Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring Break Hiatus Is Over, Boy Did We Miss A Lot

Hello all I'm back from my extended break and I'm ready to roll on into this presidential campaign. I took spring break off to decompress from all the political mumbo jumbo, it was seriously frying my brain having to remember delegate numbers and dates of primaries and whether those primaries were open or closed or semi-open or whether they were actually caucuses and poll numbers in states that don't vote for another 5 weeks. Politics can get a little crazy and last week was the proof you needed.

Ok so we have a few things going on right now:

1) Senator John McCain is in the Middle East looking very presidential as he visits with troops and dignitaries. He has also looks a lot like President Bush in the recent days as he has fumbled on some facts about the Middle East, from The New York Times' Michael Yorker.

But all did not go according to plan on Tuesday in Amman, Jordan, when Mr. McCain, fresh from a visit to Iraq, misidentified some of the main players in the Iraq war.

Mr. McCain said several times in his visit to Jordan — in a news conference and in a radio interview — that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group.

McCain continued on his trip and making very similar comments until finally his friend Senator Joe Lieberman corrected him.

Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”

It was not until he got a quiet word of correction in his ear from Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who was traveling with Mr. McCain as part of a Congressional delegation on a nearly weeklong trip, that Mr. McCain corrected himself.

Now some democrats and pundits have tried to jump on this, some saying that had Ted Kennedy whispered this correction into Barack Obama's ear this would be huge news and something to add to the "Obama not ready for prime time" argument. So far I have not seen a whole bunch about it on the cable news show but that could change tonight and into tomorrow, god knows Keith Olbermann will hammer this home tonight.

2) Barack Obama had to answer questions about his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and his highly divisive and unpatriotic statements made in the pulpit of Obama's church. By now I'm sure you've all seen the videos of Rev. Wright statements so I will not repeat them here. What is interesting about this is how Obama has done damage control. The story broke late last week and he made the rounds on the cable news channels on Friday night, not something you usually do, the normal thing to do would have been to go on the Sunday talk shows and deal with it there but Obama chose to try to nip this thing in the bud. That however, didn't seem to calm down the tensions so he decided to make a speech about race and religion on Tuesday in hope to put this matter and others behind him.

The speech itself I thought was amazing, Obama took the issue of race head on and did a good job talking straight about it, Here is a piece that I was especially interested in mostly because I do not think EITHER Clinton or McCain could approach this topic. For context he is talking about white people.

So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

He compared this resentment to that of people of the black community, some of those resentments were represented in Rev. Wright's sermons. Obama was able to toe the line, gracefully, had I said something similar to that I could be considered racist or bigoted etc. but Obama can talk about this subject eloquently without stepping on anyone's toes.

Now with all that said I did not think Obama took a hard enough stance against Rev. Wright's comments. He said he denounced them "unequivocally" but he could have gone farther, he could have called his comments what they were: Gutterspeak. He could have NOT lied to Keith Olbermann on Friday night when he told him that he had not heard anyone of this hate speak while in attendance of the church, but that changed on Tuesday in his speech:
Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

Now we can argue semantics that Obama might have meant he wasn't in the pews for the specific sound bytes we've heard on the news but he still should have mentioned this beforehand.

Some are comparing Obama's speech to MLK's "I have a dream", in real social substance I could see where those people are coming from. In the context of this campaign however I feel the speech has done little to change the harm Rev. Wrights comments have made to Obama, it might be safe to say that "Obamamania" has stopped... for now. If he can capture the nomination the convention should be able to raise the level of "O-Mania” It will be interesting to see the polls that come out in PA later this week to see if this whole situation has had an effect on the democrats of the Keystone State.

More catching up tomorrow between binge drinking and basketball watching, including:

Hillary's schedule has been released; we now get to know whether she answered the phone at 3 am or whether Bill did because it was Monica calling.

Iraq, 5 years later...what’s the deal with that?

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