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“Hold Your Fire, Democrats”: Leave The Party Infighting To The Republicans.

OK. It’s time.

It’s time to prove the legendary Will Rogers wrong when he said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Or to prove, in fact, that the current circular firing squad is the Republican Party and not the Democrats.

After the New York primary, we are at a crucial period in the Democratic race. Sure, we are going to go on until June 7, but the next seven weeks will be crucial in determining whether the Democrats shout at each other or shout at the Republicans. I prefer the latter, thank you.

First of all, there is no need for the Hillary Clinton camp to attack independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and no reason to bait them either. With one week to go before five states decide on April 26, they are in the driver’s seat in this campaign. And there are only a total of five contests during all of May. So work as hard as can be to win the bulk of the primaries on April 26, but don’t have surrogates taking shots at Sanders. No need.

As for Bernie and his supporters, one lesson he has learned from New York and earlier contests is that the more he attacks Clinton, the worse he does. No more attack ads. No more speeches about speeches. No more questioning her “qualifications” or even “judgment.” It simply won’t help the Sanders campaign, and it conflicts with his own message and who he is in this race.

The month of May is important in setting the stage for November. In 2008, Hillary Clinton backed off from the critique of then-Sen. Barack Obama and played out the primaries until June. Bernie should do the same, especially after this week of competing in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland.

Not only is it important to make this race about Democrats v. Republicans and the strikingly different visions for the country, it is also important to have a unified party that will win back the Senate and, possibly, even the House in November. In order for the Democrats to build from this primary season, it is critical that they put the back-and-forth of a contentious campaign behind them. Of course, compared to the Republicans this has been a tame contest – beanbag really. But what the Democrats don’t need is a senseless negative barrage of ads or talking heads who take off after each other. The candidates lose, the Democratic Party loses and the chances increase that we lose a much-deserved advantage come November.

The bottom line here is that what Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been talking about for the last year can only be accomplished with a resounding victory in November – not just winning the presidency but electing Democrats up and down the ticket, and especially in the House and the Senate. Getting the things done they have talked about means having the bodies in Congress to deliver the legislation. There is too much at stake now – time to avoid that circular firing squad. Leave that to the Republicans.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Head, Fenn Communications, U. S. News and World Report, April 21, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Republicans | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“A Maureen Dowd Media Conflagration”: Dowdgate? Biden Insists Deathbed Scene With Son Beau Never Happened

Not every day does the Vice President of the United States accuse America’s most respected newspaper of publishing a falsehood about him and his family. Over the weekend that is what Joe Biden alleged, posing a difficult problem for The New York Times.

Appearing on CBS 60 Minutes, Biden denied that the affecting deathbed scene between him and his older son Beau, as famously recounted by Times Op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd, had ever occurred. Dowd’s sensational August 1 column sparked a media conflagration, fired up the “draft Biden” movement, and the scene, not incidentally, was reported on the paper’s front page that same Sunday.

According to Dowd, Beau Biden on his deathbed “had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” But according to Joe Biden, it didn’t go down that way at all.

Asked by correspondent Norah O’Donnell about the conversations he had with Beau about running for president, he replied:

Well, first thing I’d like to do, and you’re being very polite the way you’re asking me the question because some people have written that, you know, Beau on his deathbed said, “Dad, you’ve got to run,” and, there was this sort of Hollywood moment that, you know, nothing like that ever, ever happened…Beau all along thought that I should run and that I could win…there was not what was sort of made out as kind of this Hollywood-esque thing that at the last minute Beau grabbed my hand and said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to run, like, win one for the Gipper.’ It wasn’t anything like that.

While the facts behind this bizarre drama remain mysterious, the motivations seem obvious. Certainly Dowd, whose corrosive hatred of Hillary Clinton is the stuff of soap opera, wanted to encourage the entry of Biden into the Democratic presidential primary (as did many of her colleagues in the Beltway press corps). As for Biden, the dramatic scene in Dowd’s column encouraged supporters and sympathizers to rally behind his possible campaign, which may explain why he failed to shoot down the story until now.

While the vice president allowed this anecdote to persist for two months — notably failing to deny it when he appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or when Politico reported that he was its source — he seems to have no compelling reason to prevaricate about the matter now.

That leaves a big dark cloud of doubt over Dowd and the Times editors. (In today’s edition, a story on an inside page about Biden’s 60 Minutes interview glancingly notes his denial of “news reports about conversations with his dying son,” while neglecting to mention the role of the newspaper and its star columnist.) Presumably the public editor, Margaret Sullivan, will inquire how this happened on behalf of perplexed readers. The explanations should be interesting.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo, Ocetober 26, 2015

 

October 27, 2015 Posted by | Joe Biden, Maureen Dowd, The New York Times | , , , , | 2 Comments

“But Everybody Swears He’s Running”: Biden 2016; A Bad Idea Gets Worse

Gossip started flying over the weekend that Joe Biden is about to say something. On Monday, CNBC tweeted: “Joe Biden to announce whether he is running for president in 2016 or not in the next 48 hours, sources tell @NBCNews.”

So there we are. The big moment is nigh. Generally speaking, insiders think he’s getting in. The folks in Clintonland certainly seem to think he’s getting in.

I don’t, however, know a single person I’m aware of who wants Biden to get in. And I’ve been asking. Journalists, activist types, policy wonks, political operatives—among them, the consensus is that he let all this dangle a little too long and that he doesn’t really bring anything to the table that isn’t already on offer from the existing candidates.

A Biden candidacy was always a bad idea, in part for reasons I wrote about back in early August: no real rationale, no major policy differences with Hillary Clinton, he’ll just end up attacking her trustworthiness if he wants to get anywhere.

In the 10 weeks that have passed since I wrote that column, it’s only become a worse idea. First of all, Biden’s polling performance isn’t so hot. He’s third, behind Clinton and Sanders. He’s been pretty steady for the last two months, at 15 to 20 percent. So it’s not as if he’s lost ground, but the general assumption in politics is that once a person announces, he slips a bit in the polls because he goes from being a neat hypothetical idea to someone whose warts the electorate actually begins to contemplate (and whom the press begins to scrutinize). He’s also third in Iowa, and a pretty distant third in New Hampshire. Oh, and third in South Carolina, too,  25 or 30 points behind Clinton. Polls can change of course, they often do. But there’s no obvious reason to think they’re going to change much here, for such a known quantity as Joe.

The second reason it’s become a worse idea is that Clinton seems to have stabilized. She topped everybody’s expectations in the debate. She showed life, zest for battle. (She’s a high-energy person!) She regained the lead over Sanders in New Hampshire—well, according to one poll anyway. And the Benghazi committee—oh Lord, what a pathetic clattering of jackdaws (yes, it’s a thing). Did you notice what a really, really, really bad weekend those people had? Andrea Mitchell schooled GOP committee member Mike Pompeo on Meet the Press. And the CIA shot down Trey Gowdy’s latest allegations about Clinton supposedly pushing out classified material.

But it’s even worse than that: As Mike Isikoff reported at Yahoo! News, Gowdy inadvertently revealed the identity of a “human intelligence” source in Libya whose name he (wrongly) accused Clinton of putting out there. An auto-goal of slapstick proportions. That committee should disband itself out of embarrassment.

But it won’t, and Clinton has to testify there Thursday. Maybe they’ll cross her up somehow, maybe Gowdy is sitting on some Clinton email where she wrote “Osama bin Laden had a point” or something, and it’ll all come crashing down on her. But, you know, probably not. She’ll probably do fine, and if she does, this cloud will also start to lift.

And finally, well, it still seems to me like a bad idea because he’s grieving, and that will need a lot of time. I shouldn’t presume to tell another (a parent, no less) how to process his grief, but man, it seems impossible that he’s operating at 100 percent, and to run for president, whatever else you are, you pretty much need to be that.

But everybody swears he’s running.

It’s hard to imagine why. Yeah, yeah, because Clinton might implode in scandal, and then he’s positioned to be The One the Party Turns To. But isn’t he already that? Yes. I mean, Bernie — you know as well as I do, the party is not going to turn to him in such an event. The immediate response of the party bigwigs in the event of a Clinton collapse would be “Dear God, we have to find someone who can beat Sanders,” and that person would be Biden. Some folks would want Elizabeth Warren (there remains no indication she has the remotest interest in being president). You’d hear a few John Kerrys. Maybe from Oakland would emanate a Draft Jerry Brown movement. But basically Biden is the guy—now, today. There’s that old concept in royal familydom of “the heir and the spare.” Biden is the spare. Already acknowledged. Doesn’t need to get in.

So why would he? Sure, his son’s dying wish, and his belief (which he must harbor) that he would actually be a better president than Clinton or any of the rest of them. But does he really see a path to victory—that is to say, to beating a non-imploding Clinton? That just doesn’t seem possible. What seems more possible instead is that a Biden-Clinton contest ignites a gender war inside the Democratic Party.

No, the smart play is for Biden to give a big speech saying how painful all this has been for him, how he respects all the candidates but Hillary Clinton in particular has been a great friend and is an amazing lady, and he’s going to sit it out. And if he does that right, he locks down his status as the spare even more. He goes out a hero. He has everyone’s gratitude and esteem.

But everybody swears he’s running.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, October 19, 2015

October 21, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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