February 27, 2004
Chicago: Howtown recently wrote that Obama's support in the African American community was being compromised by his connection to the DLC. Such an association would certainly hurt him in the eyes of the African-American community, but it's not clear that this relationship exists. Howtown failed to mention that this allegation happened way back in June in a series of articles in the Black Commentator. Read the full dialogue between Obama and Black Commentary and decide for yourself:
In Search of the Real Barack Obama
Muzzling the African American Agenda with Black Help
Not Corrupted by DLC, Says Obama
Obama to Have Name Removed from DLC List
From reading this exchange, I think it's far from certain that Obama has any substantial ties to the DLC or it's ideology. I guess it's possible, but even back during last summer the position of the DLC in the Democratic Party was anything but certain (ask Joe Lieberman) so it's hard to conceive why Obama would have wanted to align himself with what most commentators saw as a fleeting element of the Party. By the Fall, following the lead of Dean, Democrats all around the country were catching on to the idea that Democratic voters were unimpressed by the DLC line (on the war and otherwise). So if Obama was trying to jockey his way into influence once he got to the Senate, betting on the DLC would be foolhardy. He has all of his integrity to lose and not much to gain. In any case, from the debates and interviews of the past six months, I haven't heard Obama stray from his anti-war anti-Patriot Act schtick (see below for audio clips) so I'm not sure the BC arguments holds any water now.
February 26, 2004
I know it's been all posts about Hull today, but that's what you get for being the frontrunner. Zorn has an interesting observation regarding Hull's attempt to paint himself as an untainted outsider. For those of you who don't know, Mell more or less defines city machine politics.
"Driving through Ald. Richard Mell's 33rd Ward on the Northwest Side this morning I saw numerous "Hull/Mell" yard signs for the first time, underscoring the fact that Mell, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's powerful father in law, is endorsing and putting his political muscle behind super-rich card sharp U.S. Senate candidate Blair Hull, who was so generous to Blagojevich when Blagojevich was running for governor.
I put a call in to Mell and he said yup, the signs have just gone up but that's he's been behind Hull from the beginning."
OK so his ads stir up the fear of hordes of illegal immigrants taking our jobs and stealing our wives, but what really gets me about these ads is that he looks like a jerkoff flying in a helicopter. Seriously, what the hell is that all about? I can't stop laughing every time I see that spot.
Did anyone else get that mailing from Hull with the unrippable paper gimmick? For those who didn't, the line is that his promise to deliver healthcare reform if elected is so strong that you can't even rip the paper the promise is written on. Well something like that. Anyway the paper really won't rip and I have to admit that I played around with it for a minute or so. The problem that candidates have with sending out mailings is that people usually toss them before they're read. But this gimmick certainly got my attention and surely there were other simpletons like me yanking on the paper in their foyer. Pretty slick score on the name recognition front. This guy certainly has some sharp people working his ad campaign, and of course the money for that special paper.
Earlier in the week, I was predicting that Obama and Hynes would start to pull closer to Hull in the polls. My reasoning was that once voters started to take a serious look at the candidates and see Obama and Hynes' newly aired ads they would conclude that Obama is the best choice. But I didn't think it would be this fast. Check out the complete poll here.
Certainly the race is not over and if the polls are this volatile in less than a week they can change that dramatically again. [In fact, I just saw that another poll by NBC5 has Hull up by double digits.] As per my earlier predictions, Obama's rise can't be purely a result of the t.v. exposure, because that just started two days ago. Clearly Hull's divorce scandal has scarred his image, especially among women voters, and CBS2 also credits Hull's poor performance in Monday's debate as a factor of his decline. But I can't help but think that Hull's drop is attributable to voters beginning to question his creditials as they finally start to seriously contemplate the Democratic field. He had the airwaves to himself before and looked great, but he doesn't look quite so good next to the competition. Hull will certainly turn up the t.v. exposure in a big way in an attempt to squash this fall and there's plenty of time before the primary, but it may be hard for him to regain the big lead he previously had now that Obama has been crowned a frontrunner (at least temporarily). For those who didn't know Obama, a few days in the lead will introduce him to them. That should give him some much needed free press coverage to work his outward charm (which whatever you think of the guy is hard to deny, especially next to stiff Hull). So basically I think Obama is in a good position. His t.v. ads should start to take effect soon and unlike Hull he has a pretty extensive grassroots network to rely on come election day. As for Hynes, don't rule him out. As Chicago: Howtown explains, Hynes will have the most extensive gotv network on election day. Well, however you interpret the latest news, it's certainly making for an interesting race.
Illinois — Senate race offers historic opportunity
The Back Room
Hull Relents: "Read My Files!"
Simon backing Obama
The real Hull slips out from behind the ads
February 25, 2004
I know it's been shoved in our faces on the news for weeks, and part of me just wants to ignore it, but I also have a side interest in depictions of Jesus in American film (I took a college class on it). Here are two reviews that hammer (pun intended) the film: NYTimes & New Yorker. If you've seen any of the interviews of Gibson you definitely sense that this guy is all screwed up and is now channeling his craziness into an extreme religious identity. From all the debate about it I want to see the film, but I also don't want to give my nine bucks to that nut.
The status of the presidential primary race after next week will I think have a profound effect on turnout on March 16th here in Illinois. If Kerry more or less wraps up the nomination with a sweep on Super Tuesday turnout will certainly be down. That may work against Hull who because of his name recognition would benefit from the soft votes that a higher turnout would bring. Hynes and Obama have limited but ardent support bases that will turnout regardless of the presidential outcome. That's how I'm reading this. Any different interpretations out there?
February 24, 2004
If you haven't already noticed, Hynes and Obama have started their t.v. ads. I've seen them both and they are both pretty slick and well produced. Obama, as expected, highlights his work in the legislature and Hynes outlines a job protection plan. You can see them online if you don't want to wait to catch them on the tube: Hynes, Obama, and of course Hull.
I didn't get a chance to hear the debate last night, but from the excerpts Zorn has published it sounds like it was a wild night. I can't find a transcript or audio recording yet but will give the link if I do. Here's a highlight of Obama rhetorically toying with Hull on the war issue:
HULL: (The Iraq) war was a big mistake. I was an outspoken opponent of this war…..
OBAMA: One thing I have to say: You know, Blair mentioned that he was an outspoken opponent of this war. But the fact of the matter is, Blair, that you were silent when these decisions were being made. And you didn't end up being outspoken about it until well after the war had been completed, to the extent that it's been completed. I mean, we looked at your Web site. We called specifically and asked for a statement, a position on this. And now you're sending out mailings saying you were a strong opponent of the war. You were AWOL on this issue. And that's important, not because we can undo the decisions that George Bush made. It's important because Illinois voters deserve to know whether or not their U.S. Senator is going to duck issues or whether he's going to be up front on issues
HULL: First of all, there were a number of people, of my colleagues right here -- Joyce Washington, Nancy Skinner --- that stood up against the war before it occurred. So I'd like to first clarify that.
OBAMA: I was asking about you, Blair, because, because---
HULL: As did Gery Chico. Um, the next, um, um…
OBAMA: No, but I'm asking a question Blair. When did you bring the debate about this war? At what stage did you make a statement suggesting you were opposed to it? On your Web site there was no mention of it. We made a joint appearance in front of the Champaign County Democrats in which you didn't utter a peep about it. I give credit to people like Dan Hynes and Maria, who were consistent in saying they were supportive of it. I think that makes sense. I disagree with them on the issue. But I admire the fact that they did take a consistent position on it.
If this is how Hull handles being the frontrunner under fire, I think we all have to start thinking very seriously whether we want to send this guy up against Jack Ryan. "Um, the next, um, um…" is not going to cut it in a general election. Forget about handing the Republicans a candidate who is an alleged domestic abuser, I think we should start worrying about sending them someone who can't stand up for themselves during a debate.
Here's a list of articles on the debate:
Hull is target in Illinois Senate debate
Domestic Incident Takes Center Stage At Dem Senate Debate
Abuse accusation against Hull takes center stage in debate
Democrats press Hull for details
Hull was late opposing war in Iraq, Obama says
Abuse accusation against Hull takes center stage
Opponents take aim at Hull on his divorce, other issues
My last few posts about the election have been a bit pithy due to some other commitments, so I want to lay out my position about the state of the race a bit more explicitly here. Fellow blogger Chicago: Howtown has particularly called me out on some of my comments, so I’ll be partially answering his critiques. So here goes.
My post from yesterday in which I predicted that the race would tighten now that Hynes and Obama have started their airwave assaults may have slightly exaggerated their upcoming rise, but I do think that we will see a very tight race indeed. There are a lot of other factors involved beyond the saturation of t.v. spots, like some as of yet revealed dirt on any of the candidates and whether Washington and Skinner decide to drop out (the latter unlikely), but I really do think that the race will get very interesting down the stretch.
Howtown thinks that the polls won’t change much, because Hull can match or best the amount of ads Hynes and Obama can each unleash. But I don’t think that the poll numbers for the next few weeks will just be about the level of exposure of the three candidates. That worked before the final stretch of the election, because voters weren’t actively following the race. That early phase was all about getting your name out there so that the voters would recognize it when the real race began. Hull is new to Illinois politics so it was necessary for him to get that name recognition. Obama and Hynes would have benefited from this too (they’re not exactly household names in the state), but they don’t have the money Hull has and have to depend upon their offices to legitimate them. So now with three weeks left we enter a new game and three Democrats have been deemed viable candidates: Obama, Hull, and Hynes.
In this phase, voters will start paying attention and getting nit picky. Some may still continue to be wooed by Hull’s media saturation and relatively well strategized campaign, but I think for most voters the experience factor will be an essential criteria in which they judge the candidates. After being beat over the head with Hull ads, voters will start to remember that there are a few other candidates on the ballot (pretty decent ones in Obama and Hynes), and they will start to reconsider Hull in new terms. “Sure this guy’s claim to be above special interests is attractive, but how do I know that he will be an effective legislator? How do I know he’s not b.s.ing me with his populist appeal and just trying to buy a Senate seat?” The answer to this question by some voters will be that you just can’t know because this guy has no record to back up his rhetoric. Obama and Hynes do. And even though one might not agree with everything that these two candidates have done, one can see how they reacted to the pressures of trying to serve the public (Obama especially as a State legislator). Add to this skepticism the fact that Hull didn’t vote until he was 50 years old (and didn’t vote in the 2000 Presidential election!) and you can see how some voters will be turned off by Hull. Some will still buy his anti-special interests platform, but my guess is that more voters will not and will gravitate to Hynes or Obama.
As an aside, I have to say that personally Hull’s voting record alone pretty much excludes him from consideration. How unacceptable is that? The guy might be a brilliant man, but if he didn’t reach political consciousness until a year or two ago, how can I trust that he will be able to be even remotely effective in Washington. Does he even know legislative procedure? How can we expect him to be familiar with the important recent history of the plethora of issues that he will surely face as a U.S. Senator? There’s outsiders who haven’t been skewed by years of being in the beltway and then there’s outsiders who just didn’t pay attention to politics in their life. By the logic that an outsider is by default a better candidate than seasoned politicians, my uncle whose closest dealings with politics is the Jay Leno monologue would make a great Senator. Now of course I’m not suggested that Hull couldn’t become a fine Senator, my point is that we just don’t know. All the rhetoric about his independence doesn’t move me because it’s just that, rhetoric. At least with Obama and Hynes I can dispute them on what they have done in the past.
Mr. Howtown is also struck by Hull’s “complete lack of influence from special interests.” First off I’d like him to define what types of special interests he is talking about, because if he means that Hull is immune to the typical workings of Illinois machine politics he’s mistaken. Hull has endorsements in the State from some of the most well connected politicians (Luis Gutierrez, Bobby Rush, Dick Mell, not to mention whoever Blagovich has handed to him) and with that comes all sorts of special interest support. Perhaps Mr. Howtown has more specific and nefarious special interests in mind, but if what he means is community organizations and the support they can hand politicians I’m not sure if that is necessarily a bad thing. Such organizations are representatives to blocks of the electorate and work as advocates for them. Is this what is so tainting? In any case, I think we should be careful about being wooed by special interest bashing these days. Everyone this side of Dick Cheney claims that they are against special interests.
Another note is that in terms of the Hull scandal, I’ve actually distanced myself from it as evidenced by my posts in the last week. As I said a few days ago, I don’t like this type of slime. As a rule, I don’t care what people do in their personal lives, even if it is reprehensible. As long as these actions are completely outside of their duties and aren’t criminal, I purposely am not concerned. This is the one place where the slippery slop argument is justified. Nevertheless, I have mentioned the scandal on this blog but only in terms of the effects that it will have on the polls if the Hull crew doesn’t handle it right. If he’s known as the wife beater candidate by the voters, even if it’s not true, that’ll kill his numbers. It’s not right but it happens. People have been crucified for lesser things. Ask Gary Hart.
As for Obama’s lack of concentration down state and reliance on lake front liberals, that much seems true. Obviously, he’s strategized to make the most out of those voters more likely to support him by concentrating in specific areas in the city. Hull is smart to go for the grannies down state and so far it’s working.
So in sum, I’m predicting that things will get very close in the coming weeks. Obviously, Hynes and Obama have tremendous ground to make up, but I think it’s possible. At least I have enough confidence in Illinois voters to assume that they won’t let their votes simply be bought. Again, this is not to say that Hull should be excluded outright because of his money. I just think he should get a State Senate seat and get some experience so we can all have something by which to properly assess him.
Andrew Sullivan is livid and eloquent today.
February 23, 2004
This Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows Hull and Ryan still in the lead, but more importantly it also indicates that most of the electorate remains undecided. So on the Democratic side, it'll be a battle over that remaining 34 percent of likely Democratic voters and with Obama unleashing his first t.v. ads tonight I don't think Hull's lead will continue for too much longer. Name recognition alone doesn't cut it. Obama and Hynes have records to back up their rhetoric. With this domestic abuse allegation quickly becoming the highlight of Hull's record, the next few weeks will mostly be about damage control.
One of my favorite weekly reads used to be the Ad Report Card on Slate. But that was when Rob Walker was writing the column. Walker has since moved onto bigger and better things writing for the NYTimes Magazine. I'm glad for him, because he's one of the best culture writers out there, but I can't help but be a bit annoyed too because the new ad guy at Slate, Seth Stevenson, is not really that good. Walker's site has an archive of his past Ad Report Card articles if you want a good read, but part of the fun of reading his column was that it tackled current commercials.
February 22, 2004
Certainly Hull wanted to avoid a scandal like this for the negative image it would paint, but I think it will doubly hurt him because even if he easily dispels the charges he stills needs to get in front of live cameras to do it. And if you've seen or heard him in the debates you know that talking on his feet is not his strong suit. His strategy has to be to avoid such live exposure as much as possible and let those canned commercial images ride him into the primary.
February 21, 2004
Sorry for the lack of updates in the past few days. I'll be back to normal tomorrow.
Democratic hopefuls vary a bit on death penalty
Blair Hull defends self on divorce incident
This was a smart move on Hull's part to not let this story linger without comment too long. Address it honestly and people will let it go. Personally, I don't think it's anyone's business what went on between he and his wife.
I mentioned last week how prevalant Hull ads are on online newspapers. Here are some numbers:
"Candidates running for state and local offices are moving online, too. Take Blair Hull, for example. The democratic candidate from Illinois running for U.S. Senate dropped over $70,000 on Chicago Sun-Times and CNN Web site ads in fourth quarter 2003, and an additional $22,400 on online ads in January."
February 19, 2004
Hull Faces Questions of Domestic Abuse
Kathuria's response to IllinoisLeader.com
Hull infuses campaign chest with $5 million
Zorn and ArchPundit make the case for why the circumstances surrounding Hull's messy divorce should be investigated. They're both looking ahead to the slime that the Republicans will surely heave should Hull be the nominee, so they're right that it should be vetted now rather than later. I'm torn about caring about this, as I think a candidates personal life is just that personal.
Chico: "A United States Senate seat should not be a commodity any multimillionaire can wake up one day and go purchase."
Hull spokesman Jason Erkes: "We are not buying the seat......[t]here is a tremendous amount of substance behind the campaign.... Some of the polls show us ahead. It's an exciting time. I guess when you can't attack someone on their issues, you have to attack them on how they are communicating their issues."
How they are communicating their issues?!? If I had that much money to campaign, I would probably pay lots of policy advisors to write me up some fat policy positions, and then I could "communicate" them by blanketing the airwaves with more tv ads in two days than the other candidates have for the whole primary. Props have to go out to Erkes for that truly McClellanesque response. Read the article here.
State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger takes the heat off Hull and blames political consultants: "Next to every one of these well-intentioned novice millionaires stands someone making $8,000 to $12,000 a month telling them, 'Give me the money, and I will get you into the club with the 100 most exclusive decision makers in America,."
Here's a decent piece in the Sun-Times with snipets of each of the candidates ideas on economic issues. I tend to diverge from my liberal friends and don't care much for trade protectionism. Those manufacturing jobs are gone and our economy only benefits from the savings that companies take in from outsourcing oversees. I'm no econmist, but most of what I've read interprets this trend as a long term plus for U.S. workers.
Go check out the latest addition to our Illinois blog roll: ChicagoLife. Lots of commentary there on the Senate race with some good defense of Hull, which I can't muster to give.
February 18, 2004
Sorry for the light posting today. It's been a busy day, and I just got to the computer an hour ago. Here's a few links for now:
Obama prepares to run for U.S. Senate
Students cold to candidate's call for return of draft
Democrat candidates seek 'level playing field'
Most of the commentaries about Dean's lasting role in the future of Democratic politics has centered on his web-fundraising, but I think that his campaign did something much larger to the architecture of the party. Certainly it has been noted that the Dean campaign excited previously non-political groups (i.e. young people), but I don't think enough has been made of the potential long term benefits his efforts have germinated. His campaign has redefined the political for a large section of voters who were either apathetic or unattractive to the process, and this may have huge implications for future election cycles.
Yes, he was there at the right time: Bush's domestic and foreign policies easily enraged even the most mild of liberals and Dean was there to voice their anger by standing up to Bush when no other candidates would. But beyond just being a conduit for the left, Dean also taught far left liberals what it meant to be political. Yes, he would continue to lash out at Bush and the me-too Democrats, but he would also lay out a rather centrist fiscal and social agenda to make his campaign more than a just platform for minority views. And the amazing thing is that the far left ate this up: from the earthfirsters to the academics his supporters learned to compromise their own agendas enough to get into the political ring and take a stand.
Being in academics, I know how what an accomplishment this is. I've been frustrated for a long time with so many of my colleagues, who despite their intelligence in the world of academia refused to sully themselves in the world of politics. One of the brightest students in my department summarized his participation in the 2000 elections as voting for Nader "just to record his protest vote" (and not because he had any affinity with Nader's message). What a waste of a mind, and that's just one. Imagine if he took his smarts and applied them to the realm of politics, even just a little. And then multiply that by thousands of other bright people who don't want to dirty their intellect with electoral politics.
Greens and Naderites often counter back that the Democratic party doesn't represent them so why should they support the party's candidates. Even beyond the fact that a third party vote is a vote for Bush, I think third party strategies are completely wrongheaded. If everyone who felt their voice wasn't represented in the Democratic party participated in the party, then accordingly the party would shift its agenda, however so slightly. But the real problem is that this hasn't been good enough for the far left. They haven't been willing to get their hands dirty in the realm of politics, which requires that they concede that their position is not the only one on the table. Such political purity has produced an aloof left that has effectively neutered itself politically. And as they stand and watch, the Democratic party has crept to the center more and more.
It's obviously too early to tell at this point, but Dean's campaign may have shaken that constituency out of it's dogmatic slumber. Now the left is a potent force (both in terms of numbers and campaign dollars), and with Dean's speech today, he is planning to employ them through to the general election. The results could be decisive. Hopefully that effect can be one element of Dean's legacy.
February 17, 2004
ArchPundit sees Hull's formula for votes as potentially effective when coupled with his campaign coffers. If he can efficiently contact likely supporters and get them to the polls that could be the difference in the primary, especially in a crowded field:
"The larger problem is that Hull hasn't even hit his big media buy yet and Dan Hynes is in no shape to counter that effort. He doesn't have adequate funds. Negative ads are a problem because Hynes would have to take ownership of the ads according to the new FEC regulations and say he paid for the ad (Miller pointed this out too). And Hynes agreed to Dick Durbin's no negative ads against other Democrats pledge.
In fact, if Hynes were to attack he would probably damage Hull to some degree to the benefit of Barack Obama who can stay above the fray and simply look to turnout black and liberal votes while the other two go after one another. In such a scenario, Joyce Washington may play a spoiler to Obama even with a small number of votes."
Yikes, that's a depressing scenario, but of course it could occur. My hope is that Hynes and Obama launch their ads soon, and Illinois voters awake from their pre-election slumber and start to get cynical about a guy trying to buy their vote. I think you can also add to ArchPundit's scenario the fact that the presidential primary will all but be wrapped up by March 16th. At least with Dean out of contention, far left liberals may not turn out in large numbers. That would hurt Obama primarily.
Oberweis business, campaign dovetail
Rivals hit Ryan and Oberweis in radio debate
'Who is willing to release their taxes?'
Senate candidates take each other to task
Rivals agree on 1 thing
Senate candidates divided on party lines
What's with the NY Times front page piece on Arab-American contributions to the Bush campaign? The title of the article is Arabs in U.S. Raising Money to Back Bush, but the two main examples of the piece are two Iranian-Americans: "Mr. Hosseini, who left Iran when he was 13" and "Mori Hosseini, the Iranian-born chief executive of ICI Homes." It's journalism 101 that Iranians are not Arabs, and it's really surprising that the Times would make this mistake. Maybe these two guys are Arabs who grew up in Iran, but that would have to be clarified (only 3% of Iranians are Arabs). I don't mean to be nitpicky, but it's an important distinction for lots of people.
Update: Slate's Jack Shafer is all over this too.
February 16, 2004
I'm always torn whether to recommend Andrew Sullivan's blog to people, because he is such a blockhead when it comes to foreign policy and politics in general. I read him regularly because I like disagreeing with people, but I feel guilty with each hit I give him. Nevertheless, he is stellar on certain social issues, mostly because he is deft at exposing the hypocrisy of the far right's social interventionism. And he's all over the gay marriage debate. As he would say, moneyquote:
Something is happening out there. Instead of begging for the basic right to marry, gay couples are now demanding it. In San Francisco, they are simply getting married as an act of civil disobedience. And that is also happening across the country. This will alter the debate - as will the actual existence of marriages in Massachusetts in May. The debate will become how to tear gay couples apart, how to demean and marginalize them, rather than an abstract debate about theories of marriage. And as these couples begin to feel what marriage is like, as they experience what civil equality actually is, they will become emboldened. Just as those who refused to leave segregated lunch-counters began to deepen their sense of moral outrage and conviction, so the act of getting married - something heterosexuals simply assume they have - is empowering. When Massachusetts becomes the first free state for gay citizens, the movement will explode. I predict thousands of couples from all over the country and the world will arrive to claim their dignity and rights - and this experience will help transform the argument.
Well you still have time. If you're from Chicago go here and print out a form and get it in the mail by tomorrow.
From Laura Washington at the Suntimes:
There's some good and bad news there for Obama. My aunt Muriel, a Jewish grandmother in Highland Park, has been in Obama's corner for months. But these days she's feeling the heat from friends who have been wooed by Hull's commercials. She says Obama needs to get on TV -- right now. ''You sense his honesty, you sense his commitment, you sense his brilliance. If he were on television, you'd fall in love with him,'' she said.
What makes this point even more apparent if you go to the Suntimes page is that Hull ads frame that very article and pretty much every webpage in the Suntimes and the Trib.
Lots of new stuff to read over at this great portal to the Il Senate race.
February 15, 2004
Chicago may not be deciding factor in race
Political novice Hull uneasy in spotlight
Hynes Takes Bus Tour Through Region
Only 1 candidate backs gay marriage
ArchPundit gives Hull a pass on having no legislative experience. I concede that it's not a prerequisite to be qualified for office, but Hull has yet to convince me that he has anything to offer in its stead other than the ability to strategically buy the election.
Also scroll down a bit and check out ArchPundit's summary of the Dem and Rep contenders after the NPR debate from last week. He's right on target with his summary of Pappas' debating skills:
Pappas--good name recognition, but some of the most bizarre statements in a debate since W. Is there a campaign plan or is she just running around like a chicken with her head cut off?
Every time she spoke, I cringed.
[ed. note: After rereading Archpundit's entry, I'll have to retract my claim that he "gives Hull a pass on having no legislative experience." His point that the buying of the election by Hull is no different than Hynes's nepotism is well taken. Nevertheless, I still think we should all make Hull jump through a few more hoops beyond scoring well in the polls before we declare him a legitimate candidate. To me such numbers just indicate that he is the only one spending money on tv ads right now. Hopefully that will change and the poll numbers with it.]
February 14, 2004
When I heard last week that Obama isn't backing gay marriage, I honestly was pretty disappointed. Especially with the rationale that was given in this article:
State Sen. Barack Obama of Chicago said he backs civil unions but does not support same-sex marriage and does not believe government recognition of gay marriage "is practical at the federal level because of strong political and religious resistance."
Certainly, Obama is in a tight spot here because one of his strongest constituencies is the church-going African-American community, but nevertheless I thought this was an issue that he should take a principled stand on. Especially, given that a strong argument can be made to this community that the gay marriage issue parallels the struggles of civil rights movement. So the fact that he punted on this one was I think a missed opportunity.
But from the Eight Forty-Eight interview yesterday I heard a much more nuanced and acceptable rationale for his position. He explained that backing gay marriage was not something that he should go out on a limb for because it was up to the gay community to decide their strategy on this issue. There's a split in the gay community in which one side wants to avoid playing "into the hands of Karl Rove" by pushing this issue on the public and thereby giving the right control of the debate.
That explanation makes more sense to me, but I'm still not convinced that gay marriage is a loser only for the Dems. Pushing this issue definitely will alienate the center of the Dem party, but it fairs no better for the right if they have to counter with an amendment. Messing with the constitution will piss off as many on the right as it will please. Basically, I think this is a lose lose issue for both parties. They cancel each other out, so why not go out on a limb and support gay marriage now? I guess it's because his thinking is centered on pacifying his constituency for the primary. Nevertheless, as I said above, I think he could sell this to the chuck-goers. If anyone has any other links of Obama speaking about this issue send them over. (Hat tip goes to Brent for helping me think this through).
The latest in Eight Forty-Eight's candidate interviews. Once again, Obama proves himself to be the most articulate of Dem field. Perhaps too much so, as Steve Edwards did press him on the issue of not being "down" with ordinary voters (I swear that was what Edwards said). I'm not sure that that's much of a liability in the grand scheme of things, but it's certainly something that he must be trying to remedy.
February 13, 2004
Democratic hopefuls back tax increases
Dems complain to feds about Oberweis ice cream commercials
Papers show Hynes did get cash from his office's vendors
Pappas files late, but not hurting
Seems everyone's got Latino endorsements in Dem race This one's especially interesting.
It's good to be rich
It looks like money is paying off for these two. Ryan has a 14 point lead over Oberweis and Hull is 10 points up on Obama and Hynes. With over a month before the primary though this may show just that Hull and Ryan have poured lots into t.v. ads. and have name recognition. When the press starts to really cover the race and people begin to pay attention, issues and actual performace will shuffle those poll numbers around. On the Dem side Hynes and Obama haven't even begun their ad assaults either, so look for the polls to shift in the coming weeks.
February 12, 2004
The AIDS Foundation of Chicago has surveyed the candidates and provides a link to each of their platforms on AIDS/HIV research. Check it out.
February 11, 2004
Daily Kos has a pretty thorough overview of the Senate races around the country. Here's what he says about Illinois:
A near sure-thing. The Democrats have a large field vying for the nomination. Any of them will be odds-on favorites to take the seat from the GOP.
The seat was left open after GOP senator Fitzgerald saw his political demise and decided to spare himself the embarrassment of a near-certain loss. The GOP tried to draft popular former guv Jim Edgar but he declined. So the best they have been able to do is investment banker Jack Ryan, in the heels of disgraced governor George Ryan and disgraced Senate candidate Jim Ryan.
February 10, 2004
Hull proves money no object in bid for Senate
Democratic Senate hopefuls call for drug cost negotiation
Grand vision or great waste?
Pappas' finances remain mystery: Other Democrats in Senate race comply with law
Where candidates stand on economy
Can GOP break tradition to win open Senate seat?
Senate hopefuls blast Bush, Republicans
I'm no big fan of the feel-good politics of this local Chicago magazine (it's hard to take seriously any periodical that publishes an article about how the tantric teachings of some new age yahoo "can open the door to enlightenment and sacred sexuality"), but their interview with Barack Obama is really excellent. Mostly because they let him do the talking. Clearly the interview is an attempt to extract his moral vision, and Barack knows that he is playing to a particularly idealistic audience. But watch how he handles this question that tries to paint him into an ultra-liberal corner:
CC: Do you believe it's possible to stay true to your values in the current climate?
BO: I don't want to sound over idealistic, you know, politics is compromise, politics is power, politics is self-interest. But politics is also vision and it's also principle and it's also values. And those are ingredients, hopefully, in equal measure, that make up the debate and I don't think it would be healthy to send a politician to Washington who doesn't know how to negotiate or can't count votes. But I also think it's not particularly healthy if politics is viewed as only a business and not a mission.
I'm not one easily moved by campaign rhetoric, but the deft balance of practicality and idealism in that answer is admirable. I've yet to hear any of the other candidates speak so eloquently about the responsibility of an elected official.
February 07, 2004
Does it strike anyone else as absolutely bizarre the gall of Blair Hull to think that he has discovered some magical formula to winning political elections? Seriously, who does this guy think he is? For all the energy that has been poured into political campaigns over the last hundred years in this country alone, does he really think someone else wouldn't have picked up on such a sure-fire recipe to win elections? But if you did have such valuable information you would also think that it would be prudent to keep it to yourself. Not Blair though. He wants to share it with the world. Maybe he figures that no one else has the money to implement such a plan. Well, get your pens ready because here it is:
Probability = 1/(1 + exp (−1 ÃƒÂ— (−3.9659056 + (General Election Weight ÃƒÂ— 1.92380219) + (Re-Expressed Population Density ÃƒÂ— .00007547) + (Re-Expressed Age ÃƒÂ— .01947370) + (Total Primaries Voted ÃƒÂ— −.60288595) + (% Neighborhood Ethnicity ÃƒÂ— −.00717530))))
Does anyone want someone who knows so little about the complexity and unpredictability of human nature making decisions for them in Washington? Well he should at least add another variable to the equation: (1 + This guy is completely insane and arrogant = who would vote for him). In this Atlantic Monthly piece, he comes off as some sort of humanoid from a bad sci-fi novel. Moneyquote:
"Hull is most animated by those aspects of campaigning that can be quantified and formulated. "Politics is very unpredictable," he told me. "More so than blackjack." I asked if he really could write an algorithm to help win the election. His face lit up, and his press secretary winced."
If I were his press secretary, I would have spilled my coffee all over Hull just to shut him up and stop that interview. I think it's a pretty well-established rule in politics to shy away from talking about strategy publicly, and you would think that a candidate already chastized for trying to buy the election would stick to this principle doubly. He's basically saying that not only do I have more money to spend than anyone else, I also have a formula that will assure that I win. Buhhahahaha!!! What a public relations nightmare. This guy needs to take some of that money and hire some of G.W. Bush's handlers who know better than to let the president talk too much.
*Speaking of Bush's press shyness, I can't wait to see him face Russert tomorrow for an hour! In an hour, he should say at least five ridiculous things that will keep his staffers busy on damge control for the next week or so. I'm no fan of Russert and don't have too much confidence that he will turn the screws on Bush, but if Diane Sawyer can elicit major gaffs than Russert should get even better results. Remember this:
DIANE SAWYER: Again, I'm just trying to ask, these are supporters, people who believed in the war who have asked the question.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you can keep asking the question and my answer's gonna be the same. Saddam was a danger and the world is better off cause we got rid of him.
DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still a—
PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?
DIANE SAWYER: Well —
February 06, 2004
Chico alone on issue of gay marriage: But top Democrats vying for Senate oppose amendment
Opponents put Hynes on the defensive over fundraising, war stand
Senate hopefuls rip Bush's Iraq policy
Dem rivals bash Hynes' support for Iraq war at Senate debate
February 05, 2004
A great grassroots initiative to convert an unused freight line to a mix-use public trail. Join the effort to help revitalize the northwest side of Chicago.
February 04, 2004
And an even older piece from the fall.
Democratic Senate hopefuls rip Bush's Iraq policy
Obama Seeks U.S. Senate seat
There should be lots more press tomorrow assessing this evening's debate on NPR.
February 03, 2004
Most Democrats in Senate race want more options for illegal immigrants
Protection or invasion of privacy?
Democrats in Senate Race Want Options for Immigrants
Super spending, super clout and super ads go a long way
Where the Senate hopefuls stand on Iraq war, security
Illinois Senate race remains up for grabs
Pappas trails in race for funds
Hull has spent a record $12 mil.
GOP candidates jump on the stump
It's not what Obama says, it's how he says it
Obama has good shot at Senate seat.
Robbing Peter to pay Dan? Questions raised about Hynes' money shuffle
In Illinois politics, campaign money goes round and round, records show