Hillary Clinton Is Trying to Drive Democrats Into a Dead End on Foreign Policy

In recent weeks, Hillary Clinton has increased her attack on Barack Obama, arguing that foreign policy experience is essential to “being ready on Day One.” Clinton thinks this argument will bring her closer to the presidency, but she is actually painting herself, and Democrats, into a corner in the general election, for, whatever one may think about her or Senator Obama’s foreign policy credentials, they certainly are less than John McCain’s. Democrats cannot run the general election campaign on the question of who has more foreign policy experience, or experience, in general, because the answer to those questions will be John McCain, even though most of his foreign experience is military. The Democratic campaign will have to be about which candidate has demonstrated the best judgment in foreign affairs, not who has the most experience. Which one endorsed and supported the greatest foreign policy fiasco in modern American history? Which continued to support this war long after every possible justification for it had collapsed? Whose belligerent statements would increase the chance of war with Iran? In answering these questions — the questions Democrats will have to emphasize in a campaign against McCain — Hillary Clinton doesn’t fare so well.

First of all, it is not clear where Hillary derives the foreign policy “experience” advantage she claims, if not her eight years in the White House as First Lady. But when did the American Presidency become a monarchy? When did the First Lady role morph into the Queen? No First Lady, including Hillary, has been tasked with foreign policy assignments. As First Lady, the main purpose of her foreign travel was to engage in ceremonial events. There was nothing wrong with that, of course, but being hostess or guest at dinner parties is not “Commander-in-Chief” experience any more than Senator Obama’s experience living abroad is foreign policy experience. In fact, it can plausibly be argued that living in a foreign country, which Senator Obama has done, provides a deeper understanding of how the rest of the world thinks than bopping into a country for a day or two to schmooze with a Saudi oligarch. If her foreign policy role was more than that, why has she refused to release her White House papers so voters could see evidence of what her “experience” claims are based on?

Whatever her actual level of “experience,” since entering the U.S. Senate, Senator Clinton has been one of the most hawkish of Democrats, including, of course, her vote for the October 2002 Iraq Resolution which led to war with Iraq. She and Bill have tried to explain that vote on the grounds that President Bush’s true intentions, and the debacle Iraq would soon become, were “unknown and unknowable.” These claims cannot withstand scrutiny, however. Long before October 2002, there were abundant reasons not to trust anything Bush/Cheney said about Iraq. Long before October 2002, there existed a large body of scholarship that detailed the regional and religious conflicts that would erupt in Iraq if Saddam were removed. Two of the best predictors of the fiasco that Iraq would become, were President George H.W. Bush and his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, both of whom had written well-known articles and memoirs about why Baghdad should not be invaded — in the case of Scowcroft, in a New York Times Op-Ed shortly before the vote on the Iraq Resolution. And these warnings were not lost on the large majority of Democrats in Congress; in fact, 148 Democrats in Congress (125 in the House and 23 in the Senate) saw through the smoke and mirrors, accurately perceived that Bush/Cheney would use the resolution to invade Iraq, and voted against the resolution. Hillary Clinton missed all the clues, took the Republican bait, and made one of the worst foreign policy decisions in modern American history. As recently as December 2005, Senator Clinton wrote a letter to her constituents defending her war vote. While she now favors troop withdrawals, her turn against the war followed the opinion of a majority of Democratic voters by more than two years. Is following public opinion the type of leadership that “experience” produces? If it is, maybe we need less of it.

Hillary Clinton fell into the same hawk trap by voting for the Kyl-Lieberman resolution [Senator Obama opposed it], which labeled part of the Iranian national army, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, “a terrorist organization.” Aside from the fact that Iran has played a very cautious role in Iraq and seeks a long-term accommodation with the U.S. in Iraq, labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist organization” establishes the pre-conditions for a military attack on Iran, just as Bill Clinton’s call for “regime change” in Iraq was the predicate for attacking Iraq. Once Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, label part of the Iranian Army a “terrorist organization,” how can they complain when Bush attacks the Guards without appearing weak on “terrorism.” The Clintons play chess one move at a time; they simply are no match for Republicans, who see the whole board and plan several moves ahead.

The problem of Clinton’s poor instincts on foreign policy is compounded by the hawkish foreign policy advisors she has surrounded herself with, the most important of which are Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Lee Feinstein and Sandy Berger. Former Secretary of State Albright is the person who Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, once said, “She never met a military option she didn’t like. When I worked at Defense, she used to scare us.” When Colin Powell urged the new Clinton Administration not to bomb Bosnia too hastily, she countered, “What’s the use of having his superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” “I thought I would have an aneurysm,” Powell would later write.

Perhaps an even more problematic member of the Clinton foreign policy team is Richard Holbrooke, who Clinton insiders say would be the most likely Secretary of State in a new Clinton Administration. Holbrooke certainly is not short on foreign policy experience, having been an Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Ambassador to the U.N., but his track record should cause all progressives concern. Holbrooke, described by pundits as, “The raging bull of U.S. diplomacy,” cultivated and supported Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, supported Indonesia during its brutal occupation of East Timor and backed the generals behind the Kwangyi massacre in South Korea. He supported Bill Clinton’s signing a bill calling for “regime change” in Iraq — the predicate for the Bush/Cheney led invasion. Thanks to Richard and Bill, Bush and Cheney were able to say “regime change in Iraq is American policy.” In his last press conference as U.N. Ambassador, Holbrooke called Saddam Hussein, “a clear and present danger at all times,” and said the incoming Bush Administration, “will have to deal with this problem.” Supported by this push from the Clintons, Bush/Cheney and the neo-conservatives were only too happy to oblige. As late as December 2005, with the Iraq War collapsing around Bush/Cheney, when asked what he recommended in Iraq, Holbrooke responded, “I’m not prepared to lay out a detailed policy or strategy.” Holbrooke provides lots of experience and a great resume, but outstandingly bad judgment.

Lee Feinstein is rumored to be in line for the critical position of National Security Advisor in a new Clinton Administration. Like many Clinton foreign policy advisors, Feinstein enthusiastically supported invading Iraq and in April 2003, shortly after the invasion, confidently assured CNN that, “U.S. forces over time will find weapons of mass destruction and also find evidence of programs to build weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, even when it was becoming apparent they would not. Feinstein expanded his theories of unilateral, pre-emptive intervention in an article he co-authored in Foreign Affairs, where he championed the “duty to prevent.” He argued that the U.S. should try to build coalitions, but that it can attack sovereign nations without support from allies. He went even further, arguing that Bush’s controversial, and internationally illegal, doctrine of preemptive war “does not go far enough.” The logic of his argument would be that his concept of widespread violations of international law is crucial to strengthening international law. We see, once again, that deep foreign policy experience is serving the Clinton advisors so well.

Other top Clinton foreign policy advisors, such as Kenneth Pollack, Jack Keane and Michael O’Hanlon, strongly supported President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq. This could be why, during Bush’s recent State of the Union address, when Bush claimed that the surge was a success, Clinton stood and cheered while Obama remained seated and silent.

It should be noted that not every one of Clinton’s foreign policy advisors is a stone-cold hawk. General Wesley Clark and former ambassador Joseph Wilson have nuanced understandings of foreign policy, and neither supported the war in Iraq. Clark, in particular, understands not only the uses of military power, but also its limitations. I hope he will serve an important role in the next Democratic Administration, regardless of who wins the presidency. Experience is not always disabling.

In contrast to Senator Clinton, in the critical months prior to the launch of the war in 2003, with public opinion running strongly in favor of invading Iraq, Obama openly challenged the Bush Administration’s exaggerated claims and astutely predicted that a war in Iraq would lead to an increase of Islamic extremism, terrorism and regional instability, as well as a decline in respect for America throughout the world. Obama is a case study of good judgment trumping a resume.

While nearly all of Senator Clinton’s stable of foreign policy advisors were strong supporters of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, almost every one of Senator Obama’s foreign policy team opposed the U.S. invasion. Obama advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, warned that the international community would consider invasion of a nation which posed no threat to the U.S. would be an illegal act of aggression. Bzezinski said “without a respected and legitimate law-enforcer, global security could be in serious jeopardy.” Another key foreign policy advisor to Senator Obama, Joseph Cirincione, argued that containing Saddam already had been achieved, saying, “Saddam Hussein is effectively incarcerated and under watch by a force that could respond immediately and devastatingly to any aggression.”

While Senator Clinton and most of her advisors have been strong supporters of virtually unlimited defense spending, some of Senator Obama’s key advisors, like Lawrence Korb, have expressed serious concerns about the enormous waste from excessive defense spending. While most of Senator Clinton’s advisors, like Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger, have been strong supporters of globalization, some even being architects of it, Senator Obama’s advisors have raised questions. Susan Rice, an Obama advisor and an expert on Africa in the Clinton Administration, has emphasized how globalization has led to uneven development that has contributed to destabilization and extremism.

Stephen Zunes, a foreign policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, comparing Senators Clinton and Obama, has written:

On balance, it appears likely that a Hillary Clinton administration, like Bush’s, would be more likely to embrace exaggerated and alarmist reports regarding potential national security threats, to ignore international law and the advice of allies, and to launch offensive wars. By contrast, a Barack Obama administration would be more prone to examine the actual evidence of potential threats before acting, to work more closely with America’s allies to maintain peace and security, to respect the country’s international legal obligations, and to use military force only as a last resort.

For those voters who want American foreign policy to continue to trend in the direction of muscularity and intervention, they have their candidate — Hillary Clinton. For those who want change in American foreign policy, who think American militarism and interventionism need to be scaled back, Senator Obama, and his foreign policy advisors, appear ready to begin those changes.

Hillary is Nasty But She is Not Tough

Hillary Clinton’s current ads seek to portray her as the tough leader who is ready on Day One to handle crises. Borrowing from a line made famous by Harry Truman, the tag line trumpets, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” The sub-text, of course, is that she will dish out a full plate of heat and if Obama can’t respond on her gutter level, he can’t handle heat.ᅠ

The truth is almost exactly the opposite. Hillary is nasty, but she is not tough. In fact, Hillary is a classic whiner. She and Bill whine about everything that doesn’t go well for them. Unlike Harry Truman, who also said, “the buck stops here,” she and Bill accept responsibility for nothing and blame others, especially the media, when things go wrong or their deceptions are exposed.ᅠ

Hillary and Bill whine about Democratic Party activists, young voters, running as a female, the media in general, the media catching her fabricating her history (bringing peace to Ireland, opposing NAFTA, facing sniper fire in Bosnia, etc.), the appeal of hope, Obama’s eloquence, money, donors, Democratic Party rules. Last week, Hillary blamed the “activist base” of the Democratic Party — and MoveOn, in particular — for many of her electoral defeats, claiming, without a shred of evidence, that activists had “flooded” state caucuses and “intimidated” her supporters. Rather than accept responsibility for her campaign’s well-documented failure adequately to plan for the caucus states, and despite her repeated claim she is the candidate “ready on Day One,” she attacked core Democratic Party supporters. Rather than take responsibility for her inability to inspire the activist base with her ideas, she whined about their support of a more thoughtful, inspirational candidate. Candidates normally celebrate high levels of voter activism in the primaries, knowing these activists will work for the party’s nominee in the general election, but Hillary is willing to burn the peasants in order to win the village for herself.

Hillary and Bill whine about young voters. Last week, Bill said in Pennsylvania that young voters are easily fooled and older voters are wiser — too wise to be fooled by Obama’s inspiring rhetoric. Of course, he forgot to mention that the most well-educated voters — young and old — heavily favor Obama over Hillary. Most candidates, and both political parties, yearn for support from young voters because young voters represent not just the present, but also the future. And, certainly if young voters were supporting Hillary, she wouldn’t be whining about them. But since she is not very good at inspiring young voters, she chooses to whine about them. Thankfully, she has not yet proposed raising the voting age to 60, but that could be next.

Hillary whines about being a female candidate, as though it’s harder to be female in America than black. Said Hillary, “It’s hard. It’s hard being a woman out there.” [Add some tears and the picture is complete] Her surrogate, Geraldine Ferraro, even made the wholly implausible claim that the only reason Obama was succeeding was his race — a claim Hillary never repudiated. Of course, at the same time the Clintons whine about misogyny, they argue to super-delegates that Obama is not electable because he is black and that, as a woman, she is the electable candidate. Neither Bill nor Hill can explain why all the white male Democratic Presidential candidates are out of the race. Could it be that Obama has demonstrated qualities to voters that the others lacked? Could it be that Obama has come from more than 20 points behind in just a few months because he offers qualities, such as hope and honesty, which voters, by large pluralities, think Hillary lacks?

Hillary frequently whines about the media not being “fair.” This is an old Clinton complaint, going back to her stone-walling about Travelgate, Whitewater and the revelations of Bill’s many sexual shenanigans. How unfair of the press to remember that she supported NAFTA, falsely claimed to have been a key negotiator in peace talks in Ireland, and lied about her Bosnia trip.

Caught dead-on lying about being under “sniper fire” as she landed in Bosnia — when absolutely no danger existed — she claimed she simply had “misspoke” [seven times?], then claimed she was tired by “lack of sleep,” then Bill chimed in to attack the media for even covering the story. This was all taking place as she asserted her competence to answer that mythical 3 am phone call. So if we believe the Clintons, her “lack of sleep” caused her to fabricate a story about landing in Bosnia into hostile sniper fire and risking her life like a seasoned military veteran, but this fabrication should be disregarded because, despite her history of sleep deprivation, if a crisis occurs at 3 am, we can trust her to be awake and alert and respond truthfully and with good judgment. With leadership like this, we’ll all be awake at night.

Hillary whines about Obama’s inspiration and eloquence. Hillary whines about the very nature of hope. Despite the Clintons’ history of playing the Hope Card (we all remember Bill’s 1992 campaign biopic, “The Man from Hope”), when the other guy is offering it, all of a sudden, hope is suspicious. In fact, it is downright delusional. “I could stand up here and say, let’s get everyone together, let’s get unified and the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and the world will be perfect,” she said in mock sarcasm of Obama’s message of conciliation and hope.

Hillary whines about the fact Obama has engaged more donors and raised more money than she. Of course, she didn’t think it was unfair in 2007 when she had twice as much money as any other candidate. But as soon as she fell behind, Little Miss $100+ million War Chest was whining about being outspent. But isn’t the ability to inspire donors and raise money part of being a successful presidential candidate? Isn’t that a measure of electability, not something to be disdained?
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Hillary now is whining about Florida and Michigan, piously claiming that failing to seat delegates from those states would be fundamentally undemocratic. But when the Democratic National Committee’s rules panel declared Florida’s accelerated primary date was not permitted under party rules, all of Hillary’s 12 representatives on the 30 member rules panel voted for Florida’s full disenfranchisement, which, under party rules, applied to Michigan, as well. In October 2007, when she was far and away the Democratic front-runner, Hillary told a New Hampshire public radio audience, “It’s clear this election [Michigan] is not going to count for anything.” Oh, the sting of hypocrisy, but rather than accept responsibility for the obvious — that she supported the very rule she now attacks — she plays the “poor me” card and digs the Democratic Party into a deeper hole.

Do we want a whiner to be President? Commander-in-Chief? Do we want to live through more chapters in the never-ending, but never-changing, Clinton Drama of Blame, Attack and Half-Truths? Or do we prefer a president who has demonstrated candor, who is willing to treat voters like adults, who takes responsibility for his behavior and offers thoughtful commentary on serious issues — as Obama did with his former pastor? Do we want a president who behaves like a mature adult or someone whose emotional intelligence is on the level of a spoiled, whiny teenager?

Please, No Obama/Clinton Nightmare

Now that it is apparent to all, except perhaps Hillary Clinton and some of her die-hard supporters, that Barack Obama will be the Democratic presidential nominee, the drumbeat for a “dream” ticket [Obama/Clinton] is starting. But before this goes too far, we need to ask, whose “dream” are we talking about? Our Republican opponent’s dream or ours?

John McCain is in deep trouble, and not just because of the legacy of George Bush. He is in trouble with much of the Republican base, particularly the religious Right, who never have trusted him. It is no accident that turnout in nearly all Republican primaries has been low, that McCain’s fundraising has been dismal and that in the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, nearly 25% of Republican voters voted against him, despite the fact that he clearly will be the Republican nominee.

While McCain was the strongest in a weak field of Republican candidates, his candidacy clearly is not galvanizing conservatives. There is only one candidate who can do that: Hillary Clinton. To the conservative base of the Republican Party, she is the Democratic demon and the candidate the Republicans’ want to face. She is Rush Limbaugh’s candidate of choice. She is the candidate who the Right would use to raise money and turn out volunteers. She is the only potential Democratic VP who would build Republican enthusiasm and inspire the grassroots Republican campaign.

She also is the candidate who consistently measures the highest “unfavorable” ratings of anyone who ever has run for the presidency. In an ABC News poll, Clinton polls 54 percent unfavorable; perhaps even worse, 58 percent of voters say she is not honest and trustworthy. Both Clintons stand out for the amount of voter antipathy they attract: Thirty-nine percent of voters have a “strongly unfavorable” opinion of Hillary Clinton; only 22 percent have a “strongly favorable” view. Thirty-four percent are strongly negative on Bill Clinton and 51 percent have an “unfavorable” opinion of him. And Hillary’s low-road campaign has had an impact: 41 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters describe the tone of the Democratic campaign as “mostly negative,” and by nearly a 4 to 1 margin, 52 percent to 14 percent, blame Clinton. Is taking baggage like this into the general election anyone’s “dream” but a Republican’s?

Worse than Hillary’s high unfavorables, a Obama/Clinton ticket would create a continuing crossfire — not between McCain and Obama, but between Obama and Clinton. Every one of Clinton’s interactions with the media would feature questions like, “Do you still think Barack Obama lacks experience to be Commander-in-Chief?” “Do you still think Obama is an elitist?” “That he doesn’t understand the problems of the white working class?” “Do you still think his past association with Reverend Wright is very troublesome?” Obama would be asked, “During the primary campaign, your VP said your healthcare plan sucked? Was she right? Does it suck?” “Do you want to obliterate Iran, too, like your vice-president?” And, when the press wasn’t asking these questions, John McCain would ask them. Or, maybe we all could be reminded of Bill’s talk of a Clinton v. McCain contest, where we would have a campaign of “two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country,” unlike Obama. Even worse than this scenario, Barack Obama would be cast in the position of having to defend his own VP’s past attacks on himself. By doing so, he would not simply look like a hypocrite, he would, in fact, be a hypocrite — thus putting into jeopardy his coin of the realm, his honesty and integrity. The general campaign wouldn’t be about Obama v. McCain, it would be Act Two of a very bad marriage, with Obama sacrificing his integrity trying to explain away his own VPs past attacks on him. If you think her snarky, negative primary campaign was a thing of the past, think again because the Republicans and the press would offer us deja vu all over again. Lost in this dialogue of the past would be Obama’s opportunity to explain how he wants to take America into a more productive future.

Those who “dream” of an Obama/Clinton ticket also fail to recognize something significant: Hillary has been a lousy candidate. I used to think that Al Gore and John Kerry ran the worst campaigns for president ever, but Hillary’s ineptitude set new records. Five months ago, Hillary had a 20+ point lead in Democratic polling, the greatest name recognition of any candidate, the most money, support from a popular former Democratic president who was actively campaigning for her, nostalgia for the Clinton era of “peace and prosperity,” a ton of endorsements, the aura of “inevitability” — and she squandered it all with an inexorable series of misjudgments, abetted by her, Bill’s and her campaign’s unrelenting arrogance. By contrast, Obama ran down and exposed the dinosaur for what it was not simply with a brilliantly executed campaign, but with a core understanding that voters were tired of the type of old-style politics and old-style campaigning Bill and Hillary so ably represent. Why should he now forge an alliance with one of the most ineffective old-style campaigns ever, not to mention take on the Big Dog [Bill] as his new pal — in this case, an uncontrollable pal who would try to run not only Hillary’s campaign, but Obama’s, as well? This is my definition of a Living and Breathing Nightmare — one with plenty of 3 am calls from Bill! Even worse than sharing a campaign with Bill and Hill, allying with the Clintons would undermine the very essence of the Obama message — that real change is needed in Washington. It would be seen as completely inauthentic, the worst type of marriage of convenience. And unlike the shotgun marriage JFK made with LBJ, Hillary brings nothing to the table; unlike LBJ, she can’t bring a swing state into the Democratic column. Obama could win New York with Daffy Duck as his VP.

Then there are the revelations to come. Does anyone think that a man with a documented 30-year history of philandering with a long list of bowling alley queens has magically stopped playing the field, or that the Republicans will not exploit this? Does anyone think the Republicans will not exploit Bill’s fundraising associations with some of the questionable people who have given him millions for his library and foundation in favor of his deal-making with oil oligarchs, or exploit his 11th hour pardons of some pretty disreputable characters, including two convicted bomb-carrying members of the Weather Underground? How much more baggage can Hillary sustain?

There are, of course, many strong Vice-presidential candidates for Obama to choose from. In light of Clinton’s and McCain’s challenging Obama’s national security credentials, a VP such as General Wesley Clark, Senator Jim Webb or Governor Bill Richardson would add substantial national security/foreign policy heft. General Clark is our last successful commanding general and a smart, attractive spokesperson. He comes from the Clinton camp, but is no hawk like Hillary; Clark understands not only the uses of military power, but also its limitations. He would fit well with the new direction in foreign policy we hope a President Obama would take the country, as well as add great credibility to new security initiatives. Jim Webb, a former Secretary of the Navy, has been perhaps the most out-spoken and effective critic of the War in Iraq and Bush/Cheney foreign policy belligerence. He won in Virginia, a swing state, against all odds and an incumbent Republican, and is a great campaigner. Governor Richardson has spent most of his adult life working in the foreign policy arena, he is a popular governor in a swing state and is a Hispanic to boot — a near-perfect trifecta of qualifications. He also has an incisive sense-of-humor, which politics and political combat could use a bit more of. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is another VP possibility many have mentioned positively.

And, there are solid women VP candidates: Senator Claire McCaskill won her Senate seat in Missouri, a swing state in any Presidential election; she has a tough law and order background as a former Attorney General, and is smart and articulate. Kansas Governor Kathy Sibelious has proven to be an effective governor who works well with the opposition and knows how to win in a Republican state.

This short list certainly is missing many other potentially good candidates, but the point is simple: There is no dearth of qualified VP candidates for the Democrats and there is no reason to take on the baggage and negatives of the Clintons, let alone try to work closely and cooperatively with them for 4-8 years.

Hillary, Bill and surrogates like James Carville have graphically challenged Obama’s toughness, even his “cojones.” I recognize that Obama is a conciliator, but conciliation should not come at the cost of getting rolled by the Clintons. That first act of a Demcratic Presidential candidate would show strength to no one [including the Clintons] at a time when voters still need to be convinced that Obama not only is an inspiring leader, but a tough and strong leader, as well.

Secret Clinton Memo Revealed

I am a close personal friend of Mark Penn and Harold Wolfson. Recently, I was permitted to read, but not copy, a secret campaign memo co-authored by Hillary and Bill Clinton addressed to their demoralized campaign staff. The memo lays out many possible paths to victory still remaining in the Democratic nomination process for Hillary. My best recollection of this memo is as follows:

1. Assassination is still on the table, but it is only one possibility out of many. In light of the public furor in response to Hillary’s assassination comments, for the time being this possibility will be de-emphasized.

2. Astrophysicists are predicting an increase of meteor showers between now and the Democratic Convention. It is possible that a small meteor could hit Barack Obama in the temple at any time.

3. The most common place where people suffer fatal injuries is in their bath tub and shower. Obama is rumored to bathe every day.

4. It has been reported that Obama likes tofu; it is a little-known fact but many people have died choking on tofu.

5. We are engaged in secret conversations with George Bush and Dick Cheney to encourage them to move up the Iran invasion date from mid-October to the first week in August. We will jump all over this issue in support of the invasion and our brave troops. America likes invading other countries. That peacenik wimp Obama won’t stand a chance.

6. Obama uses an airplane to fly to many of his campaign appearances. With the soaring price of jet fuel, there is a chance his plane will run out of fuel in-flight. It is not a glider.

7. Obama plays basketball every morning. It is possible, even likely, that he could suffer serious damage to his knees and not be able to walk between now and November without a walker or wheelchair. No one wants a President in a wheelchair. We know there is the precedent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but that was before TV.

The Obama campaign only appears to be strong. Obama actually is quite vulnerable, as this memo has made clear. This is no time to feel bad, be nice or stop attacking [pandering to voters is still OK]. We are in this to WIN so stop grousing about the crappy campaign you all think we have run, think like a pit bull, not a poodle, buck up your spirits and your rhetoric and continue to ATTACK!

Too Many Unanswered Questions – Review of the Bible

See review here on Amazon.

I would like to be charitable and generous in my evaluation—even Christian, if you know what I mean—but I can’t give this book anything more than ONE STAR because there are just too many unanswered questions in it. As examples:

1. Leviticus 25.44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided that they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans but not Canadians. Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21.7. In this bad economy, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. The Bible teaches that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her menstrual period, but how can I tell? Whenever I ask women I meet if they are menstruating, they take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor to the Lord [Lev. 1.9]. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35.2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination [Lev. 11.10], it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. Are there different degrees of abomination?

7. Leviticus 21.20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19.27. How should they die?

9. I know from Leviticus 11.6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes people unclean. Does this mean that Tim Tebow must stop throwing footballs, or that football should be abolished?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus 19.19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread [cotton and polyester blend]. He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary to get the whole community together to stone them [Lev. 24.10-16]? Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family ceremony, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws [Lev. 20.14]?

If the author of this book can clear up these issues, I’ll consider raising my one-star rating.

The Only Good Option For Health Care is a Public Option

The United States has the most expensive, least efficient and, in many ways, most ineffective healthcare system in the world. But you wouldn’t know it if you listened to Republicans talk about the private health care insurance system or Democratic Blue Dogs whine about costs of reform and complain about how unfair it would be to have private health insurance companies compete with a public health care option.

Despite being the most expensive health care system in the world, in terms of medical outcomes, the private U.S. health care system is the most ineffective. In fact, the World Health Organization ranks health care systems based on objective measures of medical outcomes and the United States’ health care system currently ranks 37th in the world, behind Colombia and Portugal [which both spend far less on health care than the U.S. The United States ranks 44th in the world in infant mortality, behind many impoverished Latin American countries. While infant mortality in the United States is skewed toward poor people, who have rates double the wealthy, the top quintile of the U.S. population has infant mortality rates higher than Canadians in the lowest quintile of wealth.

Not only are 47 million Americans uninsured (approximately 18.5 percent of the insurable market), 41 percent of Americans with incomes of $20,000 to $40,000 did not have health insurance for at least part of 2007, up from 28 percent in 2001; 53 percent with incomes under $20,000 lack health insurance.

There are additional costs to the haphazard U.S. health care system: More than 50 percent of the U.S. population has medical debt problems; between 1981 and 2001, medical-related bankruptcies increased an astounding 2,200 percent and 55 percent of personal bankruptcies are now caused by illness or medical debts, despite the fact that over 75 percent of the bankrupts had health insurance at the onset of bankruptcy and illness.

Contrary to popular conceptions, the average medical bankrupt was a 41-year old woman with children, some college education; over half owned homes and over 80 percent were in the middle or working classes.

The number of people without health insurance rose 18 percent from 2001 to 2007; average health insurance premiums for a family of four are more than $13,000, which exceeds the annual gross income of a full-time, minimum-wage worker. Lack of insurance causes 18,000 excess deaths a year; people without health insurance have 25 percent higher mortality rates; and, 59 percent of uninsured people with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes skip medicine or go without care — and get sicker.

Out of 30 developed nations, life expectancy in the United States ranks 21st: Life expectancy in the United States is 4.6 years less than Japan, 2.1 years less than France and 2.6 years less than Canada. The United States has fewer physicians, nurses and hospital beds than most developed nations. In the United States, 28 percent say it is “difficult to get care”; in most European countries, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, 15 percent say that. In terms of continuity of care (i.e., five-plus years with the same doctor), the United States is the worst of all developed nations.

By every objective measure, the United States has a second-rate health care system.

The Truth About Healthcare Costs

Even including the 47 million uninsured, the bloated, inefficient U.S. healthcare system costs more than double per capita what single-payer healthcare systems in Europe, Japan and Canada cost.

In the United States, healthcare costs were $6,001 per person in 2007. By contrast, in Japan, with life expectancy 4.6 years more than the United States (presumably a cost-increasing factor), healthcare costs were $2,139 per person; in the United Kingdom, $2,232; Sweden (the ultimate “welfare state”), $2,520; France, $2,903; and, Canada, $3,001.

And, this is not just an individual problem; this is a national problem. Health care system costs in the United States are 17 percent of GNP (and currently increasing 12 percent per year). No other country in the world has healthcare costs which exceed 11 percent of GNP and the average among developed nations is 9 percent. These high costs are making the U.S. uncompetitive in many areas. For example, U.S. car-makers spend $1,500 per car on health care—-more than the cost of the steel in cars — and are competing against European and Japanese car makers who spend nothing for health care.

Administrative costs of the U.S. private health care system consume $300 billion; profits and advertising consume another $300 billion [the CEO of Cigma insurance company made $23 million last year]. Compare those numbers to the $100 billion Republicans and Democratic Blue Dogs complain is too high a cost to reform the system and deliver care to 47 million uninsured. And compare the high overhead costs of the private health care insurance system to the 3 percent overhead of Medicare and single-payer health care systems in Europe, Canada and Japan.

Two years ago, one of my adult sons went to a medical office for testing. On completing the tests, he was handed a bill. The bill had two prices: One was the insurance price, $969.25, the second was the “cash pay price,” $678.00 — exactly 30 percent less than the insurance price. What more do you need to know about the excessive cost and inefficiency of the American private health insurance system than that it costs 30 percent more than the underlying medical services are worth?

This is the costly, inefficient system — and the profits — that Republicans and Democratic Blue Dogs [bought off by health insurance money] are seeking to protect.

In America’s for-profit private insurance health care system, medical technicians must contend with hundreds of different forms, billing procedures, regulations and requirements from hundreds of insurance companies; U.S. health care companies spend money for advertising and marketing; and, the U.S. health care system is based on profit. Since 1970, the number of medical doctors in the United States has increased 40 percent, while the number of medical administrators has increased almost 3,000 percent.

Currently, we are drowning in a massive, inefficient private health insurance bureaucracy. The increasing cost of prescription drugs also is increasing the health care bill, and U.S. drug costs are the highest in the world. Americans pay 30 percent to 80 percent more for prescription drugs than citizens of any other country largely because Republican legislation enacted under George W. Bush prohibits Medicare and private insurance companies from negotiating lower drug prices from Canadian and European suppliers, even of American pharmaceuticals. So American patients pay double and triple the cost of the same drugs, in the same bottles, made by the same companies in the same plants as Canadian patients. Profit in the present U.S. system has been exalted over good care, health and cost considerations.

You might think that this excess money goes into developing new drugs, but you would be wrong: Only 13 percent of drug costs go to research and development, and little of that goes for pioneering new drugs to deal with life-threatening conditions; 51 percent goes to marketing, administration and profits.

And when considering costs of health care, remember that the U.S. taxpayer already pays for more than 60 percent of the American health care bill. It does this by allowing businesses to deduct the cost of health care for employees as a business expense, thus reducing taxes on businesses, which puts a greater burden on individual taxpayers, as well as paying for government supported health care such as Medicare and the Veteran’s Administration health programs. Being the payer of 60+ percent of existing health care costs, you would think the U.S. government would have a right to demand a more efficient system [President Obama thinks it does], but not if you listen to Republicans and Democratic Blue Dogs complain about change [i.e., less profits for their insurance company donors].

The Public Option

The most logical correction to the costly inefficiencies of the American private health insurance system would be a single-payer system — such as Medicare, a popular and successful single-payer system. But single-payer has proven to be too radical a change for Congress even to consider this time around, so we are left with the possibility of a “public option,” which would allow individuals and employer plans to buy into a public system modeled on Medicare. While this “public option” may not be the perfect solution, the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. Moreover, if the public option is robust, over time it would out-compete the costly, inefficient private health insurance system and you would find not only individuals choosing the public option, but also employer health plans concerned about costs. And precisely because the private insurance companies fear competition from a more efficient public health care system, it is using every weapon in its arsenal to spread fears of “a government takeover” of health care, distort the debate and, of course, buy off members of Congress [Republican and Democratic Blue Dog members of the Senate Finance Committee, for example, have received an average of more than $2 million each in donations from private health insurers].

While single-payer will not be legislated this time, what would be unacceptable would be for health care legislation not to include a robust public option, or to so weaken the public option that it could not compete effectively with private insurers, such as prohibiting use of Medicare rates for medical services, prohibiting negotiation with drug companies for lower prices and/or breaking up the public plan into regional, state or local “coops” which would be too small to compete against national insurance companies. This is the current fault-line in Congress and is why the public option is being attacked by conservatives as “socialized medicine.” Of course, neither the public option or even single-payer systems are socialized medicine.

Medicare is a single-payer system and single-payer systems such as Medicare do not employ any doctors or own any hospitals or medical facilities, let alone create bureaucracies like the bloated, inefficient bureaucracy the private insurance model has created in America. The Veterans Administration health system is a socialized system, as is the military health system, as they both employ doctors and provide hospital facilities, but ironically none of the opponents of the public option ever mention the VA system or the military.

Rather than hundreds of payers (insurance companies) and thousands of different forms, regulations and procedures, a public option would have one payer and one set of forms and procedures. A public health care option, like Medicare, also would offer more choice of medical providers; unlike the current private insurance system, where patients are limited to panels of providers, a public plan would permit patients go to any doctor they want, submit a national health insurance card and the government would pay — just like Medicare. It is the simplest, most efficient plan of all.

There are many ironies in the debate about the need for a public option and one of them is that in one breath conservatives argue that the government is inherently inefficient and can’t run anything, and in the next breath argue that it would be fundamentally unfair to make private insurance companies compete against a public health care plan. Of course, the truth is that the inefficient private system probably can’t compete effectively, but why should we protect inefficiency in health care? We don’t run police and fire services privately or the Army, Navy and Air Force, so why should private for-profit insurance companies hold a virtual monopoly on health care, especially when the evidence is overwhelming that they don’t do a very good job at it?

Congress will be in summer recess next week. This is the time your Congress member and Senators need to hear loudly, clearly and repeatedly by email, phone and letters that you support a robust public health care option, one modeled on Medicare.

Pat Buchanan Attacks Affirmative Action And Sonia Sotomayor

Yesterday, on MSNBC, Pat Buchanan attacked Sonia Sotomayor specifically, and affirmative action in general. Included in his attack were such claims as “this has been a country built basically by white folks,” that Sonia Sotomayor was purely an affirmative action candidate who lacks real credentials and his suggestion that we need more white-male Supreme Court nominees—-like Robert Bork—-despite the fact that 108 of the 110 United Supreme Court Justices in our nation’s history have been white.

What opponents of affirmative action like Pat Buchanan fail to grapple with is that this country was built on affirmative action—-for white males—-and you don’t have to go back to the Founding Fathers to see this in action. If you go back to the 1950s, which Buchanan apparently wants to do, and look at the major private universities, you would find that 20-30% of the admissions were “legacies,” people who got there not on merit but because they were the sons of alumni and donors. George Bush, of course, is the poster-child for this generation of affirmative action babies. I’d like to see Buchanan, or any conservative, defend his admission to Yale on the basis of merit. And I’d like to stack his credentials up next to Sonia Sotomayor ‘s and ask which one was more deserving of admission to a major university, or the bench, or the Presidency, or anything.

The white-male affirmative action which bozos like George Bush benefited from and want to protect was a monopoly of opportunities; monopolies work to undermine healthy competition and produce bad results. The affirmative action which emerged from the 1960s civil rights movement was an effort not only to promote diversity of people and opportunities, but to democratize opportunities so that white-male hierarchies did not automatically get all the perks. This has been healthy for America, not only because society has become more diverse, but also because it now is less likely that the truly unqualified, the frat boys like GWB with no academic credentials and problems with excessive alcohol consumption [but a connected family] are not automatically passed on to graduate schools, and then on to unsuccessful business careers, not to mention catastrophic political careers.

I prosecuted employment discrimination class actions for 25 years, in the process forcing many major corporations to hire and promote women, minorities, older people and the disabled. In every single case I had, when the case was over and the workforce was integrated, no matter how bitter the litigation had been, the companies would confide in me that their workforces after “affirmative action” were stronger, more competitive, more productive. Affirmative action has been good for American business and good for America. Indeed, corporate America, which has seen the benefits of fair employment practices first-hand, long ago abandoned opposition to it. Too bad racists like Buchanan have failed to pay attention to what really has happened in the American workforce over the past 40 years.

The Presiential Election is Not Going to Be Close

In early December 2007, at a time when Hillary Clinton was tracking 20+ points ahead of the Democratic field in national polls, I published an article contending that Hillary Clinton was an inherently weak candidate, a beatable candidate, and that Barack Obama would be a stronger match against Republicans.

I argued that she had the highest “unfavorable” rating of anyone who ever had run for the presidency, that she was the only Democratic candidate who could unite and energize the Republican base, that she was running 10-15 points behind generic Democrat v. Republican presidential polls, that her head-to-head match-ups with the Republican candidates were poor, that in Iowa, where she was the only woman candidate with seven men, she was polling only 26%, that several Democratic U.S. Senate candidates had told me she would pull the ticket down in her states, and that Bill was a potentially large, uncontrollable liability [even I did not know how true that prediction would become!]. Hillary never was “inevitable.” The evidence of her imminent demise was there for anyone who wanted to look. OK, that was then, this is now.

The November Presidential election is not going to be close. Barack Obama is going to beat John McCain by 8-10 points in the national popular vote and win 300-350 electoral votes. Barack Obama is going to wipe-out John McCain mano-a-mano.

I am far more confident making this prediction than I was in predicting Hillary’s demise. There are many reasons why.

The Political Environment: The Republican Party is led — and branded — by an extraordinarily unpopular president, whose policies John McCain has staunchly defended and supported [95% voting congruence in 2007]. In the recent CBS News/New York TImes poll, Bush is at 28% approval, 65% disapproval; in the Hart/Newhouse poll, he is at 27% approval, 66% disapproval. While some presidents have fallen to low levels in the past, what is truly remarkable about Bush is how long-term and persistent voter disapproval of him has been and the depth of voter sentiment: The May 12th Washington Post/ABC poll showed only 15% of voters “strongly approve,” while 52% “strongly disapprove.”

Voters think, correctly, that the country is on the wrong track. In the Hart/Newhouse poll, 15% of voters said the country was headed in the “right direction,” while an astounding 73% said “wrong direction.” Remember, these polls include all voters, not just Democrats!

On issues, Republicans are on the short-end of everything except the military and national security. Among voters, in the New York Times/CBS poll, when asked which party is better, on healthcare 63% say Democrats, while only 19% say Republicans; the economy, 56% say Democrats, 28% say Republicans; sharing your moral values, 50% say Democrats, 34% say Republican; and, dealing with Iraq, 50% say Democrats, 34% say Republicans. The Democratic Party has a 52% favorable and 41% unfavorable rating; the Republican Party has a 33% favorable and 58% unfavorable rating. A whopping 63% say the U.S. needs to withdraw from Iraq within twelve months; John McCain wants to stay roughly forever — and attack Iran. When asked [Washington Post/ABC poll], “Which party do you trust to do a better job coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?” Democrats are chosen by a 53-32% margin.

The U.S. economy is sinking (while John McCain has said he doesn’t know much about the economy); gas prices are skyrocketing; the housing market has collapsed and people are losing their homes; and, the Iraq Recession shows no signs of abating.

McCain has been able to stay close to parity in polls matching him with Obama, but that is the product of the bashing Obama has taken from the Clinton campaign. Once that internal scrap is behind him, and he can go head-to-head against McCain, his polling is going to soar.

Even in fund-raising, a traditional Republican strength, the Republicans are at a disadvantage. At last reported count, Obama had $51 million cash-on-hand; McCain had $11 million. In the combined cash of the national party committees, Republicans had $55.5 million; Democrats $87.1 million. The netroots has raised unprecedented amounts of money for Democrats, especially Obama; labor unions have gone deeper into their pockets and are raising more money for Democrats than in prior elections; and, even business PACs have given more money to Democrats! Business blows with the wind and it knows which way the wind is blowing.

Simply put, this is the worst possible time for any Republican to be running for President. And, this is not simply my opinion, it also is an opinion which has many adherents in the Republican Party and among traditional Republican supporters. Representative Tom Davis, from Virginia, in an internal memo to Republicans, recently wrote, “The political atmosphere facing…Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic that the fall of 2006… The Republican brand is in the trash can….[I]f we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf.”

The Candidates: While many ardent Democrats would disagree with this assessment, I personally consider John McCain to be an honorable, decent man. I have enormous respect — and cannot forget — the fact that he declined the opportunity to be released from a North Vietnamese prison because his father had been a Navy Admiral and chose instead to stay with his comrades for 5 1/2 years. Very few of us would have done that — I know I would not have. There is a loyalty and integrity there that we need to remember and honor. And, despite efforts to disparage the “maverick” label, the reality is that, for a substantial part of his political career, he was a Republican maverick on a variety of issues, including the environment, immigration, campaign reform, taxes and the budget. These are not inconsequential disagreements with the Republican Party and he has been almost singular in being willing to disagree with the Republican establishment. But that is the previous incarnation of McCain, not the version we’ve seen for the last four years or the version who has to run between now and November.

What we are going to see in the general election from McCain is a ton of mistakes. The very thing the press likes about him, his candor and shoot-from-the-hip style, is going to kill him when the full weight of media attention is trained on him. He never has been a good speaker with a prepared text (last night, his speech was characteristically wooden, with several word confusions). What the media always has loved about him is the quick, gritty, candid John McCain, but that version is gone; he now is a damaged, slower-thinking McCain, but his habits will remain the same, he will still try to be the quick wit, the maverick. It just isn’t going to work, and while McCain is still capable [with help] of firing some zingers which hit, he will be unable to sustain a narrative, or fool the American voters for the next five months. This is not just about being 71, it is about being a very old 71. It might be sad to watch, but I for one will have no sympathy. There is too much at stake.

Obama is the perfect candidate for Democrats, and a nightmare for McCain. Obama, who by every metric is a brilliant strategist, thinker and speaker, is going to run circles around McCain. While McCain, who is not a very good speaker even on his best day, will appear slow, befuddled, confused, he will make gaffes; Obama will be charismatic, smart, thoughtful, high-minded, alert and substantive. It will be no contest. And adding to Obama’s natural advantages, McCain has just enough integrity to try to match up with Obama on issues. In that debate on substance, Obama’s overwhelming intellectual superiority and mental alertness will become obvious. There will be the believers, who have jumped on-board the Obama campaign and will continue to multiply, but there also is going to be another type of vote which is going to swing heavily to Barack Obama — the default vote. Voters are going to default to Obama because it will become obvious McCain simply is not up to the task of being President.

This is going to be the first not-close Presidential election since 1988. You heard it here first.

What Game is Hillary Playing?

Nothing reveals more clearly how utterly unprincipled the Clintons are than their assertion that rules set by the Democratic Party’s Rules Committee, and endorsed by all Clinton representatives on this Committee, now should be abandoned. Nothing reveals more clearly that the only rules the Clintons follow are rules which favor them. Nothing reveals how exaggerated their claims are than Hillary’s recent comparison of the votes in Michigan and Florida to the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, the fraudulent election in Zimbabwe and the 2000 election in Florida.

The outlines of this story are simple and straight-forward: Two states, Michigan and Florida, sought to advance their Democratic primary elections ahead of other states in order to increase their influence in the primary process. If they had been allowed to do so, Democratic parties in other states could have done the same, it would have become a frantic, disorganized race to be the first, or among the first, state primaries, and the primary season could have been extended substantially. The Democratic Rules Committee reviewed this, understood that chaos would ensue if every state party could advance their presidential primaries unilaterally, and ruled that if Michigan and Florida advanced their primaries, the votes would not count in the delegate race. Hillary Clinton had 15 representatives on the 30-member Rules Committee and every single one of Clinton’s representatives supported this Rules Committee decision, which passed unanimously; Democratic parties in 48 states followed the rule, but Michigan and Florida chose not to. Subsequently, no Democratic candidate campaigned in either state and no Democratic candidate, except Hillary Clinton [who fudged the rules] was even on the ballot in Michigan. The Clinton campaign now contends that these wholly undemocratic elections — even the Stalinist one-candidate election in Michigan — must count or democracy itself will be imperiled.

Harold Ickes, one of Hillary’s representatives on the Rules Committee who voted for the rule barring counting the Michigan and Florida votes, and Hillary’s chief negotiator of this issue, was asked recently on one of the Sunday morning political talk shows, “You voted for the Rules Committee decision, but now you are complaining about it. What has changed?” Ickes replied, “What has changed is that now we are behind.” So, there it is — there is not an ounce of principle in the Clinton position. When they thought they were ahead in the presidential race, they supported the rule, but now that they are behind, they don’t like it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the rest of us could act like the Clintons and support rules when they favor us and ignore them when they don’t?

Two days ago, Hillary hyperventilated on this topic, comparing enforcement of party rules — rules she earlier had agreed to — to the civil rights and suffragette movements, Zimbabwe and Florida 2000, as though enforcing a reasonable party rule was comparable to 300 years of slavery, the disenfranchisement of racial minorities and women from voting for hundreds of years, the unprecedented action of a conservative Supreme Court and the tyrannical actions of an African dictator. The Clintons are desperate; they need boundaries.

Ignoring ALL rules established for the Democratic primaries, which all Democratic candidates, except Hillary Clinton, followed, the Clintons now also contend that the elaborate system of caucuses and primary votes which have been used for this and prior presidential elections should be ignored in favor of reliance only on popular vote counts. In other words, 48 states have been actively engaged in following established rules, but now, at the end of the process, the Clintons propose to jettison the rules and substitute their own new interpretation. Not only is the threshold proposal absurd on its face, the Clintons don’t even count the popular vote fairly: They include votes in the Michigan primary, where Hillary was the only candidate on the Democratic ballot and Obama got zero votes, and exclude hundreds of thousands of caucus votes in the caucus states. If ALL votes are counted, Obama wins by every metric, including popular vote, and he currently is 180+ votes ahead in the delegate count.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign remains open to compromising this dispute so that delegates from Michigan and Florida can be seated at the convention, but, to date, the hard-line Clintons have refused all efforts at compromise.

We need to ask, “Who is the audience for this kind of nonsense?” There are only three possible answers: [1] Super-delegates; [2] Voters; and, [3] The Clintons.

If the Clintons think their bogus arguments are going to move super-delegates to their side, they clearly have miscalculated. In the past ten days, Obama has picked up 42 super-delegates; Hillary has picked up two. I have been calling super-delegates for the past two weeks, including some who previously leaned toward Clinton. Not a single one takes the Clinton disenfranchisement or popular vote arguments seriously. Every single one knows the rules were set by the DNC on a consensus basis, that they were necessary and that there would be chaos in the Democratic primaries if the DNC could not enforce rules such as this.

New York Governor, David Paterson, a Clinton super-delegate, was asked today if the Michigan and Florida votes should be included. He responded: “I would say at this point we are starting to see a little desperation on the part of the woman who I support …There was a process. I thought at the time everybody agreed to it. I didn’t hear any objections from the candidates … So I think the Democratic National Committee would leave it where it is.”

When asked about Clinton’s claims about how to count the popular vote and her comparison of her plight to the civil rights movement, Paterson said, “You have to assume she won 100 percent to nothing in Michigan. I don’t think anybody in their right mind would do that, nor would they see it as a civil rights issue.”

If the audience is voters, the Clintons are reaching some of them, but for what purpose? If you read the blogs, you find some comments expressing distress at the prospect of Hillary losing, with some of them complaining about Florida and Michigan, as if including these states would make the critical difference. These are the Democratic voters threatening to sit out the general election or vote for McCain. Is that what Hillary and Bill are trying to accomplish — to increase the number of disgruntled Democratic voters and make winning the general election harder? Whether this is their purpose, or not, clearly their behavior is having this effect.

Both Clintons graduated from a respected law school so I think it is safe to say they are smart enough to know their arguments about disenfranchisement of voters and their new preference for the “popular vote,” as they selectively calculate it, have no weight. But they don’t want to quit and the only way to justify staying in the obviously lost race is to build their resentment to the level of self-righteousness, and, like most confabulators, they have begun to believe their own propaganda.

Hillary and Bill are not acting like leaders, they are acting like self-absorbed adolescents, thinking that if they whine loudly enough people will accommodate them. This is not leadership, this is petulance. They will go down in this race, but not without their own sense of righteousness and value intact. This conveniently avoids the unpleasant prospect of actually taking responsibility for why they lost.

Introspection does not come easy to the Clintons, but during the next four years, let’s hope they try some.