THE DAILY BLADE: McCain And Clinton: The Comeback Kids
John McCain (R-AZ) swept OH, RI, TX and VT by huge margins to secure his party’s nomination for the presidency, while Hillary Clinton (D-NY) staved Barack Obama (D-IL) off with double-digit margins in OH and VT and a narrow win in the TX primary (as of this writing, the TX caucuses have not been called, but she is behind by four percentage points).
McCain blew past the magic number of 1,191 delegates, and ended the evening with 1,226. Hillary trails Obama in delegates (1,365 to 1,451 by CNN’s reckoning) – as Obama did not hesitate to point out when he conceded OH and RI to Hillary (“No matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning”).
But Hillary was able to blunt his momentum, create doubts in voters’ minds about whether he is tough enough to be Commander-in-Chief, and make the case that Obama hasn’t closed the sale.
Obama claims that he will not answer Hillary’s attacks on his experience and resoluteness with negative attacks of his own on her experience and honesty, but the two are now locked into a duel to the death. One can imagine armies of oppo researchers already hitting the ground in Chicago and Little Rock to ferret out any damaging information they can for the next wave of negative ads and Drudge Report leaks (second item).
This is all great news for McCain, who can concentrate on building support amongst the conservative base while Hillary and Obama spend the next seven weeks tearing each other down.
McCain won OH 60 percent vs. 31 percent; RI 65 percent to 22 percent; TX 51 percent to 38 percent; and VT 72 percent to 14 percent. Early exit polling indicated that McCain won the majority of votes amongst Republicans in both OH and TX, as well as conservatives in OH; McCain and Huckabee split the conservative vote in TX, as well as the evangelical and born-again Christian vote in both states. According to Fox News, there are so few Republicans in RI and VT that it’s not worth trying to figure out who voted for one candidate instead of the other and why.
As he repeatedly said he would, Mike Huckabee (R-AR) has dropped out of the race and promised to support McCain’s candidacy and help him unite the party (video link).
On the Dem side, Hillary won OH 54 percent vs. Obama’s 44 percent; TX 51to 48; and RI 58 percent to 40 percent. Obama won VT 60 percent to 38 percent.
Except for ulta-liberal, rabidly anti-war VT - where Obama cut deeply into Hillary’s core strength amongst white women and blue collar workers - voters in the other states reverted to the familiar patterns seen in earlier contests. Obama got eight of 10 black votes in OH and TX, while Hillary got six out of 10 white votes in both states and two-thirds of the Hispanic vote in TX. In OH and TX Obama got the youth vote, Hillary got the senior citizen vote; college graduates went for Obama, those who never got past high school supported Hillary; voters making a six-figure income supported Obama, those earning less than $50K a year supported Hillary – it appears this group brushed off Obama’s attacks on Hillary about her support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The results in RI were in line with those in the other two states.
This time out, however, instead of Obama making inroads into Hillary’s core supporters the reverse happened. In past primaries and caucuses, Obama had won independents and liberals, but in OH and TX Hillary split both groups with Obama. And her tough talk these past few days about Obama not being prepared to be Commander-in-Chief seems to have put some voters off Obama. In OH and TX roughly six out of 10 voters who made their minds up within the past week voted for Clinton.
In her victory speech in OH – which was repeatedly interrupted by the crowd chanting “Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will!” - Hillary vowed to take her campaign to PA and beyond (“millions of Americans haven't spoken yet. In states like Pennsylvania and so many others, people are watching this historic campaign, and they want their turn to help make history”). In a Washington Post-ABC News Poll, 67 percent of Dems – and nine out of 10 of her supporters – said that if she won either OH or TX she should stay in the race. She did - and yes, she will.
Dem party Pooh-Bahs who were girding their loins to brave Hillary’s wrath to convince her to abandon her quest for the good of the party will have to stand down for now. And while Hillary is expected to lose the WY caucus on Saturday and the MS primary Tuesday of the coming week, if she can win the PA primary on April 22nd she will be ahead in the popular vote and can credibly challenge Obama’s claim to be the party’s nominee based on his delegate lead.
Harvard: Only Muslim Women Are “Modest” Enough To Warrant Special Accommodation
For a month now, Harvard University has been banning men – exercisers and staff alike - from one of its gyms from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and 8 a.m.to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays so as not to offend the sensibilities of Muslim women, who apparently believe that they have the market cornered on modesty. It never occurred to Harvard that women who are infidels – that is to say, Christians and Jews - aren't just a just bunch of whores who don’t mind getting sweaty in front of the opposite sex while flaunting their bodies in unflattering exercise togs. An Associated Press reporter who visited the gym Monday afternoon found no Muslim women using the facility, and was unable to reach any of the six who requested the special accommodation. Infidels of both genders are unhappy with the new policy – women think it’s sexist, men wonder why one room can’t be set aside for the Muslim women to use so as not to inconvenience everyone else. Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper – who once opined that Christians should pray to Allah – doesn’t think this latest example of dhimmitude in a Western democracy is any big deal.
Some people are freakin’ over a billboard campaign by PA-based convenience store chain Sheetz Inc. that ends today advertising it’s “Crispy Frickin' Chicken.” Edgy or offensive? The Stiletto votes “edgy,” but the whole friggin’ brouhahah over “frickin’” got her thinking about how newsworthy the topic of words has become of late:
† Townhall.com columnist Rich Tucker points out that all too often “politicians and political reporters … use violent metaphors.” For instance, “Candidates are said to have a ‘war chest’ to pay for their bid. Debates trigger a ‘war of words.’ Contenders promise to ‘fight to the finish.’” He adds that, “when a reporter describes a mere political spat as a ‘bloodbath over NAFTA’ (CNN’s Dana Bash), she’s making it more difficult for Americans to keep things in perspective.”
† Lobbying is a form of speech, as Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer reminds readers:
Everyone knows the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. How many remember that, in addition, the First Amendment protects a fifth freedom - to lobby?
Of course it doesn't use the word lobby. It calls it the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Lobbyists are people hired to do that for you, so that you can actually stay home with the kids and remain gainfully employed rather than spend your life in the corridors of Washington. …
Lobbying is constitutionally protected, but that doesn't mean we have to like it all. Let's agree to frown upon bad lobbying, such as getting a tax break for a particular industry. Let's agree to welcome good lobbying - the actual redress of a legitimate grievance - such as protecting your home from being turned to dust to make way for some urban development project.
† K. A. Dilday, who writes for online magazine Open Democracy, explains in a New York Times op-ed the difference between “black” and “African-American”:
I was black in Mississippi in the 1970s but sometime in the 1980s I became African-American, with a brief pause at Afro-American. Someone, I think it was Jesse Jackson, in the days when he had that kind of clout, managed to convince America that I preferred being African-American. I don’t.
Now I live in Britain where I’m black again. Blacks in Britain come from all over, although many are from the former colonies. According to the last census, about half of the British people who identify as black say they are black Caribbean, about 40 percent consider themselves black African, and the rest just feel plain old black. …
The term African-American was contrived to give black Americans a sense of having a historical link to Africa, since one of slavery’s many unhappy legacies is that most black Americans don’t know particulars about their origins. Black Americans whose ancestors arrived after slavery and who can pinpoint their country of origin are excluded from the definition - which is why, early in his campaign, people said Barack Obama wasn’t really African-American. Yet, since he has one parent from the African continent and one from the American continent, he is explicitly African-American.
† Former Bush 43 speechwriter-turned columnist Michael Gerson elucidates the reasons “rhetoric” and “folderol” are not synonymous in political speeches:
The construction of serious speeches forces candidates (or presidents) to grapple with their own beliefs, even when they don't write every word themselves. If those convictions cannot be marshaled in the orderly battalions of formal rhetoric, they are probably incoherent.
The triumph of shoddy, thoughtless spontaneity is the death of rhetorical ambition. A memorable, well-crafted speech includes historical references that cultivate national memory and unity – “Four score and seven years ago.” It makes use of rhythm and repetition to build enthusiasm and commitment – “I have a dream.” And a great speech finds some way to rephrase the American creed, describing an absolute human equality not always evident to the human eye.
† Columbia Journalism Review’s Dean Starkman takes journalists and pundits to task for using “populist” when they mean “progressive” or “liberal”:
[B]ig media needs to stop using the word “populist” to describe Democrats’ economic programs and their appeals to voters. …
Historians have been fighting for decades over how to define and characterize even what is meant by the uppercase “Populist” movement, the nineteenth-century agrarian revolt that … favored looser credit, government control of railroads, single terms for the president, and popular referendums. …
But that’s where the agreement stops and disputes begin. Was Populism anti-capitalist and backward-looking, a “provincial movement that harbored dangerous tendencies, like anti-Semitism,” or “a positive force for constructive reform” …
How much more vague is the lower-case “populist”?
H. Ross Perot, George Wallace, Lou Dobbs, and Fox News all could be described as populist, but they have … little to do with each other.
What do reporters and editors mean by that term? Whatever it is, I know they do not use “populist” to mean “sophisticated,” “prudent,” “sound,” “responsible,” “growth-oriented,” or “investor friendly.”
† Washington Post columnist Colbert King complains that in the Dem debate in Cleveland, “Clinton wouldn't quit until Obama said that he would ‘reject and denounce’ the endorsement of his candidacy by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.”
Obama obliged (“Tim, I have to say I don't see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. ... But if the word `reject' Sen. Clinton feels is stronger than the word `denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce") , if only to mollify Hillary so they could get off the prickly issue. As a bonus, Obama made Hillary look like a petty hair-splitter. But Adam Freedman, who writes the Legal Lingo column for New York Law Journal Magazine, takes Hillary’s side that “reject” and “denounce” are not, in fact, interchangeable:
“Denounce,” which comes from the Latin nuntiare (“to make known”) and is thus related to such words as “announce” and “pronounce,” means “to declare a person or thing to be wicked or evil.” In many contexts, denounce is a much stronger verb than reject. While a rejection can be accomplished privately, denunciation is an inherently public act. …
But in this context, “reject” implies an even more thorough rebuke, which is perhaps why Mr. Obama initially resisted the word. Reject derives from the Latin reicere, “to throw back.” To reject something means to refuse to receive, accept or even recognize it. You hurl it back, literally or metaphorically. …
Both “reject” and “denounce” are transitive verbs - they act upon a direct object - but the candidates weren’t talking about the same objects. The object of Mr. Obama’s denunciation was Mr. Farrakhan’s opinions, particularly his anti-Semitic comments, whereas Mrs. Clinton was urging her opponent to reject the minister’s support. The thrust of Mrs. Clinton’s challenge was that her opponent was merely highlighting a particular disagreement with Mr. Farrakhan, while still accepting his - and his organization’s - backing.
Finally, what would words be without punctuation? Probably indecipherable as to meaning and intent. A recent New York Times article lauds the proper use of a semicolon in - of all places - a New York City subway train. A public service placard urged riders to dispose of their unwanted newspapers properly: “Please put it in a trash can; that’s good news for everyone.” A reporter tracked down the author of the placard, New York City Transit marketing manager Neil Neches, 55, who had learned all about semicolons in the third grade - he also majored in English at Brooklyn College and has a master’s degree in creative writing. Some people eschew the semicolon because they never learned how and when to use it.