Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Moments of Clarity
A few thoughts on a morning when the world seems to be moving too fast for one beleaguered guy to get a handle on:
  • If Wayne Barrett is a Mets fan, this 24-hour stretch between the Santana deal and Rudy's drop announcement later today surely is the best of his life.

  • That goddamn Santana deal... kudos to the Mets and Omar Minaya, who leveraged their money advantages (they can both afford to extend Santana and quickly reload their farm system with big bonuses to amateur ballplayers) to strengthen their team, but if I ever see Twins GM Bill Smith, I'm going to kick him in his tiny balls.

  • Incredibly, John McCain will be the Republican nominee. I pronounced him politically dead last summer; bad on me, though everyone else did too... what's interesting is how McCain plays it now in response to his newfound good fortune. Think about this. From 2005 through late 2007, he tacked hard right and twisted himself into pretzels trying to make himself acceptable to the likes of Falwell and Norquist… and came face to face with political oblivion at the end of that process. Sometime late last year, he seemed to decide, “Screw it, I’ll go back to ’straight talk’ and see what happens.” Lo and behold, he’s all but won the nomination–but the Rush Limbaugh crowd still despises him. So is he going to reach for the middle (the accepted general election tactic) and go Sister Souljah on the right-wing nuts, hoping that Hillary Clinton scares the haters back into his corner anyway? Or will he try to shore up his right-wing bona fides, maybe by pledging to rip Nancy Pelosi’s still-beating heart out of her chest and eat it on live TV?

  • John Edwards is dropping out of the race, and won't make an endorsement--which probably helps Hillary Clinton, in that the low- and middle-income whites who backed Edwards seem likely to go with tribalism and Clinton Brand loyalty over Obama's tranformational appeal. While I had some issues with Edwards, he played an extremely positive role in this race, and I hope he stays engaged in public life–with his heroic and inspiring wife by his side. I'd love to see him as Secretary of Labor or Attorney General in an Obama administration... though I'm increasingly doubtful such a thing will come to be, at least in 2009.

  • I thought hard over the weekend about potential strengths of a second Clinton presidency, and came up with two:
    1) The most common squandered asset in any presidency is the first year/"honeymoon period." She'd almost certainly do more in this window than Obama (or anyone who hadn't been there before), by virtue of knowing the importance of that window and learning from the terrible mistakes of the first Clinton administration in 1993.
    2) In negotiating with Congress for legislation, having been there in the weeds of legislative horse-trading would give her an unusual insight into how to move reluctant supporters and neutralize opponents. ("Sen. McConnell, release your caucus to vote on my healthcare reform bill and I'll tell my guys not to get in the way of your Eat Babies for Freedom Act.")

  • Along these same lines, I concluded that my issue is actually more with Bill and "the Clintons" than with Sen. Clinton herself. I don't like the sleazoids she hangs with, and I don't trust her honesty or commitment to progressive principles, and I hate the idea of dynastic presidencies... but I've gone overboard in my opposition to her, and I'm going to try to check that from here on out.

  • More than anything, I'm upset that an event I'd so looked forward to--Giuliani's defeat and disgrace--is overshadowed in the world of politics by the Edwards announcement, and that I can't savor it as planned because Johan Santana now pitches in the Phillies' division. Bastards all.

12 comments:

Feral said...

I'm so happy Santana went to the Mets. Almost as happy as I am to see the Giuliani horror-show never achieving lift-off. As a Yankee fan, I never wanted to see Hughes & Melky & possibly Kennedy leave, but the prospect of the Red Sox getting a SECOND nearly unbeatable pitcher was truly scary. And as an added bonus, now the subway series might be halfway competitive. Now that's a win-win-win-win (counting Giuliani).

Oh, and sorry about the Phillies, man. Santana's gonna eat up the NL East alive...

David said...

I don't think the Mets are the hands-down favorite in the NL; their lineup just isn't good enough. They've got two superstars in Wright in Beltran, a possible third in Reyes, and then a bunch of old guys (Delgado, Alou, Luis Castillo, Brian Schneider). It should be good enough to win the East--so long as they aren't hit with a run of injuries to their pitchers, which is possible with Pedro, Duque, Wagner, etc--but Arizona or someone else out there could easily run them down in the playoffs.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

The deleted comment was me--I posted the last one twice. This also happened the other day; I don't have a current stalker or anything, at least not anyone posting. (Maybe that's what they want me to think...)

the Navigator said...

I was wondering about that. It did seem odd. Also, the way Blogger puts "comment deleted by author" makes it look as though it was the author of the comment, rather than of the post, who made the deletion, which isn't possible to my knowledge.

the Navigator said...

I was wondering about that. It did seem odd. Also, the way Blogger puts "comment deleted by author" makes it look as though it was the author of the comment, rather than of the post, who made the deletion, which isn't possible to my knowledge.

David said...

Clever...

The Navigator said...

Damn, a double comment. Sorry - really thought I hadn't clicked the first time. If one of those ends up "deleted by author" that'd obviously be fine.

Anyway, on McCain - have you seen an explanation for how he did it? The reason people were writing him off wasn't just the low poll numbers - it was the fact that he seemed to be out of money and was losing staffers. So how did he get back in it? I see that Romney outspent him 10 to 1 in Florida, which suggest McCain still doesn't have that much money, and which therefore means that his support is genuine and heartfelt. Also, Florida was a closed primary, so he wasn't relying on his usual collection of independents and cross-overs; actual Republicans heard his pitch, heard Romney's 10x greater pitch, and went with McCain. Now with his bounce he'll get some real money in donations, and given how impressive his Florida showing was, I think we have to assume he's the nominee. Dammit.

Feral said...

You've underestimated people's aversion to disingenuous cultists...

Anonymous said...

Dave -

I know you've had issues with McCain's direction in the last few years - but are there not, in your view, many worse alternatives for the Republican nomination? I think if I read you correctly, the "worst" current scenario is a McCain-Clinton match in November. Would that truly be such a bad thing? McCain would likely be more bipartisan than anyone worth mentioning in recent years, and Clinton (halo effect from the current unpopular White House incumbent notwithstanding) would, I suspect, serve up some big positives in domestic policy during her Presidency.

Eric

PS. In case you are wondering, I am hoping, in all honesty, for an Obama-McCain matchup. I would actually have to choose between two candidates I had positive feelings toward. I think Clinton would serve reasonably well if elected, but I seem to recall that the Clinton presidency, like the Carter one, wasn't really getting much enthusiasm at its end relative to how it's viewed now. I also think Hillary engenders enough ire among conservatives that she'd be hard to elect. Romney might be a decent president but I'd have qualms about him buying it, and I'm tickled that all his spending is just keeping him on par with McCain and Huckabee. Huckabee, meanwhile, seems to just be the guy that religious conservatives like - and while that's not a bad thing per se, those appear to be the only folks that are voting for him, which sends off some alarm bells for me. At the same time, he seems to have earned some decent marks as a Governer, but that doesn't appear to be sufficient for making a good Prez.

David said...

Eric--

Short answer, yes. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that McCain's my "favorite" Republican--so in that sense, I'm very glad he's evidently going to win their nomination.

I just wish he weren't so fervently pro-war... a consideration I think you share based on past discussions.

More anon--Dem debate is still in progress ;)

David said...

Actually Eric, re-reading your comment, I agree with pretty much all of it.

McCain as a potential president is someone whom, while I'd surely disagree with him on most things, I'd have faith in and wish him well. I just wonder, as I noted in this post, whether he'd give play to his best instincts--which do tend to deviate from Republican orthodoxy on process reforms, immigration, environment, defense spending (he only wants to pay for weapons systems we actually might need... shocking!) maybe taxes--or just do what he tried to do from '05-'07, i.e. kiss the collective tuckis of the worst people in the party (Grover Norquist and religious right would-be ayatollahs).

Obama I think is an extraordinary person--he clearly possesses the power to inspire, which is key in the presidency, but also seems to have the intellect and discernment of an older and more experienced person. I'm not sure I've ever wanted any pol to win as much as I want him to win.

And Clinton tonight in the debate showed again that for all her flaws--her "Clinton-ness"--she knows her stuff like nobody's business and, in all probability, would be a good president in many respects. I just don't think she can win, I don't entirely trust her, and I don't want to re-litigate the '90s. But I'm almost at the point where I'd vote for her (as opposed to writing in Howdy Doody, say) were she the nominee.