Friday, February 01, 2008
Is this an attempt to torpedo McCain's run to the Republican nomination by Democrats who see Mitt Romney as an easier opponent? Possibly. A very smart move. Now the question is, are there enough Republicans that are skeptical of McCain to make a difference.
That said, I must give Senator Clinton credit for a truly dynamite answer in last night’s debate. It is an answer that speaks to the public policy analyst in me. This is from the official CNN transcript:
CUMMINGS: Well, we've got a question on this that's come in on politico.com, and it echoes, I think, a message that you all might be fighting up against if Mitt Romney turns out to be your opponent come the fall. We've talked about McCain, now we have Romney's strengths to address.
Now, Howard Meyerson (ph) of Pasadena, California, says he views the country as a very large business, and neither one of you have ever run a business. So, why should either of you be elected to be CEO of the country?
CLINTON: Well, I would, with all due respect, say that the United States government is much more than a business. It is a trust. It is the most complicated organization. But it is not out to make a profit. It is out to help the American people. It is about to stand up for our values and to do what we should at home and around the world to keep faith with who we are as a country.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
It is a bit long, but I would urge you to read the speech. I have pasted it below:
Thank you all very much. We're very proud to be back here.
During the spring of 2006, I had the extraordinary experience of bringing 700 college kids here to New Orleans to work. These are kids who gave up their spring break to come to New Orleans to work, to rehabilitate houses, because of their commitment as Americans, because they believed in what was possible, and because they cared about their country.
I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens and as a government, have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters.
We must do better, if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much.
It is appropriate that I come here today. It's time for me to step aside so that history can -- so that history can blaze its path.
We do not know who will take the final steps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but what we do know is that our Democratic Party will make history. We will be strong, we will be unified, and with our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November and we'll create hope and opportunity for this country.
This journey of ours began right here in New Orleans. It was a December morning in the Lower Ninth Ward when people went to work, not just me, but lots of others went to work with shovels and hammers to help restore a house that had been destroyed by the storm.
We joined together in a city that had been abandoned by our government and had been forgotten, but not by us.
We knew that they still mourned the dead, that they were still stunned by the destruction, and that they wondered when all those cement steps in all those vacant lots would once again lead to a door, to a home, and to a dream.
We came here to the Lower Ninth Ward to rebuild. And we're going to rebuild today and work today, and we will continue to come back. We will never forget the heartache and we'll always be here to bring them hope, so that someday, one day, the trumpets will sound in Musicians' Village, where we are today, play loud across Lake Ponchartrain, so that working people can come marching in and those steps once again can lead to a family living out the dream in America.
We sat with poultry workers in Mississippi, janitors in Florida, nurses in California. We listened as child after child told us about their worry about whether we would preserve the planet.
We listened to worker after worker say that, "The economy is tearing my family apart."
We walked the streets of Cleveland, where house after house was in foreclosure.
And we said, "We're better than this. And economic justice in America is our cause."
And we spent a day, a summer day, in Wise, Virginia, with a man named James Lowe, who told us the story of having been born with a cleft palate. He had no health care coverage. His family couldn't afford to fix it.
And finally some good Samaritan came along and paid for his cleft palate to be fixed, which allowed him to speak for the first time. But they did it when he was 50 years old.
His amazing story, though, gave this campaign voice: universal health care for every man, woman and child in America. That is our cause.
And we do this -- we do this for each other in America. We don't turn away from a neighbor in their time of need. Because every one of us knows that what -- but for the grace of God, there goes us.
The American people have never stopped doing this, even when their government walked away, and walked away it has from hardworking people, and, yes, from the poor, those who live in poverty in this country.
For decades, we stopped focusing on those struggles. They didn't register in political polls, they didn't get us votes and so we stopped talking about it.
I don't know how it started. I don't know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they couldn't afford to pay for heat. We know that our brothers and sisters have been bullied into believing that they can't organize and can't put a union in the workplace.
Well, in this campaign, we didn't turn our heads. We looked them square in the eye and we said, "We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. And we will never forget you."
And I have a feeling that if the leaders...
... if the leaders of our great Democratic Party continue to hear the voices of working people, a proud progressive will occupy the White House.
Now, I've spoken to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They have both pledged to me and, more importantly, through me to America that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency.
And more importantly, they have pledged to me that as president of the United States they will make ending poverty and economic inequality central to their presidency.
This is the cause of my life. And I now have their commitment to engage in this cause.
And I want to say to everyone here on the way here today, we passed under a bridge that carried the interstate where 100 to 200 homeless Americans sleep every night. And we stopped, we got out, we went in and spoke to them.
There was a minister there who comes every morning and feeds the homeless out of her own pocket. She said she has no money left in her bank account. She struggles to be able to do it. But she knows it's the moral, just and right thing to do.
And I spoke to some of the people who were there. And as I was leaving, one woman said to me, "You won't forget us, will you? Promise me you won't forget us."
Well, I say to her, and I say to all those who are struggling in this country, we will never forget you. We will fight for you. We will stand up for you.
But I want to say this. I want to say this, because it's important.
With all of the injustice that we've seen, I can say this, America's hour of transformation is upon us.
It may be hard to believe when we have bullets flying in Baghdad. It may be hard to believe when it costs $58 to fill your car up with gas. It may be hard to believe when your school doesn't have the right books for your kids.
It's hard to speak out for change when you feel like your voice is not being heard.
But I do hear it. We hear it. This Democratic Party hears you. We hear you once again.
And we will lift you up with our dream of what's possible: one America -- one America that works for everybody; one America where struggling towns and factories come back to life, because we finally transformed our economy by ending our dependence on oil; one America where the men who work the late shift and the women who get up at dawn to drive a two-hour commute and the young person who closes the store to save for college, they will be honored for that work; one America where no child will go to bed hungry, because we will finally end the moral shame of 37 million people living in poverty; one America where every single man, woman and child in this country has health care; one America with one public school system that works for all of our children; one America that finally brings this war in Iraq to an end and brings our servicemembers home with the hero's welcome that they have earned and that they deserve.
Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. But I want to say this to everyone: with Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a mill worker is going to be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine.
And I want to thank every one who has worked so hard, all those who have volunteered, my dedicated campaign staff who've worked absolutely tirelessly in this campaign.
And I want to say a personal word to those I've seen, literally, in the last few days -- those I saw in Oklahoma yesterday, in Missouri, last night in Minnesota, who came to me and said, "Don't forget us. Speak for us. We need your voice."
I want you to know that you almost changed my mind. (LAUGHTER)
Because I hear your voice, I feel you, and your cause is our cause.
Your country needs you, every single one of you, all of you who have been involved in this campaign and this movement for change and this cause. We need you. It is in our hour of need that your country needs you.
Don't turn away, because we have not just the city of New Orleans to rebuild, we have an American house to rebuild.
This work goes on. It goes on right here in Musicians' Village. There are homes to build here and in neighborhoods all along the Gulf.
The work goes on for the students in crumbling schools just yearning for a chance to get ahead.
It goes on for daycare workers, for steel workers risking their lives in cities all across this country.
And the work goes on for 200,000 men and women who wore the uniform of the United States of America, proud veterans who go to sleep every night under bridges or in shelters or on grates, just as the people we just saw on the way here today.
Their cause is our cause. Their struggle is our struggle. Their dreams are our dreams.
Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what's possible. Because it's time for all of us -- all of us -- together, to make the two Americas one.
Thank you, God bless you, and let's go to work. Thank you all very much.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that winning Florida in the Fall would make winning the Presidency a whole heap easier for the Democratic Party and snubbing the state Party won't help in achieving that goal. But I also believe that the DNC was working hard (and ultimately failing) to keep the primary schedule from getting too front loaded.
All that said, Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator Edwards (recently departed from the race) all agreed to bypass the contest as the delegates would not aid the nomination of the Democratic candidate.
In the weeks after her shock in Iowa and then her thumping in South Carolina, Senator Clinton has begun urging her opponents to push for Florida's inclusion after all. They all rejected this approach. Clinton then campaigned and "won" in Florida yesterday. She gave a victory speech that made it look like she had just won the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500 and Super Bowl all rolled in one.
I believe it is incredibly disingenuous to make a commitment, give your word and then to go back on that word. The worst bit is celebrating a victory like that when you were essentially unopposed. And why was she unopposed? Because her opponents kept their word and their commitment to their Party. There will be time later to campaign in Florida. I imagine that the Dems will not be strangers in the Sunshine State.
So, if Senator Clinton can't keep her word to her Party, to her "friends", what makes you think she will honor her commitments to the American people?
As Tony Montana (Al Pacino) said in the movie Scarface: "I only have two things in this world, my balls and my word and I don't break 'em for nobody."
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Dear Senator Obama,
This letter represents a first for me--a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.
May I describe to you my thoughts?
I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or "new-centrist" ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me "proud."
In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.
When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?
Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.
There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.
Good luck to you and to us.