along the way who deserved better than they were getting, had all her supporters on the verge of storming the stage to demand she be the nominee (and had the Obama people biting their nails). Then she asked her supporters: were you in this campaign for me or were you in this campaign for the people who need us, for the ideals we both believe in? If it was for the people and the ideals, then you have to vote for Barack Obama. Brilliant and unanswerable.

She also did an excellent job - rhetorically and substantively - outlining why McCain was unacceptable. Her reference to Michelle Obama as a great first lady was beyond classy and her praise of Joe Biden and his wife was fabulous. Her invocation of the long, long struggle of the suffragettes was perfect and her working back around to the story of Harriet Tubman urging those fleeing to freedom to never give up was inspired. This part of her speech was classic get out the vote, fire up the troops tub-thumping oratory.

Most of all, I liked her reference to the fact that we Democrats know how to do this because look how well we did with President Clinton and the Democrats. That was very powerful stuff given the feeling in some quarters that the Clinton Presidency hadn’t been given its due by the Obama campaign. And her looking forward to we Democrats doing just as well under President Obama and the Democrats was a generous gift.

I cried, Bill cried, Michelle clapped, Biden was the most enthusiastic applauder in the hall. This speech was a stem-winder in the original sense of being first-rate, powerful, persuasive, effective, and impassioned. All in all, as I said, I can’t imagine how she - or anyone - could have done a better job.

Will it work to convince her supporters to back Obama? I think it will. I was not a Clinton supporter and I’ve never understood why anyone would vote for Obama but even I found myself thinking that maybe he wouldn’t be such a bad choice after all. Pretty powerful stuff.

On a less political note, I’m simply going to have to admit that I don’t understand the Clintons’ marriage. It was crystal clear during the speech that Bill was unbelievably proud of Hillary and at one point when the cameras focused on him he was whispering, “I love you” over and over again. It’s not a marriage that would work for me but it works for them. And based on what I’ve seen of Chelsea Clinton, they’ve managed to raise quite an intelligent, self-composed daughter. They must be doing something right.

I can’t wait for Bill’s speech tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cokie's comments

Cokie Roberts has taken a lot of grief for her comments about Obama’s Hawaii vacation:

[Obama] has certainly come nowhere near closing the deal. As we've talked about before, in this year that should be such a Democratic year, given all the other indices, he is tied in the polls in—stateside, in the polls—and going off this week to vacation in Hawaii does not make any sense whatsoever. I know his grandmother lives in Hawaii. And I know Hawaii is a state, but it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign exotic place. He should be in Myrtle Beach and—you know, if he's going to take a vacation at this time. And I just think that this is not the time to do that.

Maybe her comments really were foolish. But I think it's worth pointing out that it was Roberts who said, way back in February (emphasis mine):

The only group she still really has is white women. And I do think that there's some possibility that you will see a sort of reaction among white women. I had the opportunity to interview Billie Jean King this week, and she said, you know, "I feel like everything I've worked for all of my life is going out the window." And there is that sense. I mean, here is this woman who's worked hard, she's done it all the way you're supposed to do it, and then this cute young man comes in and says a bunch of sweet, you know, nothings, and pushes you out of the way. And a lot of women are looking at that and saying, "There goes my life."

Tonight Hillary Clinton is the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. Tomorrow her name will be placed in nomination and a traditional roll call for her will take place.

Our Country

[The title of this post comes from Stephen Decatur’s toast: "Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!"]

Barack Obama has an unusual background. I might even go so far as to call it - if you’ll pardon the expression - exotic.

Barack Obama’s biological father was not an American citizen. Using Wikipedia, I checked United States Presidents back to Teddy Roosevelt and as far as I can tell none of them had a biological parent who was not a United States citizen. Only one of them - Woodrow Wilson - had a biological parent who was not born in the United States: Wilson’s mother was born in Carlisle to Scottish parents. By the time she met and married Wilson’s father she had emigrated to the United States and was a permanent resident and presumably a citizen.

Barack Obama’s mother’s second husband (Obama’s courtesy stepfather) was not an American citizen. Again, as far as I can tell no President in the 20th or 21st century has had a stepparent - legal or courtesy - who was not an American citizen.

Obama lived in a foreign country from the time he was 5 or 6 until he was 10. I would imagine more than a few United States Presidents spent time out of the country when they were young. Certainly if their parents were ambassadors or in the military they would have done so. In those cases, however, they were living in those countries as Americans: both parents were United States citizens; their families were there on United States business; and a return to the United States was foreordained. In other words, they were just visiting. In Obama’s case, he was living in a foreign country as if he was a citizen of that country: one of his “parents” was a citizen of that country; neither of his parents were there on United States business; and an eventual return to the United States was not certain.

Personally, I find Obama’s nonstandard background interesting but irrelevant to his candidacy. Some people though see it as either as asset or a liability. I don’t think either of these views - asset or liability - is more wrong or more right. They simply reflect an ongoing tension between different beliefs about how the United States should interact with the rest of the world.

Obama himself cites his ties to other countries as an advantage, saying that “having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa” lets him know the people of the world. He has said he is both “a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world”.

Similarly, for some - perhaps most - Obama supporters, his background is an asset, is desirable. They believe that Obama’s background gives him “a global perspective”. They say that his history provides an effective weapon “against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology”.

For others, Obama’s background is a liability for the very reasons Obama and his supporters view that background as an asset. It’s not that they question Obama’s patriotism; that is, they do not believe Obama will fail to pursue the best interests of the United States. It’s simply that they worry Obama’s close ties to other countries and global perspective mean his view of those best interests will not be the same as their own.

The difference between those who view Obama’s background as an asset and those who view it as a liability is perhaps the difference between those who prefer an arbitrator and those who prefer an advocate to resolve disputes. An arbitrator sees interconnections and prefers to resolve issues to everyone’s satisfaction; an advocate sees only the interests of his clients and wants the best deal for that client, period.

This issue is not unique to Obama. Recent Democratic Presidential candidates seem to struggle with the label of being too “internationalist”. What makes Obama unique is that his background provides an additional hook on which to hang this label. There has been a tendency to claim this extra hook has to do with race and religion, that “exotic” is a code word for “black” or “possibly Muslim”, and that people who view his background as a liability are simply racists or religious bigots. I don’t believe that.

Let’s imagine that Obama’s story is exactly the same except his biological father was French; his name is Francois Valery de Villepin (apologies to a couple of French politicians); his mother’s second husband was from Germany and that is where Francois lived between the ages of 5 and 10; and Francois has close relatives in both France and Germany. I think the same concerns about his background would arise.

Alternatively, let’s imagine that Obama’s story is exactly the same except his biological father was Russian; his name is Andrey Il’ych Narmonov (apologies to Tom Clancy); his mother’s second husband was from the Ukraine and that is where Andrey lived between the ages of 5 and 10; and Andrey has close relatives in both Russia and the Ukraine. Imagine how strong the concerns about Obama’s background would be in that case.

(Oddly enough, the Obama campaign does not seem to have emphasized a part of his story that could go some way toward reassuring those who find his background a liability: Obama’s return to the United States when he was 10. Not too long ago, I read something about his mother which referred to her being strong enough to let her son go back to Hawaii when he said that was what he wanted. If accurate, then perhaps that aspect of Obama’s history - that he himself wanted to return to the United States, to return home - needs to be a more prominently featured part of his narrative.)

I believe it is valid to consider Obama’s exotic background - whether positively or negatively - when deciding whether to vote for him. However, I also believe it is excessive concern about Obama’s background that has given rise to the repeated, undying, irrational claims that he is not qualified to run for President under Article Two, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution. Rather than simply saying, “I’d be more comfortable with a President who doesn’t have any ties to other countries. I want an advocate who doesn’t know from nuanced”, some Obama detractors feel compelled to prove that Obama is literally not American enough to be President.

Given that Obama is a United States citizen, born in the United States to a mother who was a United States citizen, I find these attempts to disqualify him unseemly at best. An exotic background should not prevent someone from running for President. It is for each voter to decide for him or herself whether they find Obama’s history an asset, a liability, or an irrelevance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nine months later

According to Yahoo News:

John McCain and Barack Obama have agreed to hold three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate this fall, the campaigns said in a joint statement Thursday that outlined formats, dates and locations.

The Commission on Presidential Debates will sponsor the events.

Technically true, I suppose, but awfully misleading. Those debates have actually been scheduled since at least November 19, 2007:

Paul G. Kirk, Jr. and Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., co-chairmen of the non-partisan, non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates ("CPD" or "the Commission") today announced dates, sites and formats of three presidential and one vice presidential debates for the 2008 general election. The dates and sites are:

First presidential debate:
Friday, September 26
University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

Vice presidential debate:
Thursday, October 2
Washington University in St. Louis, MO

Second presidential debate:
Tuesday, October 7
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Third presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 15
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

I’m uncomfortable with the way Yahoo presented this because it makes it sound like McCain and Obama sat down, put their heads together, and came up with this wonderful schedule to help us all choose wisely. In fact, they simply agreed to debates that have been scheduled for nine months. That’s not news - or at least not the news Yahoo is reporting.

It makes me wonder whether - if one of the candidates had opted out of the scheduled debates - we would ever had heard about that or if we would simply have heard that the candidates had been unable to come to an agreement on debate dates or formats.

There is one bit of actual new news in the Yahoo article. For the September 26 debate, the candidates will stand at podiums rather being seated at a table with the moderator as the CPD planned. I’d love to know which candidate insisted on that change.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Forget natural born. Let's talk Kenyan.

Updated: I've added a couple of clarifications. They appear in blue in the text.

Updated, August 19, 2008, at noon: Thanks to a comment by Jrs Dad I actually looked up The Master Nationality Rule of Article 4 of the Hague Convention of 1930. Article 4 says in its entirety:

A State may not afford diplomatic protection to one of its nationals against a State whose nationality such person also possesses.

You can read the entire "Convention on Certain Questions relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws" here.

You'd think I'd learn. Always go to the source. Sigh.

(I also corrected a couple of typos.)

It looks like the issue of Obama’s citizenship is percolating again. I actually have a theory about why this keeps coming up and I’ll try to get a post up on that in the next few days. In the meantime, however, I want to address the claims that are now being offered up.

I became aware of the latest Obama citizenship go-round because TigerHawk has up a post about Obama’s supposed dual US-Kenyan citizenship asking whether this is true and whether he should care. On the question of whether he should care, here’s my comment:

I care about this only because it highlights how short a time Obama has been under scrutiny on the national level and how many gaps there thus are in my knowledge of him.

As for dual citizenship itself, it’s not all that rare and often happens without the holder wanting it. I remember a guy I knew years ago. His parents - both US citizens - were living in Brazil (I think it was) because of work when the guy was born. Brazil considered him a citizen and always would. I remember his parents talking about how he might never be able to even visit Brazil as a tourist for fear he’d be drafted. Weird.

Based on what I’ve read so far, I don’t see any reason to care in the Constitutional sense. That is, I don’t see anything in this that means Obama is not a US citizen and it looks like if he ever did hold dual citizenship, he no longer does.

Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961. The circumstances of his birth mean that he was a United States citizen at birth. So the question is whether he was also a Kenyan citizen.

I found what claims to be the Kenyan Constitution and read some of what it says about citizenship. I believe the first article that applies is:

Article 87-2 which would mean Kenya considered Obama a citizen since he was born prior to independence (December 12, 1963) and his father was/became a Kenyan citizen on December 12, 1963. I’m assuming Obama’s father met the criteria in Article 87-1. I'm also assuming Obama himself was considered a British-protected person since I assume his father would have been such prior to Kenyan independence.

Since Kenya would apparently consider Obama to hold dual citizenship beginning on December 12, 1963, I believe the following article would also apply:

Article 97-2 which means Obama would have ceased to be a Kenyan citizen on his 21st birthday unless he “renounced his citizenship of that other country [the US], taken the oath of allegiance and, in the case of a person who was born outside Kenya. made and registered such declaration of his intentions concerning residence as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.”

I don’t imagine Obama did any of those things.

One of the commenters at TigerHawk provides a link to a post up at Gateway Pundit on the same issue. The comments there raise a couple of other issues.

One of the commenters at Gateway Pundit is talking about The Master Nationality Rule of Article 4 of the Hague Convention of 1930. I don’t have the energy to go look that up, but the commenter himself says the Hague Rule only applies if Kenya doesn’t recognize dual citizenship. Since Kenya apparently does recognize dual citizenship and provides for automatic loss of Kenyan citizenship if the holder of dual citizenship does not actively retain his Kenyan citizenship after turning 21, I don’t think the Hague Rule is relevant.

One of the commenters at Gateway Pundit is also talking about Obama possibly holding Indonesian citizenship. The theory here is that Obama’s mother gave up her US citizenship and Obama was adopted by his Indonesian stepfather and thereby magically became an Indonesian citizen.

It’s a little harder to find info on this but I found a Q&A page
cached by Google with this line:

A foreign child aged below 21 and unmarried, who is adopted by an Indonesian, will be eligible for Indonesian citizenship if the process does not cause dual citizenship.

Since Obama was a citizen of the US (and probably of Kenya) his acquiring Indonesian citizenship would have caused dual (actually triple) citizenship so it seems unlikely he became an Indonesian citizen. Furthermore, I have seen no evidence that Obama's mother gave up her US citizenship or that Obama was adopted by his mother's Indonesian husband.

(Yes, I know there are now stories out there about a new birth certificate being issued when he was adopted and him traveling to Pakistan in 1981 on an Indonesian passport. If the new birth certificate is true, I don’t think that matters as far as his US or his Indonesian citizenship is concerned. If the Indonesian passport is true, I’m still not convinced it would mean Obama is not a US citizen. Someone would have to look at US law to decide if Obama’s mother or stepfather could renounce his US citizenship for him. I’m thinking they could not. Note, also, that Obama was under 21 in 1981. Plus, isn’t NoQuarter the place that said they had tape of Michelle Obama saying ugly things? Which tape I, at least, have never seen.)

I have to believe that if there was anything solid to the whole Obama citizenship issue in any of its many permutations, it would have come out by now. Let’s look at the possible players who could have something solid on this:

If - as some people who give Clinton either way too much or way too little credit think - the Clinton camp has definitive information, they would have released it before this. If Clinton had the info and waited to make it a Denver surprise, she’d be destroyed politically.

If mainstream Republicans have this, I believe they’d release it now, too. This is too nationally damaging an issue to hold onto for political advantage. And even if you find it unlikely they would act nobly in this matter, they would run the risk of being badly damaged politically if it became known they had this information and sat on it.

As for fringe groups, I don’t see the advantage for them in sitting on this either:

If they’re Clinton supporters and they release the information in Denver, Clinton will be destroyed politically just as surely as if she’d released it herself. If they release it after Denver, things will go even more badly for Clinton especially if it’s discovered they had the information before Denver.

If they’re McCain supporters, I suppose they might see an advantage to not releasing the information until after the Democratic convention confirms Obama as the official nominee - just as a baseball manager won’t change his pitcher until after a hitter is announced. However, I still think it would hurt McCain. There’s no advantage to a McCain supporter holding it until after the elections: if McCain wins, it’s irrelevant. If Obama wins, we’re not going take a mulligan on the election.

I suppose if one wanted to be truly devious, one could argue that Clinton or a Clinton supporter has solid evidence that Obama is disqualified for the office of President on citizenship grounds. If Clinton becomes Obama’s vice-presidential pick and Obama wins, then the information could be announced after the inauguration and Clinton would presumably move up to be President. I have to think, though, that Clinton’s reputation would be so badly damaged by precipitating a Constitutional crisis that she’d probably immediately be impeached. So it seems to me that the only person who benefits from having solid information and sitting on it it Nancy Pelosi.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It’s a good thing I’m not the President

I just saw two stories on the same Yahoo cover page:

Iraq demands 'clear timeline' for US withdrawal

Iraq to revive oil deal with China

So the United States has spent how much money (let’s not even get into blood) on Iraq and now Iraq wants us to leave so they can sell their oil to China? I’m very much afraid that if I were the President, I’d pick up the phone, call General Petraeus, and tell him to start loading up the troops and sending them home. And I’d tell him I expect everybody out by Labor Day.

The truly maddening thing is that this outcome was so clearly foreshadowed. Within just a few months of our defeat of Saddam Hussein, there were Iraqis protesting against the United States in Iraq. My question then was, “What part of conquered nation do you not understand?”

But, of course, we never told Iraq it was a conquered nation. We told Iraq - and the rest of the world - that we were there to liberate the people of Iraq and set them on the path to self-determination. It sounded good and it was a noble idea. But the next time the United States decides to spend thousands of lives and God knows how much money liberating somone, I’d like more emphasis on our national interest and less emphasis on getting them back to dealing oil to the Chinese.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blind, rabid squirrels

Although John Edwards has admitted he had an affair with Rielle Hunter, I still stand by my earlier post on this matter. There was only the flimsiest of evidence supporting the story of an affair and the National Enquirer stories seemed especially shady because there was no video and there were not even still photos, untrustworthy as those may be. Therefore, I think the mainstream media did the right thing in refusing to lend credence to NE’s reports.

It now appears that NE had photographic evidence which it decided to withhold either to keep the story largely for itself or to keep the pot boiling. However much John Edwards may have deserved that particular form of cruelty, his wife did not and neither did any of his children.

The fact that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while does not mean we should encourage it to dig up the garden. Especially when the squirrel is rabid.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

All the perfumes of Arabia


On Thursday, March 6, 2008, Time magazine published an interview with Hillary Clinton entitled “One Day at a Time” which contained the following question and answer:

Time: Can you envision a point at which — if the race stays this close — and with the difficulties that everyone has analyzed in accumulating enough delegates to get any distance ahead where party elders would step in and say "Senators Clinton and Obama, this is now hurting the party and whoever will be the nominee in the fall. We need to figure this out."

Clinton: No I really can't. I think people have short memories. Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June, also in California. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual. We will see how it unfolds as we go forward over the next three to four months.

Time: Could you envision it going all the way to the actual convention itself?

Clinton: I think we should take it one day at a time. I find that usually is a better policy in life and in politics.

There was no reaction whatsoever to Clinton’s statement in March.


On Friday, May 23, 2008, Hillary Clinton met with the editorial Board of the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Although none of the reporters traveling with Clinton were in that meeting, the meeting was streamed online. In the course of that twenty-minute meeting, Clinton said:

HRC: People have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa.

Q: Why?

HRC: I don't know. I don't know. I find it curious. Because it is unprecedented in history. I don't understand it. Between my opponent and his camp and some in the media there has been this urgency to end this. And historically, that makes no sense. So I find it a bit of a mystery.

Q: So you don't buy the party unity argument?

HRC: I don't because again I've been around long enough.

My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?

We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it. There's lots of speculation about why it is.

Q: What is your speculation?

I don't know. I find it curious. And I don't want to attribute motives or strategies to people because I don't really know, but it's a historical curiosity to me.

Most reporters who saw the video of the meeting did not find anything noteworthy about this clip. For example, according to Politico, “The Associated Press, in what looked at first blush like a classic example of what reporters call 'burying the lead,' had no mention of Clinton’s RFK remarks in its original dispatch on the interview.” The New York Post however seized upon her comments and promptly wrote a story that began, “Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama.” The story twice mentioned Obama receiving threats and reported he had received Secret Service protection early in the campaign. It also reported the Obama campaign’s reaction:

"Sen. Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign," Obama campaign spokesman said in a statement.

The original version of the Post’s story said that Clinton was “making an odd comparison between the dead candidate and Barack Obama.” That version probably precipitated the Obama reaction but as Howard Wolfson, Clinton’s spokesman, pointed out (emphasis mine):

The Obama campaign did put out a statement almost immediately condemning the remarks. It was unfortunate and unnecessary, and in my opinion, inflammatory, for the Obama campaign to attack Senator Clinton on Friday for these remarks, without obviously knowing the full facts or context.

According to The Daily Howler, the Obama camp then spread the Post’s story to the press corps. According to Washington Wire, the story spread when it was picked up by the Drudge Report. The Politico story is not clear on this point but their chronology attributes the “no place in this campaign” quote to Bill Burton and goes on to say, “Soon enough, several websites and cable news outlets were giving the story trumpet-blaring treatment.” Considering what the Obama campaign would do on Saturday, I’m inclined to believe The Daily Howler’s version.

However the story spread, a firestorm began. As Clinton began making a speech at her next stop the reporters traveling with her began hearing about the Post’s story and the Obama campaign’s response. They asked for a clarification. According to Washington Wire:

... [T]he [Clinton] spokesman explained that Clinton had merely been trying to emphasize the point that Democratic primary fights had stretched into June in the past.

Later Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee offered an official statement, saying “any reading into it beyond that is inaccurate.” After a few more minutes he came back, suggesting that his quote should be amended to add “and outrageous.”

After finishing her appearance, Clinton herself returned to offer her own brief apology for the remarks.

Clinton aides pointed to the fact that she had made previous references to both her husband’s 1992 campaign and Kennedy’s 1968 campaign before to stress that these primary fights have pushed into June in the past. The Associated Press cited [the] March interview with Time magazine...

The Clinton apology referred to by Washington Wire was:

Earlier today I was discussing the Democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns that both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June 1992 and 1968 and I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That's a historic fact. The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that, whatsoever. My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to, and I'm honored to hold Senator Kennedy's seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family.

Randell Beck, Executive Editor of the Argus Leader also issued a statement on Friday:

The context of the question and answer with Sen. Clinton was whether her continued candidacy jeopardized party unity this close to the Democratic convention. Her reference to Mr. Kennedy's assassination appeared to focus on the timeline of his primary candidacy and not the assassination itself.

Also on Friday, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., issued the following statement:

It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June. I have heard her make this reference before, also citing her husband's 1992 race, both of which were hard fought through June. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.

Despite Clinton’s explanation and the statements by Beck and Kennedy, the story grew and grew. If you want to see the range of coverage simply enter:

clinton kennedy assassination

into any search engine.

In a sort of grand culmination of all the outrage, Keith Olbermann devoted his Special Comment
Friday night to Clinton’s remarks. I find his comments contemptible but you can read - or watch - and judge for yourself. I’ll simply point out two facts. First, Olbermann presented a very truncated version of Clinton’s remarks thus making it more difficult for his viewers to judge for themselves what Clinton actually meant - and said. Second, The Daily Howler points out that despite Olbermann’s insistence that Clinton must not say the word “assassination” and must not invoke that sort of image, Olbermann himself - on March 3 and March 7, 2008 - managed to mention Clinton’s assassination quite casually.

Friday finally ended. There were two sequels on Saturday, May 24. It’s not entirely clear in what order they occurred but as far as I can tell, they happened like this:

Saturday morning the Obama campaign circulated Olbermann’s Special Comment via email to the political press corps.

Later on Saturday, after all possible damage had been done, Obama washed his hands of the matter with this statement:

”I have learned that when you are campaigning for as many months as Senator Clinton and I have been campaigning, sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make and I think that is what happened here," Obama said in a radio interview today.

“Senator Clinton says that she did not intend any offense by it and I will take her at her word on that.”


The Obama campaign’s distribution of Olbermann’s Special Comment went largely unremarked. To his eternal credit, George Stephanopoulos did raise this issue with David Axelrod on the May 25 edition ofThis Week:

Stephanopoulos: The Clinton campaign clearly thinks that the Obama campaign are part of that group that is deliberately misinterpreting her statements. And in fact, your campaign's original statement on Friday afternoon said that Senator Clinton made an unfortunate statement that has no place in this campaign. Do you think it would have been better to give her the benefit of the doubt?

Axelrod: Well, in fact, she—a few minutes after we issued that statement seemed to say she herself felt it was unfortunate and was misinterpreted. We accepted that, as Senator Obama said yesterday. She said, you know, that's not what she meant, and we take her at her word and, you know, it's—we're beyond that issue now, so certainly we're not trying to stir the issue up.

Stephanopoulos: Senator Obama did say that we should move on. You say you're not trying to stir the issue up. But a member of your press staff yesterday was sending around to an entire press list, I have the e-mail here. Keith Olbermann's searing commentary against Hillary Clinton. So that is stirring this up, isn't it?

Axelrod: Well, Mr Olbermann did his commentary and he had his opinion. But as far as we're concerned—

Stephanopoulos: But your campaign was sending it around.

Axelrod: As far as we're concerned, George, as far as we're concerned, this issue is done. It was an unfortunate statement, as we said. As she's acknowledged. She has apologized. The apology, you know, is accepted. Let's move forward.

Stephanopoulos: So your campaign won't be sending around any more commentaries like that?

Axelrod: As I said, as far as we're concerned this is—this issue is done. There's so many important things going on in this country right now, George, that people are interested in that we're not going to spend days dwelling on this.

Stephanopoulos’ questioning of Axelrod also received very little attention. One source that did mention it was myDD which also provided the best summary of this episode:

Typical Chicago smear politics. Change and Hope, my ass.


Related links:

Thursday, April 24, 2008: Anglachel's Journal writes Olbermann Calls for Clinton's Murder

Did Hillary Clinton kill Benazir Bhutto? - From Anderson Cooper 360 Blog in December 2007. This is not directly related but references to Axelrod’s odd logic popped up on some blogs discussing Clinton’s RFK/June comments and it seems so terribly bizarre it’s worth mentioning.

The U.S. Election Season: Security Challenges and Conventional Wisdom - One of the aspects of the outrage over Clinton’s remarks that I find most odd was the insistence that Clinton was particularly horrible because Obama was particularly at risk for assassination. I thought at the time that Clinton as a woman was at least as at risk as Obama as an African-American. This piece from Stratfor presents some interesting - and surprising - thoughts along those lines.

The Daily Howler did a four-part, four-day series on Clinton’s RFK/June remarks and how the media handled (that is, “willfully misinterpreted”) them. I’ve referenced one of these posts previously but it’s worth reading through all of them in order:

May 27

May 28

May 29

May 30

The Daily Howler also addresses Clinton’s remarks in later posts in which he points out that some journalists are now acknowledging - as if it was a matter of no moment - that the media lied about the meaning of Clinton’s RFK/June remarks:

June 1

June 9

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One tough cookie

[Comments are not allowed for this post. I’ve realized that some posts I do are in the nature of a cri de coeur and I would prefer not to see comments about them. You are certainly welcome to email me about this post.]

I loathed the Clintons for 16 years. Long before anyone had heard of Monica Lewinsky, a coworker asked me how I - a dedicated feminist - could so despise a genuine liberal like Bill Clinton. “Because,” I replied, “I went to school with guys like him. Now they’re all working as used car salesmen and sleeping with their secretaries.” Through all the years of his Presidency my view of him as fundamentally sleazy never wavered.

As for Hillary, my initial dislike was based on her having the bad taste to marry Bill combined with a disdain for her decision to subjugate her own brilliance and political connections to serve his interests. Not to mention her backing down from her decision to keep her own name when it conflicted with Bill’s political interest. My dislike grew into loathing when she so totally screwed up her universal health care assignment early in Bill’s first term. I believed devoutly in the importance of this issue and believed - still believe - that the secrecy with which she surrounded her effort was both wrong and impolitic.

What hardened my loathing for both of them once and for all was their destruction of feminism. True, institutional feminism had already begun to self-destruct with its embrace of people of color throughout the world who had suffered under the lash of white patriarchy. The inability of institutional feminists to see that this meant embracing male people of color who treated women worse than they had ever been treated by the white patriarchy made the political apparatus of feminism merely one more interest group that had outlived its ideals. That ideal, though, still had life and was still most accurately expressed in the original phrase: Sisterhood is powerful.

Then came Bill Clinton’s pitch-perfect Madonna and whore attitude toward women, updated for the 90s as a distinction between well-educated professional women and less-educated pink-collar women. The former were honestly respected as colleagues; the latter were sexual prey. This update was wildly successful as many well-educated professional women defended Bill against the claims of his “low class” victims. And, of course, at the head of the women in this well-educated professional defense brigade was Hillary. I found them both contemptible.

It was a member of that defense brigade of well-educated professional women that drove the final nail in the coffin of feminism. Molly Ivins went on the Imus show and mocked Gennifer Flowers by making fun of the low-class spelling of her name. To honestly believe Flowers was lying and say so would have been fine. To attack her on a class basis was despicable: if feminism did not mean that women stood together across the divides of class then it meant nothing. I turned to my husband and announced that feminism was now officially dead.

Then came the 2008 Democratic primary and I became one of those women who slowly, grudgingly developed a respect for Hillary Clinton. I suppose there was one earlier sign this could happen. When Hillary ran for Senator in 2000, I saw the portion of the debate where her challenger invaded her personal space. Like many others, I saw his actions as an attempt to intimidate. More important, though, I admired Hillary standing her ground mostly because I knew I would have stepped back. It was one very small “go Hillary” moment but it presaged what would come later.

In the Fall of 2007, however, I was in agony. It looked like the Republicans would nominate someone I simply could not vote for and the Democrats would do the same by nominating Hillary Clinton. Then came Iowa and my reaction was gratitude that the nominee apparently wouldn’t be Clinton and a “good for him” feeling about Obama’s victory. Then came the media’s response and my attitude changed.

The media seemed just a little bit too happy about Hillary’s defeat. Just a little too gleeful. Just a little too sneering. I still didn’t want Hillary as the nominee but I also realized I didn’t want her to go down to ignominious defeat. I didn’t yet articulate this feeling to myself in terms Cokie Roberts would later describe as that sense that here’s an older woman who has worked hard all her life and now some young guy is getting her promotion. I simply wanted Hillary to put up a decent showing. Call it team pride if you will. I couldn’t stand her but she was on my gender team so “go Hillary”.

Then Hillary cried. As I recall the incident, she was campaigning in New Hampshire, sitting at a large table with a group of people, and someone asked her how she was doing because she looked so tired, and she choked up. Instantly I was back in a meeting years ago. I’d been doing my first client installation, getting about 5 hours of sleep a night for what seemed like forever, getting no support from my company, and getting nothing but pressure and grief from the client. I held it together, though, and did my job with a stiff upper lip until I sat in a status meeting and someone said something nice to me. I choked up.

No, I still wasn’t a Hillary fan. But I’d been brought face to face with her honest humanity and that meant the media’s insistence that she had only cried because someone mentioned her appearance or she had cried as a ploy because no one as tough as her could cry honestly struck me as not merely sneering but bordering on vicious. So when Hillary won Iowa I cheered.

And that’s how it went from there. The more the media snarled the more I wanted Hillary to win. It wasn’t reaction to the media, though, it was admiration for Hillary. Again she stood her ground when I know I would have stepped back. For all her endless list of serious faults, this was one tough cookie.

If she had won the nomination, would I have voted for her in November? I honestly don’t know. I do know that sometimes when I look at the two candidates we have I find myself with the sinking feeling that Hillary would be far better than either. When the candidates talk about FISA or energy policy or taxation, I find myself wanting to hear what Hillary would have to say on the issue. And I find myself often missing her grasp of both detail and big picture, her complex humanity, and most of all her grit.

Friday, August 1, 2008

What am I missing?

On July 22, 2008, the National Enquirer reported than John Edwards had met his mistress and love child in a Los Angeles hotel. Ordinarily I would never have known this, NE not being on my reading list. However, three on-line sites I read and consider respectable and even thoughtful promptly picked up this story. I was - to put it mildly - flabbergasted. This is theNational Enquirer. As in tabloid. As in trash. Why on earth would any media outlet or website with any claim to honesty or decency touch this stuff?

Well, I figured, there must be something substantive to this. Maybe NE has done some solid reporting and the evidence is so overwhelming that no one can ignore it. So I did a little investigation. After reviewing everything I can find, I can confidently report that’s not the case. NE story is based on eyewitness testimony from a veritable army of NE reporters and “corroborating evidence” from countless unnamed sources.

Okay, I thought, maybe these honest, decent, respectable, thoughtful sites are talking about this in order to rail against it. After all, I’m writing about it. No, that’s not it either. They largely discuss it as if the reports were true. They - or their commenters - throw in the obligatory “if it’s true” from time to time but overwhelmingly the discussion proceeds as if the reports are known to be accurate.

One point made by the writers who are passing along NE’s garbage is that the amount of detail is impressive and they’re quite right. The NE story tells us:
- where Rielle Hunter (the mistress) drove in from
- who Edwards attended a press event with before their meeting
- what the topic of the press event was
- what time Edwards appeared at the hotel (“9:45pm”)
- what type of car he arrived in and the sex of the driver of the car
- what Edward was wearing and what he was carrying
- how Edwards looked around before entering (“nervously”)
- how he made his way upstairs (avoiding the lobby, “ducking” into a stairwell)
- what his route meant (“he went out of his way to avoid being seen”)
- what room numbers Hunter had reserved and whose name she reserved them under (no information on how NE knew Hunter reserved those rooms since they weren’t in her name)
- who was in those rooms (Hunter in one, baby and friend in another)
- how long Edwards and Hunter were out of the hotel together (“briefly”)
- what time Edwards attempted to leave the hotel (“2:45am”)
- how Edwards attempted to leave (sneakily)
- how Edwards reacted when he saw the army of NE reporters waiting for him (shocked)
- how long Edwards spent in the men’s room after seeing the reporters (15 minutes)
- who got him out of the restroom (security guards)

In response to all this detail, I can do no better than quote Elizabeth Peters. In her book, The Love Talker, the heroine comes across Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Coming of the Fairies. Doyle, desperate for validation of the Spiritualist beliefs he embraced following the death of his son, is attempting to convince the public that the Cottingley Fairies photographs are real. In discussing Doyle’s pathetic faith in the clearly contrived photographs of fairies, the heroine says, “Doyle went into laborious detail about how he was drawn into the case, under the commonly held but illusory conviction that detail constitutes scholarly proof.”

Of course, there may be a reason for all that useless detail. Perhaps it’s meant to distract the reader from what NE doesn’t have:
- there is no video of Hunter and the baby arriving at the hotel
- there is no video of Hunter and the baby in their hotel rooms
- there is no video of Edwards arriving at the hotel
- there is no video of Edwards and Hunter leaving the hotel briefly
- there is no video of Edwards attempting to sneak out of the hotel
- there is no video of Edwards barricaded in the men’s room
- there is no video of the security guards rescuing Edwards from the men’s room
- there is no video of Hunter and the baby leaving the hotel

There is no video. In all of Los Angeles, not one NE reporter could find a video camera. (Please note, video. Still photographs presented by NE are not going to cut any mustard with me. I’ve seen too many UFO abduction, alien baby, and half-man/half-animal photos to place much faith in still photography. And those appeared before digital cameras and Photoshop.)

So what am I missing? At what point did an utterly unsubstantiated report from the National Enquirer merit even being repeated much less taken seriously?


Chronology of the Edwards “scandal”

Begin by reading the Wikipedia entry on The National Enquirer. This provides some background on NE’s past work and on the claims by some that it’s good at winning lawsuits.

December 25, 2006: Newsweek writes ”Politics 2008: John Edwards, Untucked” about short documentaries Rielle Hunter is doing for his OneAmericaCommittee Web site. A line from this article is the source of the “met in a bar” line that shows up in various stories about Edwards and Hunter: “The Webisodes are the brainchild of Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker who met Edwards at a New York bar where Edwards was having a business meeting.” That sentence is both weird and ambiguous. Edwards was having a business meeting with an unnamed party in a bar and Hunter crashed the meeting? Edwards and Hunter arranged to have a business meeting in a bar? Edwards had a business meeting in a bar and when it was over he was sitting there drinking and Hunter picked him up - or he picked her up?

September 26, 2007: Sam Stein at The Huffington Post writes
Edwards Mystery: Innocuous Videos Suddenly Shrouded In Secrecy
claiming that webisodes made for Edwards’ One American Committee PAC have “disappeared”. It’s well worth skimming through the first page of comments for some alternate viewpoints.

October 10, 2007, 10:52am: Sam Stein at The Huffington Post writes
Scrubbed: Edwards Filmmaker's Deleted Website Raises Questions
claiming that Hunter’s deleted (but recovered by Stein) Website is suspicious. This doesn’t seem to me to make sense unless you combine it with the National Enquirer story that came out the same day.

Again, it’s worth skimming through the first page of comments. My favorite is Grannyhelen. In the article, Stein asks, “Moreover, why did Edwards choose someone with limited film experience to document his behind-the-scenes campaign presence - ‘the real John Edwards’?” Grannyhelen comments:, why is a recent Dartmouth college grad (and I notice from the photo not an unappealing young man) given so much space in a prestigious post owned by Arianna Huffington? Why is an article with so little actual, factual content given so much play in a blog owned by an Older Woman?

October 10, 2007: National Enquirer writes PRESIDENTIAL CHEATING SCANDAL! ALLEGED AFFAIR COULD WRECK JOHN EDWARDS' CAMPAIGN BID citing a unnamed “friend” of the mistress as evidence of the affair.

October 11, 2007: The blog writes National Enquirer, Wonkette, bullshit bucket quoting Rielle Hunter’s denial of the claims she had an affair with John Edwards. The post sums up, “Just a total bullshit story.”

November 29, 2007: The Daily News gossip section writes Tabloid's affair rumor dispelled, says John Edwards which is worth quoting at length:

The tab's [NE] editors have been promising a followup to The Enquirer's Oct. 10 story romantically linking the married presidential candidate with a female campaign staffer.

Edwards and the woman - identified on the Huffington Post and elsewhere as Rielle Hunter - denied allegations they'd had an affair. But one Enquirer source insisted that the tab would provide further evidence in the form of e-mails to a friend in which Hunter supposedly confided details about her love for the former senator.

But seven weeks after the first story, one Enquirer insider admits, "There's a lot of smoke" but "no smoking gun." Enquirer editor David Perel insists, "I never like to talk about what's not published, but we are still doing the story. The original story was 100% accurate."

Edwards himself has another explanation for the delay. "The story disappeared because it's made up," the Democratic candidate tells us.

December 19, 2007: National Enquirer writes UPDATE: JOHN EDWARDS LOVE CHILD SCANDAL! claiming Hunter is six months pregnant and reporting that both Hunter herself and Andrew Young say Young is the baby’s father. Unnamed sources say this is a ruse to protect Edwards. (Boy, I’d like to meet the Mrs. Young who’d go along with this.) In this story, Hunter is living in “an upscale gated community” in North Carolina and seeing an obstetrician there.

December 19, 2007: The blog writes Is this really happening? quoting a statement from Andrew Young’s lawyer confirming Young is the father of Hunter’s baby.

July 22, 2008: National Enquirer writes SEN. JOHN EDWARDS CAUGHT WITH MISTRESS AND LOVE CHILD! This is the story that started the current uproar. NE reported Edwards arrived at the Beverly Hilton at 9:45pm on Monday, July 21, and left at 2:45am on Tuesday, July 22.

A piece of information which didn’t make the NE article and doesn’t seem to have made it into many of the pieces written about the NE story is this from the Philadelphia Daily News (I love this whole article):

As Daily News TV critic Ellen Gray informed us from the Television Critics Association summer press tour, what makes the Beverly Hilton choice even more bizarre is that the place was crawling with reporters Monday night for the TCA, including newspaper people from the New York Times, USA Today the New York Daily News, the Washington Post, and us.

But no one but the National Enquirer seemed to spot John Edwards.

Ah, it's a big hotel, you say.

True, but the Enquirer says Hunter/Edwards friend Bob McGovern reserved rooms 246 and 252 at the Hilton. The TCA hospitality suite was down the hall in Room 234.

July 23, 2008: National Enquirer writes JOHN EDWARDS LOVE CHILD revealing new “details” like the type of car Edwards arrived in and the fact that the driver took an automated parking ticket when he pulled into the lot.

July 24, 2008: National Enquirer writes JOHN EDWARDS AFFAIR: CRIMINAL COMPLAINT FILED. NE reporters have charged hotel security with various violations of the California Penal Code for their actions rescuing Edwards from the men’s room. The article notes that the reporters were guests of the hotel and refers to “one security guard [threatening] to break their camera”.

July 25, 2008: writes Guard Confirms Late-Night Hotel Encounter Between Ex-Sen. John Edwards, Tabloid Reporters reporting than an unnamed (surprise!) security guard at the hotel is confirming the rescue of Edwards from the men’s room although he says he did not recognize Edwards at the time.

This report also says, “ could not independently confirm the Enquirer's allegations” about Edwards visiting Hunter. It further states:

Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Michael Publicker, meanwhile, confirmed Friday that an incident report was filed with the department by two of the tabloid's reporters. Publicker said that contrary to a published report, a "criminal complaint" was not filed and there are no charges pending.

"It will be looked into," Publicker said, refusing to say whether Edwards would be contacted as part of a formal investigation. "We're not going to comment on the investigation," he said.

Police department spokesman Tony Lee said Publicker told him that Edwards was not named on the incident report.

And remember that NE camera the security guard threatened to break? The FOX article says:

The Enquirer says it has videotape showing Hunter entering the room where she met Edwards, and shows Edwards leaving the same room. However, the Enquirer has thus far declined repeated requests by to release any photographs or videotape evidence of the incident.

July 25, 2008: National Enquirer writes EDWARDS AFFAIR: ENQUIRER REPORT CONFIRMED! referring to the FOX story. NE talks only about the security guard not about the inability to independently verify, the police comments, or the video.

July 30, 2008: National Enquirer writes EDWARDS' HU$H MONEY TO MISTRESS quoting an unnamed source who claims both Hunter and Young are receiving payoffs from “by a wealthy colleague who was closely tied to the Edwards’ campaign”. The story also gives the baby’s name and reveals she was born in Santa Barbara. No word on why Hunter left her cushy house and her obstetrician in North Carolina.

As far as I can tell, that’s the sum total of the evidence for Edwards’ affair with Hunter: they met in a bar; the Webisodes are missing (or maybe not); unnamed sources and unverified reporters’ accounts in NE; and an unnamed security guard found by Fox who didn’t recognize Edwards during the incident (assuming it occurred). All the other posts about this (some of which I reference below) are just posters talking about this evidence or posters talking about other posters talking about this evidence.

I keep thinking I must have missed something. For example, I read quotes like this:

At first, I was skeptical of the National Enquirer story catching Edwards leaving the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel at 2:45am because there were no pictures and the tabloids aren't reliable. Now it turns out that Edwards was at the hotel, so was Ms. Hunter, and that he when he saw reporters he hid in the bathroom until security guards came and got him.

and all I can think is, “What has this guy read that makes him so sure about those facts? What did I miss? Where besides NE did he look for confirmation?” Oh, well, he does say he’s going to post his Internet research information on his Website. It’s not there yet but I’ll keep an eye out for it.

Then again maybe I haven’t missed a thing. In Christie’s The Moving Finger, Dr. Griffith is discussing his fears about the spate of anonymous (ahem) letters in the village: “I’m afraid, too, of the effect upon the slow, suspicious, uneducated mind. If they see a thing written, they believe it’s true.”

The Corner at National Review Online

The writers there posted about this repeatedly, especially Byron York. If you want to see everything, you can start with:

July 22, 2008, 6:33pm: Byron York writes Today Is Fitzmas for Mickey Kaus referencing the NE story, remarking that since money probably changed hands most media outlets won’t touch it but saying “it is good to learn what appears to be the real story.”

and work toward the present. I’ve cherry-picked a few of the posts where I have something to say:

July 22, 2008, 7:35pm: Byron York writes Re: Edwards raising the issue of Edwards being in the running for Vice-President, wondering whether any major media will pick up the story, and crediting NE with breaking the story of Rush Limbaugh and Oxycontin. This is a claim I’ve seen repeated elsewhere. It’s worth remembering that when NE reported this story, there was an ongoing criminal investigation and a named source to lend it credence.

July 24, 2008, 6:47am: Jonah Goldberg writes Tabloid Trash suggesting Edwards should be suing and claiming NE “is pretty scrupulous about its facts. They win lawsuits.” Goldberg raises an interesting point about Edwards suing but here’s the place to keep in mind the Wikipedia NE article’s notes about the difficulty of winning libel suits in the United States and the list of lawsuits NE hasn’t won. Keeping in mind the Wikipedia information about the Cameron Diaz story, it would be interesting to know if the Edwards stories are available in the Britain and Ireland and if Edwards (or Hunter or Young for that matter) would have standing to sue in those countries.

July 24, 2008, 11:02am: Byron York writes John Edwards and the National Enquirer answering a reader who objected to him equating the New York Times and NE. York contrasts NE’s stories on Bush drinking again, getting a divorce, and running away with Condoleezza Rice with NE’s stories on Edwards and concludes the former are bogus while the latter “is far different. Beginning with the original story in the Huffington Post, to this piece from the Enquirer last December, to the new one, it seems to me there's a pretty convincing body of evidence.” York does concede that no one has checked NE’s sourcing and mentions the possibility that NE “is fabricating material”. He concludes with “the Enquirer has been right quite a few times.”

The link York provides for the NE’s story on Bush’ drinking does not work. The correct one is BUSH'S BOOZE CRISIS. He does not provide any links to NE stories on Bush’ divorce or on Bush running away with Rice and I was unable to find those stories.

July 25, 2008, 12:37pm: Ramesh Ponnuru writes "Tabloid Trash" which states, in its entirety, “I'm inclined to think that the National Enquirer story is that even if it's true.”

July 25, 2008, 1:07pm: Kathryn Jean Lopez writes re: "Tabloid Trash" in which she agrees with and expands on Ponnuru’s comment.

Slate - The XX Factor

The writers at XX Factor posted about this repeatedly. The first post I see is:

July 23, 2008, 11:45am: Melinda Henneberger writes Mickey's Dream Has Been Rielle-ized

The last is:

Saturday, July 26, 2008, 10:56am: Melinda Henneberger writes My Challenge to Emily and Mickey: Bag a Philanderer and Then Get Back to Me in which she asks:

Isn't cheering and leering from the comfort of the cheap seats on something like this (yeah, you go out and get that sleazo story that I personally would consider beneath my dignity) the journo equivalent of being a Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld-style chickenhawk? And isn't there a journalistic equivalent of the fruit of the poison tree?

I don’t have comments on any of what they’ve said but it’s worth paging through the XX Factor for an interesting discussion on the privacy issue part of this.

Slate - Kausfiles

Mickey Kaus is - in his own words - obsessing about this. (I’m a fine one to talk - look at the length of this post.) The first post I see (for this go-round - he’s posted about Edwards/Hunter before) is:

July 22, 2008, 8:09pm: Mickey Kaus at Kausfiles at Slate writes Busted referencing the NE story and wondering whether the MSM will pick up the story.

There is no last story since he’s still posting about this right now. If you want to get every possible drop of information in support of this story, Kausfiles is the way to go.

One note about an issue Kaus raises in a June 25, 2008 post and that I’ve seen raised elsewhere: why doesn’t Edwards just get a DNA test to disprove paternity? I don’t think Edwards can get a DNA test. Or rather, he can but he can’t compel the baby to. Only Hunter could do that.

Even if Edwards could persuade Hunter to have her baby tested, though, I don’t for a moment believe a negative result would quiet those who are avidly pursuing this story. They would simply claim that the results had been faked or that some mysterious Edwards associate had paid off the lab. In other words, it’s impossible for Edwards to present the “absolute proof” called for here:

Don Fowler of Columbia, a former Democratic National Chairman, agreed.

"Any kind of report like this, unless there is some absolute proof that it is not true, will be believed by some people," he said, "and the degree to which it seems to have credibility will be believed by more people. And when you select somebody to be vice presidential candidate the number one rule of everything is, you sure as hell don't want somebody who will hurt you."

And that means we’re giving the National Enquirer veto power over the candidates’ vice-presidential picks.