"Here I come to save the day ..."

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

We've got a new Think Again column here called "An Unhealthy Dialogue on Health Care," and a new Nation here column called "Love Me, I'm a Liberal."

Um, hello ... President Gore? The Note asks:

Could Florida and Michigan matter again? "Barack Obama's advisers are anticipating the possibility of a Democratic presidential race deadlocked past the last primary, and the outcome may hinge on a fight over whether delegations from Florida and Michigan get seats at the party's national convention in Denver," Bloomberg's Catherine Dodge and Alex Tanzi write.

Among those fearing the prospect of a brokered convention: DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "I think we will have a nominee sometime in the middle of March or April," Dean said in an interview on New York 1, per the New York Sun.

"But if we don't, then we're going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of an arrangement. Because I don't think we can afford to have a brokered convention -- that would not be good news for either party."

(Would a pre-brokered convention be that much better? And who's got the juice to force either Obama or Clinton out of the race? Try finding a party elder who doesn't have a horse.)

Speaking of which, I need to revise my tentative assessment of Clinton being the slight favorite from yesterday owing to her institutional support and her campaign's experience. That dollar gap is pretty damn large. Money isn't everything, of course, but it sure is something. I'm back to having no idea whatever who will win ... (But in any case, read the mail below. It's excellent.)

What Digby said:

But [Bob] Somerby points out something very strange. Like me, his dead tree version of the New York Times has this nasty line:

Even though Obama stopped smoking when he started running for president, he has lost five pounds racing around the country. Just like Hollywood starlets, he works out religiously and he can make a three-course meal out of a Nicorette.

It's missing from the online version. Somerby says it's also missing from Lexis-Nexis. How did that happen? And why?

I should point out that it doesn't make any difference. She [Maureen Dowd] still portrays him as a silly naive lightweight up against the cunning gorgon. But this paragraph was removed for a reason and it would be interesting to hear what it was. Did her editors finally step in and say she'd gone too far? Can we hope for more?

George Zornick writes: To fend off funding cuts over the past seven years, PBS has done quite a bit -- some good things (lobbying and public pressure) and some very bad things (giving the Wall Street Journal editorial board its own show). Each year the Bush administration has responded with more proposed cuts in funding. This year the White House is taking it up a notch, proposing a 50 percent budget cut in 2009, a reduction greater than 50 percent in 2010, and no funding allocated for 2011, even though typically PBS is funded three years in advance to insulate it from political influence. I suppose that's the point here.

The right has always targeted PBS as a bastion of leftist activism, but where that appears during NewsHour with Jim Lehrer or Bill Moyers' aggressive investigations of government corruption and inequality, it's not clear. Lobbying Congress to reverse the cuts has been successful in past years, and it's going to take a very serious effort this time around. If that doesn't do the trick, let's hope Michelle Malkin's agent isn't in the PBS Rolodex ...

Another network badly in need of a financial help is Fox Business Network. According to the New York Daily News, only 6,000 people are watching the network during weekdays. (That's not a typo; all the zeroes are there.)

We wrote in Think Again last fall that the new network was taking an eternally optimistic, everything-is-beautiful approach to business reporting. Whoda thunk that wouldn't have an audience these days?

Solomon Watch: The new head of The Washington Times, John Solomon, sent out a memo upon taking over, instructing staffers not to waver from a "neutral, civil voice." Where does dubbing Barack Obama a "black horse" candidate fit into that?

Solomon's paper is also continuing their new chief's tradition of "highlighting" facts that "the blogs" find problematic. This time, the paper, in an editorial, highlighted a quote from Obama decrying the treatment of late-term fetuses as people. How could he be so "cold-blooded," the editorial asked? Well, actually, the quote in question was not related to late-term fetuses, but was taken from a speech where Obama referred to previable fetuses that shouldn't be treated as people, which a bill was proposing, which of course would negate Roe. At least Solomon is consistent.

Is Irene Nemirovsky a Jewish anti-Semite? Here. Actually, I'm equally interested in why people think she's such a great writer. I could not finish that book ...

From Social Research:

The Global Challenge to Academic and Intellectual Freedom

Thursday, February 7, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
The New School
Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12th Street. Directions.
Admission: Free. Reception to follow.
RSVP to socres@newschool.edu or 212.229.5776 x3121

Learn firsthand about the plight of endangered scholars around the world from a panel of scholars who have faced imprisonment, been forced into exile from their home countries to escape persecution, or were denied a visa to speak in the United States.

AKBAR GANJI, investigative journalist, professor, and writer (Iran)

MEHRANGIZ KAR, human rights attorney, writer and activist; Visiting Scholar at Wellesley College (Iran)

BERHANU NEGA, international scholar in residence, Economics, Bucknell University; Mayor-elect of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

DONNY GEORGE YOUKHANNA, former director general of the National Museum in Baghdad; former chairman of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage; former president, Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage; visiting professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University (Iraq)

ADAM HABIB via video-conference, deputy vice-chancellor of Research, Innovation and Advancement, University of Johannesburg; executive director, Democracy & Governance research programme, Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (South Africa)

Moderated by: SAMANTHA POWER, Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University

This event is the first of several that will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the University in Exile at The New School and announces the new feature in Social Research, "Endangered Scholars Worldwide." Cosponsored by Social Research: An International Journal of the Social Sciences and The New School for Social Research.

For additional information on the Endangered Scholars Worldwide initiative, please visit www.newschool.edu/endangeredscholars.

This Week on Moyers:

Thousands have weighed in on The Moyers Blog to suggest one book the next president should take to the White House. Bill Moyers reviews the submissions for essential presidential reading. Also on the program, one of the nation's leading experts on media and politics, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, separates the fact from the spin in the Super Tuesday results. And, one of America's most prominent conservative evangelicals, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, gives his perspective on the role faith is playing in this campaign season and his take on what's happening with the evangelical vote in the primaries. Rodriguez, who has voiced his support for a moral, biblical response to the issue of immigration, is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Great songs from every year. Amazing site.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Chuck
Hometown: Kansas City

An observation on Super Tuesday from the Kansas City suburbs in one of the reddest states, Kansas, where 62% voted for Bush in 2004... there's something happening here, as the Dem caucuses had an unexpectedly high turnout, many folks had to stand in line for a half hour or more to register or change their party affiliation to participate, some waiting in a cold drizzle outside, to caucus for Obama by a 3 to 1 margin.

I was at a local high school, sitting in an overflow room with other Obama supporters, only about 10% of which were people of color, and frankly surprised that this could ever happen in my lifetime.

John McCain has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination. My sense is if Hillary manages to secure the Democratic nomination, the general election in the fall will be a repeat of 2004, the much loved by the media McCain vs. another Dem candidate with too much baggage, was for the war before she was against it, the establishment candidate. And many young voters or independents won't care to vote. Another election that will hinge on Florida, Ohio, or Missouri. Can we stop doing the same things over again, expecting different results?

Name: Mark Richard
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

To Altercation,

Re Paul Goode, it's possible Dean Acheson didn't like Lyndon Johnson because Dean Acheson was a Groton boy, but that didn't stop Acheson from adoring Harry Truman, whose background was at least as humble as that of LBJ. Denis Healey, no opponent of left-leaning politics or their more rough-and-tumble proponents, described Johnson as a 'monster' in his memoirs. For many of us who did not go to Groton, and who share some similarities of class with Johnson, LBJ is still the worst president of the postwar era, with the possible exception of Nixon -- if one judges by outcomes rather than intentions.

Richard Nixon came from a pretty deprived background, too, and there can be no doubt that much of the antipathy toward him when he entered politics was class-based. But that's not the only reason he was disliked.

Name: Tim Wilkinson
Hometown: Brighton, UK

Mr Alterman,

In your recent exchange with the egregious Alan Dershowitz in The Nation, you conceded a point too many. His claim to have opposed the Iraq war is false, as I show in this article (the first three paragraphs are background and can be skipped).

Should this particular altercation continue, please challenge him on this.

(FYI, his latest strategy in response to the article is to claim that he opposed the war in about 20 public speeches. He ignores the issue of how a topic important enough to make 20 public speeches about never found its way into his prolific written output.)

Name: Ed Mulligan
Hometown: Springfield, VA

I agree with you that Obama is probably more electable vs. McCain than HRC, but I disagree that McCain would be a "slight favorite'' against her. The likelihood that we will be in recession or near recession during most of this year's campaign badly damages McCain since he has little affinity for economics and is even less interested in domestic affairs than George H.W. Bush was. Add to that the real possibility that the winding down of the Surge may end the recent "success'' in Iraq, and McCain would find himself in political quicksand.

I am not sure why McCain does better with antiwar Republicans than Romney and Huckabee, but I would guess that since most of the antiwar Republicans (excluding Paul supporters) are probably moderate and the most ardent supporters of the Iraq disaster are dead-from-the-neck-up rightwingers who despise McCain, the more rational moderates and traditional conservatives have nowhere to go but with McCain.

Name: Matt
Hometown: Delaware

Mr. Alterman:

I understand what you're saying in point #2 about Obama's electability, but I would point out that Democrats have been choosing the most "electable" candidates and haven't won. I personally would like to see everyone stop talking about electability and just let the process play itself out.

Name: Bob Tallman
Hometown: Crestwood, KY

Doc,

I think Wes Clark is the perfect fit for Obama. Anti-war yet from the Clinton camp; a selection that would unify the party. Tons of experience, command experience, to offset GOP attacks on Obama's lack thereof.

I don't see this potential ticket being discussed much so please start the drum banging.

I think Clinton primary voters will vote for Obama in the general, I am worried Obama supporters will not turn out to the same extent. I am excited to vote for Obama. A vote for Hillary, however, would be like a trip to the dentist, good for me but pardon my lack of enthusiasm.

"Change the mindset that got us into this war"

What bigger change and difference between the two candidates could there possibly be?

Name: Steve
Hometown: Morrisville, NC

As an Obama-leaning (Hillary non-hater) I concur with your evaluation of the results and the likelihood of success of Dem candidates against St. John. It's a long road though from Super yesterday to November -- I think its likely that the press now so very much in love with McCain will fall out of love with him by this summer (and perhaps back in love in the fall). He stands the best chance against either Dem, but even he can't maintain nine months of adoring press. And methinks the incredible turnout for the Dem primaries means, well, something good for us.

I will disagree regarding the idea that a Gore endorsement "might remake this entire contest." That story might bang around the news cycle for a couple of days, but it wouldn't change many minds.

And thanks for the Tift Merritt plug -- it's about time she got a little notice.

Name: Rob Breymaier
Hometown: Oak Park, IL

Eric,

As you point out, "the fact that Hispanics do not vote for Blacks in large numbers is really troubling." As a civil rights advocate, this has been one of the toughest issues to deal with -- creating a coalition on social justice issues that voluntarily (or really) includes African Americans and other people of color. We're still striving for that here in the Chicago area and actually caught a glimpse of it during the Harold Washington administration. Alas, as (white) Latinos begin to outnumber (non-Latino) African Americans it seems almost like an impossible task. Of course, white Anglos provide the structure by accepting other people of color more readily than African Americans into their neighborhoods, schools, and power structures.

My hope is that we can still achieve progressive and multiracial/multi-ethnic solidarity that ensures progress for everyone. But, the results from Tuesday leave me wondering if it's an impossible dream.

Name: Steve Hampton
Hometown: Dover DE

Dear Dr Alterman,

Is it possible that your projection of McCain over Clinton by a small margin in the general election underestimates the electorate? All polls show the public to be very dissatisfied with the way things are going, and I can see that unhappiness turning into votes against McCain, as someone who would give us status quo.

My sample is small, but I sense extreme antipathy against Bush, even by many who were true believers.

Name: Charles Perez
Hometown: Marion, NY

You say, in reference to how close you think any matchup between McCain and either Clinton or Obama, "...the media, and the public tend not to hold candidates responsible for their parties; crazy, but true."

But I wonder, in the general election, should either Dem really hammer McCain on his record and his "anger management problems," which don't seem to be getting much MSM airtime, could he maintain his polling strength? Simply playing the "in Iraq for a hundred years" clip over and over would be devastating. Anything showing him sucking up to Bush could only hurt him. Is there any CSPAN video of him losing his cool, any personal anectdotes from witnesses who would talk on-the-record?

Of course Dems have never been known for fighting back, but that appears to be changing. And maybe I'm hoping against hope. But things change, right? Isn't that what this whole election has come down to - change?

Name: Martin
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

hi Eric

So you're playing guitar! Please do tell. What is it? A Telecaster? A Stratocaster? Given your love of Bruce, I'm guessing it must be a Tele? And Strats are too swanky, aren't they? Les Pauls are too heavy and expensive. OK, what color? A red one? For the movement? If you don't have a red Tele, then cut off my legs and call me shorty. Good on ya.

Eric replies: Nope, Strat. I'm a classicist, after all.

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