Pulpit Bulls

Policy, Politics, and What's In Between

Archive for July, 2009

Bill Clinton on Same Sex Marriage

Posted by Eric on July 14, 2009

Michael Tracy at the Nation reports:

Clinton opposed same-sex marriage during his presidency, and in 1996, he signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which limited federal recognition of marriage to one man and one woman. In May of this year, Clinton told a crowd at Toronto’s Convention Centre that his position on same-sex marriage was “evolving.”

Apparently, Clinton’s thinking has now further evolved. Asked if he would commit his support for same-sex marriage, Clinton responded, “I’m basically in support.”

Not really that huge of a surprise. Bill Clinton — like most presidents — is deeply concerned about his legacy and here’s a chance to come down on the right side of history. And, of course, since he is out of office there’s no real opportunity for a political backlash.

With that said, unless Barack Obama’s rather incoherent position on marriage also “evolves”, I think Obama will be the last Democratic president in opposition to gay marriage. When future presidential primary candidates have to face off in debates in front of the Democratic base they are going to be met with boos and jeers from the audience if they recite the “marriage is between a man and a woman” meme.


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Sotomayor Sinks

Posted by Eric on July 14, 2009

As I watch the Sotomayor confirmation hearings it is becoming increasingly evident that “Obama’s Harriet Myers” is just a slip-up away from completely fizzling out. Thanks to the probing questions of the Judiciary Committee’s Republican heroes, the sheer stupidity and unqualified “intellectual shallowness” of Sonia Sotomayor is fully on display.

Mental lightweight Sotomayor should be withdrawing from consideration as a Supreme Court nominee any minute now. Any minute…

Posted in SCOTUS | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Al Franken and the Nature of Commericials

Posted by Eric on July 8, 2009

David Kurtz observes that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is running a misleading ad featuring Franken flailing his arms about — a rehash of a tactic Coleman utilized in his failed re-election bid. Franken took this dishonest portrayal head-on in his 2008 campaign:

I’d like to take this in a different direction and use the above spot to note that advertisements rebutting your opponents’ smears is incredibly underused. That’s not to say it’s always smart — in many cases you don’t want to highlight and repeat a smear against your candidate, especially considering how many casual commercial viewers would presumably just catch the smear and ignore the surrounding content. This is a concept that television writer Alex Epstein recently explored on his screenwriting blog, by suggesting that people don’t remember “not” very well. Epstein suggests that when people hear Barack Obama is not a Muslim or Richard Nixon is not a crook, they deduce it to Obama is a Muslim and Richard Nixon is a crook.

So, yeah it is dangerous territory, but campaigns always push back against false or damaging attacks and there isn’t any persuasive reason to believe that campaigns can’t effectively push back in commercial form. A personal anecdote: I worked on a political campaign where our very honorable candidate had his patriotism smeared in our opponent’s frequently-aired commercial. Our campaign reluctantly decided that it was better to leave the ad unanswered on the airwaves and never ran a counter-commercial. This may have ultimately been a smart play, but it’s worth considering what would have happened if we had launched a commercial proclaiming that Scuzzy Opponent is launching so-and-so attacks, then blasted Scuzzy Opponent for voting against increasing benefits to military families. Or something — you get the idea.

Perhaps with Sen. Franken’s victory we’ll see more candidates undertake this type of strategy in 2010 and future elections.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

More on Palin

Posted by Eric on July 6, 2009

Sarah Palin and Tina FeyOkay, so Palin’s resignation announcement is a couple days old. There’s been time to reflect but it still looks as bizarre and mystifying as before. Palin’s press conference was a muddled, idiosyncratic, incoherent mess — about what you would expect from a mentally muddled, idiosyncratic, incoherent mess of a politician like Sarah Palin.

It’s hard to watch such a strange and jumbled performance and not immediately latch onto the fact that Palin is a presumed frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination, not because of any gift of her own, but solely because of the lack of diversity of the modern GOP. When McCain tried to capitalize on a feminist backlash against the media’s (and allegedly Obama’s) sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton, there really wasn’t anyone else to choose. Maine’s two female Senators are the party’s liberal most spokespeople and even Texas heavyweight Kay Bailey Hutchinson is pro-choice. So they were left with Palin, a politician who is impressively unimpressive.

And the only real explanation for Palin calling it quits in the way she called it quits is she is indeed set on running for president. She may be taking the advice of some brilliant strategists, but on the surface it really makes little sense. Palin isn’t Mike Huckabee in 2008 — a little known former governor whose hope of winning the nomination involved camping out in Iowa for years. She’s a former Vice Presidential candidate with 100-percent name recognition, but not a former Vice Presidential candidate like John Edwards in 2008 who also needed to camp out in Iowa for years to challenge the big dogs like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. For better or for worse (okay, for worse) Palin is the Obama and Clinton of the GOP. She’s the star of the party! She could have stayed in Alaska until the end of her term, quietly mastering policy, raising money, and still generated good will by sweeping in to the lower 48 states every month or so for a fundraiser for lesser Republican politicians.

But clearly that isn’t the course she is taking. It looks like we are going to get the same old Sarah Palin. You know, the woman who can’t name a single newspaper she reads, who didn’t know the Africa was a continent, who, with her lavish spending sprees on campaign donor dollars and feuds with late-night talk hosts, seems to better belong in the celebrity gossip rags than in the Washington Post. It’s almost like she enjoys being a laughing stock! I hope that somewhere an SNL exec is on the phone with Tina Fey’s agent.

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Sarah Barracuda

Posted by Eric on July 1, 2009

If you haven’t already checked out Vanity Fair‘s hard-hitting profile on Sarah Palin, read it immediately. It paints a dysfunctional picture of Palin’s role inside the McCain campaign and really features some former McCain staffers letting loose. I wanted to quote some parts of the piece, but really the whole thing is a must-read. With that said, here are few things that jumped out at me:

  • Several people who had worked closely with Palin told VF they believed the governor suffered from a “narcissistic personality disorder.”  One example? When her most recent son was born, Palin wrote a letter to friends and family in the voice of God and signed it “Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father.”
  • When Obama was notified that McCain had selected Palin as his runningmate, he told aides that it took him four months of preparation to become a national candidate and no matter how bright Palin was, there wasn’t a possibility she would be ready.
  • Those who religiously follow politics may be interested to know that McCain strategist Mark McKinnon, who had vowed to not work against Barack Obama and rather publicly resigned after Obama won the nomination, secretly crept back onto the campaign trail to advise Palin — presumably while she questioned Obama’s patriotism and accused him of “palling around with terrorists.”

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