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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

April 29, 2008


From "Ask the White House"

Sally, from Bismarck, ND writes: What is the President doing for Earth Day?
Jim Connaughton, Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality: The President is in New Orleans, Louisiana hosting Mexican President Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Harper for the North American Leaders Summit. They took time out their schedule today to join New Orleans Mayor Nagin for a tree planting ceremony to commemorate Earth Day. The President planted a Shumard oak tree as a reminder of our global duty to protect the environment. New Orleans lost about 250,000 trees to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – about 50,000 of those trees were in public spaces like Lafayette Square. Replanting trees is vital not only to recovery of the city’s character, but also its environment.

Yep... gotta have those trees. New Orleans needs their trees much more than they need their people back; New Orleans needs their trees in their tourist areas more than having their neighborhoods rebuilt; and let's not forget that New Orleans needs their trees more than they need their levies heightened, repaired and strengthened.

Once again, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, has taken a stand - he likes trees.

“Tonight the armies of compassion continue the march to a new day in the Gulf Coast. America honors the strength and resilience of the people of this region. We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and better than before. And tonight I'm pleased to announce that in April we will host this year's North American Summit of Canada, Mexico, and the United States in the great city of New Orleans.”
-President George W. Bush, January 28, 2008

And just what is that commitment, other than taking a few photos and shaking a few hands, President Bush? Prior to the Katrina catastrophe, when the Army Corps of Engineers recommended making the levies surrounding the Crescent City higher and stronger, you did nothing. And when the storm was about to hit, you and your FEMA head Michael Brown did nothing. And during the storm's surge, when the people of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast needed a leader, you were nowhere to be found. And in its aftermath, you attended a birthday party for Senator John McCain. And, finally, when it was time to help, you made a speech, took a few more photos, buzzed the area with Air Force One and did what you do best when it comes to us regular American people - nothing.

"On August 29, 2007, President And Mrs. Bush Visited Louisiana And Mississippi To Review These States' Progress In Rebuilding From The Unprecedented Devastation Of Hurricane Katrina.
"Louisiana: The previous night, President and Mrs. Bush had dinner with cultural and community leaders at Dooky Chase, a famous New Orleans restaurant that has been closed since Hurricane Katrina but is scheduled to reopen in a couple of weeks."

Oh, you had dinner - that was important.

The last word that the White House's web site has on the subject of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is what you've just read above. There is no real progress in rebuilding the ninth ward or getting those displaced people back.

In the end, President Bush, your rhetoric killed many of the people in New Orleans and other areas in the Gulf Coast. Promises made never to be fulfilled won't help those people, and neither will a John McCain presidency as a continuation of this current administration.

-Noah Greenberg

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2008 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

Denver, we have a problem.

On April 22nd, despite having outspent Hillary Clinton nearly four to one in advertising and ten to one in canvassing voters, Barack Obama lost Pennsylvania by 9.8 percentage points and 260,000 votes.

The loss of yet another major state after even larger defeats in Ohio and Texas have pundits and voters alike asking the same questions: Why can't Obama close the deal? Why can't Obama win a big state? Why hasn't he won anywhere since February 22nd?

Mayor Michael Nutter, NAACP head Jerry Mondesire, City Councilwoman Marion Tasco and Gov. Ed Rendell--all staunch Clinton supporters-were in unified jubilance at Clinton's victory party at the Bellevue. As Nutter gave Clinton a hug that nearly swept her off the ground, he announced to the crowd, "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is back!"

Clinton won 60 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including the rural counties in Western Pennsylvania, blue-collar counties in the Northeast and the once-Republican suburbs of Philadelphia. She also won far more of the African-American vote than she had previously, particularly in Philadelphia. Despite having the support of Sen. Bob Casey, Obama lost Western, Catholic and blue-collar voters three to one to Clinton.

What went wrong for Obama, whom polls had shown in a dead heat with Clinton in the days before the primary?

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, a not-so-covert Obama supporter, noted reluctantly that Obama's Achilles heel is attitude. Obama, she explained, appears aloof and disconnected from the very voters he would most need in November if he were the nominee, voters who are currently supporting Clinton in overwhelming numbers.

Kearns Goodwin added that FDR and JFK were able to overcome their patrician roots by being open and warm with the general populace. Pundits and reporters traveling with Obama agree that he is distant and removed from both them and voters. John Kerry had a similar problem in 2004.

As one Philadelphia pundit said to me post-primary, "Why did Obama leave Pennsylvania before the results were even in? It looked like he really didn't care what happened here. What's more, he gave what amounted to a victory speech in Indiana when it was Clinton who won here. That kind of attitude will not serve him well if he's the nominee."

So *was* Pennsylvania a game-changing moment in the race?

Yes and no. Clinton closed in dramatically on the popular vote. She now trails Obama by only 450,000 votes, not counting Florida and Michigan. ABC news and several other news organizations are now counting those votes, however, which puts Clinton ahead in the popular vote by nearly the same amount.

Obama retains the lead in delegates, but Clinton gained super delegates after the Pennsylvania win. Obama has won more states overall, but Clinton has won every single big state except Obama's home state of Illinois.

The Pennsylvania win for Clinton is significant because the biggest issue now for Democrats is not delegate count but electability.

The arcane delegate apportionment system the Democrats have has presented more problems for them in 2008 than in previous years. If the Democrats had the same process as the Republicans, Clinton would have been the nominee on Super Tuesday, February 5th, when she won resoundingly. But the delegate apportionment kept her from claiming victory then. Even though she beat Obama, he won almost the same number of delegates as she and even gained more delegates in states where she had won by a significant margin over him, like Nevada, where she won by 20 points, but he gained more delegates. She won only ten more delegates than he in Pennsylvania.

This convoluted process presents huge problems for the Democrats when the primary season ends. There are nine more races. Obama and Clinton will almost certainly split those unless something shifts, and neither can win the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. Indiana will be incredibly close-whoever wins will likely get the state by only a few points. North Carolina, with its large African-American vote, is expected to be a win for Obama, but has a small delegate count. Meanwhile, Clinton is as far ahead in Kentucky as Obama is in North Carolina. (The number of delegates per state is gauged by the number of Democrats who voted in the past three elections and those are apportioned district by district.)

Pundits have repeatedly said if Clinton gets the nomination, African-American voters will stay home or vote for John McCain in November. Those same pundits ignore women voters-68 percent of whom are voting for Clinton, and that includes a significant number of African- American women-many of whom have said they will stay home or vote for McCain in November.

This sexist rendering of the demographics should not be adopted by the super delegates. Clinton supporters (her Philadelphia headquarters was run by as many African-Americans as whites) are just as passionate as Obama supporters and will feel equally disenfranchised if the super delegates choose him as the nominee. Nearly 40 percent have said they will not support Obama if he's the nominee. That stalemate means the super delegates must push for an outcome all Democrats can live with and support.

Women voters have been dismissed throughout the primary process as if their votes are somehow less relevant than those of African-American voters. But women comprise 60 percent of Democratic Party voters, while African Americans comprise 15 percent. Both are needed to win in November. If race is a consideration for the super delegates, then so is gender.

The bottom line is that Democratic voters seem unwilling to push Obama over the top to the nomination. The Democratic National Committee (which has been unhelpfully silent) and the super delegates need to consider the best way to win the White House in November. If Obama can't win purple states like Pennsylvania or Ohio-must-win states for November-then the Party hierarchy needs to consider whether he is indeed the best choice for nominee. Particularly when Clinton has consistently won swing states that Democrats need for November.

The sole role of the super delegates is to win the White House. They need to think long and hard before making a decision on who should be the nominee. And look to Pennsylvania as one litmus for that decision.

In response to "The Lavender Tube", Keith A. Dewey writes:

I have two sisters over 50.

One has a masters degree, never been divorced, and has three children. She is for Obama. The other sister is far less educated been divorced and is for Hillary. This one projects her hatred for men with Hillary. She was a Hillary hater for not divorcing Bill. She also said Hillary was an opportunist for voting War.

So which is Victory? Is she a man hater? Or, just emotionally (no thinking) just wants a woman as president. You know like the Bushies who didn’t care what he had done, is doing, or will do just so long as he remains religiously fundamental. Pathetic on both counts!

In response to "Clinton Bashing", Pat Thompson writes:

Lots of Clinton bashing going on everywhere. He's not on the same "team" as the people who support Obama, so he's now the enemy. Very sad.

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-Noah Greenberg