Friday, February 29, 2008

'1,000 years in Iraq'

This is good:

Clinton campaign gets desperate in Texas

From today's startlegram (i.e., Fort Worth Star-Telegram), this scoop:
AUSTIN -- The Texas Democratic Party is warning that its primary night caucuses could be delayed or disrupted after aides to White House hopeful Hillary Clinton raised the specter of an "imminent" lawsuit over its complicated delegate selection process, officials said Thursday night....

"Both campaigns have made it clear that they would go there if they had to, but I think the imminent threat is coming from one campaign," said one top Democratic official, referring to the Clinton campaign. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another Democratic source who was privy to the often intense discussions confirmed that representatives of the New York senator's campaign had issued veiled threats in a telephone call this week.

"Officials from Sen. Clinton's campaign at several times throughout the call raised the specter of 'challenging the process,'" the official said. "The call consisted of representatives from both campaigns and the Democratic Party."

The source, who was not authorized to speak about the matter on the record, said Clinton's political director, Guy Cecil, had pointedly raised the possibility of a courtroom battle.

"Best run campaign in American history" -- thanks to volunteers and the internet

Not sure if Mark White is referring to the campaign in Texas, or nationally. What is certain is that the spontaneous, grassroots support for Obama in Texas enabled his professional campaign staff to come in with an advantage, just as it did in Ohio.

Former Gov. Mark White of Texas:

"I'll tell you what. This is probably the best-run campaign in American history, and I've been involved in them since 1976 when I was (Texas) secretary of state," he added. "If this guy runs the country like he's run his campaign, we're all in for a happy surprise."
OR

The Wall Street Journal today:

Sen. Barack Obama's pivotal victories last month in Iowa and South Carolina over Sen. Hillary Clinton were engineered by professional staffers who worked those states for nearly a year. In Texas, the story has been a lot different. 1

His organization in the Lone Star State, which holds its potentially decisive presidential primary on Tuesday, has been "more like a baling wire and duct tape thing," says Mitch Stewart, who is running the campaign here. Mr. Stewart and the first dozen paid Obama staffers touched down in this capital city less than three weeks ago.

The uncharacteristic late start has left the Illinois senator relying to an unusual degree on the groundwork of volunteers such as Ian Davis. The 29-year-old Austin community organizer has been laboring for months with no guidance at all from Obama headquarters. When Sen. Obama's team finally arrived, Mr. Davis handed over laundry baskets stuffed with 20,000 handwritten names of potential volunteers, which Mr. Davis had gathered on his own.

"At the end of the day," Mr. Stewart says, it will be people like Ian Davis "who win this thing."
Of course, internet tools for organizing also played a fundamental role:
As the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire approached, Mr. Davis and thousands of other Texans took advantage of a powerful tool available on the Obama campaign's national Web site, MyBarackObama.com. The system, developed in-house and modeled after an effort created in 2004 by the liberal political action group MoveOn.org, gives campaign volunteers unsupervised access to names and phones numbers of potential supporters nationwide, which campaigns usually treat as proprietary information.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Taking Stock of Barack on foreign policy

An editor at The National Interest reviews Obama's foreign policy views critically, but ends up with a good measure of respect:
Perhaps the best compliment to Senator Barack Obama and the relative integrity of his record is the distortion of his statements by his political opponents. From President Bush to former President Bill Clinton, Obama’s detractors have either mischaracterized or put considerable spin on his positions on key areas, such as Iraq, Pakistan and Iran. This could well be because Obama is at a substantive advantage vis-√†-vis his Democratic and Republican challengers, given his publicly stated foresight on the Iraq War. And while Obama’s positions on important foreign-policy issues have not always been static (even to some degree on the Iraq War), Obama has demonstrated a willingness to acknowledge his prior position. Obama has therefore not resorted to that dark art of politics, alchemizing one’s prior positions in order to avoid acknowledging misjudgments or contradictions.

...Obama’s record is not free of vacillation or disconnect, but in broad strokes it seems to reflect logical cohesiveness and a tendency to stake politically risky positions in forthright terms—such as his stated willingness to meet with the Iranian leader. It is perhaps for this reason that his opponents prefer to recast his past positions, rather than reckon fairly with his record and proposals.