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I had coffee Saturday with a important political consultant from the Democratic Party who was visiting Madrid. Since the conversation was informal and off the record, I can't tell you his name, which isn't important really, since he's an insider's insider, who I hadn't heard of either until we were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. Some of the things he said were very interesting and some were quite disturbing... to me at least.
The most disturbing impression I got was that, while the Republicans are very comfortable with their base, the Democratic establishment are afraid and embarrassed by theirs. If there ever was a formula for losing that is it. The consultant also said that winning Congress was more important for the Democrats than winning the presidency, which gave me a curious impression of premature sour grapes, especially since this Congress's approval ratings are even lower than Bush's.
The Democrats seem to exist to neutralize progressive trends in the USA. This Congress was an important, perhaps a final chance to make clear that a real difference exists between the parties and this opportunity has been lost. The Democrats seem set on nominating Hillary for President and maybe she could beat Bush, but I don't think she can beat Giuliani.
It is important to remember at this point that the Democrats are not going to be running against Bush, he'll be gone and he is so exceptionally inept that very few voters are going to to associate his historic, amazing and very personal incompetence with Republicans in general... Certainly not with Giuliani.
And speaking of Rudy, it is also important to remember that what the voters have always liked most about Dubya is that he is a mean son of a bitch and Rudy is even meaner than Bush and unlike the Shrub is seen to be sharp and competent. Bush was reelected comfortably because the frightened American people wanted a bad assed prick for President... but they wanted a competent bad assed prick. They are still frightened, but they are disappointed by Bush's performance, not, repeat, not, by his selling proposition.
The Democratic campaign consultant also confirmed my impression that Mike Huckabee is hot. "To hear Huckabee, is to love Huckabee", he said. A client of his, a Democratic governor, told him in confidence that Huckabee was probably the best governor in the country. He actually is what Bush pretended to be, a "compassionate conservative". Except when he speaks on nutrition, most of what Huckabee says sounds like nonsense to me, but he is funny, he's human and he gives the impression of being both a genuinely good man and real. I think that he will probably be Giuliani's running mate and that will be a very, very, balanced ticket, indeed. Giuliani is both a thug and corrupt and his weirdness could put off the "values" voter. Huckabee on the ticket could solve all that.
Who could be Hillary's running mate? Frankly, I think there is only one human being in the world that balances Hillary Clinton and that is Bill Clinton, but I don't think he can run for Vice-President. Can he?
I think the Democrats are going to lose, because they are not true to their base, they haven't learned the Kerry lesson yet and probably never will. I don't think the people who finance the Democrats will ever allow them to be true to that base. The Republicans don't have that problem. What you see is what you get.
I'm sorry to say that it is clearer to me every day that the Democratic Party has become little more than a Judas Goat for progressives. The path to change is not going to be found leading through this version of the Democratic Party, I'm afraid. DS
Mike Huckabee on nutrition - Salon
There are two basic elements to health: good nutrition and activity. We've got to help this country to start realizing that whole, natural foods are critical to health. I often tell people a couple of basic rules of nutrition: One is, if it wasn't a food 100 years ago, it probably isn't a food today. Secondly, if it comes through the car window, it isn't food. So much of what people eat today is a chemical product that has been processed, and when you really look at what it is and read the label, you'd be better off eating the box and throwing the contents away, because the box would at least give you some fiber.
George Packer on Giuliani - New Yorker
Whenever its leading Presidential candidates appear before partisan audiences, they try to outdo one another in pledging loyalty oaths to the use of force, pandering to the war lobby as if they were Democrats addressing the teachers’ union. Giuliani has surrounded himself with a group of advisers—from Norman Podhoretz to the former Pentagon official Michael Rubin—who, having got Iraq spectacularly wrong, seem determined to make up for it by doing the same thing in Iran. Giuliani approaches foreign policy in the same mood of barely restrained eagerness for confrontation with which, as mayor of New York, he went after criminals. He has essentially promised to go to war with Iran in order to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, and he recently suggested that waterboarding is only torture when the wrong people are doing it, and blamed the “liberal media” for giving it a bad name. He has said that he would improve America’s miserable image around the world by threatening State Department diplomats with unnamed consequences unless they defend United States foreign policy more aggressively. “The era of cost-free anti-Americanism must end,” Giuliani snarled in the polite pages of Foreign Affairs, which had invited candidates to lay out their views.
Karl Rove on Hillary - Newsweek
I've seen up close the two Clintons America knows. He's a big smile, hand locked on your arm and lots of charms. "Hey, come down and speak at my library. I'd like to talk some politics with you." And her? She tends to be, well, hard and brittle. I inherited her West Wing office. Shortly after the 2001 Inauguration, I made a little talk saying I appreciated having the office because it had the only full-length vanity mirror in the West Wing, which gave me a chance to improve my rumpled appearance. The senator from New York confronted me shortly after and pointedly said she hadn't put the mirror there. I hadn't said she did, just that the mirror was there. So a few weeks later, in another talk, I repeated the story about the mirror. And shortly thereafter, the junior senator saw me and, again, without a hint of humor or light in her voice, icily said she'd heard I'd repeated the story of the mirror and she … did … not … put … that mirror in the office.(...) Say in authentic terms what you believe. The GOP nominee must highlight his core convictions to help people understand who he is and to set up a natural contrast with Clinton, both on style and substance. Don't be afraid to say something controversial. The American people want their president to be authentic. And against a Democrat who calculates almost everything, including her accent and laugh, being seen as someone who says what he believes in a direct way will help.