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Best wishes and happy holidays to all !!

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It seems McCain could see what we all saw – Palin is no where near qualified and some of her ideas are borderline reckless.

In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Senator John McCain refused to endorse his former running mate Governor Sarah Palin for the Republican nomination in 2012.

When the network’s George Stephanopoulos asked McCain whether he hoped that Palin would become the Republican Party’s standard bearer in 2012, he refused to endorse her. “I can say something like that,” McCain said.

Stephanopoulos then pushed McCain by asking whether it was not strange that he endorsed Palin for vice president.

“Now we’re in a whole new election cycle,” McCain said. “My corpse is still warm.”

He went on to explain that there are a lot of other Republican governors who could play a vital role in the party.

Stephanopoulos was right to point out that McCain’s answer was strange in so far that he only endorsed Palin for vp weeks ago. He wanted her to become America’s president if something would happen to him. As such, it would make sense for him to speak positively about Palin for 2012.

McCain supporters could, of course, argue that the senator is right in so far that 2012 is four years off, and that someone else may win the nomination of his party then. Who knows, perhaps Palin will fall off the national stage pretty soon.

True, but he should have praised her nonetheless and indicated full support for her no matter what career path she chooses nonetheless. His reaction gives many the impression that he does indeed blame Palin to a considerable degree for his defeat which hurts both him and Palin.

McCain’s refusal to truly stand by Palin is an indication of his attempt to recreate a centrist image for himself, an image he had for decades, but which was destroyed during the Republican primaries and, especially, the national election. The ‘Maverick’ Senator from Arizona realizes that he lost the election partially due to the destruction of his centrist image and is, it seems, determined to get back that which he lost. One also notices that he has spent considerable time recently defending president-elect Barack Obama on a wide range of issues, especially on the Blagojevich corruption scandal.

The above all fits perfectly into the notion that McCain is trying to salvage his reputation as a centrist Republican, willing to reach across the aisle. Endorsing Palin would hamper this attempt somewhat due to her reputation as a hardliner, a true card carrying member of the Republican Party’s Christian conservative base.

As such, his reaction to Stephanopoulous should be interpreted as nothing more, or less, than an attempt of a man who lost the presidential election to restore his image and to continue being relevant in Washington, D.C.

Source: PoliGazette

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Today, four former CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac testified before the on how their companies’ actions may have “contributed to the ongoing crisis.” Blaming Fannie, Freddie, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), and low-income people is one of conservatives’ favorite talking points. In September, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) touted an article criticizing the CRA for pushing “Fannie and Freddie to aggressively lend to minority communities.”

But as the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo points out, at the beginning of today’s hearing, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said that 400,000 documents amassed by the committee showed that the right-wing claim is nothing more than a conservative myth. Later in the hearing, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) asked the four CEOs whether poor people caused the current financial crisis. All said “no”:

    Richard Syron, former Freddie CEO: “I would think that it wasn’t mostly trying to do things for poor people.”
    Daniel Mudd, former Fannie CEO: “[W]hen the market goes down, it’s the folks who are the closest to the margin who — who get hurt first and longest every time.”
    Leland Brendsel, former Freddie CEO: “I cannot recall ever being forced to make — or to purchase a mortgage loan that I didn’t feel, as a matter of policy at Freddie Mac, was a good mortgage loan, a sound mortgage loan, and an attractive mortgage loan for the homebuyer or the owner of an apartment building.”
    Franklin Raines, former Fannie CEO: “I do not believe that poor people are the cause of the current financial crisis. … Most of the losses, as I read the record, have come on mortgages that were made to middle-class and upper-middle-class people, not to poor people.”

Watch it:

Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, requiring banks “to lend throughout the communities they serve.” In the 1990s, greater mortgage lending to lower-income households by CRA-coveed banks increased the homeownership rate for lower-income and minority families. As CAP scholar Tim Westrich has written, “The real culprits in the mortgage mess are non-bank mortgage companies — not covered by CRA — that originated the lion’s share of bad mortgages at the heart of the crisis. They made an estimated 50 percent of subprime loans in 2005.”

Numerous other scholars, including Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman and Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker, have also explained that while Fannie and Freddie made many bad decisions, they weren’t primarily to blame for the financial crisis. At a hearing in September, former top government economic experts agreed that conservatives were pushing myths, rather than facts.

Source: Think Progress

Sen. Saxby Chambliss wins the runoff in Georgia, denying the Dems a filibuster-proof majority. Saxby’s win reinforces McCain’s Georgia win and the GOP inroads into the South in the 2008 presidential election

All the time spent calling Obama a celebrity – it is a little amusing that the GOP ended up with one of their own – Sarah Palin – famous for being famous – over substance. Sarah as been quoted as saying she is ‘not doing this for nought’ – then we should expect 2012 is definitely on the cards. Trips to the library to study up on policy – well let’s hope these wont be nought!

Fresh off his runoff victory Tuesday night Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss credited Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with firing up his base.

“I can’t overstate the impact she had down here,” Chambliss said during an interview Wednesday morning on Fox News.

“When she walks in a room, folks just explode,” he added. “And they really did pack the house everywhere we went. She’s a dynamic lady, a great administrator, and I think she’s got a great future in the Republican Party.”

Chambliss said that after watching her campaign on his behalf at several events Monday, he does not see her star status diminishing within the party.

The Republican also thanked John McCain and the other big name Republicans that came to Georgia, but said Palin made the biggest impact.

“We had John McCain and Mike Huckabee and Gov. Romney and Rudy Giuliani, but Sarah Palin came in on the last day, did a fly-around and, man, she was dynamite,” he said. “We packed the houses everywhere we went. And it really did allow us to peak and get our base fired up.”

But as Chambliss heaped praise on Palin and other big ticket Republicans that came to Georgia on his behalf, he questioned why President-elect Barack Obama would not use his star power to aid his Democratic opponent Jim Martin.

“I have no idea why he didn’t come down,” Chambliss said.

“His people were here. His organization was here,” he added. “They really did a good job in the general election of turning out people. And whatever their game plan was this time, if he had been here, I have no idea whether it would have worked better.”

Source: Politico

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Transcript:

At this Thanksgiving dinner I will toast some very, very wonderful things to be thankful for; my friends, family and supporters, the collapse of Republicanism, the humiliating implosion and utter failure of the Republican party and unregulated free market doo doo economics and the defeat of racism, fear mongering and paranoia- albeit by a margin too close for comfort. One of my hopes for future Thanksgiving toasts will be the death of the contemporary equivalent of racism- homophobia and maybe beyond that the relegation of Religion to the same fate as The Pet Rock.

The party that scrutinizes every single tax dollar to see that it doesn’t risk ending up in the hands of some shiftless minority or rebuilding and equipping public schools, providing health care to the working poor, cleaning up after corporate polluters, advancing clean energy, or any other horrible “communist” enterprise that might provide for the welfare of American citizens, has just financed their own failure with your money- tax payer money. More accurately, your labor and the labor of your children. The tax haters are in line for their hand outs.

Remember when Bush wanted to privatize Social Security? What a fuckin’ joke! More of that brilliant self-reliance fiscal bull shit. It has finally be laid out plain as the nose on your face- these low tax, free market, self reliant, moral giants are colossal frauds and intellectual neanderthals. They are stricken with an illness that prevents them from giving a shit about anyone but themselves. Fearful, violent witch hunters, empty moral midgets and ethical pygmies that protect themselves from themselves with denial, superstition and Religion and now tax dollars.

The cost of The Marshall Plan, Louisiana Purchase, Race to the Moon, S&L Crisis, Korean War,The New Deal, Invasion of Iraq, Vietnam War, and NASA: TOTALS: $3.92 trillion dollars… Inflation Adjusted dollars!

The current Wall Street gamblers, liars and failures bailout is costing us $4.62 trillion dollars.

Universal health care, securing Social Security, providing books and supplies for our children’s class rooms, enhancing veteran’s benefits? Not a fuckin’ chance. Those are godless Communist programs. Picking up the tab for billionaires who lost money gambling on irresponsible bets and playing multi-billion dollar ponzi schemes? That’s the patriotic, self reliant thing to do. What better way to spend those evil, ill gotten tax dollars? Anyone but the poor and working class.

Never forget the Bush Cheney disaster and the crash of the Republican corporate free market, diaper changing ideology. You’re paying for it and will be for a long time. If we’ve learned our lesson, we can be thankful.

ThinkProgress»

turkey.jpgThis Thanksgiving, progressives have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s our list:

We’re thankful we’ll soon have a president who will hit the ground running instead of a president who is running the country into the ground.

We’re thankful that Keith Olbermann andRachel Maddow are demonstrating every night how strong and intelligent progressive voices can be successful on TV.

We’re thankful we live in a center-left America rather than “Hannity’s America.”

We’re thankful John McCain has more time to spend in the houses he owns…even if he can’t remember them all.

We’re thankful Sarah Palin has more time to watch over Russia and warn us in case Vladimir Putin ever “rears his head.”

We’re thankful that we’re moving closer towards a complete withdrawal from Iraq.

We’re thankful for the thousands of protesters who took to the streets across America to push for marriage equality.

We’re not thankful for neo-McCarthysneo-Hooversneo-Nazis, and neocons.

We’re thankful for Tina Fey.

We’re thankful to be liberal hacks.

We’re not thankful for hack operatives burrowing into career civil service jobs.

We’re more thankful for Vice President Joe Biden and “Morning Joe” than Joe Lieberman and “Joe the Plumber.”

We’re thankful that our troops will be able to get the education they so richly deserve.

We’re thankful for the “Mustache of Justice,” “Rahmbo,” “Axe,” and “Skippy.”

We’re thankful that reality still has a liberal bias.

We’re thankful that there are only 54 days left until the end of the George W. Bush presidency.

We’re thankful for the progressive mandate to govern.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ThinkProgress

According to Rachel Maddow only MSNBC covered the McCain conference live ~ I guess Fox News wasn’t feeling up to it yesterday!

liebermanwinslucasuploa_043819_2087507912 HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman took another step Tuesday toward mending his relationship with Democrats, saying that Barack Obama’s actions since winning the presidency have been “just about perfect.”

“Everything that President-elect Obama has done since election night has been just about perfect, both in terms of a tone and also in terms of the strength of the names that have either been announced or are being discussed to fill his administration,” Lieberman said during a visit to Hartford.

Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, was re-elected to the Senate in 2006 as an independent but continues to caucus with Democrats. He supported Republican John McCain’s presidential campaign, going as far as to criticize Obama and make a speech at the Republican National Convention.

Democrats threatened to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee but instead removed him as head of a smaller environmental subcommittee.

Connecticut Democrats meet Dec. 17 and are still considering a possible censure of Lieberman for his actions during the presidential campaign.

“I will ask them to judge me by my record,” Lieberman said. “Generally speaking, I’ve had a record, a voting record, which is really ultimately what it’s about, not unlike most Democrats.”

Lieberman said he believes the rift between himself and the party stemmed mainly from his support of President Bush’s policy in Iraq and will close as that becomes less of an issue.

“It appears to me that the war in Iraq is coming to a successful — I don’t want to say conclusion yet, but it’s moving in a way that it will not be a divisive issue either in the Democratic Party or between Democrats and Republicans in the time ahead,” Lieberman said. “And therefore, I think we’ll return to more normal times, which I welcome.”

Source: AP

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WASHINGTON — Despite attracting millions of new contributors to his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama received about the same percentage of his total political funds from small donors as President Bush did in 2004, according to a study released today by the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute.

The analysis undercuts Obama’s claim that his supporters “changed the way campaigns are funded” by reducing the influence of special-interest givers.

“The myth is that money from small donors dominated Barack Obama’s finances,” said Michael Malbin, the institute’s executive director. “The reality of Obama’s fundraising was impressive, but the reality does not match the myth.”

About $156 million, or a quarter of Obama’s record-shattering campaign account, came from donors of $200 or less, according to the institute’s analysis of federal election reports through Oct. 15. That compares with $205 million, or about a third, from those who gave between $2,300 and $4,600, the maximum allowed by law.

Forty-eight percent of Obama’s total take came from donors of $1,000 or more, compared with 56% for John Kerry and 60% for both Bush and John McCain, the analysis found.

The small-donor percentage is lower than figures previously reported in news stories because the institute’s analysis accounted for people who gave several small donations over the course of the election that added up to a larger sum, Malbin said.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an e-mail that the campaign had more than 3.95 million donors, and “91% of our contributions were in amounts of $100 or less. … There’s no doubt that small-dollar contributors played a critical and unprecedented role” in Obama’s victory.

The study said Obama brought in a total $638 million, the most ever raised in a political campaign, compared with $206 million by McCain, who accepted $84.1 million in taxpayer financing for the general election. Obama reported 580,000 donors who gave more than $200.

Donors giving $200 or less need not be disclosed, but by the Obama campaign’s count, there were nearly 3 million of them.

McCain reported 170,000 donors of $200 or more.

Obama opted out of public financing, raising private money through November and significantly outspending McCain in battleground states.

When Obama announced in June that he would forgo public financing, he told supporters in a video message that “instead of forcing us to rely on millions from Washington lobbyists and special-interest PACs, you’ve fueled this campaign with donations of $5, $10, $20, whatever you can afford. … You’ve already changed the way campaigns are funded, because you know that’s the only way we can truly change how Washington works.”

Meredith McGehee, a campaign-finance reform advocate at the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center, said Obama cannot claim “this election somehow created an alternative system for public finance. … The data doesn’t show that.”

Obama did not accept contributions from political action committees or registered federal lobbyists, but many of his top fundraisers have keen economic interests in federal policies.

Source: USA Today

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The GOP selected Sarah Palin as its VP to stoke its base, but expanding that base should be the partys goal.

The GOP selected Sarah Palin as its VP to stoke its base, but expanding that base should be the partys goal.

In the wake of the Republican defeat, there has been much recrimination and finger-pointing over tactics and strategy. Was the Sarah Palin choice fatal? Should John McCain have suspended his campaign during the financial crisis?

But the larger issue is whether 2008 was a “realigning election” that went deeper than the candidates or the current issues. The jury is still out as to whether Democrats can turn one sweeping victory into a generation-long dominance of the White House. A key element in a possible structural shift favoring Democrats is the changing demographics of the electorate. The U.S. is growing bigger, increasingly diverse and more cosmopolitan — and the GOP seems on the wrong side of all these trends.

The United States is the only developed country that is projected to add lots of new residents by mid-century. In 2006, the nation’s population reached 300 million. The Census Bureau estimates that the U.S. will get to 400 million by 2039. To put this growth in perspective, consider that even China (yes, China) will not add 100 million people by that date. The U.S. will gain more new residents in the next three decades than the current population of Germany — the largest European Union nation.

With each decade, more than 22 million potential new voters will enter the electorate. Parties that fix on a strategy may find that it is unworkable in just a few cycles. The Republican Party’s idea of stoking its base to gain office assumes a somewhat static voting public, which, given the dynamic nature of American demographics, is a faulty notion.

So who are most of these new people? The quick answer is both recent immigrants and their American-born offspring. By 2043, the U.S. may be a majority minority nation. Another scenario is that a high rate of intermarriage among whites and minorities may open to question the whole notion of who is “majority.” The bottom line for Republicans is that no matter how this population is defined, an increasing number of current minorities are voting for Democrats.

Republicans can, of course, switch their strategy and make more direct appeals to minority voters. As recently as 2004, President George W. Bush almost won the Latino vote. But at the moment, the Republicans seem branded as the party of white people. Furthermore, much of the Republican base — especially those listening to talk radio — believe the U.S. is being flooded with immigrants (legal and illegal). It may be hard to pivot and embrace diversity without alienating the GOP base. By contrast, many whites in the Democratic Party are comfortable with diversity and now form a transracial coalition with minority voters.

As the U.S. expands and diversifies, it is becoming more urban. The Census finds that 83 percent of Americans live in metropolitan areas and that well over half live in regions with more than 1 million residents. By other calculations, two-thirds of people added by 2040 will settle in just 20 megapolitan areas — massive urban complexes that contain more than 5 million residents.

Were just the big metro areas to vote, the presidential race would be a rout every time. The Democrats dominate major urban regions. An analysis by the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech found that Barack Obama won the votes in the nation’s top 50 metro areas — often by double-digit margins.

Worse for Republicans, in 2006 and 2008, Democrats significantly expanded the areas of the metros they won. Their electoral dominance has spilled out of cities and close-in suburbs and now reaches into the kinds of sprawling subdivisions that were once reliably Republican. The suburbs in key swing states such as Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia played a particularly decisive role in delivering the presidency to Democrats.

Republicans must adjust to the demographic shifts sweeping America or risk being politically marginalized. Most significantly, the party needs to recognize that there are simply not enough rural white voters to balance the growing number of minority voters and cosmopolitan whites living in big metro areas. If Republicans think 2008 went badly, try running the same kind of small-town-flavored campaign in 2020. At that point, the vastly expanded and racially diverse metro areas in Texas and Georgia could tip those once reliably red states to the Democrats.

Robert E. Lang is co-director of the Alexandria, Va.-based Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech and an associate professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech’s School of Planning and International Affairs.

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11-20-2008-3-02-03-pm

TIME

A new poll out Thursday paints a bleak picture for the GOP.

A new poll out Thursday paints a bleak picture for the GOP.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Republican Party has hit a new low.

 

Just 34 percent of Americans in a Gallup Poll released Thursday say they have a favorable view of the party, down 40 percent from a month ago, before the election.

What’s worse: 61 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party.

According to Gallup, that unfavorable rating is the highest the polling organization has recorded for the GOP since the measure was established in 1992.

The poll of national adults was conducted on November 13-16 with a three percent margin of error.

The numbers are slightly up from a CNN poll released last week that indicated a 54 percent unfavorable rating for Republicans. Only 38 percent of those polled had a favorable rating for the party.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to bask in the glow of President-elect Barack Obama’s historic victory on November 4. The Gallup poll suggests that 55 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, with 39 percent saying they have an unfavorable view. Those numbers are mostly unchanged from a mid-October survey.

As the debate rages within GOP ranks over where to take the party, the poll might offer some guidance.

Most Republicans — 59 percent — want the party to become more conservative, according to the poll. Another 28 percent want it to remain about the same ideologically, while only 12 percent would prefer to see the Republican Party become less conservative.

Independents are split on whether the party should track left or right: 35 percent of independent voters say the GOP should become more conservative, and 35 percent say less conservative.

Source: CNNPoliticalTicker

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Lieberman will keep his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee despite hard feelings over his support for GOP nominee John McCain during the presidential campaign.

The Connecticut independent will lose a minor panel post as punishment for criticizing Obama this fall.

Lieberman’s colleagues in the Democratic caucus voted 42-13 Tuesday on a resolution condemning statements made by Lieberman during the campaign but allowing him to keep the Homeland Security Committee gavel. He loses an Environment and Public Works panel subcommittee chairmanship, however.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was very angry by Lieberman’s actions but that “we’re looking forward, we’re not looking back.”

Added Reid: “Is this a time when we walk out of here and say, ‘Boy, did we get even?'” said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Lieberman’s grasp on his chairmanship has gotten stronger since President-elect Barack Obama signaled to Democratic leaders that he’s not interested in punishing Lieberman for boosting McCain and criticizing Obama during the long campaign.

“This is the beginning of a new chapter, and I know that my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus were moved not only by the kind words that Senator Reid said about my longtime record, but by the appeal from President-elect Obama himself that the nation now unite to confront our very serious problems,” Lieberman said after the vote.

Anger toward Lieberman seems to have softened since Election Day, and Democrats didn’t want to drive him from the Democratic caucus by taking away his chairmanship and send the wrong signals as Obama takes office on a pledge to unite the country. Lieberman had indicated it would be unacceptable for him to lose his chairmanship.

Lieberman, who was Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, was re-elected in 2006 as an independent after losing his state’s Democratic primary. He remains a registered Democrat and aligns with the party inside the Senate.

“It’s time to unite our country,” said Lieberman supporter Ken Salazar, D-Colo.

On the other side were senators who feel that one requirement to be installed in a leadership position is party loyalty.

“To reward Senator Lieberman with a major committee chairmanship would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who worked tirelessly for Barack Obama and who want to see real change in our country,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement Friday. “Appointing someone to a major post who led the opposition to everything we are fighting for is not ‘change we can believe in.'”

Source: AP

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It was likely that Barack Obama genuinely believed that he would take or have to take public financing. But when the primary was unexpectedly extended, the Obama team saw their money raising potential – and more they knew they were going to need fist fulls of it – if they were going to have any real chance of defeating the Republican election machine. With Al Gore’s loss in 2000 and Kerry’s Swift-Boating back in 2004 – they concluded that public financing would place serious limits on their ability to act. And they were right. John McCain promised to run an honorable campaign, and without adequate finance – Obama would likely not be President-elect – as was McCain’s plan. It is doubtful that in 2012 the Republicans will allow themselves to be hamstrung by public financing either. They might be moaning right now – but they are also learning. It was just a little TKO!

President-elect Barack Obama and vanquished rival John McCain talked Monday about reforming parts of the political process, but they skipped a good governance issue of mutual interest over which they sparred bitterly during their campaign: fixing the public financing system.

Obama this summer said he was “firmly committed to reforming the system as president,” even as his reversal of a pledge to participate in it drew fire from McCain, editorial boards and campaign finance reform advocates, all of whom accused Obama of virtually killing the system.

Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team, said Obama and McCain “share a common belief that the system needs to be reformed,” but she said “they didn’t speak about it today.”

Instead, a different Obama aide said, the discussion focused on “a common sense of reform being needed” on government spending, earmarks, military procurement, corporate welfare, climate change, immigration and Guantanamo Bay, among other areas.

McCain’s Senate and campaign staffers did not respond to questions about why campaign finance reform wasn’t discussed, but it clearly is a sore point for the Arizona senator and his team. They believe Obama was never held to account for his public funding flip-flop, which put him at a huge cash advantage over McCain in the final months of the campaign.

McCain did participate in the system, which limits candidates to spending only the amount of a taxpayer-funded grant. This year, the grant was $84 million for the general election. Meanwhile, Obama’s historic fundraising effort pulled in well more than $640 million for the primary and the general, allowing him to dramatically outspend McCain on ads, offices and get-out-the-vote efforts.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, McCain blamed Obama’s rejection of public financing and his prolific fundraising for “completely breaking whatever idea we had after Watergate to keep the costs and spending on campaigns under control.”

McCain told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace in October that Obama had “unleashed now in presidential campaigns a new flood of spending that will then cause a scandal and then we will fix it again. But Sen. Obama has broken it. And he broke his word to me and the American people when he signed a piece of paper, when he was a long-shot candidate, that he would take public financing if I would.”

That was a reference to a questionnaire Obama submitted last year to a coalition of non-profit groups advocating a reduction in the role of money in politics.

The questionnaire, from the Midwest Democracy Network, asked, “If you are nominated for president in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?”

Obama answered “Yes.” Then, in the space provided for comments, he wrote: “I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests.”

In response to another question, Obama wrote that he supported strengthening the public financing system, which was enacted after Watergate to minimize the corrupting influence of money on electoral politics.

Obama’s policy advisors still consider it a priority to revamp the public financing system, according to David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, a non-profit group that pushes for stricter campaign finance rules.

Obama’s “priorities Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are the economy, but I don’t think his commitment to (public financing) has changed,” said Donnelly. Still, Donnelly added “it’s important for him to take up this issue and show that he’s willing to follow through on his commitment.”

If Obama does champion campaign finance reform from the White House, McCain could be a key ally in Senate, predicted Donnelly, whose group during the campaign accused McCain of backing away from the issue.

McCain’s seminal legislative accomplishment was a 2002 overhaul of the campaign finance system, and for years before and after that, he sponsored legislation to revamp the public funding system. But Donnelly and other McCain critics accused McCain of shying away from campaign reform as he positioned himself for his 2008 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

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CHICAGO (AP) _ The bitter general election campaign behind them, President-elect Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain met Monday to discuss ways to reduce government waste, promote bipartisanship and find other ways to improve government.

President-elect Barack Obama, right, meets with Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, at Obama's transition office in downtown Chicago. AP Photo

President-elect Barack Obama, right, meets with Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, at Obama

The two former rivals met in Obama’s transition headquarters in Chicago. Obama said before the meeting that he and McCain planned “a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country, and also to offer thanks to Sen. McCain for the outstanding service he’s already rendered.”

Obama and McCain sat together for a brief picture-taking moment with reporters, along with Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s incoming White House chief of staff, and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain’s close friend. Obama and McCain were heard briefly discussing football, and Obama cracked that “the national press is tame compared to the Chicago press.”

When asked if he planned to help the Obama administration, McCain replied, “Obviously.”

After the meeting, Obama and McCain issued a joint statement saying:

    “At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time.”
    “It is in this spirit that we had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington in order to restore trust in government, and bring back prosperity and opportunity for every hardworking American family,” it said. “We hope to work together in the days and months ahead on critical challenges like solving our financial crisis, creating a new energy economy, and protecting our nation’s security.”

Obama and McCain clashed bitterly during the fall campaign over taxes, the Iraq War, and ways to fix the ailing economy. Things got ugly at times, with McCain running ads comparing Obama to celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and raising questions about his rival’s distant relationship with a 1960s-era radical, William Ayers.

Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, labeled the 72-year old McCain “erratic” and ran a campaign ad falsely suggesting that McCain and Rush Limbaugh shared similar anti-immigration views.

McCain delivered a gracious concession speech on Election Night, paying tribute to Obama’s historic ascendancy as the nation’s first black president. The two agreed that night to meet after the election when McCain called Obama to concede defeat.

Source: AP

US President-elect Barack Obama meets with former Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain at Obama's transition offices in Chicago. Obama extended a bipartisan olive branch by meeting his vanquished Republican rival John McCain Monday, but a cabinet job was not expected to be on offer

US President-elect Barack Obama meets with former Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain at Obama

CHICAGO (AFP) – President-elect Barack Obama extended a bipartisan olive branch by meeting his vanquished Republican rival John McCain Monday, but a cabinet job was not expected to be on offer.

The meeting in Chicago between the victor of the November 4 election and the Arizona senator put substance to Obama’s promise of reaching out to old opponents as he crafts an expansive agenda for the next four years.

Before reporters were ushered out of the meeting at Obama’s transition headquarters, the president-elect anticipated a “good conversation about how we can work together to fix up the country.”

Obama said he would also “give thanks to Senator McCain for his outstanding service.”

Update: First word is that the meeting between Obama and McCain has been wrapped up.

According to reports, Obama’s transition team is conducting an in-depth vetting of the finances of his former primary rival Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton with a view to naming her his secretary of state.

Source: AFP

RNC audio slide show

RNC audio slide show

Click to see audio slide show of conventions

Click to see audio slide show of conventions

Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON

Do you see the election results as a repudiation of your politics?
Our new president-elect won one and a half points more than George W. Bush won in 2004, and he did so, in great respect, by adopting the methods of the Bush campaign and conducting a vast army of persuasion to identify and get out the vote.

Karl Rove

Karl Rove

But what about your great dream of creating a permanent Republican governing majority in Washington?
I never said permanent. Durable.

Do you think John McCain attacked too much or not enough?
Dissecting the campaign that way is not helpful.

Have you met Barack Obama?
Yes, I know him. He was a member of the Senate while I was at the White House and we shared a mutual friend, Ken Mehlman, his law-school classmate. When Obama came to the White House, we would talk about our mutual friend.

Did you have lunch together? Talk in the hall?
We sat in the meeting room and chatted before the meeting. He had a habit of showing up early, which is a good courtesy.

Are you going to send him a little note congratulating him?
I already have. I sent it to his office. I sent him a handwritten note with funny stamps on the outside.

What kind of funny stamps?
Stamps.

Do you have any advice for him? You already criticized Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s new chief of staff, as a sharply partisan choice.
I raised a question as to whether this would be the best use of Rahm Emanuel’s talents. If you’re trying to work through a big legislative priority, it is sort of hard if you have a guy who has a reputation as a tough, hard, take-no-prisoners, head-in-your-face, scream-and-shout, send-them-a-dead-fish partisan.

What about you? You were always seen as very partisan.
I wasn’t the chief of staff. And you’d be surprised by the Democrats I actually met, got to know and worked with.

Do you like Joe Biden?
I think he has an odd combination of longevity and long-windedness that passes for wisdom in Washington.

Do you regret anything that happened in the White House during your tenure?
Sure.

You’ve been booed off stages recently.
No, I haven’t. I’ve been booed on stages. I’m a little bit tougher than to walk off a stage because someone says something ugly.

Do you think the era of negative politics is over?
No.

Do you see yourself as being associated with it in any way?
Look, in 1800 the sainted Thomas Jefferson arranged to hire a notorious slanderer named James Callender, who worked as a writer at a Republican newspaper in Richmond, Va. Read some of what he wrote about John Adams. This was a personal slander.

What did he say?
He said he lacked the spine of a man and the character of a woman. Negative politics have always been around.

Do you think you’re negative?
No.

You’ve never repudiated President Bush.
No. And I never will. He did the right things.

What about Iraq and the economy?
The world is a better place with Saddam Hussein gone.

Do you have any advice for him at this point?
With all due respect, I don’t need you to transmit what I want to say to my friend of 35 years.

Remember, attack politics are out. It’s a new age of civilized discourse.
You’re the one who hurt my feelings by saying you didn’t trust me.

Did I say that?
Yes, you did. I’ve got it on tape. I’m going to transcribe this and send it to you.

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Click to enlarge+

Click to enlarge+

By FRANK RICH

ELECTION junkies in acute withdrawal need suffer no longer. Though the exciting Obama-McCain race is over, the cockfight among the losers has only just begun. The conservative crackup may be ugly, but as entertainment, it’s two thumbs up!

Over at Fox News, Greta Van Susteren has been trashing the credibility of her own network’s chief political correspondent, Carl Cameron, for his report on Sarah Palin’s inability to identify Africa as a continent, while Bill O’Reilly valiantly defends Cameron’s honor. At Slate, a post-mortem of conservative intellectuals descended into name-calling, with the writer Ross Douthat of The Atlantic labeling the legal scholar Douglas Kmiec a “useful idiot.”

In an exuberant class by himself is Michael Barone, a ubiquitous conservative commentator who last week said that journalists who trash Palin (more than a few of them conservatives) do so because “she did not abort her Down syndrome baby.” He was being “humorous,” he subsequently explained to Politico, though the joke may be on him. Barone writes for U.S. News & World Report, where his 2008 analyses included keepers like “Just Call Her Sarah ‘Delano’ Palin.” Just call it coincidence, but on Election Day, word spread that the once-weekly U.S. News was downsizing to a monthly — a step closer to the fate of Literary Digest, the weekly magazine that vanished two years after its straw poll predicted an Alf Landon landslide over Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936.

Will the 2008 G.O.P. go the way of the 1936 G.O.P., which didn’t reclaim the White House until 1952? Even factoring in the Democrats’ time-honored propensity for self-immolation, it’s not beyond reason. The Republicans are in serious denial. A few heretics excepted, they hope to blame all their woes on their unpopular president, the inept McCain campaign and their party’s latent greed for budget-busting earmarks.

The trouble is far more fundamental than that. The G.O.P. ran out of steam and ideas well before George W. Bush took office and Tom DeLay ran amok, and it is now more representative of 20th-century South Africa during apartheid than 21st-century America. The proof is in the vanilla pudding. When David Letterman said that the 10 G.O.P. presidential candidates at an early debate looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club,” he was the first to correctly call the election.

On Nov. 4, that’s roughly the sole constituency that remained loyal to the party — minus its wealthiest slice, a previously solid G.O.P. stronghold that turned blue this year (in a whopping swing of 34 percentage points). The Republicans lost every region of the country by double digits except the South, which they won by less than double digits (9 points). They took the South only because McCain, who ran roughly even with Obama among whites in every other region, won Southern whites by 38 percentage points.

Blue areas show Democrat gains.

Blue areas show Democrat gains.

Read it all….

From pipes to politics - Joe is your man!

From pipes to politics - Joe is your man!

Joe the Plumber a.k.a. Samuel J. Wurzelbacher may yet reach that higher income bracket – the 5% percentile with earnings over $250,000 – that he ran by Obama on that fateful encounter down the street from where he lived. How you might ask? Forget about the pipe dream of owning – his own plumbing business (or was that a partnership) Joe the Plumber has been offered a book deal (which in an earlier post I predicted he might) and he has opened a grand new website to dispense his pearls of wisdom!

But ouch but it’ll cost ya! Although Joe has been kind enough to offer free membership to all those who can’t afford his ‘fee’ – but it is $14.95 for the rest of ya! You betcha! Wouldn’t make more sense to put a charity button on his site – like all the other bloggers ~ get in line!

Read more at…

knoxvillepauljrichardsafpge

“On Monday, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain will meet in Chicago at transition headquarters,” Obama Transition spox Stephanie Cutter just announced. “It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality.”

McCain ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., Obama’s incoming White House chief of staff, will be there. Graham and Emanuel worked well together on negotiating the presidential debates.

In May, Obama alluded to putting McCain in his Cabinet when discussing how former President Abraham Lincoln put rivals in his Cabinet.

“Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his Cabinet because whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was how can we get this country through this time of crisis,” Obama said. “And I think that has to be the approach that one takes, whether it’s vice president or Cabinet, whoever, and by the way that does not exclude Republicans either. You know my attitude is – is that whoever is the best person for the job is the person I want.”

Obama had been answering a question about naming Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, as his running mate, but he added, “if I really thought that John McCain was the absolute best person for the Department of the Homeland Security, I would put him in there. I would, if I thought that he was the best. Now, I’m not saying I do. I’m just saying, that’s got to be the approach that you take because part of, part of the change that I’m looking for is — is to make sure that we, we’re reminded of what we have in common as Americans. We spend so much time, our politics is all built around trying to divide us.”

There is no indication Obama intends to offer McCain a position in his Cabinet, or that McCain would accept, but the two are expected to discuss areas where they can work together — the environment and national service, for instance.

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‘Good Morning America’s’ Chris Cuomo Grills ’60s Radical Bill Ayers

William Ayers, the 1960s radical whose violent history became a focal point in the 2008 presidential election, said today that the Republicans unfairly “demonized” him in an attempt to damage the campaign of President-elect Barack Obama.

Ayers remained militant in his defense of his bomb-throwing past and repeated a statement that has infuriated his critics: “I don’t think we did enough.”

The college professor also argued to “Good Morning America’s” Chis Cuomo today that the bombing campaign by the group he helped found, the Weather Underground, was not terrorism.

The Weather Underground bombed the Capitol, the Pentagon and the New York City Police Department to protest the Vietnam War.

“It’s not terrorism because it doesn’t target people, to kill or injure,” Ayers insisted.

Ayers became a bogeyman for Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, who demanded to know more about Obama’s relationship with his Chicago neighbor. Palin accused Obama of “palling around … with a terrorist.”

Breaking his silence, Ayers told Cuomo that the GOP attack was a “dishonest narrative…to demonize me.”

He added, “I don’t buy the idea that guilt by association should have any part of our politics,” he said.

Ayers scoffed at the Republican effort to make his ties to Obama appear suspicious.

“This idea that we need to know more, like there’s some dark, hidden secret, some secret link,” Ayers said. “It’s a myth thrown up by people who want to exploit the politics of fear.”

But he was unapologetic about his militant actions during the Vietnam War.

“What you call the violent past, that was a time when thousands of people were being murdered every month by our own government… We were on the right side,” he told “GMA.”

The co-founder of the Weather Underground was, as McCain has claimed, unrepentant about the the bombings his group committed during the 1960s.

“The content of the Vietnam protest is that there were despicable acts going on, but the despicable acts were being done by our goverment… I never hurt or killed anyone,” Ayers said.

“Frankly, I dont think we did enough, just as today I dont’ think we’ve done enough to stop these wars,” he said.

Ayers Says He Is ‘Family Friend’ of Obama
Ayers did soften his stand on violence during the “GMA” interview.

“We knew it was wrong. We knew it was illegal. We knew it was immoral,” he said, but they felt they “had to do more” to stop the Vietnam war.

He urged people today “to participate in resistance, in nonviolent,direct action” to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ayers, 63, currently a distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, became a political piñata for McCain, R-Ariz., and Palin during the presidential campaign.

Despite Obama’s attempt to portray their relationship as a distant one, Ayers, in a new afterward to his book “Fugitive Days,” describes Obama as a “neighbor and family friend.”

On “GMA,” Ayers again downplayed any close ties to Obama despite the reference to”family friend.”

“I’m talking there about the fact that I became an issue, unwillingly and unwittingly,” he said. “It was a profoundly dishonest narrative… I’m describing there how the blogosphere characterized the relationship.”

“I would say, really, that we knew each other in a professional way on the same level of, say, thousands of other people,” he said.

He added, echoing a phrase that Obama used to describe Ayers, “I am a guy around the neighborhood.”

Ayers acknowledged that he held a reception in his home when Obama began his political run for state office.

“He was probably in 20 homes that day,” Ayers said.

During the campaign, Obama tried to defuse the Ayers issue by condemning Ayers’ past actions as “detestable.”

“The notion that … me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense,” Obama argued.

Sarah Palin Still Concerned About Ayers Tie
Ayers made a point of remaining silent during the presidential race, but his proximity to Obama was highlighted on Election Day when the two men nearly ran into each other in the same polling place. As recently as Wednesday, Palin was still raising the Ayers’ issue, telling NBC that she was still concerned about Obama’s relationship to the former radical. Palin was the fiercest critic of the Obama-Ayers tie, accusing Obama of “palling around with a domestic terrorist.” Ayers was a co-founder of the Weather Underground, a radical anti-war group said responsible for a militant bombing campaign against government targets.

While he was a fugitive, he married Bernardine Dorhn, another member of the Weather Underground.

Obama and Ayers have several connections. The two men have also served on boards together, including the Woods Fund of Chicago and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

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November 12, 2008: The Day in 100 Seconds

After much anticipation from a room full of reporters and other curiosity-seekers, Sarah Palin this morning took four questions from reporters in a press conference that lasted 11 minutes.

Actually, taking away Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s opening statement, the session lasted under 10 minutes.

Palin was on stage with 13 other Republican governors — all men — who received zero attention from the assembled crowd.

After the third question, an RGA aide tried to end the session but Perry interjected and allowed for a fourth question.

Palin sought to deflect attention from herself and talk about the governors as a group, but all the questions centered on her past and future.

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Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska spoke at The Republican Governors Association in Miami on Thursday

MIAMI — Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska did something here on Thursday that she did not do in her entire campaign as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee: she stood behind a lectern and held a news conference. She was asked what had changed.

“The campaign is over,” she said.

Granted, the question and answer session lasted only four minutes, and for only four questions. As she stood on a stage in a hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay, surrounded by 12 fellow governors, Ms. Palin was asked what message she hoped to get across.

“I’m trying to convey the message that Republican governors are a unique team,” said Ms. Palin, who said she was uninterested in discussing the campaign.

But Ms. Palin did allow herself a look back after the brief news conference ended, as she addressed a session of the Republican Governors Association and told them that she had managed to keep busy since their last conference.

“I had a baby, I did some traveling, I very briefly expanded my wardrobe, I made a few speeches, I met a few VIPS, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey,” she said.

And yes, she spoke again of “Joe the Plumber,” the Ohio man who briefly dominated the McCain-Palin campaign and its talk about taxes.

Ms. Palin thanked the people who attended her rallies, including young women she hopes she has influenced.

“I am going to remember all the young girls who came up to me at rallies to see the first woman having the privilege of carrying our party’s VP nomination,” she said. “We’re going to work harder, we’re going to be stronger, we’re going to do better and one day, one of them will be the president.”

That raised again the question surrounding Ms. Palin since the election ended: will she run in 2012?

“The future is not that 2012 Presidential race, it’s next year and our next budgets,” she said. It is in 2010, she said, that “we’ll have 36 governors positions open.”

Ms. Palin tried to downplay her celebrity (even after a week in which she was featured in interviews on NBC, FOX News and CNN). In her speech, she tried to change the focus from herself to the work that Republican governors must now do, including developing energy resources to health care reform.

“I am not going to assume that the answer is for the federal government to just take it over and try to run America’s health care system,” Ms. Palin said. “Heaven forbid.”

She implored her fellow Republican governors to “show the federal government the way,” while also reforming their own party.

“We are the minority party. Let us resolve not to be the negative party,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us build our case with actions, not just with words.”

Her appearance was the highly anticipated moment of the conference, coming a day after other emerging governors spoke about the direction of the Republican Party. Entering the political wilderness after its losses this month, the group that many consider its future met to talk about what went wrong, and what to do next.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who was very nearly Senator John McCain’s running mate this year, told the decidedly subdued, post-election conference Wednesday about a revelation he had recently while looking into the bathroom mirror at his home in Minnesota.

Mr. Pawlenty said that after wearily returning from the campaign trail, he looked at himself in the mirror and complained about what he saw to his wife, Mary. “I said, ‘Mary, look at me,’ “ he said. “ ‘I mean, my hairline’s receding, these crow’s feet and wrinkles are multiplying on my face by the day, I’ve been on the road eating junk food, I’m getting flabby, these love handles are flopping over the side of my belt.’

“I said, ‘Is there anything you can tell me that would give me some hope, some optimism, some encouragement?’ “ he said. “And she looked at me and she said, ‘Well, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight.’ “

As his fellow governors laughed, he came to the moral of the story: “If we are going to successfully travel the road to improvement, as Republicans, we need to see clearly, and we need to speak to each other candidly about the state of our party.”

The long, sometimes painful post-mortem of the election — where Republicans were widely repudiated, losing the White House and more seats in Congress — began in earnest here among Republican governors, a group that has traditionally served as a wellspring of new ideas and talent for the party. It was, at times, a bit glum.

Frank Luntz, the communications strategist, gave the Republicans a slideshow describing how Republicans have just endured their worst back-to-back elections since 1930 and 1932. And Mr. Luntz said that the prospect of sharing his polling research with a group of Republicans gave him pause. “I understand how Dr. Kevorkian feels at an AARP convention,” he said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, another rising star in the party who is considered potential presidential fodder, said that the party needed to recapture the high ground on the ethics and good government, and that it could draw lessons from the high-tech campaign that Barack Obama waged.

“We should learn from that,” Mr. Jindal said.

Mr. Pawlenty kicked off the conference with a somewhat gloomy appraisal of where things stand for the Republican Party.

“We cannot be a majority governing party when we essentially cannot compete in the Northeast, we are losing our ability to compete in Great Lakes States, we cannot compete on the West Coast, we are increasingly in danger of competing in the Mid-Atlantic States, and the Democrats are now winning some of the Western States,” he said. “That is not a formula for being a majority governing party in this nation.”

“And similarly we cannot compete, and prevail, as a majority governing party if we have a significant deficit, as we do, with women, where we have a large deficit with Hispanics, where we have a large deficit with African-American voters, where we have a large deficit with people of modest incomes and modest financial circumstances,” he said. “Those are not factors that make up a formula for success going forward.”

“There will be calls, and voices across the country for Republicans to return to traditional conservative approaches in almost all respects,” he said, adding that there would also be calls to modernize the party.

“The good news is both are true, and both can be harmonized in my view,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “We can be both conservative and we can be modern at the same time.”

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Opposing view: Lieberman Must Go

A look back: Joe Lieberman Attacks Barack Obama, Democratic Party

I think the people on the McCain side were so obsessed with being negative and literally trying to destroy Barack Obama – over getting out their message. What they done is to feed the media with one haphazard negative attack after another — was Obama a terrorist or a socialist, and naturally the media seized on these — Palin’s famous ‘palling around’ rendition – over what they had planned to do for the country.

The atmosphere at McCain and particularly Palin rallies became so negative – that if the McCain camp had a message it wasn’t getting out over reporters of mob-like crowds shouting ‘kill him’, ‘off with his head’, ‘traitor’ and ‘terrorist’. While the McCain camp got what it wanted – in it’s calculated decision to go extremely negative – there were reports of campaign staff going out with the message that Osama and Obama are the same in that they both have terrorist friends. Or the racist overtones of the leaflets – and the sick joke gone-to-far robo-call calls – what the McCain camp got is a marginal constituency of people to go along with this – under the over arching message that if you didn’t come on their side then you were not pro-American, and likely were not putting Country First – what the McCain camp didn’t get was the support of the majority – who saw this as going in the wrong direction.

The way the McCain campaign was run was similar to the way he conducted himself in the debates, where McCain was more interested in sniping, taking off the gloves and kicking some you know what…, Barack Obama wasn’t as interested in scoring points – in realizing that this was one of the biggest audiences he was going to get, and therefore there was no better time to get across his message as clear and succinctly as he could. This was crystallized particularly in the second debate. And the following press coverage and American public came away with the view of just how well Obama did get his message across, versus the McCain coverage which was more about what was he doing during the debate, all the face pulling, the arrogant posturing, and the ‘that one’ comment. What McCain should have realized is that those antics and the antics of his and Palin’s stoked-up mob-like rallies – was off message, it created a new focus away from his campaign message. McCain and Palin lost because they were not connecting with anything people wanted to hear.

John McCain joked with Leno Tuesday that his defeat was the media's fault.

John McCain joked with Leno Tuesday that his defeat was the media's fault.

Making his first public comment a week after he lost the election to Barack Obama, John McCain joked with “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno that his defeat was “all the press’ fault” and that he’s “ready to go again” in 2012.

McCain’s appearance, which was tied to Veteran’s Day and follows two days of televised interviews with his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was to air later Tuesday night on NBC stations.

In keeping with the Veteran’s Day creed of remaining a “good soldier,” McCain refused to place any blame for his loss on Palin and offered several familiar refrains about his running mate and the campaign.

“The one thing I think Americans don’t want is a sore loser,” he noted after Leno tried several times to corner him about Palin’s reported problematic behavior, the media’s perceived tilt toward Obama and other issues that plagued his run for the White House. “I’m a fighter,” he said, with a laugh. “I knew I had a headwind. I can read the polls. They tried to keep them away from me. But I knew we had a real headwind.”

McCain said that since the election ended he’s been “sleeping like a baby — I sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours. . . .” He seemed relaxed and comfortable, happy to be rid of the Secret Service protection that guarded him 24/7 as a candidate and amused at all the post-mortems that have filled the papers and cable news shows after the race ended.

Asked the main reason he lost, he joshed that it was because of his “personality — maybe too many people saw me on the Jay Leno show.” The late night host did prod him about the dichotomy of his personality during the campaign, however, and how the amusing and friendly McCain seen on Saturday Night Live and the Al Smith dinner contrasted so sharply with his often gruff and angry posture on the stump. “These are tough times,” McCain replied. “People didn’t want a stand-up comic.”

Among other subjects discussed during The Tonight Show appearance:

*Anonymous McCain campaign aides critical of Palin:

    “I think I have at least a thousand quote top advisers. [It’s always] ‘a top adviser said. . . ‘ [They’re probably] people that I’ve never even heard of, much less a top advisor or a high-ranking Republican official. These things go on in campaigns and you just move on. I’m just very proud to have had Sarah Palin and her family, a wonderful family [join the campaign.]”

*Joe Lieberman’s future in Congress:

    “One of the finest, most wonderful men I’ve ever known in my life. . . . I obviously don’t know what’s going to happen. On national security issues, he’s really really good. . . I think that Joe will remain what he is: an independent who stands up for what he believes in. And we need more people like that. “

*Joe the Plumber:

    “I loved him, a great guy. I got to know him a bit. He’s the classic American trying to get ahead, trying to make it. I’m not kidding you, because we took polls all the time, that guy went from zero to 70% in name ID in 48 hours. It was amazing, amazing.”

*Running again in 2012:

    “I wouldn’t think so, my friend. It’s been a great experience and we’re going to have another generation of leaders come along.”
    *The GOP’s future: “Our party has a lot of work to do. We just got back from the woodshed.”

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McCain on Jay Leno: Reflects campaign experience

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The full Democratic caucus will vote on whether Joe Lieberman is allowed to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee at its caucus meeting next week, a leadership aide confirms to us.

Previously, Reid’s office had held this possibility out but hadn’t made a final decision on whether to throw Lieberman’s fate to the full Dem caucus for a vote.

In the wake of Obama’s statement today that he doesn’t hold any “grudges” against Lieberman and his decision not to take a position on whether Lieberman keeps his chairmanship, I emailed a leadership aide to ask whether the vote would definitely go forward. His response:

    “Yes — this is a decision that will be made by the caucus next week. Absent a stunning series of events there will be a vote next week in the caucus on whether to strip Senator Lieberman of the chairmanship.”

That would appear to make it official.

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I think Palin was the golden goose who couldn’t lay McCain his egg.

Palin does interview with Greta at Fox News

Palin does interview with Greta at Fox News

Sarah Palin sat down with Fox News’ Greta van Susteren to discuss the 2008 campaign and her political future. The wide-ranging interview covered such familiar topics as the $150,000 spent on Palin’s wardrobe for the campaign, as well as the report that she was unable to name all the countries in North America and did not understand that Africa is a continent rather than a nation. Palin denied any knowledge of the RNC’s extravagant clothing bills, going so far as to say that she’s never set foot in a Neiman Marcus (one of the upscale stores where the RNC racked up a $75,000 bill). Palin also denied the report that she was unaware Africa is a continent.

The governor also lashed out at bloggers “sitting in their parents’ basement, wearing their pajamas” for some of the questions that were raised about her record and credibility. She was particularly incensed at the questions that were floated about whether or not she was the mother of her youngest son, Trig.

A gift for Sarah Palin as winking and nodding may not always be enough!

A gift for Sarah Palin as winking and nodding may not always be enough!

Palin refused to say whether she was planning a run for the White House in 2012, but the devoutly faithful governor said she would wait for a sign from God, and that she is confident God would show the way to the White House.

    Faith is a very big part of my life. And putting my life in my creator’s hands – this is what I always do. I’m like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.

Palin puts faith in God for 2012

:: ::

Fox News Greta Van Susteren interviews Sarah Palin Part 1

Fox News Greta Van Susteren interviews Sarah Palin Part 2

Fox News Greta Van Susteren interviews Sarah Palin Part 3

Source: HP

11-10-2008-2-03-05-am

(CNN) — As Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin heads to Florida to attend the Republican Governors Association annual conference in Miami, she says she’d consider a run for the White House in 2012 or beyond.

Less than one week after the victory by Barack Obama and Joe Biden over the GOP ticket in the presidential election, John McCain’s running mate is speaking out about her political future in national politics.

“Don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is and even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll just plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door,” Palin said in an interview with Fox News Monday.

> Palin also sits down Wednesday for a one on one interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Tune into the Situation Room, starting at 4 pm ET Wednesday to see Wolf’s candid conversation with Palin.

Source: CNN

Palin told Alaska reporters the Republican ticket could not overcome the headwinds.

Palin told Alaska reporters the Republican ticket could not overcome the headwinds.

(CNN) – Sarah Palin told local reporters in Alaska that unhappiness with the Bush administration’s Iraq war policy and spending record were responsible for the GOP ticket’s defeat this year.

“I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years, that Americans were kind of shaking their heads like going, wait a minute, how did we run up a $10 trillion debt in a Republican administration?” Palin told the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska’s KTUU Channel 2.

“How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration? If we’re talking change, we want to get far away from what it was that the present administration represented and that is to a great degree what the Republican Party at the time had been representing. So people desiring change I think went as far from the administration that is presently seated as they could. It’s amazing that we did as well as we did.”

Palin returned to Alaska last week amid growing speculation about her political future. The Alaska governor is slated to attend the Republican Governors Association’s meeting in Miami this week.

Source: CNN

11-10-2008-5-56-15-pm A few days before the election, a Democratic strategist privately worried that a Vice-President Joe Biden was destined for a White House career of dissatisfaction and idle-hands mischief.

“You can’t just have a guy like him at loose ends, he’d go crazy,” said a Democratic consultant who knows the affable, bright and mercilessly quotable soon-to-be ex-chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “They need to keep him busy. Nobody over there wants him getting into the Secretary of State’s [business].”

Harnessing Biden’s considerable talents and containing his flaws will be an ongoing challenge for Obama. But Democratic insiders say the appointment of tough-guy Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff—and the administration’s need to forge a governing coalition that includes some Republicans—has brought Biden’s upcoming role more clearly into focus: He’ll play the good cop.

The Democrats’ apparent failure to win the 60 Senate seats necessary to halt a GOP filibuster has created the need for inter-party ambassadors like Biden who are practiced at the art of aisle crossing. In his 36-year Senate career, Biden was never considered a bomb-throwing ideologue, and he still has plenty of chits to cash in with Republicans on the Hill.

“He’s probably got more friends among Senate Republicans than John McCain does, and that’s a huge plus for Barack Obama, who is committed to breaking the partisan roadblock of recent years,” said Biden spokesman David Wade shortly before Election Day.

And while Emanuel’s bad-cop reputation may be overstated, all those F-bombs and threats to pulverize GOP incumbents during his tenure of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee boss create an opening for Biden, who maxes out on the Mr. Nice Guy scale.

“I really have genuine relationships with Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. I mean, I—I hope this is not self serving, but I’ve gained the respect,” Biden told an Ohio campaign rally in late October. “I’ve been able to literally work with the Republican leaders, of the committees as well as, as well as the Senate,” he added. “And Barack knows that, Barack has served there and sees that… I’m confident that I’ll be spending a fair amount of time [in Congress].”

In an interview with the New Yorker last month, Biden selected a lofty, if somewhat dubious role model: Lyndon Johnson, who plunged into a deep depression when John F. Kennedy assigned him the role as emissary to a Senate he had bullied, cajoled and utterly dominated as majority leader in the 1950s.

Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Democrat who’s fond of Biden, painted a different picture: “I can see Joe in his room [just off the Senate chamber], smiling, slapping people on the back, making his points, working the members.”

Indeed, Biden told the New Yorker that his style would be more honey than sting: “I have never ever, ever screwed another senator,” he said.

On top of that, Biden could not be more different than the outgoing vice president, who never visited the weekly Democratic caucus lunches in the Senate and had virtually no relationships with the other side of the aisle. It’s unlikely that Biden will ever be caught telling another senator to “Go [expletive] yourself” as Dick Cheney famously said to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy. Unless he’s kidding.

Biden’s best Republican friends in the Senate are centrists, including retiring Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel and the top Republican on the Foreign Relations committee, Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, with whom he’s forged a close working partnership.

Biden is equally popular with some GOP staffers, drawing top-level Republican aides into free-ranging discussion on nettlesome policy problems, even setting up secure computer forums where aides can swap ideas without partisan recrimination, according to a person who participated in one of the chat groups.

The veep in waiting is not a favorite with Republicans hard-liners, though, who still hold grudges over his tough questioning of former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The conservative bloc in the Senate remains unified, and could still engineer a filibuster of Obama priorities.

“Joe’s really well liked—and he can be a real stand-up guy—but it’s going to be tough for him,” said an aide to a top Senate Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We’re not in the mood to make deals. People like him, sure, but people are going to change their votes on defense or health care or taxes just because Joe Biden’s a great guy?”

Biden may find it even tougher with Democratic senators—thrilled to have one of their own in the White House again—who may want to simply bypass the vice president and forge a relationship directly with Obama.

“He will carve out a role for himself, the problem is that he’s going to have a lot of competition—and it’s competition that won’t be willing to step aside for him,” says Jennifer Duffy, who covers the Senate for the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

Obama hasn’t served a full term in the Senate but he’s got plenty of friends in the Democratic caucus: Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, up-and-coming Missouri freshman Claire McCaskill and an ailing but still powerful Ted Kennedy. Obama also has a unique relationship with one of the most conservative senators, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, with whom he shares a passion for government reform.

Then there’s former Majority Leader Tom Daschle—a well-connected kitchen-cabinet Obama adviser who is likely to play some kind of role in the administration.

But Biden’s biggest competition may come from the president-elect himself.

“Obama already has his own relationships in the Senate so, in a sense, he doesn’t need an emissary,” Duffy adds. “He’s his own go-to guy.”

Obama has gone to great lengths to establish personal relationships with legislators, creating direct lines of communication that will be handy even if he runs into problems with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“Barack’s been seriously keeping touch with the [fiscally conservative Democratic] Blue Dogs and all the other foot soldiers—he’s intent on not making the same mistakes we did,” said a former aide to Bill Clinton, who worked his congressional transition team in the early 1990s. “We thought all we had to do was to keep in touch with the leaders and we left the members and committee chairs alone. That was a huge mistake and it killed us on the health care… Barack’s not making that mistake.”

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ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sarah Palin has returned to Alaska fully recast and amplified.

Adored by many national conservatives, Ms. Palin is a prospect for a presidential run in 2012, supporters say. Caricatured by opponents, she is a candidate for political oblivion, say others.

Regardless, Ms. Palin told reporters the day after Election Day, “This has been all positive for me.”

Alaska, too, has been recast and amplified in the 10 weeks since Ms. Palin soared to national prominence as the Republican nominee for vice president, and the process has not necessarily been all positive.

Oil prices, which provide the bulk of state revenue, were well over $100 a barrel in late August when Ms. Palin left to campaign with Senator John McCain. Now they are slumming south of $60 a barrel, below the level required to balance the state budget. Increased scrutiny of Ms. Palin’s time as governor often painted an unflattering portrait of her administration. Investigative news reports have portrayed Ms. Palin as being consumed with personal matters and vindictiveness, particularly in the controversy over the firing of her public safety commissioner in what has become known as Troopergate.

Many Democrats, her allies in passing key legislation to raise taxes on oil companies and spur development of a natural gas pipeline, are outraged by her partisan attacks on now President-elect Barack Obama and on the tactics of the McCain-Palin campaign here at home.

Within the state’s Republican establishment — never Ms. Palin’s comfort zone — there is tension over the fate of Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted last month of failing to disclose gifts and free home renovations he received. Ms. Palin called on Mr. Stevens to resign even as state Republicans urged his re-election. A preliminary vote count suggests he could win a seventh full term.

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Even if Mr. Stevens wins, he could still be forced to resign, and Ms. Palin is widely viewed as a strong candidate to win his seat in the special election that would have to be held to replace him.

Ms. Palin has largely dodged questions about her long-term political future, and as she gets back to governing full time, few people know what to expect from her in the immediate future.

“She’s coming back to a whole different world from when she left,” said State Representative John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole who is chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. “If she comes back with a puffed up ego there’s going to be problems. But if she comes back ready to work, that will be better.”

Ms. Palin, in an interview in her office on Friday, said she was ready to work.

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“Now we kick in that fiscal conservativeness that needs to be engaged, and we progress this state with $57-a-barrel oil,” Ms. Palin said. She said the state would have to “be prudent with public dollars and provide services more efficiently than have ever been provided in the state of Alaska before.”

The price and production of oil determines state finances: taxes on oil bring in about 85 percent of state revenue. To balance the budget for the 2008-9 fiscal year, the price of oil needs to average $74 over the 12 months, said Karen J. Rehfeld, director of the state office of management and budget. If it falls below that average, the state could have to make emergency cuts or dip into a reserve account that contains several billion dollars. High prices early in the fiscal year may help keep the average up this year, but next year is another matter.

Ms. Palin, first elected governor in 2006, has governed only in times of budget surpluses, and lawmakers said they had many questions about how she would lead now.

“I just don’t know what kind of philosophy she’s going to have when she comes back,” said State Representative John Harris, a Republican and the departing House speaker.

Noting that his chief of staff, John Bitney, was once the governor’s legislative director, Mr. Harris added, “We were just trying to figure out what kind of policy things the governor may want to address and we were kind of scratching our heads, because we don’t know.”

Mr. Harris was among several lawmakers who questioned whether Ms. Palin would spend the rest of her term, which ends in 2010, positioning herself to run for national office. Would she pursue a socially conservative agenda, promoting bills to restrict abortion or gay rights, issues she largely passed on in her first two years in office because she was trying to win support from Democrats on other issues? Would she move to the center? Would she continue to rail against “the old boy network,” stoking her reformist image at the expense of her fellow Republicans, whose party has been tarnished by corruption scandals, including that of Mr. Stevens?

Ms. Palin rejected the idea that she would be playing to a larger audience.

“My actions will continue to be first and foremost in good service to the state of Alaska,” she said in the interview.

But other than suggesting that cost cuts were to come, Ms. Palin did not hint at a broader agenda.

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The governor is due to submit her 2009-10 budget next month, and neither she nor her aides offered specifics about what it might contain. The McCain-Palin campaign portrayed Ms. Palin as an energy expert, and one top priority Ms. Palin expressed well before she was selected to run for the vice presidency was to improve energy sources for different parts of the state. That includes finding cheaper sources of energy for rural villages, which often rely on inefficient diesel power, as well as for cities like Fairbanks, the state’s second largest, where utilities rely on oil and coal.

The state also faces questions over issues like financing Medicaid, increasing mining in environmentally sensitive areas and spending on transportation projects, as well as the complex negotiations involved in trying to develop the gas pipeline with the cooperation of the same oil companies whose taxes Ms. Palin has raised.

Ms. Palin’s partisanship on the campaign trail may be what most surprised people at home.

“She’s coming back to a divided state, where Democrats had supported her but they watched her for two months call the president-elect of the United States a terrorist sympathizer,” said State Representative Les Gara, Democratic of Anchorage. “She called him a socialist.”

Her partisanship also surprised some conservative Republicans, who were accustomed to feeling ignored while Ms. Palin nurtured alliances with Democrats and moderate Republicans. Now, some Republicans who have been at odds with Ms. Palin in the past are wondering if her partisan tone on the campaign trail might mean they will have her ear more than before.

“It appears that way,” said Mr. Coghill, the Republican from North Pole. Mr. Coghill said Ms. Palin’s emphasis on socially conservative issues on the campaign trail has helped persuade him that now is the time to ask Ms. Palin to actively support a bill that would require minors seeking abortions to notify their parents in advance.

“There are some people in our caucus who are skeptical” that Ms. Palin might ally herself more with Republicans now, Mr. Coghill said. “But they’re willing to take the chance, to step up and play.”

Ms. Palin suggested in the interview that how she ran for vice president would not shape how she governs Alaska.

“If anybody wants to try to criticize and say, ‘Oh, all of a sudden she’s an obsessive partisan,’ they’re wrong,” she said.

But she did allow that she thinks beyond her current role.

“Around every corner is something new,” Ms. Palin said, “so I look forward to seeing what happens next. But for now, it’s great to be back in the governor’s office.”

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Senator Barack Obama, greeting President Bush at the White House in February 2005.

Senator Barack Obama, greeting President Bush at the White House in February 2005.

WASHINGTON — For nearly two years on the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama rarely missed a chance to take a swipe at President Bush. The name George W. Bush invariably followed the phrase “failed policies” in Mr. Obama’s speeches. “When George Bush steps down,” Mr. Obama once declared, “the world is going to breathe a sigh of relief.”

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On Monday, Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, may find himself conveniently forgetting those words — or at least delicately stepping around the fact that he had said them. As the president-elect, he will be welcomed at the White House as an honored guest of its current occupant, Mr. Bush, for a meeting that could be as awkward as it is historic.

In a time-honored tradition of American democracy, Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, will receive a tour of their new home from Mr. Bush and the first lady, Laura Bush. Then the men will split off to begin the formal transfer of power, all the more urgent this year because of the financial crisis. Mr. Obama has said he expects a “substantive conversation between myself and the president.”

But there will also be a subtext to the session: the personal chemistry between two leaders whose worldviews are miles apart. The ritual visit is occurring uncommonly early this year, less than a week after Mr. Obama handily defeated Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was the Republican nominee and Mr. Bush’s preferred candidate. Emotions may still be raw.

“I’m not going to anticipate problems,” Mr. Obama said Friday at his first news conference as president-elect. “I’m going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship.”

Mr. Bush, the president-elect, visiting with President Bill Clinton at the White House in 2000.

Mr. Bush, the president-elect, visiting with President Bill Clinton at the White House in 2000.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama have had little chance to forge the kind of personal relationship that might prompt a smooth handoff. In his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama wrote less than admiringly of his first face-to-face encounter with the president, at a White House breakfast for new senators after the 2004 election, where Mr. Bush outlined his second-term agenda.

“The president’s eyes became fixed; his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty,” Mr. Obama wrote. “As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring.”

Mr. Bush, meanwhile, was privately critical of Mr. Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary race, telling friends that he thought Mr. Obama’s chief rival for the party’s nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, was “more experienced and more ready to be president,” said one friend of Mr. Bush’s who had such a conversation. But Mr. Obama ran a good campaign — Mr. Bush is someone who appreciates that — and the election last week might have eased his doubts.

“President Bush is a realist,” said this friend, who spoke anonymously to disclose his private conversation with the president. “He has a way of coming to grips with things and moving on. The people have spoken.”

For Mr. Bush, the meeting has a distinct upside: the chance to take the edge off his unpopularity. Democrats are already praising him as gracious for his post-election speech in the Rose Garden, where he said it would be a “stirring sight” to see the Obama family move into the White House. The meeting on Monday will give Mr. Bush an opportunity to produce lasting images of that graciousness.

“The important thing he gets out of it,” the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said, “is a public perception of him as somebody who is leaving in classy fashion, by opening his house and his information and his government. He wants to leave on a note that says he did everything possible to help this next president run the country.”

But such meetings can be fraught with political and personal danger. On Inauguration Day in 2001, President Bill Clinton invited Mr. Bush for coffee before the ceremony but kept his ever-punctual successor waiting for 10 minutes, recalled Mr. Bush’s first press secretary, Ari Fleischer. Even more uncomfortable was the presence of Vice President Al Gore, who lost the presidential election to Mr. Bush after a bitterly contested Florida recount.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan, right, and President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in 1980.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan, right, and President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in 1980.

“Clinton was his normal gregarious self, but Vice President Gore was not a happy camper,” Mr. Fleischer said. “I think it was a very sour moment for him, and you could kind of feel it in the room.”

In 1980, after President Jimmy Carter lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan, the two met at the White House. Mr. Carter came away feeling that Mr. Reagan had not been paying attention.

“President Carter was kind of taken aback by the meeting with Reagan,” said Jody Powell, Mr. Carter’s former press secretary. “There was a point where he sort of wandered off and asked questions that seemed to be only tangentially related to what they were talking about.”

And though the Carter White House had offered to share information about efforts to end the Iranian hostage crisis, Mr. Powell said, “My impression was that they wanted us to handle it without them being involved enough to have to take responsibility for whatever happened.”

So, too, may it be with Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama over the economy. Mr. Bush has invited world leaders to Washington on Friday and Saturday for an international conference on the economy. Mr. Obama and his team have declined to attend. Mr. Obama supports a new economic stimulus package; the Bush White House is cool to that idea.

The White House says Mr. Obama has been there seven times during Mr. Bush’s tenure, most recently in September for a much-publicized meeting on the $700 billion financial rescue package. That session blew up when House Republicans, backed by Mr. McCain, balked at the plan. Curiously enough, Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush were on the same side.

Perhaps Mr. Obama will remind Mr. Bush of that when he sees him on Monday. Or perhaps he will remind Mr. Bush of another encounter, at a White House reception in January 2005 when, according to Mr. Obama’s book, the affable president offered a dollop of hand sanitizer — “Not wanting to seem unhygienic,” Mr. Obama wrote, “I took a squirt” — and then pulled him aside for some unsolicited political advice.

“You’ve got a bright future, very bright,” Mr. Bush began, by Mr. Obama’s account. The president went on to warn the new senator that his celebrity status could hurt him: “Everybody’ll be waiting for you to slip, know what I mean? So watch yourself.”

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His focused effort to target a group that had heavily favored Republicans paid off, an exit poll shows.

As he vaulted into national acclaim with his 2004 Democratic convention speech, Barack Obama directly took on the assumption that his party should cede religious voters to the Republicans.

“We worship an awesome God in the blue states,” he said, pointedly adopting words from a song familiar to churchgoers, particularly younger ones.

The four-year effort by Obama, who is Christian, to narrow the gap between Democratic and Republican support among religious voters paid off last week when he won the race for the White House.

Exit polls showed the dramatic effect: Obama won 43% of voters who said they attend church weekly, eight percentage points higher than 2004 Democratic nominee John F. Kerry. Among occasional worshipers, Obama won 57%, 11 percentage points higher than Kerry, according to the National Election Pool exit survey.

When looking at how members of different faiths voted, the movement among Catholics is striking. They sided 52% to 47% with President Bush in 2004. But this year, they went 54% to 45% for Obama. That means Obama had more support among Catholics than did Kerry, himself a Catholic, by seven percentage points.

“Obama did better than Kerry among pretty much every religious group,” said Greg Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life who analyzed the poll results.

Even among voters who describe themselves as born-again Christians or evangelicals, a group that tends to vote Republican, Obama improved on Kerry’s standing — although he came in a distant second to GOP nominee John McCain. Kerry had won 21% of evangelical voters; Obama won 26%.

The shift by religious voters may have resulted partly from changes in the electorate — voter participation by blacks and Latinos grew, and both groups tend to be regular churchgoers. Yet there is no doubt that secular voters were more supportive of Obama than religious ones, according to the exit poll.

The Obama campaign, however, made sure to court religious voters and took advantage of his connections to influential Christian leaders.

Nearly two years ago, when voters knew little about him, the Illinois senator stood alongside nationally known author and Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest for a televised AIDS conference. Earlier, Obama had asked Warren to review a chapter of his book “The Audacity of Hope.”

Obama again gained the attention of Christian voters in July when he pledged to expand a controversial White House program to give federal grants to churches and small community groups. The proposal, which would build on efforts by the Bush administration to direct government money to church groups, was announced in Zanesville, Ohio, a hotly contested state that Obama won on election day.

And at the Democratic National Convention in August, which held its first-ever interfaith prayer gathering, the party platform endorsed by Obama — while not backing away from its support for abortion rights — emphatically reached out to women with children who rely on programs meant to ease their struggle.

Obama’s ease in talking about his religion also helped him win over religious voters. During a presidential forum held in August at Saddleback Church, where he and McCain were interviewed separately by church leader Warren, Obama spoke about “walking humbly with our God” and quoted from the Gospel of Matthew. His acceptance speech Tuesday night echoed in parts the church-inspired speeches of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“He uses the faith language very well,” said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University professor of government who has studied the subject. And that, he said, inspired trust.

“How do you know whether to trust him or not?” Wilcox said. “If you are a deeply religious person, you want to see that he has a grounding. That authenticity is really important. It reassures people.”

Religion, for a time, became a thorn for Obama during the presidential race. He was harshly criticized for his association with the now-retired Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose incendiary sermons about white America caused an uproar and led Obama to part ways with his longtime pastor, and endured a viral e-mail campaign falsely asserting that he is Muslim.

But “there was a broad recognition that he was a sincerely religious man,” Wilcox said of Obama. “And I think that did come through.”

The Obama campaign reached out to evangelicals and other religious communities, aware of the opportunity to peel away some voters.

Douglas W. Kmiec, a Pepperdine law professor, caused a stir last spring when he publicly endorsed Obama. One month later, at a Catholic Mass to which he was invited, Kmiec was denounced from the pulpit and denied communion because of his endorsement.

Kmiec said that although Obama’s support for abortion rights contradicts official Catholic doctrine, his broader approach aligns well with the church’s beliefs on issues such as the economy, healthcare and the environment.

“I was attracted out of my Republican-ness to Sen. Obama’s side largely because I could hear, in the way he was articulating economic issues and social issues, the social gospel of the Catholic Church,” Kmiec said.

From September through election day, Kmiec traveled to key states including Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, meeting with groups of people at churches on Obama’s behalf. The election’s focus on the economy was “providential,” Kmiec said. Without the usual single-issue debate about abortion rights among Christian voters, the Obama campaign had the opportunity to make its case on other fronts.

“It moderated, it seemed to me, the amount of time that was devoted to these divisive conversations,” he said.

The election results returned Catholics to their historical Democratic moorings, which many had fled for the GOP during the Reagan years.

“That is opening a door that had been closed for a while,” Kmiec said. But whether it stays open may be determined by whether Obama’s actions match what he promised — and also by what larger political environment defines the 2012 presidential race.

“At some level, if he’s a good president, that will affect evangelicals and non-evangelicals, Catholics,” said Wilcox of Georgetown University. It is too soon, he said, to know whether Obama’s improvements among religious voters indicate a new alignment for Democrats, or were simply a verdict on the 2008 candidates.

“I would want to see this over time,” Wilcox said.

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RIGHT WING: “The game has begun,” Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience of 15 million to 20 million last week.

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity dive shamelessly in, talking about the ‘Obama recession’ and other partisan lines.

You have to give Rush Limbaugh a perverse kind of credit. At least when he is demonizing Barack Obama, fabricating Obama policies, blaming Obama for single-handedly causing the recession and the stock market crash, he doesn’t pretend to be fair.

Opening his first post-election rant against the president-elect, Limbaugh launched in with a certain relish. “The game,” he told his radio listeners, “has begun.”

Sean Hannity, on the other hand, insisted on feigning a post-election detente, telling his Fox News television audience last week, “I want Barack Obama to succeed.”

Didn’t he think anyone would notice that, just a moment later, he was back parroting the failed campaign argument that Obama is a “mystery”?

“I fear [this] is the guy that has these radical associations 20 years ago,” Hannity added, an odd way of demonstrating support for the new commander in chief.

A healthy skepticism is not only the media’s right but its obligation. Indeed, commentators at many mainstream outlets — including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal — have already argued that Obama’s best bet to succeed will be if he hews to a centrist path.

But many on the losing end of last week’s election want to hold on to their anger. And there are those in the media — led by the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity — only too ready to feed that animus, along with their own ratings.

“The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen,” Limbaugh told his radio audience of 15 million to 20 million on Thursday. “Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come. This is an Obama recession. Might turn into a depression.”

Apparently the tanking of the real estate market, record losses in the auto industry, and massive failures in the banking and investment industry have very little to do with our problems. The economic system is collapsing, Rush wants us to know, because it anticipates the tax increases Obama has pledged on capital gains and for the highest income earners.

But maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising, because radio’s Biggest Big Man also assures us that the Democrat welcomes “economic chaos” because it gives him “greater opportunity for expanded government.” In a time when the nation calls out for cool leadership and rational discussion, Limbaugh stirs the caldron, a tendency he proved in a particularly grotesque way last week when he accused Obama’s party of plotting a government takeover of 401(k) retirement plans.

“They’re going to take your 401(k), put it in the Social Security trust fund, whatever the hell that is,” Limbaugh woofed. “Trust fund, my rear end.”

A slight problem with Limbaugh’s report: Obama and the Democrats have proposed no such thing.

The proposal, in fact, emanated from a single economist, one of many experts testifying to a congressional committee.

The president-elect has thus far shown as much interest in taking over your 401(k) as he has in moving the capital to Nairobi. (If you look hard, you might find that one somewhere out there in the blogosphere, too.)

To broadcast such a report — so drained of context as to constitute a lie — would be a shameless act at any time. But Limbaugh needlessly stirred the fears of the millions he holds in his thrall — making the 401(k) thievery sound like nearly a done deal. Shameless.

Hannity and Limbaugh filleted Obama’s selection as chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, in a way that exposed their partisan gamesmanship.

Mainstream newspapers have filed plenty of unflinching accounts of Emanuel’s tough, occasionally ruthless tactics as a Democratic congressional leader and onetime operative in the Clinton White House. That assessment of bare-knuckle partisanship Hannity seized on. But it wouldn’t do to report another aspect of Emanuel’s record — his Clintonesque bent for the political center.

So the Fox-man simply created a new persona for Emanuel as, you guessed it, “one of the hardest left-wing radicals on the left.”

Ever open-minded, Hannity concluded, “I think they’re going to overreach, and I think we’re going to see the person that I think Barack Obama is. I think he is hard, hard left.”

Then, I kid you not, Hannity ended with this pledge: “We’ll see. We’ll give him an opportunity.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham apparently didn’t get the memo requiring Obama’s opponents to sink immediately and mindlessly into rank partisanship.

The South Carolina senator, one of Sen. John McCain’s closest allies in his bid for the presidency, praised Obama’s selection of Emanuel as “a wise choice.” He added that the new chief of staff could be a tough partisan, but was also “honest, direct and candid” and willing to “work to find common ground where it exists.”

Perhaps Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of those intent on poisoning the soil before bipartisanship can take root might recall words of wisdom from Brit Hume, a veteran newsman who is close to leaving the Fox anchor desk for semi-retirement.

The problem with the accusations of Obama being “dangerous” and “radical,” Hume said on election night, “was that it just didn’t fit with the man you saw before your eyes.”

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Sarah Palin was picked by John McCain as his vice presidential nominee because he saw her as the quintessential Everywoman — a person who soccer moms throughout America could relate to. Palin’s all-American qualities included a large family, a love of hunting and a taste for moose burgers. The national press began to immediately lap up all of Palin’s quirks and interests, while also pointing out that she had a rather thin résumé for a vice presidential candidate.

In time, Palin made enough mistakes to draw press attention away from her compelling narrative and toward her lack of experience. The disastrous Katie Couric interviews sealed the image of Palin as clearly out of her depth. Yet few in the media challenged the notion that Palin still possessed personal qualities that made her at least culturally similar to the typical suburban voter. But a closer look reveals that Palin may have been a bit more outside the mainstream than imagined.

The great historian Frederick Jackson Turner — famous for the “frontier thesis” — differentiated places in America based on the degree to which they were settled or, in the parlance of the day, “civilized.” In Turner’s thesis, the U.S. contained both a “heartland” and a frontier of settlement. Turner presented his thesis in 1893 — timed to coincide with a census bulletin that noted the frontier’s passing. Three years later, Turner applied his frontier thesis the hotly contested 1896 election between Democrat William Jennings Bryan and Republican William McKinley. Specifically, Turner described Bryan, who hailed from the then-barely settled Nebraska, as representing the frontier. By contrast, McKinley came from the heartland state of Ohio. McKinley of course won the election, as did a string of fellow Ohioans in the late 19th century.

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As governor of America’s “last frontier,” Palin is certainly the 2008 campaign’s frontier candidate. Many of her life experiences and her basic frame of reference are a bit exotic to those living in the Lower 48 — down in civilization. Many of these traits are cute in an offbeat, “Northern Exposure” sort of way, but there is also the flip side of the frontier, or the Jack London, “Call of the Wild” dimension. Nature in the frontier needs subduing, and Palin seems eager to get at that task. Most notably, Palin is openly hostile to the popular furry animals, such as polar bears and wolves, that populate Alaska’s wilderness.

This part of Palin’s record as governor became a problem when a 527 group picked up on the fact that she supports aerial hunting of wolves. A heavily rotated commercial from this group was devastating, showing defenseless wolves being picked off from the sky as they bite their backs in agony. Wolves are a costly problem to ranchers in Alaska because they prey on their livestock, but the problem for Palin is that they also strongly resemble Huskies. This image probably did not sit well with a dog-loving suburban mom whose idea of nature is a large-lot subdivision in the exurbs, where Huskies are always the stars of the dog park. In this one commercial, Palin goes from a goofy, fun-loving mom to a brutalizer of man’s best friend. The focus groups on this ad must have been off the charts.

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As the campaign dragged on, Palin’s frequent hunting references wore a bit thin. Alec MacGillis of The Washington Post reported on a Palin rally in New Hampshire where an attempt to bond with the local moose hunters in the crowd fell flat. He noted that only 500 permits to hunt moose are issued in the state every year. Again, this notion that a typical mom bags big game in her spare time is a frontier worldview and may not play in Peoria, Ill., or even in the now more populous Peoria, Ariz. It’s a good bet that even John McCain’s working-class hero, Joe the Plummer, never shot a moose.

The message to candidates picking a running mate based on his or her Everyman appeal — stick with the heartland. Several years back, New York Times columnist David Brooks coined the term “Patio Man” as a descriptor for residents of emerging suburbs. Were Palin a Patio Woman, the only hunting she would likely be experienced with would be tracking down parking spaces in a mall. That’s the kind of hunting that most Americans — or the 83 percent of us living in metropolitan areas — can easily relate to.

Robert E. Lang is co-director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech University, in Alexandria, Va., and an associate professor in urban affairs and planning in Virginia Tech’s School of Planning and International Affairs.

The Truth About Aerial Hunting of Wolves in Alaska

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So long as Palin is in Alaska ~ then I’m okay with that! Go Todd!!

The last public event at which Gov. Sarah Palin was accompanied by Secret Service agents during the 2008 campaign was on the day after the election, when she arrived home in Alaska on the McCain-Palin campaign plane. As the governor greeted supporters on the tarmac outside a charter jet hangar, agents formed the usual protective wall around the former vice-presidential candidate.

But that was not, apparently, the last the Palins saw of at least some of the agents.

On Thursday, according to the governor, her husband Todd, a four time champion of the Iron Dog snow machine race, took some of the agents out for a taste of his favorite subarctic sport.

“They were dying to know, ‘Well, what is that all about up there in Alaska?’” Ms. Palin said at the end of a brief interview in her office on Friday. “Well, they escorted us up to Alaska, so Todd took them out on machines. That was a blast.”

Could there have been more to it than just fun? Was the Secret Service thinking ahead, preparing for a possible future administration? Had Ms. Palin become vice president, questions loomed over whether agents would have had to accompany Mr. Palin the next time he competes in the Iron Dog, a 2,000 mile race across the tundra each February. The race is unforgiving, to say the least. This year, Mr. Palin broke his arm when he was thrown from his machine with 400 miles to go, though he got patched up and still came in fourth.

Then again, maybe the Palins just befriended some of the agents. The governor often joked on the campaign trail that her husband, an oil production supervisor on Alaska’s North Slope, “looks like one of the Secret Service guys”

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That whole anti-American, friend-to-the-terrorists thing about President-elect Barack Obama? Never mind.

Just a few weeks ago, at the height of the campaign, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told Chris Matthews of MSNBC that, when it came to Mr. Obama, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”

But there she was on Wednesday, after narrowly escaping defeat because of those comments, saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” Ms. Bachmann, a Republican, called Mr. Obama’s victory, which included her state, “a tremendous signal we sent.”

And it was not too long ago that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, accused Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”

But she took an entirely different tone on Thursday, when she chastised reporters for asking her questions about her war with some staff members in the McCain campaign at such a heady time. “Barack Obama has been elected president,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us, let us — let him — be able to kind of savor this moment, one, and not let the pettiness of maybe internal workings of the campaign erode any of the recognition of this historic moment that we’re in. And God bless Barack Obama and his beautiful family.”

There is a great tradition of paint-peeling political hyperbole during presidential campaign years. And there is an equally great tradition of backing off from it all afterward, though with varying degrees of deftness.

But given the intensity of some of the charges that have been made in the past few months, and the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s election, the exercise this year has been particularly whiplash-inducing, with its extreme before-and-after contrasts.

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The shift in tone follows the magnanimous concession speech from Mr. McCain, of Arizona, who referred to Mr. Obama’s victory Tuesday night as “a historic election” and hailed the “special pride” it held for African-Americans. That led the vice president-elect, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., to get into the act. During the campaign, Mr. Biden said he no longer recognized Mr. McCain, an old friend. Now, he says, “We’re still friends.” President Bush, in turn, also hailed Mr. Obama’s victory, saying his arrival at the White House would be “a stirring sight.”

Whether it all heralds a new era of cooperation in Washington remains to be seen, and it may be downright doubtful. But for now, at least, it would seem to be part of an apparent rush to join what has emerged as a real moment in American history.

The presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence.

“I don’t think that’s happened very often,” Ms. Goodwin said. “The best answer I can give you is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, and they recognize how the country saw this election, and how people feel that they’re living in a time of great historic moment.”

Others in the professional political class were not so sure. Some wondered whether simple pragmatism was the explanation.

“My experience is, it’s less an epiphany and more a political reality,” said Chris Lehane, a former Democratic strategist who worked on the presidential campaign of Al Gore. “I’m thinking they will continue in this direction so long as the polls indicate it’s a smart place to be.”

There are notable exceptions: Rush Limbaugh has given no quarter. And while his fellow conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have noted the significance of his victory — on Wednesday, Ms. Ingraham said “Obama did make history” and “It’s not the time to vilify him” — they seem to be in line with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Relishing his new role in the opposition camp, Mr. O’Reilly said, “The guy is still a mystery, so our oversight will be intense.”

Some lawmakers also do not appear inclined to give up the fight. Representative John A. Boehner, the House minority leader, has already criticized Mr. Obama’s choice of Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, as his chief of staff.

But other people who opposed Mr. Obama, like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, have good reason to try to make up with the winning ticket. As an ardent backer of Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman angered the Democrats, who in 2000 nominated him as their vice-presidential candidate. After losing a Democratic primary challenge in 2006 and then winning as an independent, he still continued to caucus with the Democrats.

Attending an event with Mr. McCain in York, Pa., in August, Mr. Lieberman said the race was “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”

As a speaker at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Lieberman went further than Democrats expected by criticizing Mr. Obama for “voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground.” (Mr. Obama voted for bills that included plans for withdrawal from Iraq and against others that did not.)

This week Mr. Lieberman, who has been asked by the Democratic Senate leadership to consider giving up his position as the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a statement congratulating Mr. Obama for “his historic and impressive victory.” It continued, “The American people are a people of extraordinary fairness.”

Marshall Wittmann, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, said that as far as the senator was concerned, “It’s over, and it’s genuinely time to find unity and move forward behind the new president.”

And what about that whole bit about Mr. Obama not always putting his country first? “He believes that President-elect Obama — and, then, Senator Obama — is a genuine patriot and loves his country,” Mr. Wittmann said. “The only point he was making in his campaign was about partisanship.”

Mr. Obama is apparently ready to bury the hatchet with his new fans. “President-elect Obama has made it clear that he wants to put partisanship behind and work together to solve the many challenges confronting the country,” said Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team. “We’re pleased that others do as well.”

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who will help decide Mr. Lieberman’s committee assignment, sounded less ready to forgive, at least when it came Mr. Lieberman’s support for Mr. McCain. “Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper, wrong, and I’d like — if we weren’t on television, I’d use a stronger word of describing what he did,” he said on CNN Friday.

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Headzup: Sarah Palin’s Closing Argument

Headzup: Palin In 2012

Headzup: McCain Responds To Obama Infomercial

Headzup: Sarah Palin’s $150,000 Shopping Spree

The Week In Cartoons 10/25/08

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s big victory could provide Democrats with a road map for an even bigger electoral majority in the future _ something that seemed implausible just four years ago.

Obama won in the suburbs of key states, expanded Democratic majorities in big cities and made inroads into rural areas that had been off-limits to Democrats in recent presidential elections. He also proved that a black presidential candidate could make Democratic gains in some of the whitest counties in the nation _ even though in much of the Deep South, his race still appeared to turn voters away.

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Nationwide, Republican John McCain won a majority of the white vote in Tuesday’s election. But Obama, who will become the nation’s first black president, actually fared better than Democratic nominee John Kerry did among white voters in 2004 _ and he did it in some unlikely places, according to an Associated Press analysis of election results.

“Every president wants to build or maintain a coalition for success, to establish a permanent imprint politically,” said David Rohde, a political scientist at Duke University. “If the Democrats can avoid screwing up, this can be a politically transformative event.”

As expected, Obama did well among low-income voters. But he also won over the wealthiest Americans, despite promising a tax increase for those making more than $250,000 a year. Obama won 52 percent of the vote among those with family incomes of more than $200,000 a year, according to exit polls. That’s a 17-point improvement over fellow Democrat Kerry.

Obama also won a majority of the Catholic vote, something Kerry didn’t do, even though Kerry would have become just the second Catholic president.

And Obama rocked the youth vote, which has Democrats hoping they can hold onto the voters of the future. Obama won 66 percent of the vote from 18 to 29 year olds, a 12-point improvement over Kerry.

Four years ago, the Democrats were looking at a shrinking electoral map as they suffered through hard-fought losses in Ohio and Florida. Suburban soccer moms seemed to be trending Republican, while much of rural America was solidly red.

It turns out those suburbanites weren’t so wedded to the Republicans, after all.

Obama did well in key suburban counties in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Indiana, winning all four states carried by President Bush in 2004. He also made inroads in heavily Republican rural counties, even if he didn’t win a majority of the vote in those areas.

In Florida, Obama made significant gains among voters living along the Interstate 4 corridor, a swing area from Orlando to Tampa. He won Osceola County, home to Kissimmee, and Orange County, home to Orlando. Up the Atlantic Coast, Obama also improved on Kerry’s numbers in Duval County, home to Jacksonville.

In Ohio, Obama won Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, a county that Kerry lost in 2004. He also made significant gains in suburban counties in northwestern Ohio as well as those near Columbus in the center of the state.

In Indiana, Obama won a larger percentage of the vote than Kerry in every county, helping him to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1964.

Virginia exemplified Obama’s Southern strategy. Obama built a lead in the fast-growing suburbs of Northern Virginia, territory that is more friendly toward Democrats, while limiting his losses in the southern part of the state, which is more Republican.

Much was made of Obama’s lack of support among white working class voters in his epic Democratic primary battle with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. And in the general election, Obama did lose among whites without college degrees.

But in many of the nation’s most rural, white counties outside the Deep South, Obama did surprisingly well. He didn’t always win a majority in those areas, but more often than not, he did better than Kerry did four years ago.

About 1,360 U.S. counties have populations that are more than 90 percent white. Obama won only 249 of those counties, but he received more of the vote than Kerry in nearly eight out of 10 of them, according to the AP analysis.

Obama won in overwhelmingly white counties throughout New England and in parts of the Midwest. He won some of the whitest counties in Iowa, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin and his home state of Illinois. He didn’t win many of the whitest counties in Kansas or Idaho, but he fared better than Kerry in most of them.

The South and Appalachia were the exceptions.

In Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana, Obama fared worse than Kerry in all 49 counties where whites make up 90 percent or more of the population.

There were similar, but less severe, patterns in the Appalachian states of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Obama did much better in faster-growing Southern states along the East Coast, such as North Carolina _ where he bested Kerry in two-thirds of the predominantly white counties, and in Virginia, where he out polled Kerry in 22 of the state’s 31 predominantly white counties.

Democrats hope the high-growth areas in the South will help them increase their toehold in a region that has largely been shut off to Democrats in the past two presidential elections.

“The people who have moved there are better educated and they make more money. It’s just a different demographic mix,” said Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee from South Carolina. “That’s the South of 2008.”

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Joe The Welfare King Anti-Redistributor Hypocrite

It’s been widely reported that Gov. Palin fought hard to give her own concession speech after the election had been decided on Tuesday night. However, McCain adviser Steve Schmidt wisely made sure Palin was not allowed to speak to the nation. But now we’ve found out Caribou Barbie had gone as far as to write up what she planned to say on that historic evening. Here is her much-anticipated concession speech…

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A dedication to all those who helped make Obama’s election possible.

Thanks DailyKos

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Last night, American voters proved themselves to be very different than what most of the world had assumed. Since 2000, the world was certain that the majority of Americans were of such low intelligence that we needed constant care. Last night, we sent out a message loud and clear: “Despite our decisions as an electorate for the past eight years, we, as a people, are actually not severely retarded. Sorry for the misunderstanding and, um, those wars.”

Based on McCain’s campaign, no one bought into this assumption of our mental deficiency more than the GOP. Strategists for the McCain campaign clearly decided that any voting population that could elect George Bush twice obviously has some severe developmental disabilities and should be catered to as such. Yesterday, we proved them wrong.

 

Here are just a few intelligence tests that we passed with flying colors yesterday:

In electing Barack Obama, we proved that…

We can tell women apart – The GOP saw that many Democrats were big supporters of Hillary Clinton, who is a female. So someone decided, “They want a woman. Let’s give them one of those.” Someone else most likely asked, “Which woman should we get?” to which Steve Schmidt replied, “Who cares? They’ll never know the difference.”

We knew the difference.

We are aware that racism isn’t the answer to everything – If the McCain campaign had one, overriding message, it could be summarized as, “The only way to solve all the problems facing this country is to vote against a black person.” While the message appealed to many Americans, far more of us responded with, “Normally, I’d agree with you. But this time, racism just might not be the way to go.” We took the gamble and won.

We can tell catchy three-word chants apart – A lot of stuff got chanted this election, because chants are fun and everyone should join in on one if they get the chance. But yesterday we proved that while all men are created equal, that’s not the case with catchy three-word chants. Thus did 63 million Americans go into voting booths yesterday and declare that “Yes We Can” is a way better chant than “Drill Baby Drill.”

We know that old people don’t wanna change a goddamn thing – Americans have been around old people long enough to know that they don’t like to change stuff. So when an old person started telling us about all the stuff he plans to change, we knew he was lying, and we responded the way we did when our grandfather went into that home. We ignored him.

We know not to do everything our plumber tells us to do – Actually, that’s an overstatement. 63 million Americans know not to do everything our plumber tells us to do. For 55.8 million of us, however, when a plumber says jump we say how high. Still a good, not-that-retarded margin.

We know that when something might cause a global apocalypse, we should find another way – This, ultimately, was the true demonstration of our nation’s level of intelligence. Each of us went into the booth thinking, “I can either vote for Obama, or the entire world will be reduced to ash and cinders before next Easter.” Again, 55.8 million of us opted for the annihilation of Earth. But the other 63 million? That’s right. Not retarded.

 

You’re welcome, planet. Now take us to McDonalds.

23/6

Breaking here

Hardball’s Chris Matthews: How Obama Won

‘Sarah Palin Didn’t Really Wear Well’

‘They Had a 50-State Strategy’

‘It’s Kind of a Paradox’

Not ‘Enough Strategic Thinking’

‘Really Reach Out to the Other Side’

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John McCain’s chaotic operation may well rank among recent history’s least successful efforts.

The GOP presidential campaign of 2008 will certainly be one that historians discuss for years to come. But not in the way that some Republicans had hoped for when they selected an experienced maverick, loved by the media, to face off against an inexperienced African-American who had trouble vanquishing his opponent in the primaries.

To be fair, the odds were stacked against any Republican. The economy has suffered while the incumbent president was phenomenally unpopular. Democrats were well organized and well financed. They found, in Barack Obama, an exceedingly charismatic and dynamic candidate.

But nothing is inevitable in American politics. A strong campaign, combined with the issue of race and fears about Obama’s inexperience, could have produced a different outcome.

History is filled with examples of campaigns marked by bad decisions and poor performances that undermined their chances of victory. In 1964, Republican Barry Goldwater made statements that allowed President Lyndon Johnson to depict him as a candidate too far out of the American mainstream. Eight years later, Richard Nixon returned the favor to Democratic Sen. George McGovern, who had put together a campaign that appealed to the New Left and other activists inspired by 1960s activism but failed to bring in traditional Democratic constituencies such as organized labor. In 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis was the proverbial deer in the headlights when Republican Vice President George H.W. Bush and his team redefined the technocratic Massachusetts Democrat into an extreme card-carrying ACLU liberal who let out murderers on weekend furloughs. Bush then stumbled in 1992 with his tin ear about the economic recession. In 1996, Republican Robert Dole ran a lethargic campaign that emphasized nostalgia and suspicion while President Bill Clinton ran around the country boasting about peace and prosperity. During the last election, Sen. John Kerry didn’t adequately defend himself against “Swift-Boat” attacks.

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But Team McCain ran a campaign that ranks on the bottom of this list. This was an aimless and chaotic operation made worse by poor choices at key moments. Their first mistake was picking Gov. Sarah Palin. Though in the first week following her selection, Palin energized the conservative base of the GOP, she became a serious drag on the ticket. This turned into one of the worst picks since McGovern selected Thomas Eagleton, a Missouri senator who withdrew after revealing that he had gone through electroshock therapy and suffered from “nervous exhaustion.” By picking Palin, McCain simultaneously eliminated his own best argument against Senator Obama—the limited experience of his opponent—while compounding his own most negative image, that of someone who was erratic and out of control. The pick also fueled the feeling that grew throughout September and October that the Republican candidate was willing to take any step necessary to win the campaign. The Palin pick made every decision that followed seem purely political.

The second mistake was going dark. McCain missed the biggest lesson of the Reagan Revolution: conservatives usually do best when they appeal to America’s optimism and develop a positive campaign around a vision for the country. President George W. Bush understood this in 2000, stressing compassionate conservatism, and in 2004 he couched his candidacy in an optimistic argument about how the Bush Doctrine could strengthen America against terrorism and restore the kind of security that seemed lost after 9/11.

McCain and Palin rejected this approach, instead putting together a campaign that was almost entirely negative and focused on attacking their opponents. They sounded much more like Goldwater in 1964 than Reagan in 1980, opening themselves up to Obama’s charge that they were willing to divide the nation for the purpose of winning the election. They called Obama a socialist, an extremist and even linked him to a terrorist. The campaign got so out of control that a man at one Palin rally yelled “Kill him!”. McCain had to restore order at a town meeting when one woman explained how scared she was of having an “Arab” in office. Still, the McCain campaign continued to run advertisements connecting Obama to 1960s radical Bill Ayers.

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The third mistake was the “no-state” strategy. In contrast to Obama’s “50-state” strategy whereby Democrats hoped to win support in red states, the Republican ticket moved from one state to the next without any clear rationale. Just as the Republicans lacked a broader vision, they also lacked a clear electoral strategy. From the start, they were playing catch-up and allowing Democrats to drive their decisions. The goal seemed to be courting support only when polls were narrowing rather than deciding in which states to focus their efforts. While Democrats systematically laid out their organizational and financial efforts, Republicans scrambled from one place to the other.

The fourth mistake was the way McCain handled the crisis on Wall Street. McCain’s decision to temporarily stop the campaign and possibly call off the debate at the start of the Wall Street crisis in September looked terrible. McCain often looked a lot like President Bush in 1992: uncertain about what to do about the economy and at many moments not seeming to care. In contrast, Obama’s decisions and performance seemed presidential.

McCain’s final mistake was to leave his most politically powerful argument until it was too late. While there were many problems with Joe the Plumber, the argument could have been used much more effectively against Senator Obama: that the Democratic ticket was too left of center, especially on the issue of taxes. Toward the end of the campaign, McCain picked up some steam in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. But the argument came much too late and at a point when many Americans had become so cynical, and turned off, by the Republican campaign that McCain could not restore his strength.

Now, the McCain-Palin campaign will be added to the list of devastated losers. The odds against the Republican ticket were formidable as any political scientist will tell you. But McCain could have put up a more effective fight. Perhaps the best outcome for Republicans would be if they took the campaign to heart, learned from their mistakes, and figured out for the next time around how to put together a campaign that looks more like 1980 than 1964. At the same time the next GOP candidate needs to look toward the future, realizing that at least when it comes to the economy, the conservative era has finally come to an end.

Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. He is the co-editor of “Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s” and is completing a book on the history of national-secu rity politics since World War II, to be published by Basic Books.

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It is interesting how Rove is not drawn into Bill O’Reilly’s dog fight with the Democrat leadership. And more he directs the Republicans to have a look at what their party stands for – and how best to convey that message. Which I am pretty sure, he is also clear on – that this is how they were beaten in this election.

During election night I went over to Fox News – I got the sense they were a little depressed over there – seem dismayed at the direction of the results coming in. They didn’t actually believe all that stuff they were saying about Barack – did they?

More than 60 million viewers watched prime-time, election-night coverage on ABC, NBC, CBS and the three main cable news networks, an increase of nearly 10 percent over 2004, according to early estimates provided Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research.

When adding in the viewership of eight other channels — including Black Entertainment Televison and the Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo — Tuesday night’s combined viewership ballooned to 71.5 million, more than in either 2004 or 2000.

The most-watched network, with an estimated 13.1 million viewers, was ABC. It had stationed Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos in Times Square, which was soon playing host to a raucous, impromptu celebration of Barack Obama’s victory that felt more like Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve party than election night. The network’s audience was about the same as in 2004.

On cable, the big winner was CNN, which drew an estimated 12.3 million viewers in prime time, nearly double its audience four years earlier. The CNN audience was so large that it eclipsed that of two broadcast networks, NBC (12 million) and CBS (7.8 million), for the first time. (The audiences for the NBC and CBS broadcasts, which were led by Brian Williams and Katie Couric, each fell by more than 15 percent, when compared with election night of 2004.)

NBC’s sister cable network, MSNBC, posted large gains, with an audience of 5.9 million, more than double its viewership in 2004, according to the Nielsen estimates. (During the campaign, MSNBC and The New York Times shared some political newsgathering.) Fox News also gained Tuesday night, with an estimated 9 million viewers, an increase of about 12 percent over 2004.

For viewers of the broadcast network coverage, this election night represented a moment of transition. Since the last election, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw have left their anchor posts on CBS and NBC — Mr. Brokaw returned as an NBC analyst Tuesday night, Mr. Rather was on HDNet, a cable channel — and Peter Jennings died.

For the cable news channels, too, new trends emerged. CNN, which was seen by fewer viewers than Fox News on election night 2004, this year outdrew Fox News. In addition, the Fox broadcast network drew 5.1 million viewers.

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According to Carl Cameron of Fox News – insiders at the Mccain camp stated that Palin wasn’t aware that Africa was a continent, as she believed Africa was a country. Itappears Palin did not know anything about the NAFTA trade agreement – that she would not prepare for interviews like the now famous Katie Couric –

If Palin thought that Africa was a country – then it would make sense that one could get foreign policy experience – by merely being close to – or as she put it being able to see Russia from her state –  

There were some who said that – it wasn’t that Palin simply made mistakes during he interviews – that what was worst is that she didn’t understand the question.

Powell, endorses, Obama, Iraq, transformational, figure, security, Campaign, McCain, victory, win, president, Attacks, Colin, inclusive

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The ascent of an African-American to the presidency is a moment so powerful and so obvious that its symbolism needs no commentary.

Nov. 4, 2008, was the day when American politics shifted on its axis.

The ascent of an African-American to the presidency — a victory by a 47-year-old man who was born when segregation was still the law of the land across much of this nation — is a moment so powerful and so obvious that its symbolism needs no commentary.

But it was the reality of power, not the symbolism, that changed Tuesday night in ways more profound than meet the eye.

The rout of the Republican Party, and the accompanying gains by Democrats in Congress, mean that Barack Obama will assume office with vastly more influence in the nation’s capital than most of his recent predecessors have wielded.

The only exceptions suggest the magnitude of the moment. Power flowed in unprecedented ways to George W. Bush in the year after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It flowed likewise to Lyndon B. Johnson after his landslide in 1964.

Beyond those fleeting moments, every president for more than two generations has confronted divided government or hobbling internal divisions within his own party.

The Democrats’ moment with Obama, as a brilliant campaigner confronts the challenges of governance, could also prove fleeting. For now, the results — in their breadth across a continent — suggest seismic change that goes far beyond Obama’s 4 percent margin in the popular vote.

The evening recalled what activist Eldridge Cleaver observed of the instant when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and a movement followed: “Somewhere in the universe a gear in the machinery shifted.”

Here are five big things about the machinery of national politics and Washington that will be different once Obama takes office on Jan. 20, 2009:

The crash of the conservative wave

For most of the past 30 years, since the dawn of the Reagan Era, conservatives have held the momentum in American politics. Even the Clinton years were shaped — and constrained — by conservative ideas (work requirements for welfare, the Defense of Marriage Act) and conservative rhetoric (“the era of Big Government is over”). Republicans rode this wave to win the presidency five of seven times since 1980, and to dominate Congress for a dozen years after 1994.

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Now the wave has crashed, breaking the back of the modern Republican Party in the process.

Obama’s victory and the second straight election to award big gains to congressional Democrats showed that the 2006 election was not, as Karl Rove and others argued at the time, a flukish result that reflected isolated scandals in the headlines at the time.

Republicans lost their reform mantle. Voters who wanted change voted for Obama 89 percent to 9 percent. They lost their decisive edge on national security. They even lost the battle over taxes.

Republicans lost support in every area of the country. Virginia went Democratic, and North Carolina at midnight hung in the balance. Republicans still hold a significant, if smaller, chunk of the South and a smattering of western states. The cities were lost long ago. The suburbs fell last night — and even the exurbs are shaky.

Republicans lost one of their most effective political tactics. Portraying Al Gore or John F. Kerry as exotic and untrustworthy characters with culturally elitist values proved brutally effective for the GOP in 2000 and 2004, as it had in numerous other races for years. In 2008, such tactics barely dented Obama — who because of his race and background looked at first like a more vulnerable target — and they backfired against such candidates as Sen. Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, who was routed badly after trying to paint Democrat Kay Hagan as an atheist.

The movement that brought so many conservatives to great power over the past 20 years — Gingrich, DeLay, Bush, Cheney and Rove — is left without a clear leader, without a clear agenda and without a clear route back.

The crash of the conservative wave does not necessarily mean the rise of a liberal one. By stressing middle-class tax cuts and the rights of gun owners Obama showed he is sensitive to hot buttons. But he will take power with the opposition party diminished, demoralized and divided by a draining internal argument about the future.

A Democratic headlock

Many people find Obama’s post-partisan rhetoric soothing. But it’s doubtful that these sentiments, even if sincere, reflect the reality of the new Washington.

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This is a city that defines itself by partisanship. Politicians and the operatives they support play for the shirts or the skins and believe that one side’s gain is the other’s loss.

In this environment, Democrats have the capital in a headlock, holding more power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue than they have had for at least 32 years (Jimmy Carter) and, more realistically, 44 years (Johnson). Obama seems ready to press this advantage. The best early clue of his ambitions: He wants sharp-elbowed Democratic Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) to run his White House.

Democrats are positioned to do more than move legislation. They will flush Republicans out of key positions in the federal government and lobbying firms. They will install their people in the federal courts. They will be positioned to raise money for those who usually give to Republicans and easily recruit the most desirable candidates in 2010, as other Democrats look to join what looks like a winning team.

Rainbow rules

While Obama’s race hovered over this campaign, what was most striking was that it was not the all-consuming subject that it would have been in the past. Exit polls showed Obama pulling support from 43 percent of white voters, 2 percentage point higher than Kerry.

And look around elsewhere in American politics. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s gender was a novelty when she first took the gavel but now draws little notice. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) is a top member of the House Democratic leadership.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s inability to offer more diversity in its top ranks — Sarah Palin notwithstanding — threatens to become a crippling liability. Hispanics broke for Obama 67 percent to 31 percent.

The party inexplicably failed to field a single minority candidate with a plausible chance to win a House or Senate seat or a governorship. It will enter the next Congress just as it did the past two: without a single black member.

A party dominated by white males is poorly positioned to prosper among an increasingly diverse electorate. Somehow, the GOP needs to find new ways to appeal to minorities — or risk a long life in the wilderness as a percentage of the overall population continues to shrink.

For a couple of generations, conservatives had the more effective political infrastructure. They used direct mail and talk radio to run circles around liberals in raising money and communicating their message around the filter of the establishment media. Some of that money flowed into think tanks that helped nurture ideas and operatives.

This year was striking because the technology/communications advantage was decisively with the Democrats. Obama and other Democrats used this to raise vastly more money than McCain and to mobilize legions of people who had not previously been engaged with politics. Liberal think tanks such as the Center for American Progress have served as a Democratic government in waiting.

Important to remember: This Democratic infrastructure advantage is not disappearing. Obama, regarded as a heroic figure among party activists, can use it to help raise even more money, and to mobilize support for his agenda. This is a potent force that will inspire fear, and give him clout, over legislators of both parties.

Obama is the Google of politics: He has technological expertise and an audience his political competitors simply cannot match. Looking ahead to 2010, House and Senate Democrats will be jealously eyeing Obama’s e-mail lists and technology secrets — giving him even greater leverage over them. Republicans will be forced to invest serious money and time to narrow the technology gap.

The 1960s are over — finally

For two generations, American politics has been dominated by issues and personalities that were shaped by the ideological and cultural conflicts of the Vietnam era.

The rest of the population may have been bored stiff, but the baby boomers continued their remorseless argument, as evidenced by Bush and Kerry partisans quarreling over Swift Boats and National Guard service in 2004.

Obama had not yet reached adolescence in the 1960s. He seems little interested in the cultural conflicts that preoccupy baby boomers. The fact that he admitted to using cocaine was hardly a factor in this election.

And this young president-elect exerted powerful appeal over even younger voters. They favored Obama by 34 percentage points, 66 percent to 32 percent — a trend with huge potential to echo for years to come.

Guns, God and gays will not disappear from our politics. But they are diminished as electoral weapons as the country confronts a new generation of disputes: global warming, mortgage meltdowns and the detention of terrorism suspects, to name a few.

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Like Ohio, Florida, New Mexico and Virginia did Tuesday night, John McCain’s sole holdout on “The View” has flipped sides. Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s now for Barack Obama.

The conservative co-host, who supported McCain through many a heated coffee-table debate during the 2008 election, revealed today that she fully backs the president-elect.

“View” creator Barbara Walters turned to Hasselbeck in the first few minutes of the show and said, “All eyes are gonna be on you. How do you feel?”

The 31-year-old mother of two launched into a story about how her daughter Grace had asked her who lost the election after watching Obama’s victory speech:

“I said, ‘You know what Grace, no one lost today.’ … Today is a victory for this country, the first black president, the first black first lady — family, to have the amount of voters. … Fourteen million more voters in this election than the last, present themselves and vote for their country. Today is victory. I haven’t felt this good through the entire election process.”

Joy Behar, Hasselbeck’s frequent foil, then took the opportunity to gloat — “are you saying I was right all along?” — before offering the blonde a handshake. Hasselbeck responded with a fist bump.

“The power that he has,” she said. “I will get in a long line of supporters because I wasn’t the first, but I will jump in that line and support our president because as an American, that is what I believe we should do.”

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Barack Obama has done it. On Tuesday, Americans elected their first black president — and a genuine intellectual. It is the crowning of one of the most rapid political rises ever, but the real work is only now set to begin.

Democrat Barack Obama beat Republican contender John McCain by a clear margin in Tuesday’s presidential election and made history by becoming the country’s first African-American president.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” Obama told hundreds of thousands of elated supporters in Chicago.

Despite his historic triumph, the ecstatic cheering of the crowd and the scale of the challenges facing him, Obama looked as calm and collected as ever as he addressed his supporters.

Just one night earlier, the comedy show Saturday Night Live took one last opportunity to lampoon the candidates. And the candidates’ doubles make it clear just how different the outcome could have been for Barack Obama.

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The parody is a reminder of how Obama could have featured in America’s consciousness in this crazy, never-ending campaign. The Americans aren’t just sending the first African American president to the White House. They have also elected a pensive intellectual, regardless of all the Internet euphoria and “Yes We Can” chants. “One of the striking ironies is that a man who draws tens of thousands of people to his rallies, whose charisma is likened to that of John F. Kennedy, can be sort of a bore,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.

Where Are the Sweat Stains?

He’s a candidate who likes to read the philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr. And one who doesn’t get sweat stains on his ironed white shirt, even in the sweltering heat of Nevada or Indiana. He has studied the Socratic Method applied at US law schools — the principle of eliciting truth through the astute interplay of questions and answers. His wonderfully composed speeches rarely betray a sense of humor. He’s evidently a devoted family man and a proud father.

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Such characteristics herald a new era in the White House. The Democratic icons John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton were strong intellectuals as well, but they had rough edges and they were almost pathological womanizers. Model Republican Ronald Reagan turned his anti-intellectualism into a virtue, as of course did George W. Bush. His father George Bush senior also liked to mask his Yale education and foreign policy expertise with cowboy boots.

Will Obama’s erudition help him in the White House? Or will he be easy prey for the hands-on Democratic Congressmen and women who are up for election every two years and must pay close attention to the will of the people? Will the new president’s intellectual leanings jar with the desire for action among the Internet generation that voted him into office? Will it be an obstacle to taking quickfire decisions as commander-in-chief?

Obama’s curious ability to remain untouched by all the razzmatazz around him is likely to prove a source of strength. His political career has been one of the most astonishing of all times. At the Democratic National Convention eight years ago he wasn’t even invited to the important parties. He readily admits that whoever gave him the name Barack Hussein Obama cannot have expected him to become a presidential candidate.

THE WORLD WELCOMES OBAMA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

    “My heartfelt congratulations on your historic victory in the presidential elections.””At the beginning of your administration, the world faces momentous challenges. I am convinced that, with closer and more trusting cooperation between the US and Europe, we can resolutely confront the novel challenges and dangers facing us…. You can be sure that my government is fully aware of how important the trans-Atlantic partnership is for our futures.”

    “It is my pleasure to invite you to visit Germany in the near future.”

German President Horst Köhler

    “In the name of my fellow citizens, I would like to offer you my heartfelt congratulations on your election to the president of the United States.”
    “We increasingly recognize how important it is for countries to work together. The international community has a responsibility to work together for peace, freedom and prosperity, in the battle against poverty and to protect our planet… My country is prepared to face these challenges together with the United States of America.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy

    “With the world in turmoil and doubt, the American people, faithful to the values that have always defined America’s identity, have expressed with force their faith in progress and the future. At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond.”

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

    “We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world. I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal — for the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world.”

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende

    “The necessity for cooperation between Europe and the United States is bigger than ever. Only by close trans-Atlantic cooperation can we face the world’s challenges.”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

    “It has been an important election. I think the most important thing that follows from it is that America and Europe will have to work together to deal with the international problems we face, not just the financial crisis, but also stopping protectionism, making sure we work for stability and particularly peace in the Middle East.”

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai

    “I applaud the American people for their great decision and I hope that this new administration in the United States of America, and the fact of the massive show of concern for hhuman beings and lack of interest in race and color while electing the president, will go a long way in bringing the same values to the rest of the world sooner or later.”

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki

    “We the Kenyan people are immensely proud of your Kenyan roots. Your victory is not only an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, but it has special resonance with us here in Kenya.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni

    “Israel expects the close strategic cooperation with the new administration, president and Congress will continue along with the continued strengthening of the special and unshakeable special relationship between the two countries.”

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

    “Your extraordinary journey to the White House will inspire people not only in your country but also around the world.”

Chinese President Hu Jintao

    “The Chinese Government and I myself have always attached great importance to China-US relations. In the new historic era, I look forward to working together with you to continuously strengthen dialogue and exchanges between our two countries.”

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso

    “The Japan-US alliance is key to Japanese diplomacy and it is the foundation for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. With President-elect Obama, I will strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance further and work towards resolving global issues such as the world economy, terror and the environment.”

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

    “Senator Obama’s message of hope is not just for America’s future, it is also a message of hope for the world as well. A world which is now in many respects fearful for its future.”

But now the disastrous legacy of the Bush era has transformed this man with the strange name and the dark skin into someone the whole world is pinning its hopes on. Well over 200,000 people came to listen to him speak in Berlin in July; he really is the biggest “celebrity” in the world, as McCain jibed during the campaign. But even attacks like that provoked nothing but bemusement in Obama. It made television host Chris Matthews wonder openly whether Obama was capable of ever getting worked up about anything.

Obama’s sanguine nature could have been interpreted as a lack of passion in the election campasign, but the financial crisis turned that into a virtue. He suddenly appeared calm and presidential, while McCain seemed unpredictable and jumpy.

Fate on His Side

It was yet another example of the luck that has accompanied Obama throughout his political career. When he ran for the US Senate as a newcomer four years ago, his designated Republican opponent had to give up due to a dirty divorce dispute.

Only three years later he was up against Hillary Clinton, the best-known political brand in the country, for the Democratic nomination. But she underestimated Obama for too long, was too late in slipping into the role of a fighter, and wasn’t exactly helped by her husband whose latently racist comments about Obama drove African Americans into his arms.

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01020134344200When it came to the general campaign, fate provided him with a rival who didn’t play the race card. And one who, no matter how hard he tried, was unable to sell an image as an independent-minded outsider. McCain went out of his way to distance himself from Bush, but then tried to win over his supporters by naming Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Republican candidate never found a congruous strategy.

Obama, for his part, proved to be lucky and strategically astute. His campaign movement was the most perfect political start-up of all time — he collected almost a half a billion dollars in campaign donations and mobilized millions of supporters, many of them making a foray into politics for the very first time. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek wrote that Obama forever changed campaigning in the US. His message of “change” remained consistent from day one.

Period of Belt-Tightening

Rational as he is, Obama, of course, quietly bid adieu to the promise of real change in Washington — a radical shake-up of politics as we know it — as the campaign progressed. In the final months of the race, the newness has worn off his campaign as the candidate opted for pragmatism. He secured consultation from Washington insiders and his final television spots felt conventional as they praised American ideals in Kansas or the value of hard work. Even in the debate over how to respond to the financial crisis, he benefited more from his reticence than for making courageous policy proposals. Just like other politicians in the heat of a campaign, he was wary of telling Americans that a period of belt-tightening was on its way.

That, though, is exactly what he will now have to do. And he won’t have much of a grace period to get used to his new job. The criticism that he has spent his career looking for the next challenge is not entirely wrong. Now, though, there is nowhere else to go.

During the campaign, Obama left little doubt that he thinks he’s ready. And he exudes an aura of calm. A friend of Obama’s recalled to the Chicago Magazine last summer how crowds of supporters were already following Obama around Boston just before his famous 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention. The friend, Martin Nesbitt, recalled saying “this is pretty unbelievable, man you’re like a rock star.” Obama replied, “it might be a little worse tomorrow…. It’s a pretty good speech.”

Now, the Democrat is set to be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009 as the 44th president of the United States, right in the middle of one of the worst crises America has ever faced. “We’ve got to hit the ground running,” Obama said last week.

The US — and the world — have a lot riding on him doing exactly that.

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11:00 pm So farewell then, Grosvenor Square US Embassy. Here we are, standing in line late at night in the November drizzle outside of Eero Sarienen’s unloved Modernist expression of US imperial self-assurance (what would a new Embassy in Battersea commissioned under an Obama administration look like? An environmentally-sound yurt?) when we could be tucked up on the sofa watching the election returns with Jeremy and a milky drink. But no, we’ve been unable to resist the lure of mingling with the movers-and-shakers.

Barack Obama supporters at the US Embassy in London

Barack Obama supporters at the US Embassy in London

The streets are even more barricaded than usual. There are several lines to go through the airport-style metal detectors, two for people without handbags, the others for handbag carriers. “There’s the Shadow Education Secretary”, a well-dressed young person, who must be a Parliamentary junior aide or researcher, exclaims (bite back the excitement!). As we finally gain admittance to the building, we hear the unmistakable tones of Janet Street-Porter.

The front of the Embassy has a huge projection of stars enlivening it. A Dixieland band plays partygoers in, and a co-ed squad of teenage cheerleaders performs intermittently on the front portico.

It’s a far cry from 2004, when, under the austere former Ambassador William Farish, there were no decorations, no bands, and really not much effort to appear welcoming. Similarly, in 2004 the Embassy was filled with Marines in camouflage battle dress standing stock still on the edge of the room, like military-themed living statues. Tonight if there’s a military presence, it’s invisible.

The first floor lobby is absolutely rammed. And at certain bottlenecks, it’s worse than the tube at rush hour. Silent screens above our heads project the latest from America’s CBS, MSNBC, and Fox networks, as well as the BBC. But the polls haven’t closed so all everyone’s doing now is vamping till ready.

It’s slim pickings on the celeb front. Josh Hartnett is the only sighting so far, unless you want to count Jonathan Dimbleby. There are several former significant political figures – Charles Clarke, David Davis, Alistair Campbell – but current Westminster stars are thin on the ground, unless you want to count Lembit Opik.

Bars serving California wines, bourbon, and Jack Daniels (though most people want water) are staffed with friendly volunteers and waiters circulate with foie gras puffs and lamb on bread squares. Sober, business-like dress is the order of the day, enlivened here and there with an Uncle Sam hat or Statue of Liberty crown. One glamourous party, however, didn’t get the memo. Four women in killer heels, tight dresses, lavish furs, and eye-blinding jewelry waft through the crowd, in which they are as exotic as Berbers.

Purely out of self-interest, I’m hoping for Obama victories in Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These polls will be closed by 1:30, and if he takes three out of five, it’s over and I can go home at a reasonable hour.

Downstairs in the basement there’s a large rather grim room with acoutic-tiles on the ceiling. Here a country and western band and later Glen Tillbrook, late of Squeeze, entertain the crowd. The air is thick with the smell of grease from the Burger King stand.

There’s also a theatre with a large screen showing CNN’s election night coverage. Every seat is filled as are the aisles. This is an audience fascinated by arcane in-depth breakdowns of key counties in Virginia.

The energy is strangely subdued. But the Democrats have been here before. In 2004, buoyed by the exit polls, the atmosphere in the early hours of the Embassy’s election night party was exuberant. No one could believe Bush would get in twice. But then, as we moved towards 2 am and it became clear that despite Iraq, despite Abu Ghraib, despite My Pet Goat, despite everything, the American electorate were going to come back for seconds, the festive spirit slowly deflated, like the air leaving a balloon. So no one’s getting too excited just yet. It’s as if everyone is collectively holding their breath.

The crowd seems evenly divided between the parties, although expatriate Americans tend to be disproportionately Democrats (expatriate Republicans are atypical of the breed because they have passports and are not afraid to eat furrin food.) They may have come from small-town “real” (in Palin-speak) America originally, but now have the kind of jobs that have relocated them to Britain, so presumably at some point they moved to the big (Democratic) city. Or else they left the real America as fast as they could of their own volition and just kept going.

12:30 am Indiana is too close to call. This is usually a rock-ribbed Republican state. A harbinger of things to come?

1:00 am Now things are starting to get interesting. Obama has won New Hampshire. McCain has won Georgia. Virginia is too close to call. And the Brits are all leaving so it’s now possible to get seats in the theatre. You have to feel for outgoing Ambassador Robert Tuttle. A genial Reagan Republican although appointed by W, he has to listen as all these freeloaders who’ve been scoffing down his food and drink cheer whenever a state is called for Obama and groan when it goes for his party.

1:30 am Tension you could cut with a knife. McCain is on 34 electoral votes, Obama on 74. North Carolina too close to call. These are all states that Bush won in 2004 and that Obama has a chance in.

1:45 am Look, there’s the Embassy party on the BBC screen as the heads of Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad are interviewed

2:00 am The loudest cheering of the night as Obama takes Pennsylvania. Obama supporters start to let out their breath and feel happy. Florida still too close to call.

3:00 am Ohio is called for Obama. Blinking, those of us wearing Obama buttons finally start to believe we’ve won, as predicted. Our long national nightmare is over. The junta has been deposed. Time to head for the coat check.

Source: Telegraph

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Karl Rove’s predicted electoral map was correct with a few exceptions – North Carolina and Indiana narrowly went to Obama – but then there is a toss up +/-3% allowance that should cover this.

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Amy Chozick reports from Barack Obama’s motorcade.

John McCain called Barack Obama to congratulate him at 10 p.m. CST, according to a senior Obama aide.

“Senator Obama thanked Senator McCain for his graciousness and said he had waged a tough race. Senator Obama told Senator McCain he was consistently someone who has showed class and honor during this campaign as he has during his entire life in public service,” Obama aide Robert Gibbs said of the call.

Obama told his former rival that he was eager to sit down and talk about how the two of them can work together – Obama said to move this country forward “I need your help, you’re a leader on so many important issues,” Gibbs recounted.

Obama is currently at the Hyatt Regency hotel with his family and close friends. His motorcade, including this reporter, will travel to Grant Park momentarily.

President Bush also called Obama shortly after 10 p.m. CST this evening to congratulate him on his victory. Obama watched McCain’s speech from his hotel, according to aides.

Source: WSJ

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Barack Obama has now added Iowa’s seven electoral votes to his total, as he builds on his commanding lead over John McCain.

Obama now has 202 electoral votes out of the 270 he needs for the nomination.

He earlier won in Pennsylvania and in Ohio — both states that were key to John McCain’s hopes. No Republican has ever been elected president without capturing Ohio.

McCain adds five electoral votes with his victory in Utah. That gives him 75 in all.

Democrats are adding to their Senate majority. Among the Democrats re-elected to Senate seats are Tom Harkin in Iowa and Max Baucus in Montana.

Republican Thad Cochran won re-election in Mississippi.

Connecticut Republican Rep. Chris Shays, a perennial target for Democrats, lost his bid for an 11th term in one of the more significant losses tonight for congressional Republicans.

With Shays gone, the Republican Party no longer represents any congressional districts in the six states–Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hamp

Jim Himes, Obama

Jim Himes, Obama

shire and Maine—that make up New England.

Shays was perhaps best known for his work with presidential candidate John McCain to pass sweeping 2002 campaign finance reform laws.

Shays was ousted by Democrat Jim Himes, a former Goldman Sachs executive. Barack Obama at the top of the ticket may have helped Himes as the Illinois senator easily dispatched McCain in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Republican had been realistic about his re-election prospects this year. Even Shays’ brother, Peter, expressed doubts for a victory. Peter Shays told the Associated Press that his brother refused to run a negative campaign “and he got hurt a little bit with that.”

Source: WSJ

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Democratic Rep. Tom Udall won the New Mexico seat that had been held by Republican Pete Domenici, further bolstering Democratic fortunes in the Senate, wire services reported.

Udall defeated Republican Rep. Steve Pearce in the race to fill the seat left by a retiring Domenici, who served for 36 years in the Senate. According to a recent analysis of the race from the Cook Political Report, “as Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s chances of carrying the state in the presidential contest improved, Pearce’s already long odds of holding the seat for his party diminished and are now nonexistent.”

Source: WSJ

Festivities are underway at the Arizona Biltmore hotel, the same spot where John McCain celebrated his Super Tuesday victories that led to his party’s nomination.

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Supporters watch early returns as they attend an election night rally for John McCain in Phoenix on Tuesday. (AP)

As of 9 p.m. EST, the Arizona senator remained at his condominium in Phoenix. The sprawling hotel was flooded with thousands of well-dressed supporters from all over the country.

With Obama’s electoral vote count widening, McCain’s supporters remained faithful. “We’re confident the `Mac is Back,’ as they say,” supporter Don Baker told the Associated Press.

It’s not hard to find where the speech will be delivered. Massive flood lights from the lawn beam up into the sky. The campaign’s signature star and “Country First” logo adorn everything in sight.

The location has particular significant for McCain–it is where he celebrated his marriage to wife, Cindy, 28 years ago.

But even the people who are here won’t necessarily get to see the speech in person. The majority of the audience will be in a huge ballroom, watching McCain’s remarks on a massive television screen. In the interim, a band is playing and the drinks are flowing.

McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, arrived in Arizona later than scheduled. Her staff and traveling press arrived around 8 p.m. EST, looking worn from the long flight to and from Alaska. Palin has returned to her home state to cast her ballot before joining McCain in Arizona.

Source: WSJ

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NBC political director had this to say about South Carolina in his pre-election roundup:

    South Carolina: What is going on in South Carolina? We have polling indicating that the presidential race might be fairly competitive. The surge in African-Americans could make South Carolina one of the surprises of Election Night. My guess is that McCain holds on but don’t be surprised if we can’t call the state at poll close.

He was right about that last part, but it didn’t take too long: The network has called the state for the Republican presidential candidate

Source: ::::

Sen. Barack Obama picked up two key states that Sen. John McCain was hoping to switch from blue to red.

The Democrat is projected to win Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) and New Hampshire (4 electoral votes).

New Hampshire was the state that resuscitated McCain’s chances last year, and helped propel him to the Republican nomination. He also won the state’s primary in 2000 against President Bush.

The current electoral vote tally:

Obama: 103
McCain: 34

Source: WSJ

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Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, the only blue states that John McCain was targeting in the final week of the campaign have gone for Barack Obama, according to the exit poll consortium tasked with calling races for the television networks and major newspapers.

The Keystone State has long been coveted by Republicans who liked to point out in the runup to today’s vote that their party had closed the gap at the presidential level in each of the last four presidential elections.

The Obama campaign has remained resolutely confident about its Pennsylvania prospects, insisting that the massive surge in Democratic voter registration — the result of a high-profile presidential primary in the state — had made it nearly impossible for McCain to win.

Should Pennsylvania and New Hampshire fall into Obama’s column, they would join Democratic strongholds Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, which have already gone for the Illinois senator. (Oklahoma and Tennessee have been called for McCain.)

As the county by county results trickle in, watch to see how big a margin Obama takes out of the city of Philadelphia as well as the four suburban counties that ring the City of Brotherly Love.

New Hampshire had long expressed a warmth for McCain, launching his presidential bid during the 2000 primary season and saving it in the 2008 campaign. But, New Hampshire was the epicenter of anti-war (and anti-Bush Administration) sentiment in 2006 and in the closing weeks of this campaign even the most ardent McCain supporters had acknowledged the state would not go there way.

With Pennsylvania and New Hampshire now seemingly off the map, McCain must run a tricky gauntlet — winning a handful of states that Bush carried in 2004 but are closely contested this time around.

Make no mistake: McCain now has almost zero margin for error.

Source: Washington Post

img-bs-bottom-sarlin-mccains-mom_145111505480Says McCain’s mom no longer cares about election, and that McCain may die, but at least he’ll be president.

A grueling and bitter campaign has taken its toll on family morale, John McCain’s aunt, Rowena Willis, told The Daily Beast today in an exclusive interview.

According to the 96 year-old Willis, her twin sister, Roberta McCain, the candidate’s mother, has become resigned to her son’s electoral fate.

“She really doesn’t care,” Willis said of her 96-year old twin sister, who has campaigned for her son and recorded TV ads with him. “‘Let these bastards get in,’ she says, ‘I don’t give a damn anymore. If these people want to buy votes and get their people in office, let them suffer for it in the way of high taxes.’”

“I’m hoping he wins, for the country’s sake,” McCain’s aunt said. “I figure it will kill him, but he’s going to die one day anyway, so he might as well do it there.”

“I’m hoping he wins, for the country’s sake,” McCain’s aunt said. “I figure it will kill him, but he’s going to die one day anyway, so he might as well do it there.”

Willis has done her part for her nephew’s campaign, donating the maximum $2,300 to the candidate in June. Today she joined two nieces at 6:30 a.m. to go vote at a precinct on Larchmont Blvd. in Los Angeles, California, where she said turnout was unusually high.

“I waited an hour at least,” she said. “I’ve lived here 65 years and I’ve never seen lines like this.”

She said she had little patience for voters who complained about long lines at early voting stations that were open throughout the week in various states.

“I sat in line more than an hour today and I’m nearly 100. We should have one day of voting and if these people are too weak to vote, too bad,” she said.

In an interview earlier this month with The Daily Beast, Willis told me that McCain was losing. McCain’s mother told supporters at the time to “pray for a miracle,” and Willis said she was still praying for a victory for her beloved nephew, whom she described as “honest” and incorruptible.

“I sat in line more than an hour today and I’m nearly 100. We should have one day of voting and if these people are too weak to vote, too bad,” she said.

“I’m hoping he wins, for the country’s sake. I figure it will kill him, but he’s going to die one day anyway, so he might as well do it there,” she said, “But that man is honest—he has all the money in the world, he could do whatever he wants, even without his wife’s money, which he does not have; they keep it separate. He has a good pension from the Navy and my father was very rich.”

Sarah Palin also won high praise from Willis: “I think she’s marvelous. I don’t care how inexperienced she is or anything else—she’s been through a lot. She did vote against her party and she has cancelled a lot of those pork barrel requests in Alaska.”

As a mother of five, Willis said she was most concerned about how the election would impact the younger generations in her family.

“They will be broke with the Democrats in, with the number of people they will have to pay who have never paid a dollar of income tax in their life,” she said. “Our children will suffer.”

Source: The Daily Beast

I thought it was coincidental that as I visited the Daily Kos TV on youtube – the featured video above called Fox & Fantasy – had as it viewer number – 666. I in no way believe in this stuff – but I thought it was funny since the Evangelical Right have labeled Obama the anti-Christ. To see 666 beneath their obvious bull – was too good to pass up – Fox & Friends ~ 666 !!

11-4-2008-8-13-45-pm1

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11-4-2008-8-01-39-pm

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