I'm going to start off with a quick piece of advice for both Democratic campaigns (or perhaps for Howard Dean) -- spend the next few weeks taping everything John McCain says publicly. He is in the midst of shoring up his support in the Republican conservative base, and hence will be in full pander mode. Tape everything that comes out of his mouth during this period, because you are going to need it as ammunition for campaign ads this fall. After he locks up his party, he's going to try to tack back to the moderate middle, and the voters will need to be reminded of how desperately he courted the far right wing of his party.
Like I said, this advice should be followed by both Obama and Clinton now, so they'll have the footage to use later, no matter which of them becomes the eventual Democratic nominee.
And one more thing to drive a wedge between McCain and his party -- both Clinton and Obama should begin questioning John McCain's position on torture. This backs him into a corner, because he's (obviously, and with good reason) against it, but his base feels differently about it. Forcing him to talk about it, after the Bush administration this week admitted that it had waterboarded prisoners, is an excellent way to weaken him even further with the GOP base right now.
Having said that, we'll briefly move on to some quick picks (for the races this weekend), and then onward to this week's Friday Talking Points.
This weekend's primary picks
Just so you know, very little polling has been done in any of the primary states this weekend, so on both sides of the aisle, I'm going on little more than throwing a dart at the wall.
Republicans have three contests tomorrow, Kansas, Louisiana, and Washington state. While Washington is easy to call for John McCain, the other two are tossups, in my opinion. Louisiana is part of the South, which up until now has been Huckabee country. McCain seems favored to win here, though. But Romney pulling out of the race has made the race impossible to predict with any degree of certainty. I'm going to go out on a limb and call the Pelican State for Huckabee. I also predict that Huckabee will stun everyone by winning Kansas as well. He got an important endorsement from the state's most influential anti-abortion group, which means a lot in Kansas.
Unfortunately, the bad news for Huckabee is that there just aren't that many Bible-belt states left which haven't voted yet. His campaign will be buried under McCain's momentum from this point on, but look for Huckabee to have a very good night on Saturday.
Democrats have five contests this weekend. Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, and the Virgin Islands all vote tomorrow, and then Maine caucuses on Sunday.
Louisiana is pretty obviously in Obama's column. Nebraska and Washington both hold caucuses, which Obama has been consistently winning, so I'm going to hand both of those states to him as well.
While I volunteered to several polling operations to spend a week polling the electorate on the sunny beaches of the Virgin Islands, they all turned me down. So there is virtually no data on how they're going to vote. I'm going to hand this to Obama, for absolutely no reason at all.
But after an Obama sweep on Saturday, I predict that Hillary Clinton will take Maine on Sunday. Even though it too is a caucus state, I think they'll vote closer to the results in New Hampshire and Massachusetts than the rest of the country. So I'm chalking up Maine for Clinton.
After doing pretty well calling Super Tuesday, let's look at my tote board so far (numbers don't include New Mexico Democratic race, because apparently they haven't finished counting the votes yet).
Total correct Democratic picks so far: 19 for 33 (58%).
Total correct Republican picks so far: 26 for 39 (67%).
Total overall correct picks: 45 for 72 -- 62.5%.
This week saw a virtual tie between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in Super Tuesday, and so this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award will also go to both equally.
Hillary and Barack have both run competent campaigns, and have gained a lot of support from various different Democratic demographics. But for the most part, it has been a race to select the best of two good choices, instead of a depressing choice between candidates destined to lose in November. The momentum is on the Democrats' side as we head into Election 2008, and people everywhere are counting the days until Bush is gone from the Oval Office -- when one of these two Democrats can begin the fumigation process necessary to restore America to her ideals again.
So both campaigns should pat themselves on the back for making it this far, and providing a fascinating race for us to watch. Well done, Barack and Hillary! You have earned this week's split decision MIDOTW award with your persistence.
Senator Jay Rockefeller IV, continuing his crusade on behalf of letting phone companies spy on us at will, may have let something slip during a recent floor speech:
Unlike traditional [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] application orders which involve collection on one individual target, the new FISA provisions create a system of collection. The courts' role in this system of collection is not to consider probable cause on individual targets but to ensure that procedures used to collect intelligence are adequate. The courts' determination of the adequacy of procedures therefore impacts all electronic communications gathered under the new mechanisms, even if it involves thousands of targets.
Got that? We need to legalize not just "terrorist surveillance" of individual targets, but a "system of collection" for "thousands of targets." No word yet from Harry Reid, but he's been Rocky IV's enabler all along, so don't be surprised at what Reid does next on the bill.
But for the record-breaking fourth time, Rocky IV gets the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. For shame!
[Contact Senator Rockefeller on his Senate contact page to let him know what you think of his actions.]
Volume 18 (2/8/08)
This one is first, because it is the most important. Democrats everywhere should immediately stop using the word "waterboarding" and call it what it is: "water torture." This will be a challenge to the news media to start using the term. Every time the subject comes up, refuse to use the term "waterboarding," and immediately interject: "Oh, you mean water torture." Waterboarding sounds like something California kids do in the surf. Water torture leaves no doubt, and accurately describes the practice. If everyone starts using this term, it will eventually be picked up by the media itself. Fortunately, it comes with its own little storyline:
"When talking about the practice some like to call 'waterboarding,' I myself prefer to use the term from the original Spanish: 'tortura del agua.' That's what Torquemada called it when he used it in the Spanish Inquisition, and that's what I call it today: 'water torture.'"
This tactic is officially known as "damning with faint praise." While seeming to say something nice about John McCain, condemn him in the eyes of his own party.
"John McCain has come out quite forcefully against America torturing prisoners. He has also condemned the use of water torture. The rest of the Republican Party seems to have wandered into the swamp of moral relativism on the issue, which I think is sad. Republicans used to denounce moral relativists, but somewhere they took a very amoral path on this issue. It's a good thing for America that whoever is elected our next Commander-in-Chief will stop this disgusting practice."
In the past few years, people (especially in Congress) have developed "outrage fatigue" due to the cloud of illegality which hangs over almost everything the Bush Administration does. Add to this the absolute contempt Bush and Cheney have for any oversight by anyone at all, and you have an out-of-control Executive Branch of our government. Congress has proven time and time again in the past year that they are incapable of ferreting all of this corruption out. So Democrats need to take it to the next level, and begin (loudly!) to call for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.
"The Bush White House has amassed a huge list of possible crimes: torturing prisoners, disappearing CIA tapes which filmed such torture, illegal warrantless wiretapping, the manipulation of intelligence in the push for war with Iraq, tens of millions of emails which were intentionally erased, and the hundreds upon hundreds of 'signing statements' which the President thinks nullify laws Congress passes, the most recent of which was a ban on building permanent bases in Iraq. This cannot go on, and it is our duty to see what specific crimes have been committed. I call on all responsible members of Congress to join me in asking for a Special Prosecutor to fully investigate all these issues, so we can repair the damage done to the Constitution starting right now."
The GOP's Enron accounting
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is the group in charge of raising money to get Republicans elected to the House of Representatives. It seems they have a little accounting scandal on their hands.
"The NRCC is apparently using Enron's accounting methods to keep track of their money. Just goes to show that Republicans can't even be fiscally responsible with their own campaign funds. We urge all donors to the NRCC to send their money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee instead, where we promise you we will put it to good use."
People of Texas -- stay inside!
Vice President Cheney is reportedly hunting again at the same place in Texas where he... you know... shot that guy. This should be a laugh line for the candidates on the campaign trail:
"We will need every voter we can get in Texas' primary, so I caution all Texans that the Vice President is armed and dangerous, and at large in your state. Be warned!"
Peace and prosperity?
President Bush said an extraordinary thing this week, in front of a group of the arch-i-est of arch-conservatives. Bush, in his own words:
"Listen, the stakes in November are high. This is an important election. Prosperity and peace are in the balance."
This is a piece of cake to turn around, for any Democrat speaking anywhere on the campaign trail or being interviewed anywhere:
"We couldn't agree more with President Bush when he says this is an important election and that peace and prosperity are in the balance. Republicans are offering up endless war, and doing nothing about an economy that stinks. The choice is simple. Voting for peace and prosperity means voting Democratic, Mr. Bush."
Crab Cake Tuesday
Does every Tuesday with a primary have to have its own name? Just when we got "Super Tuesday" straightened out last week, there is now a battle for what to call the Washington D.C. / Maryland / Virginia primary day. First the pundit world began calling it "Chesapeake Tuesday" but then someone evidently looked at a map and discovered that this left D.C. out, so they came up with "Potomac Tuesday" instead. Now an even worse moniker has entered the fray; "Beltway Tuesday." All three states do indeed touch the Potomac River, and while only two touch the Beltway, the third is surrounded by it.
But last night I heard the best name yet, which is one I think everyone should get behind immediately -- "Crab Cake Tuesday." Who doesn't love crab cakes?
And with that, we have come to the end of yet another Friday Talking Points. Until next week....
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com