March 14th, 2008

Pollina Sit-Down Length Strains VDB Staff

by Philip Baruth

Not to worry: the Pollina sit-down is coming. But it’s massive, no other word for it, and transcription has an entire team of VDB amanuenses laboring around the clock. What can you expect, though, when you set yourself the task of re-examining every single individual feather ruffled between Progressives and Democrats over the years. And possibly even smoothing some of them down. New ETA: Late Saturday afternoon, the 15th. Hasta luego, amigos.

March 13th, 2008

Long Live Doubleplusgood Newspeak

by Philip Baruth

The New York Times is reporting stepped-up violence in Iraq in general, but specifically this morning they have a report out about a young Iraqi woman shot by American forces. The headline is simplicity itself: “US Troops Kill Iraqi Girl.” But the Pentagon’s own report is absolutely groundbreaking in its sheer linguistic mendacity:

bush, rose garden

The military said soldiers in Diyala fired a warning shot near “a suspicious woman who appeared to be signaling to someone.” They then found the girl, whose age was not released, with a gunshot wound. She was given medical treatment but died on the way to a hospital. Military officials, who referred to the shooting as “an escalation of force incident,” said improvised explosive devices had recently been found in the region where the shooting occurred.

To recap: Americans fired a shot near the woman, who was later found to have a gunshot wound.

A wound which apparently contained a piece of metal, later said to be a bullet, although an investigation is ongoing and the object might turn out to be something else altogether, perhaps not fired into the body at all, but tossed from a nearby window, in a building known for insurgent activity.

March 11th, 2008

Franken Aims For Dumpster-Diving Foe

by Philip Baruth

We know, we know: during the 2.5 minutes it will take to write this post, some microscopic bit of back-and-forth may pass unobserved in the Democratic primary. But this won’t take long: Al Franken has now cleared the field of his only serious primary challenger, Mike Ciresi. And that means a general election rich with the follies of Norm Coleman. Dumpster-diving and fathers caught having public sex with prostitutes outside run-down pizza parlors are just the beginning, trust us. Here is where the real fun starts.

al franken, baby

March 11th, 2008

The New Pre-Mississippi Logic: Hillary’s Math Problem is Now Obama’s Worry

by Philip Baruth

You have to love a headline and a story-frame like this minor masterpiece from US News & World Report: “Mississippi Primary Unlikely to Boost Obama Significantly.” It’s not just that the media have given him the win, and that having done so, they will then deny him the bounce. You have to read it to get the full effect, but here are the new rules in a nutshell: this whole winning thing isn’t going to help the guy win, not one little bit.

March 10th, 2008

The VDB Sit-Down With Anthony Pollina

by Philip Baruth

Spent a good part of the morning getting down to brass tacks with would-be Governor Anthony Pollina. The interview ground rules called for no-holds-barred, a serious probing of various impacted Democratic grudges. With a glimpse, in a best-case scenario, of a winning campaign against Douglas. The title? “The VDB Sit-Down with Anthony Pollina: An Admittedly Wary Democrat Confronts an Admittedly Charming Progressive.” Coming soon.

March 10th, 2008

The Washington Post Points Out the Horrible Truth About Wyoming: Obama Won By Embarrassing 23-Point Margin

by Philip Baruth

Sure, Obama’s now notched 30 victories this primary season. Yes, he’s never once trailed in the pledged delegate count, and currently holds an insurmountable lead by that measure. And yeah, fine, he won Saturday’s Wyoming caucuses by 23 points. But of course, that’s the bad news.


As the Post’s Chris Cillizza grimly notes: “The win was expected, as Obama has dominated most of the small-state caucuses during the nomination fight. His 61 percent of the vote — if it holds — would be slightly under the sorts of vote totals Obama wracked up in caucuses in places like Alaska (74 percent), Kansas (70 percent), North Dakota (61 percent) and Idaho (79.5 percent).”

Yet Obama’s tenacity is amazing: even though Wyoming offered him such bleak results, and even though Mississippi seems unlikely to break the 75% mark — possibly holding Obama to an embarrassing 15% or 20% win — the guy just keeps on going.

Late Update, Sunday, March 9, 4:36 pm:

Much email re: the Clinton’s new “Unity ticket” strategy. Why, readers want to know, are they tearing Obama down with one hand and trying so desperately to exchange promise rings with the other?

Our take is simple: this is “Inevitability II.”

The original inevitability strategy revolved around pre-emptively gentling the party to the idea of a Clinton nomination. So you had Clinton and her surrogates promoting the idea that, come what would, Hillary would be the nominee on the morning after Super Tuesday. Resistance, in other words, was futile.

Except that it wasn’t, to the point where she’s now openly angling for the second spot on the ticket.

Inevitability II involves gentling the party to the idea that she will be on the ticket, one way or the other, whether Obama likes it or not, whether anyone likes it or not. The razzmatazz about who will be on the top, and who will be on the bottom of that ticket, is sheer misdirection: Hillary has begun making her case for the VP slot directly to the Party.

Not the move of a frontrunner, or even of a woman who believes it likely that she’ll take the nomination.

Instead, when you strip this one all the way down to the final layer, it is the move of a woman who believes that no one in America has the right to tell her that she cannot move back into the White House come January.

Or at least the secure undisclosed location.

Latest Update, Monday, March 10, 5:02 pm:

Pleased to see that most outlets for commentary are deriding the Clinton “offer” as so much chicanery, as well they should. Obama has pivoted on it very smoothly, not simply knocking it down but characterizing it in stark terms as an attempt to “bamboozle” voters.

And no one deserves it more: Clinton should be genuinely ashamed for the “McCain and I have crossed the threshold” argument she advanced in tandem with the bogus “unity ticket” line.

Finally, to complete the push-back, Obama turned the moment into an opportunity to deliver the most impassioned restatement of his campaign themes as he’s offered in weeks.

This VP master stroke has Carville written all over it. Give it 48-hours, and that penny will drop, trust VDB.