Let’s get to it.
In response to Texas’ convoluted primary system, the Clinton campaign is threatening to file a lawsuit challenging the delegate selection rules:
The Texas Democratic Party is warning that its March 4 caucuses could be delayed or disrupted after aides to White House hopeful Hillary Clinton raised the specter of an “imminent” lawsuit over its complicated delegate selection process, officials said Thursday night.
In a letter sent out late Thursday to both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns, Texas Democratic Party lawyer Chad Dunn warned that a lawsuit could ruin the Democrats’ effort to re-energize voters just as they are turning out in record numbers.
Spokesmen from both campaigns maintained there were no plans to sue before the March 4 election.
“It has been brought to my attention that one or both of your campaigns may already be planning or intending to pursue litigation against the Texas Democratic Party,” Dunn said in the letter, obtained by the Star-Telegram. “Such action could prove to be a tragedy for a reinvigorated Democratic process.”
Democratic sources said representatives from each campaign had made it clear they are keeping all their options open but that the Clinton campaign in particular had warned of an impending lawsuit.
This is just like the lawsuit filed by a pro-Clinton union to shut down some caucusing sites in Nevada, and it should be dismissed for the exact same reasons. The rules for the primaries and caucuses were set months ago; there has been plenty of time for people to challenge the process. The time for that isn’t less than a week before the election. Just like in Nevada, the time has passed; any lawsuits filed now would serve no other purpose than to disrupt the election. This is going to make the Clinton campaign look desperate, and that’s not what they need right now.
I don’t blame Clinton for being worried–according to Pollster, Obama has widened his lead in Texas and is now beating Clinton 47.8% to 44%. In addition, Obama is also catching up in Ohio and now trails Clinton by just 7.4%. It’s clear that Obama has major momentum as we head into the weekend; Clinton’s latest assault hasn’t stopped his momentum one bit, she’s just spinning her wheels. If Clinton can’t pull it off on Tuesday, the pressure on her to drop out will be enormous; everyone will treat Obama as the nominee, even if she keeps running.
I’m not ready to write Hillary 08’s eulogy yet, but some people already are–Harold Ickies, who helped Bill Clinton win re-election in 1996 and who helped Hillary Clinton get elected to the Senate in 2000, is laying the blame at the feet of Mark Penn:
Harold Ickes definitely doesn’t buy the argument that Mark Penn isn’t responsible for everything that has happened to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“Mark Penn has run this campaign,” said Ickes in a brief phone interview this morning. “Besides Hillary Clinton, he is the single most responsible person for this campaign.
“Now, he has been circumscribed to some extent by Maggie Williams,” said Ickes, who then pointed out that that was only a recent development.
When asked about the assertion by one senior Clinton official the campaign was effectively run by committee, diluting Penn’s authority, Ickes was incredulous.
“I don’t know what campaign you’re talking about,” said Ickes. “I have been at meetings where he introduces himself as the campaign’s chief strategist. I’ve heard him call himself that many times, say, ‘I am the chief strategist.’”
Asked if Penn preferred the title of chief strategist to pollster, Ickes said, “Prefer it? He insists on it!”
When asked if Penn was therefore responsible for the campaign’s strategy, Ickes said, “It’s pretty plain for anyone to see that he has shaped the strategy of the campaign. He has called the shots.”
“Mark Penn,” he said, “has dominated the message in this campaign. Dominated it.”
Penn doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he’s largely repsonsible for driving the Clinton campiagn into the ground. He’s been responsible for their stilted, discordant and often off-putting messaging; he was also an advocate of going fully negative against Obama, which has brought the Clinton camp no success.
If Clinton loses on Tuesday, expect a lot of finger-pointing and buck-passing. There will be a lot of eulogies written, a lot of post-postmortems and analyses; I fully expect Penn to get much of the blame, and for good reason.
Bottom line: Obama’s hot, Clinton’s not; let’s move on to John McCain:
McCain recently announced that he was ‘very honored’ to receive the support of Pastor John Hagee. Who is John Hagee?
Demonstrating how wildly out of the American religious and political mainstream Hagee’s views are, McCain’s acceptance of Hagee’s endorsement was condemned today by conservative William Donohue, president of the Catholic League. Calling Hagee a “bigot,” Donahue said the right-wing pastor has waged “an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church” by “calling it ‘The Great Whore,’ an ‘apostate church,’ the ‘anti-Christ,’ and a ‘false cult system.’”
Hagee holds many other radical beliefs. In a 2006 address to CUFI, Hagee declared:
The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.
Speaking to the 2007 AIPAC conference, Hagee compared supporters of a two-state solution in the Middle East to Nazis. Hagee also echoed right-wing Israeli politician Binyamin Netanyahu, telling the audience that “Iran is Germany and Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler.”
Obama was called upon to repudiate the support of religious extremist Lous Farrakhan, despite the fact that Obama didn’t seek out his support, didn’t want his support, and was all too happy to reject and denounce Farrakhan.
So why isn’t the media calling on John McCain to repudiate Hagee’s support? Especially since McCain sought Hagee out, praised him and accepted his support? How can the media allow such a huge double standard to exist?
Oh, and there’s also a corruption angle to the McCain-Hagee relationship:
Hagee’s tv show, “John Hagee Today,” is also broadcast on Cornerstone Television. In 1999, McCain wrote to the FCC on behalf of campaign contributor Lowell “Bud” Paxson, urging a deal that would have made $17.5 million for Cornerstone.
Will McCain do the right thing and denounce Hagee? Or will he let intolerance, extremism and corruption come to define his campaign? And will the media do the right thing and demand McCain denounce Hagee? We’ll have to see.
In more McCain news, the House is opening up an investigation into Rick Renzi, a McCain campaign Arizona co-chairs who was recently slapped with a 35-count federal indictment:
The House ethics committee said Thursday it was beginning an investigation into the conduct of Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., who was indicted a week ago on conspiracy, extortion and other charges.
The panel said in a statement it had created a four-member subcommittee to determine whether Renzi violated any laws, rules or standards of conduct with respect to any of the matters for which he was indicted.
Renzi was one of McCain’s biggest supporters in AZ; this incident it speaks volumes about McCain’s poor judgment.
We’ll leave off today with a quote from John McCain himself, trying to outline his beliefs:
“I’m a proud, conservative, liberal Republi — Hello! Easy there.”
John McCain, in his own words–conservative, liberal, Republican. When, exactly, does the straight talk kick in?
UPDATE:Clinton has released a new ad; unfortunately, it’s the same kind of visceral fearmongering that we’ve come to expect from Republicans, not Democrats:
“It’s 3:00am and your children are asleep,” a voice over says in the ad. “There’s a phone in the White House, and it’s ringing. Something is happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call.”
“Whether someone knows the world’s leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead. It’s 3am and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?” the ad concludes.
Addressing a group of veterans at an American Legion post in Houston, Obama said: “We’ve seen these ads before. They’re the kind that play on peoples’ fears to scare up votes.”