Friday, 22 February 2008

FALLOFF FROM THE TIMES' HIT PIECE ON MCCAIN

Ken Berwitz

You read that right.  Not fallout, falloff.  This is because now that the Times' factless innuendo about McCain and a female lobbyist has been out there for two days with virtually no one on EITHER side of the political fence seeing it as a legitimate story, it has fallen off the end of the earth. 

And who is treating it this way?  Why the Times is, that's who.

When the paper initially smeared John McCain it was on page 1.  But where have they put McCain's flat-out denial of the allegations?  They have buried it deep in the news section (page 20 - that deep enough for you?) 

Way to go, guys.  Fairness incarnate.

Here is an excellent piece on just how ridiculous the Times has made itself look, written by Clay Waters of www.newsbusters.org.  In a word, it is devastating:

Times Hit Piece Dying on Media Vine

By Clay Waters | February 22, 2008 - 13:03 ET

The fallout continues from yesterday's New York Times hit piece on John McCain. The paper itself doesn't seem eager to put up a fight as network news broadcasts, liberal bloggers, journalism professors, and the general public are questioning the Times's journalistic standards.

Yesterday's inflammatory story, which used anonymous sources to forward nine-year-old allegations from his first presidential run suggesting an improper relationship by John McCain with a female telecommunications lobbyist, received prominent front-page placement, today's follow-up on McCain's press conference was relegated to page 20 -- Elisabeth Bumiller's "McCain Disputes That Aides Warned Him About Ties to Lobbyist."

Slate's "Today's Papers" columnist Daniel Politi questioned the placement. (Yesterday he questioned the "surprising" thinness of the original story.)

From Bumiller's piece:

Senator John McCain on Thursday disputed an account in The New York Times that top advisers confronted him during his first presidential run with concerns about his ties to a female lobbyist. [...]

Later in the day, one of Mr. McCain's senior advisers directed strong criticism at The Times in what appeared to be a deliberate campaign strategy to wage a war with the newspaper. Mr. McCain is deeply distrusted by conservatives on several issues, not least because of his rapport with the news media, but he could find common ground with them in attacking a newspaper that many conservatives revile as a left-wing publication.

"It was something that you would see in The National Enquirer, not in The New York Times," said Steve Schmidt, a former counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney who is now a top campaign adviser to Mr. McCain.

Mr. Schmidt, in lengthy comments to reporters traveling on Mr. McCain's campaign plane, said The Times had rushed the article into print so it could beat The New Republic in the publication of an article about the story behind The Times's investigation of Mr. McCain. The Times article was first published on its Web site on Wednesday night; The New Republic posted its account of what it described as staff conflict over the Times article, on its Web site on Thursday afternoon.

Below is a round up of reactions.

National Public Radio quoted Media Research Center president Brent Bozell and Times Executive Editor Bill Keller:

Conservative media critic Brent Bozell took a shot on the Fox News Channel, by saying that The New York Times is giving the National Enquirer a bad name.

Some non-ideological critics focused on the failure to prove the affair, or the favoritism.

Keller says that misses the point.

"I think the story that emerged is actually bigger, and more important and maybe more subtle," he says. "There's not a big market for subtle these days but I think it's an important story."

Keller says people should judge his paper's reporting as journalism, not as part of any political campaign.

All the networks led with the story, but did feature criticism of the Times's standards. MRC's Brent Baker summarized:

All three broadcast network evening newscasts led Thursday night with the New York Times story alleging an improper relationship by John McCain with a female lobbyist, but questions about the journalistic standards of the newspaper were given as much consideration as the allegations against McCain. All three ran a soundbite from Rush Limbaugh denouncing the paper while ABC and CBS featured establishment media observers who castigated the Times for basing a story on the feelings of unnamed sources: Ken Auletta on ABC and Tom Rosenstiel on CBS.

Ben Smith at The Politico rounded up the surprisingly critical response of the left-wing blogosphere:

Greg Sargent, at TPM's Horse's Mouth, writes that the Times doesn't "have the goods" and "shouldn't have gone there." Matthew Yglesias accuses the Times of "shameful" dealings in "innuendo," though he's interested in the sex-free, lobbying aspects of the story. Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft calls it "troubling" and bad for Democrats . Kevin Drum writes of the Times that "there's no way that they 'nailed' anything."

At the Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz talked to Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, who accused McCain's advisers of trying to "rally the base" against the Times. (And it's working, as even conservative critics of McCain have united behind him and against the Times' liberal bias.)

Bill Keller, the paper's executive editor, dismissed a cascade of attacks yesterday accusing the Times of politically motivated sensationalism. "They're trying to change the subject to us," Keller said in an interview. McCain's advisers, he said, are attempting "to use the New York Times as an opportunity to rally the base."

Critics were hurling conflicting charges yesterday. Some said the story was unsubstantiated and should not have been published. Others complained that the Times should have run it sooner, so that voters in the early Republican primaries could have weighed the allegations. Those critics accused Keller of sitting on the story until McCain had time to secure the Republican nomination.

Keller denied deliberately delaying the story, saying that would have put him in the position of withholding important information from voters. "You can't let the electoral calendar govern your judgment about when to publish stories," he said

Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen have a lead story up at The Politico on how the McCain camp is actually spinning the story as a positive:

Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign claimed vindication Thursday night after a sophisticated 24-hour counterattack turned a potentially lethal story in The New York Times into a conservative call to arms.

How vindicated? McCain is actually raising money off the Times's story, selling McCain as a conservative Republican being attacked by the Times and pointing out the Times' embarrassment over a deep discount granted to the far-left group MoveOn.org smearing General Petraeus.

Update 13:06 | Matthew Sheffield. Even the Times's readers don't seem interested in this story. When you look at their "most emailed" stories of the day, the McCain hit piece doesn't even crack the top ten.

Update 13:57 | Matthew Sheffield. Jay Rosen, a well-known journalism professor at New York University soundly condemned the Times's editorial judgment yesterday (endorsing McCain and yet unveiling this) provoking outraged responses from Grey Lady employees. But he wasn't having any of it (h/t PJ Gladnick)

Two people who work for the New York Times wrote to me with the same complaint: why was I raising questions about the editorial page's endorsement of John McCain on Jan. 25 when I know--or should as a J-professor know--that the newsroom and the editorial page operate independently of each other and do not coordinate?

My answer: there's one person who would have known about the paper's struggles with McCain and his lawyers over today's story, and who read and approved the paper's endorsements-- or should have. That is Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher.

And so to ask, "How does the Times endorse McCain with a story like that looming, if it believes in the story?" is to ask, at a minimum, what Arthur thought he was doing. But it's more than that. Staffers who live the logic of their internal organization and its brilliant divides sometimes fail to see what the institution as a whole is saying. The Times endorsed a man it had reason to believe would face front page scrutiny like we saw today from the news section of the Times. It is not unreasonable to ask why. The two sides don't need to coordinate if both read Drudge.

Clay Waters is the director of Times Watch, an MRC project tracking the New York Times.

It seems clear that the Times doesn't have anything left in its quiver on John McCain.  Otherwise you'd immediately be seeing more - if for no other reason so the paper could try to heal the self-inflicted damage its smear-story has caused.

Put another way, when you don't have anything else, and even your usual allies are running in the opposite direction, about the only thing you can do is bury the denial on page 20 and hope people forget it ever happened.

Maybe the best way to explain how bad this is would be to point out that, if Jayson Blair were still working for the New York Times, he'd probably have turned the story down cold.

Today's New York Times:  All the news that's fit to wrap fish with..........

free As soon as i saw the NYT story I asked, how could they endorse him a few weeks ago if they believe this story. (02/22/08)


BARACK AND HILLARY: SINGIN' THE BLUES

Ken Berwitz

Well I never felt more like cryin all night

cause everythings wrong and nuthin' aint right

What you have just read is part of the lyric line from "Singin' The Blues", a huge hit for Guy Mitchell in the mid 50's.

As I watched as much of yesterday's debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as I could take, those lines kept coming back to me. 

For well over an hour I found out that everything in this country is bad.  Not just the war (Troop surge success? What troop surge success?) and the economy (52 consecutive months of expansion and a growth rate that is the envy of the EU countries?  So what).  I found out that health care, social services, treatment of "undocumented immigrants" (you may know them as illegal aliens), education, foreign diplomacy, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam are in a complete shambles.

The fact that this doom-and-gloom-fest was run on a college campus in Austin, Texas (often referred to as a patch of blue in a sea of red)?  The fact that the audience was apparently comprised of virtually all Democrats who showered both candidates with enthusiastic applause for every attack on everything, most particularly the current President?  Well, this is CNN, isn't it?  Need I say more? 

I also found out that the one person who will cure every ill is Hillary Clinton;  when she was speaking, that is.  When Barack Obama was speaking I found out that the one person who will cure every ill is Mr. Obama.

Both candidates tried to position themselves as new, fresh agents of change, especially Mr. Obama.  But to tell you the truth, when someone says the other party's guy is a failure and he or she will make everything all better, I don't exactly see it as a new and fresh.  I see it as tired and old, with the only variable being which politician is performing the time-tested recitation.

I think my favorite line was when Hillary Clinton derisively attacked President Bush on the border fence (the one, to his discredit, that doesn't appear to be going up any time soon).  She sneeringly pointed out that if the fence went through the University of Texas in Brownsville, it would actually cut off part of the campus.  I think she referred to Mr. Bush's stance as "dumb". 

Meanwhile I'm sitting there thinking to myself that this is the University of Texas, not the University of Tex/Mex.  It is a United States school.  Could they have possibly built part of the campus across the border in another country????????? 

And if they did, WHO is dumb?????  President Bush?  Or whichever numbskull(s) signed off on building the campus across an international border? 

Needless to say, the CNN panel and the Democrat-stacked audience didn't pick up on this.  Why would they?  Too busy applauding the "everything's wrong and nuthin' ain't right" routine.

Another favorite was when Ms. Clinton tried to use a couple of minor plagiarisms by Mr., Obama to build momentum against him.  She played on one of his campaign slogans, calling it "Change you can Xerox"

The funny part is, if her opponent had been a Republican it would have worked.  Since the charge was leveled a couple of days ago, media would already have dutifully gone into overdrive to point out other egregious instances of political plagiarism and how they destroyed the ones who did it.  They would be scouring the Republican's other pronouncements to see if they could find additional plagiarisms (maybe Dan Rather could help).  It would any Republican on the defensive for weeks, maybe for the whole campaign.

But this was Democrat against Democrat, not Republican.  So it went over like a lead balloon. The audience actually cheered Obama's not-very-credible answer about it. 

Poor Hillary.  It's not as easy to run against a D- as it is an R-.

The bottom line on this debate?  Hillary Clinton needed to destroy Obama and didn't even scratch him.  To the contrary, he may have won the debate outright. 

If Ms. Clinton does not have something devastating to unload on Mr. Obama in the next week and a half?  She's finished for 2008.  All she can hope for is that Obama loses the general election so she can ride to the nomination in 2012 on a "here's a chance to correct your mistake of 2008" mantra.

Does this read as if it is in Ms. Clinton's interest for Mr. Obama to lose?  If so, good.  Because that is what I am saying. 

Maybe she'll even help things along.  It certainly would be more productive for her personal ambitions than just fading away and singin' the blues.

steve schneider give the press a little credit they did ruin joe bidens bid in the 80's when he stole lines from neal kinnock. the interesting thing about last night is that what was described as hillarys highlight, i.e. the end when she said something like everything will be a ok etc, was john edwards line, almost identical. i have yet to see anything in the press about her bout of plagerism. steve (02/22/08)


ED MORRISSEY ON BARACK OBAMA'S INTERACTION WITH TERRORISTS

Ken Berwitz

Ed Morrissey of www.captainsquartersblog.com has put together an absolutely excellent piece detailing Barack Obama's connection and interaction with unrepentant 1960's terrorists.

This is sufficiently important to be posted in its entirety.  So here it is, complete with a number of links that are equally worth reading:

Shaking Hands With Terrorists (Bump: The Hand Of Hillary?)

The Left has a big blind spot when it comes to the history of violence among its radicals in the 1960s. Rather than seeing it for what it was -- political terrorism -- and rejecting it completely, they continue to romanticize its use and rationalize its effects. Most of the bomb-throwers repented of their actions, but not all -- and two that remain proud of their terrorism may impact the presidential election, according to Politico's Ben Smith:

In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the districts influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

While Ayers and Dohrn may be thought of in Hyde Park as local activists, theyre better known nationally as two of the most notorious and unrepentant figures from the violent fringe of the 1960s anti-war movement.

Now, as Obama runs for president, what two guests recall as an unremarkable gathering on the road to a minor elected office stands as a symbol of how swiftly he has risen from the Hyde Park left to a man closing in fast on the Democratic nomination for president. ...

Obamas connections to Ayers and Dorhn have been noted in some fleeting news coverage in the past. But the visit by Obama to their homepart of a campaign courtshipreflects more extensive interaction than has previously reported.

Ayers and Dohrn belonged to the Weather Underground. They disappeared for a while after the group's activities put them on the FBI radar, and they surrendered themselves in 1980. Federal prosecutors could not put them on trial, thanks to illegal surveillance conducted by the FBI. Dohrn later served almost a year in jail for contempt of court, refusing to testify in the case of the Brinks armed robbery that left three dead, including two New York state troopers.

Have Ayers and Dohrn repented of their violent past? Hardly. Ayers told the New York Times that he didn't regret setting bombs and using violence to intimidate people into adopting their demands. Indeed, he regrets not planting more bombs to effect the change he desired. Both Ayers and Dohrn have written about their continued support for the political terrorism of the 1960s.

Which brings us to the visit of Barack Obama and the apparent blessing he received from Ayers and Dohrn. This doesn't mean that Obama professes the same support for political violence as the Weather couple, but it does show a lack of backbone in rejecting those that do. If Obama can't stand up to two discredited American terrorists in Chicago ... well, you get the drift. What does it say about Obama's politics that Ayers and Dohrn approved of him, and what does it say about Obama that he felt he needed their blessing?

Let's also look at the mainstream media disinterest in this story. Imagine what the media would report if John McCain had met with Timothy McVeigh in 1995 to secure his blessing for re-election to the Senate, or if he had met with Eric Rudolph the following year. After all, both men planted bombs to effect political change in which they completely believed. Rudolph killed about the same number of people as the Weather Underground did. None of these people ever repented of their actions.

Would the media be as understanding? Would it fall to Politico to report it, or would the New York Times have it in a two-column, front-page spread next to a picture of a smiling Barack Obama?

UPDATE & BUMP: The Blotter reports that Team Hillary has been moving this story today, but that they got a little blowback for their efforts:

The Hillary Clinton campaign pushed to reporters today stories about Barack Obama and his ties to former members of a radical domestic terrorist group -- but did not note that as president, Clinton's husband pardoned more than a dozen convicted violent radicals, including a member of the same group mentioned in the Obama stories.

"Wonder what the Republicans will do with this issue," mused Clinton spokesman Phil Singer in one e-mail to the media, containing a New York Sun article reporting a $200 contribution from William Ayers, a founding member of the 1970s group Weather Underground, to Obama in 2001.

In a separate e-mail, Singer forwarded an article from the Politico newspaper reporting on a 1995 event at a private home that brought Obama together with Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, another member of the radical group.

Unfortunately for Hillary, some of that "experience" on which she has run includes a big fat pardon to a Weather Underground bomber, Susan L. Rosenberg. Rosenberg got the pardon on the last-day flurry that also included a pardon for Marc Rich. It also recalls the fiasco of the FALN pardons, in which Hillary played a major blundering role. What a great way to get that story back in the headlines!

Still, John McCain hasn't issued pardons to domestic terrorists, and he hasn't met with them to get blessings for political campaigns, either. Singer is correct to wonder how Republicans use this information.

How many signs do we need?  Obama votes straight left in the Senate.  He belongs to a racist, separatist church whose pastor is an unabashed palestinian Arab apologist and Israel hater.  His staff is peopled with anti-Israel leftists.  He promises to cut and run from Iraq upon being elected without regard for the situation there.  He refuses to vote funding for our troops.  He is pro-amnesty for illegal aliens. And on and on and on.

When, I would like to know, do media present the totality of this picture to their readers/viewers?  Is that asking too much --- or are the (not inconsiderable number of ) those who admire this set of positions intending to "protect" voters from these facts until after the election?


"GENERAL KINSLEY"

Ken Berwitz

Michael Kinsley is one of the more hopelessly doctrinaire left wingers in this country.  And that's too bad, because he is such an intelligent man. 

If Mr. Kinsley were not so completely dedicated to fitting facts to conclusions instead of the other way around he would really be impressive.  But that's what he does, and it makes him look ridiculous.  Here, courtesy of www.slate.com, is an example of what I'm talking about.  As usual, the bold print is mine:

Defining Victory Downward

No, the surge is not a success.


Why was President Bush's decision a year ago to send another 30,000 troops to Iraq called the "surge"? I don't know who invented this label, but the word surge evokes images of the sea: a wave that sweeps in, and then sweeps back out again. The second part was crucial. What made the surge different from your ordinary troop deployment was that it was temporary. In fact, the surge was presented as part of a larger plan for troop withdrawal. It was also, implicitly, part of a deal between Bush and the majority of Americans who want out. The deal was: Just let me have a few more soldiers to get Baghdad under control, and then everybody, or almost everybody, can pack up and come home.

In other words: You have to increase the troops in order to reduce them. This is so perverse on its face that it begins to sound zenlike and brilliant, like something out of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. And in Gen. David Petraeus, the administration conjured up its own Sun Tzu, a brilliant military strategist.

It is now widely considered beyond dispute that Bush has won his gamble. The surge is a terrific success. Choose your metric: attacks on American soldiers, car bombs, civilian deaths, potholes. They're all down, down, down. Lattes sold by street vendors are up. Performances of Shakespeare by local repertory companies have tripled. Skepticism seems like sour grapes. If you opposed the surge, you have two choices. One is to admit that you were wrong, wrong, wrong. The other is to sound as if you resent all the good news and remain eager for disaster. Too many opponents of the war have chosen option No. 2.

But we needn't quarrel about all this, or deny the reality of the good news, to say that the surge has not worked yet. The test is simple, and built into the concept of a surge: Has it allowed us to reduce troop levels to below where they were when it started? The answer is no.

In fact, President Bush laid down the standard of success when he announced the surge more than a year ago: "If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home." At the time, there were about 130,000 American soldiers in Iraq. Bush proposed to add up to 20,000 more troops. Although Bush never made any official promises about a timetable, the surge was generally described as lasting six to eight months.

By last summer, the surge had actually added closer to 30,000 troops, making the total American troop count about 160,000. Today, there are still more than 150,000 American troops in Iraq. The official plan has been to get that number back down to 130,000 by July and then to keep going so that there would be about 100,000 American troops in Iraq by the time Bush leaves office. Lately, though, Gen. Petraeus has come up with another zenlike idea: He calls it a "pause." And the administration has signed on, meaning that the total number of American troops in Iraq will remain at 130,000 for an undetermined period.

So, the best that we can hope for, in terms of American troops risking their lives in Iraq, is that there will be just as many next Julyand probably next January, when time runs outas there were a year ago. The surge will have surged in and surged out, leaving us back where we started. Maybe the situation in Baghdad, or the whole country, will have improved. But apparently it won't have improved enough to risk an actual reduction in the American troop commitment.

And consider how modest the administration's standard of success has become. Can there be any doubt that they would go for a reduction to 100,000 troopsand claim victoryif they had any confidence at all that the gains they brag about would hold at that level of support? The proper comparison isn't to the situation a year ago. It's to the situation before we got there. Imagine that you had been told in 2003 that when George W. Bush finished his second term, dozens of American soldiers and hundreds of Iraqis would be dying violently every month; that a major American goal would be getting the Iraqi government to temper its "de-Baathification" campaign so that Saddam Hussein's former henchmen could start running things again (because they know how); and "only" 100,000 American troops would be needed to sustain this equilibrium. You might have several words to describe this situation, but success would not be one of them..

What a guy. 

Kinsley admits that just about everybody (but him, of course) sees the surge as a success.  But look at the sneering disdain he has for it.  Attacks on our soldiers, car bombings and civilian deaths are down --- and immediately equated with sarcasms about potholes, latte sales and performances of Shakespeare.  This is supposed to convince us of how trivial a signficant downturn in attacks and deaths are. 

Speaking personally, all it does is convince me of how small and juvenile Michael Kinsley is -- and that his opinions have no chance of being based on reason..

Then "General Kinsley"  lets us in on the true test of whether the troop surge worked - not whether Iraq is significantly more pacified or refugees are streaming back into the country or people are more and more able to resume their normal lives.  These are either brushed by or not mentioned at all.  The one and only true test is whether we can pull out fast enough.

"General Kinsley" admits we are reducing troop strength, but attacks our military experts for doing it more slowly than he would.   The fact that this strategy is being employed to consolidate the huge successes we have realized over the past year?  Irrelevant'n'immaterial.  If we don't get down to Kinsley's magical 100,000 troop level by the end of the year, regardless of consequences, the surge is a complete and utter failure. 

And suppose for the sake of discussion that we do get down to 100,000 by the end of the year.  Do you think in any way or form that Kinsley will gleefully celebrate our success the way he is gleefully celebrating his ridiculous contention that the surge is a failure?   You know better and so do I.

Sadly, in mainstream media today there are many "General Kinsleys" informing the news reportage we get.  They define as people who are delighted with any failure, real or imagined, because it gives them a chance to sneer at our military and at the President they so despise.

Whose side are the "General Kinsleys" on anyway?


ROVE UNHEEDED

Ken Berwitz

I am sitting here thinking about how badly Hillary Clinton blew last night's debate opportunity.  Specifically I am thinking of how necessary it was to attack Barack Obama successfully and how inept Ms. Clinton was when she tried to do so.

One of the most fascinating sidebars to this story is that - believe it or not - Ms. Clinton was given a brilliant blueprint of how to accomplish an Obama take-down the morning of the debate.  And, even more fascinatingly, the person providing this blueprint was Karl Rove, via an article in the Wall Street Journal. 

You can read the entire article by just clicking here.  But I have extracted the key excerpts for you below.  Take a look and see if you think Ms. Clinton would have benefitted from Mr. Rove's advice:

Obama's New Vulnerability

By KARL ROVE

In campaigns, there are sometimes moments when candidates shift ground, causing the race to change dramatically. Tuesday night was one of those moments.

Perhaps in response to criticisms that have been building in recent days, Mr. Obama pivoted Tuesday from his usual incantations. He dropped the pretense of being a candidate of inspiring but undescribed "post-partisan" change. Until now, Mr. Obama has been making appeals to the center, saying, for example, that we are not red or blue states, but the United States. But in his Houston speech, he used the opportunity of 45 (long) minutes on national TV to advocate a distinctly non-centrist, even proudly left-wing, agenda. By doing so, he opened himself to new and damaging contrasts and lines of criticism.

Mr. McCain can now question Mr. Obama's promise to change Washington by working across party lines. Mr. Obama hasn't worked across party lines since coming to town. Was he a member of the "Gang of 14" that tried to find common ground between the parties on judicial nominations? Was Mr. Obama part of the bipartisan leadership that tackled other thorny issues like energy, immigration or terrorist surveillance legislation? No. Mr. Obama has been one of the most dependably partisan votes in the Senate.

Mrs. Clinton can do much more to draw attention to Mr. Obama's lack of achievements. She can agree with Mr. Obama's statement Tuesday night that change is difficult to achieve on health care, energy, poverty, schools and immigration -- and then question his failure to provide any leadership on these or other major issues since his arrival in the Senate. His failure to act, advocate or lead on what he now claims are his priorities may be her last chance to make a winning argument.

Mr. McCain gets a chance to question Mr. Obama's declaration he won't be beholden to lobbyists and special interests. After Mr. Obama's laundry list of agenda items on Tuesday night, Mr. McCain can ask why, if Mr. Obama rejects the influence of lobbyists, has he not broken with any lobbyists from the left fringe of the Democratic Party? Why is he doing their bidding on a range of issues? Perhaps because he occupies the same liberal territory as they do.

The truth is that Mr. Obama is unwilling to challenge special interests if they represent the financial and political muscle of the Democratic left. He says yes to the lobbyists of the AFL-CIO when they demand card-check legislation to take away the right of workers to have a secret ballot in unionization efforts, or when they oppose trade deals. He won't break with trial lawyers, even when they demand the ability to sue telecom companies that make it possible for intelligence agencies to intercept communications between terrorists abroad. And he is now going out of his way to proclaim fidelity to the educational unions. This is a disappointment since he'd earlier indicated an openness to education reform. Mr. Obama backs their agenda down the line, even calling for an end to testing, which is the only way parents can know with confidence whether their children are learning and their schools working.

These stands represent not just policy vulnerabilities, but also a real danger to Mr. Obama's credibility and authenticity. He cannot proclaim his goal is the end of influence for lobbies if the only influences he seeks to end are lobbies of the center and the right.

Unlike Bill Clinton in 1992, Mr. Obama is completely unwilling to confront the left wing of the Democratic Party, no matter how outrageous its demands, no matter how out of touch it might be with the American people. And Tuesday night, in a key moment in this race, he dropped the pretense that his was a centrist agenda. His agenda is the agenda of the Democratic left.

In recent days, courtesy of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Mr. Obama has invoked the Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin Roosevelt to show the power of words. But there is a critical difference between Mr. Obama's rhetoric and that of Jefferson, King and FDR. In each instance, their words were used to advance large, specific purposes -- establishing a new nation based on inalienable rights; achieving equal rights and a color-blind society; giving people confidence to endure a Great Depression. For Mr. Obama, words are merely a means to hide a left-leaning agenda behind the cloak of centrist rhetoric. That garment has now been torn. As voters see what his agenda is, his opponents can now far more effectively question his authenticity, credibility, record and fitness to be leader of the free world.

Ok, I admit a couple of these strategies would have had to be dropped or toned down to account for the fact that the Democratic party's hardline base is pretty much owned and operated by the Sorosians of moveon.org, crooksandliars.com and dailykos.com.  But it stands as a treasure trove of intelligence on how to bring down Obama entirely on issues and performance.

Look at it this way:  Ms. Clinton considers George Bush a dummy and a failure.  She tells us that the only way this dummy and failure became President was due to the strategic skills of Karl Rove.  That would make Rove an incomparable political strategist, wouldn't it?

If so, why in the world would she not sop up Rove's insights like a dry sponge?  If they could win the presidency for a dummy and failure they sure as (deleted) would give her something to work with, wouldn't they?

Remember that old stock market advertising classic;  "When E. F. Hutton Talks, People Listen"?  Well, in political strategy, it seems to me that when Karl Rove talks politicians should listen.  Even Democrats looking to win a primary battle.

Hubby Bill would have hung on every word.


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