I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Liar, Liar, Your Campaign Is On Fire

In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise, surprise”; Senator Hillary Clinton is caught in a lie. The surprise is not that she was lying about the details of her trip to Bosnia as First Lady in 1996, but the fact that the news media actually exposed it. Although they did sit on the story for nearly 4 months before “discovering” that they had video of her trip that directly contradicted the presidential hopeful’s claims. Clinton claimed that she was prepared for the unexpected decisions that a president must make because of her experience as First Lady. Over the course of the past few months, she has used her trip to Bosnia to attempt to prove that point.

Her version of the events of the Bosnia visit was that the plane that she and her daughter Chelsea were flying on had to “corkscrew in to land” because of sniper fire. Once on the ground they had to run with their heads down to escape the sniper fire. The news footage shows a starkly differently story. It shows Clinton being greeted by an 8 year old girl on the tarmac, strolling over to a vehicle and then finally entering the vehicle to be driven away. The military is also discrediting Clinton’s claims, taking issue that they would ever endanger a First Lady, and especially the child of a President, by flying them into a dangerous situation.

Hillary has admitted that she “misspoke” about the incident and that she remembers being warned of sniper attacks in the area. How does one go from a sniper warning to running for cover with their daughter? Was she confusing the trip with another one where she did have to run and duck? If so, which trip is she speaking of? I believe that she expected that the news media would not bring the truth to light. After all, she has been telling the story for months with no one calling her bluff. During her husband’s tenure in the oval office, the media regaled us with “journalistic” pieces on the merits of lying. The Clinton campaign is realizing that the media love affair with everything Clinton is over.

Senator Barak Obama has also been caught stretching the truth. In the wake of his pastor’s inflammatory sermons controversy, Obama claimed to have never been aware of anything incendiary that Reverend Wright had said. During his speech a few days later, which he tried to shift the focus off of Wright, he said that he was aware of the pastor’s statements and that he could not disavow Wright. He even equated Wright to his own grandmother, claiming that she had made some rather bigoted statements in the past. In a later interview he called his grandmother’s views that of a typical white person. The trouble with Barak’s claims about his grandmother, is that in his own book, Dreams From My Father he paints an entirely different picture of his grandparents. One in which his grandparents were essentially fighting to end racism in their neighborhood. Obama’s campaign has trumpeted that he is the candidate of change and hope, but based on his willingness to say whatever he deems necessary to shift the focus off of the issues, he shows himself to be just another slick politician.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Can The Rest Of The Country Learn From Maryland's Pain?

Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley had no sooner received the phone call from former Governor Robert Ehrlich in November of 2006, when he began his quest to raise the tax burden on the residents of the Old Line State. His rationale for the increases was the “looming” structural deficits. He claimed that even though the state had $1.4 billion in surpluses, we would soon be running a deficit. His initial number was $400 million, his estimate finally landed at $1.7 billion. As he was inaugurated into the state house in Annapolis, the work began to come up with the nearly $1.5 billion in higher taxes.

The Democratic controlled House and Senate held special sessions to pass a nearly 10% increase of the tax burden on to the backs of Maryland citizens. They raised the cigarette tax, the vehicle titling tax, the corporate income tax, and the state sales tax. To add insult to the pain of all of the new taxes, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown alluded to the need for even more tax increases late last fall. He claimed that with the thousands of new residents that will be moving to Maryland as part of the Base Realignment And Closure plan, the state will need to spend billions on job training for the new residents. I can’t really fault O’Malley and Brown, or even the legislature for their perverse desire to constantly raise taxes. After all, they are tried and true liberal democrats, and that is what they know how to do. The concept of cutting expenditures never crosses their minds. To a liberal politician, money is power.

One other note of contention with our Governor, is that while raising the taxes of every single resident of Maryland, he deemed it necessary to raise the salaries of his staff. The raises amount to increases of salary by as much 37.5% while the legislature is considering halting raises for state employees. Some in the Senate tried to require the General Assembly’s approval for any additional pay raises for the Governor’s staff, but that measure was defeated. Even after all of the increases in taxes, the state will still have a budget deficit of $300 million next year. It is becoming all too clear that the phrase “tax and spend liberal” rings true here in Maryland.

In a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by a margin of 2 to 1, Governor O’Malley’s approval rating is lower than that of President George W. Bush. It is not surprising when you consider that O’Malley’s tax plan has taken Maryland from a ranking near the middle in State Business Tax Climate Index to a ranking near the bottom. Maryland is no different than what will happen to the country if one of the 2 current Democrat contenders take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are talking about repealing tax cuts and their plans for health care will surely mean increases in taxes across the board. Could it be that voters are waking up to the insanity of “tax and spend liberalism”? I can only hope and pray that the voters in Maryland remember how much O’Malley has taken from us.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Can Things Get Any Worse For Hillary?

Could Hillary Clinton’s week get any worse? She started the week realizing that her perceived momentum swing of winning primaries had swung back in the direction of Barack Obama. Obama picked up a win over the weekend in the Wyoming caucuses. He later added Mississippi to his long list of states won. Of course Senator Clinton is banking on a big win in Pennsylvania on April 23 to lend credence to her notion that Obama can’t win the big states. At this point in the race for the nomination, it is highly unlikely that either candidate will win the required pledged delegates to claim the nomination. Obama will clearly have the lead in the delegate count and the popular vote by the convention convenes in Denver, but the Clintons are not about to let that simple fact stop them from their quest to regain presidential power.

The tight race has begun to turn vicious. This week, former Vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro made the assertion that Obama would not even be a viable candidate in this race if he were a white man. The obvious response from the Obama campaign was to cry racism. Hillary Clinton denounced the remarks made by one of her high profile supporters, and Ferraro eventually left the campaign. She is still all over the news networks claiming that the Obama campaign is making too much of her comments. She has pointed out that when she was nominated to be Vice President in 1984, the same claims were made about her and her gender; which she acknowledged was true. The Obama supporters point out that she made similar claims against the Reverend Jesse Jackson during the 1984 campaign.

Another headline that the Clinton camp wishes would go away is the story of Democratic Governor Elliot Spitzer. Spitzer resigned in disgrace this week, after the news broke about his connection with a high priced prostitution ring. Spitzer was caught on tape setting up payment, transportation, and the appointment for an “encounter” with a “lady of the evening”. Spitzer is a supporter of Clinton’s and a super delegate. This is not the first headache that he has caused for Hillary. Earlier in the campaign, his proposal to grant legal driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants caused Clinton to stumble several times to give a definitive answer on where she stood on the idea. After taking every side of the issue, sometime within the same statement, she eventually stated her opposition for the idea. Spitzer’s proposal was shelved for future consideration.

Another bit of news emerged recently that does not bode well for either candidate. A Pew Research poll was released showing that a growing majority of Americans believe that we are wining the war in Iraq. They also showed that less Americans know how many troops have died during the war than knew just a few short months ago. They showed that since August, which is about the time that the news of the success of the surge started emerging, the news media has been covering less and less of the war. Both candidates had staked their claim to bringing home the troops immediately upon entering office. Now that the war is going well, and public opinion has shifted, what side of the issue will they take? It is harder for them to deny their positions when we have ready access to everything they have ever said.

In the weeks leading up to the next big showdown in Pennsylvania, the campaign is likely to become even dirtier. With a huge majority of women supporting Clinton, and overwhelming majority of African-Americans supporting Obama, both campaign will pull out all of the stops to try to sway the Latino and the white male vote. There are early signs that both sides will stoop to the lowest levels to try to scare voters to their particular side. With a primary season that is rapidly turning bloody, we have to wonder what the fallout will be from such a race. I can’t help but wonder what the demographics of the Democratic party will be after this campaign. After all, the lines are not just drawn along racial lines, but also along gender lines. Neither side is going to take losing lying down.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Has The Obama Momentum Stalled?

Has the tide of momentum officially turned in favor of Senator Hillary Clinton, or was “Super Tuesday, The Sequel” an aberration? Since the 5th of February when Senator Obama won the caucus in Alaska, he had won 12 straight states, before Clinton was able to win Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Obama still enjoys a comfortable delegate lead, but if Clinton has swung the pendulum back in her favor, it will be impossible for Clinton or Obama to make it to the convention with enough delegates to claim the nomination.

With a primary race this close, and the likelihood of not having a clear nominee heading into the convention, the rumors of Clinton and Obama being on the same ticket. Anything is possible in the current state of politics, but I don’t believe that will ever happen.

First of all, I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton will ever agree to be a Vice Presidential candidate. Her entire drive has been towards the Oval Office, she will not take the chance of being tied politically to a president that she has no control over. If Obama is elected with her as Vice President, and events turn for the worse, she could be tied to the administration that caused the problems. She will not take that chance.

With the race tightening and more than a month until the contest in Pennsylvania, the political attacks and rhetoric will be ratcheted up to a fever pitch. The attacks started before Texas with the ad of a phone ringing at 3 in the morning. The message was that Obama was not ready to make the hard decisions that inevitably a President must make. An Obama aide resigned this week after her comments in The Scotsman made headlines here in the U.S.. She called Senator Clinton a monster and stated that Clinton would stoop to the lowest levels to try to win the nomination. Will either candidate want to associate with each other after this campaign turns really nasty?

The next few weeks will be extremely entertaining. The trial of Tony Rezko will bring an entirely new dimension of scrutiny to the Obama campaign. Tony Rezko has been an Obama friend for 17 years and a political fundraiser for him. He is on trial for corruption for taking city money to rehab apartment buildings and then not fulfilling his obligations. Obama will face increasing questions about his relationship with Rezko and his role in some of Rezko’s deals. This trial represents a ripe opportunity for the Clinton campaign to exploit politically. Of course Clinton has to tread lightly, with her ties to Norman Hsu, Whitewater, Travel office firings, Rose Law firm billing records, and the many other scandals of the 1990’s.

On a final note, the super delegates will be even more important than ever by the time the convention convenes. They will potentially decide who the Democratic nominee will be. Florida and Michigan may also come into play. You may recall that the delegates from those 2 states will not be seated at the convention. The Democratic National Committee decided that their delegates will not count due to the states moving their primary elections forward. Senator Clinton won both of those states and has already started to suggest that the voice of the people should not be silenced. This has been the most entertaining election season of my life, and has the potential to become the nastiest of a generation.