Category Archives: People

Ken Duberstein, Reagan chief of staff, endorse Obama

This is one of those key endorsements to those who really understand politics.  A president’s chief of staff is the power job.  A chief of staff controls essentially controls the eyes and ears of the president.  A president’s chief of staff is and tried and true, deeply red or blue, member of his or her (not yet, but one can dream) party.  Ken Duberstein was Reagan’s chief of staff.  And Ken Duberstein yesterday, in an interview with CNN, endorsed Obama for president.

There are a couple of interesting facts about this endorsement.  First, Duberstein is a friend of McCain.  The McCain camp, in fact, is whining that Duberstein is only endorsing because he’s pissed that he didn’t get named as head of their transition team.  Duberstein’s reaction:  “Bullshit.”

The second interesting fact, and perhaps the deciding one, is that Duberstein and Colin Powell are good friends.  Speaking of Powell, Duberstein said:

I think Colin Powell’s decision is in fact the good-housekeeping seal of approval on Barack Obama.

Like other prominent Republicans, Duberstein was also turned off by McCain’s pick of Palin, seeing it as strictly a political pick.  The CNN interview will air on Sunday.

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Leon Wieseltier swallows his tongue and endorses Obama

If you’ve been around this blog from (almost) the beginning, you’ll remember that I took issue back in February with Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic over his “all hope, no substance” criticism of Barack Obama’s foreign policy strategy.  Clearly lacking in substance and short on details, Wieseltier misrepresented and, in places, just flat got wrong many of Obama’s positions on things like Pakistan, Iran, and Darfur.  At the time, Ezra Klein wrote of Wieseltier’s criticism,

His skepticism of the Obama campaign on these grounds is among the most powerful arguments I’ve yet heard for Obama’s candidacy.

All of this comes back to me today as I read in The New Republic that Wieseltier is endorsing Obama for president in a piece called “Ballot Blues.”  He is actually less endorsing that settling for, having found in neither McCain nor Obama the candidate of his dreams, though he admits that he has never, in his life, found that candidate.  He says of McCain:

McCain feels with his heart, but he thinks with his base. And when he picked Sarah Palin, he told the United States of America to go fuck itself …. But McCain is looking more and more like his America, which is Bush’s America: a country of capitalists and Christians. I do not know how to explain what has become of him.

And of Obama:

I dread the prospect of Obama’s West Wing education in foreign policy: even when he spoke well about these matters in the debates, it all sounded so new to him, so light. He must not mistake the global adulation of his person with the end of anti-Americanism. And he must not mistake his hope for the world with his analysis of the world.

Sounds familiar.  He’s still beating the same drum, or at least the same model of one, that he was beating last February.  In the end, though, Wieseltier (whose name I will one day learn to type without reference) comes to this:

Obama is a smart man. He is a decent man. He is an undangerous man, in the manner of all pragmatists and opportunists. He reveres reason, though he often confuses it with conversation. His domestic goals are good, though the titans of American finance, the greedy geniuses of Wall Street, may have made many of those goals fantastic. He will see to it that some liberalism survives at the Supreme Court …. OK, then: Obama, and another anxious visit to the ballot box, with–in the stinging words of Du Bois–“a hope not hopeless but unhopeful.”

Buck up, Leon.  Hope is where it’s at.

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Another Republican for Obama

CC Goldwater, (yes, of *that* Goldwater family) wrote in HuffPo today that she is endorsing Barack Obama for President.  Here is her endorsement:

Being Barry Goldwater’s granddaughter and living in Arizona, one would assume that I would be voting for our state’s senator, John McCain. I am still struck by certain ‘dyed in the wool’ Republicans who are on the fence this election, as it seems like a no-brainer to me.

Myself, along with my siblings and a few cousins, will not be supporting the Republican presidential candidates this year. We believe strongly in what our grandfather stood for: honesty, integrity, and personal freedom, free from political maneuvering and fear tactics. I learned a lot about my grandfather while producing the documentary, Mr. Conservative Goldwater on Goldwater. Our generation of Goldwaters expects government to provide for constitutional protections. We reject the constant intrusion into our personal lives, along with other crucial policy issues of the McCain/Palin ticket.

My grandfather (Paka) would never suggest denying a woman’s right to choose. My grandmother co-founded Planned Parenthood in Arizona in the 1930’s, a cause my grandfather supported. I’m not sure about how he would feel about marriage rights based on same-sex orientation. I think he would feel that love and respect for ones privacy is what matters most and not the intolerance and poor judgment displayed by McCain over the years. Paka respected our civil liberties and passed on the message that that we should conduct our lives standing up for the basic freedoms we hold so dear.

For a while, there were several candidates who aligned themselves with the Goldwater version of Conservative thought. My grandfather had undying respect for the U.S. Constitution, and an understanding of its true meanings.

There always have been a glimmer of hope that someday, someone would “race through the gate” full steam in Goldwater style. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened, and the Republican brand has been tarnished in a shameless effort to gain votes and appeal to the lowest emotion, fear. Nothing about McCain, except for maybe a uniform, compares to the same ideology of what Goldwater stood for as a politician. The McCain/Palin plan is to appear diverse and inclusive, using women and minorities to push an agenda that makes us all financially vulnerable, fearful, and less safe.

When you see the candidate’s in political ads, you can’t help but be reminded of the 1964 presidential campaign of Johnson/Goldwater, the ‘origin of spin’, that twists the truth and obscures what really matters. Nothing about the Republican ticket offers the hope America needs to regain it’s standing in the world, that’s why we’re going to support Barack Obama. I think that Obama has shown his ability and integrity.

After the last eight years, there’s a lot of clean up do. Roll up your sleeves, Senators Obama and Biden, and we Goldwaters will roll ours up with you.

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Opie and The Fonz endorse Obama

The old Mayberry gang gathers once again to endorse Obama.  I wish Aunt Bee were alive to see this one. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

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Scott McClellan endorses ….

… Obama???  Yeah, for real.  Though I suppose that after his book, “What Happened,” maybe we shouldn’t be so shocked.  From Huffington Post:

Scott McClellan, President Bush’s former press secretary, says he is backing Barack Obama for president.

McClellan made the endorsement during a taping of Comedian D.L. Hughley’s new show that is premiering on CNN this weekend. The former Bush administration official said he wanted to support the candidate that has the best chance for changing the way Washington works and getting things done.

He’s the second former Bush administration figure this week to publicly back Obama, following former Secretary of State Colin Powell. McClellan caused bitterness among his former co-workers with a tell-all book that criticized Bush.

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Colin Powell endorses Obama

On Meet the Press this morning, Colin Powell did, indeed, endorse Obama.  When the tape is available, I’ll put it here.  Powell cited Obama’s judgement, ability to cross lines, willingness to bring people together, and eloquence in his endorsement.  He admitted his profound respect for John McCain, but spoke of issues with McCain’s judgement on the economic crisis and the tenor of his campaign, among other things.

I’m not sure how I feel about Powell’s endorsement.  Powell’s endorsement of the war was the thing that swayed me.  I lost a lot of respect for him after that.  Am I pleased that he is endorsing?  Sure.  Do I think that he should have had the courage to come out earlier?  Absolutely.  He could have come out earlier and hit the campaign trail.  Of course, this will control the news cycle for a day or so, at a critical time in the waning days of this campaign.  I’ll think on this some more and post later.  If you have thoughts, please share.

**As promised, here’s the tape:

**Update:  I expected the likes of Rush Limbaugh to blame Powell’s endorsement on tribal politics, but I really didn’t think that Pat Buchanan would go on MSNBC and claim the same.  That, he did, though, on tonight’s “special edition” of Hardball.  He also, by the by, blamed John Lewis’ “abandonment” of Hillary Clinton for Obama on the same.  I’ve said it before and will keep blowing this trumpet:  that old pol needs to ride off into the sunset.  His time has passed.

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Follow up on the Christopher Buckley endorsement

It appears that the conservatives are (shock) not so tolerant as one might hope.  Christopher Buckley has been co-opted into resigning from the National Review, the magazine his father, the late William F. Bukley, Jr., founded, over his reasoned endorsement of Barack Obama for President.  Buckley, indeed, took great care in distancing his endorsement from the magazine, instead publishing it in The Daily Beast.  Apparently, that was not enough to keep the National Review On-Line from getting in the “awkward position” Buckley was trying to help them avoid.  Here is part of his explanation, from The Daily Beast, on why he is leaving the NRO:

 

Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.) 

My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.  

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case. 

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me. 

Thanks, anyway, for the memories, and here’s to happier days and with any luck, a bit less fresh hell.

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Legenday Carolina coach endorses Obama

Y’all know that this is the kind of endorsement I would love!  From the Obama campaign:

There is a point in every contest when sitting on the sidelines is not an option. That is why

Coach Smith

Coach Smith

Linnea and I are writing to urge you to join Barack Obama’s campaign for President.

There are pivotal moments in history when the right decision by a nation can change its course for the better — opening up new paths before us and providing future generations with opportunities that we had not thought possible. This coming election provides one of those moments. Linnea and I believe Barack Obama is the right leader at this critical juncture. I have written that when coaching a team, you must be prepared to make changes to meet new challenges and obstacles. We must be prepared to do the same as a nation. Now, it is the United States that needs a change in direction… and a change in leadership.

Join Barack Obama today by volunteering in your corner of North Carolina.

Linnea and I respect all that Senator McCain has done for our country. However, we feel strongly that it is Barack Obama who offers the real leadership our nation needs to tap its potential as a land of opportunity — even as we face difficult times at home and abroad. Senator Obama is a patriotic American, a committed Christian, a good family man, and a man who shares the bedrock values that most North Carolinians have in common: fairness, hard work, respect for others, and personal responsibility. And he has the vision and judgment to help us push through this period of uncertainty to a time of greater economic stability and greater security from threats abroad.

If you believe America needs to set a new course, then the time to join us is now. If you are already an Obama supporter, please step up to help our campaign. There are only about three weeks left before Election Day, and if we are going to move away from the failed policies of the past, then we need your help now.

So we encourage you to get out there and get involved — talk to your neighbors and sign up to volunteer today.

Get involved now:

http://nc.barackobama.com/jointhesmiths

And pass this email along to those you think might be interested. This election is too important to stand on the sidelines and watch history pass us by.

Thank you,

Coach Dean Smith and Linnea Smith
Chapel Hill, NC

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Hugh McColl, Jr., former chairman and CEO of Bank of America, endorses Obama

From The Charlotte Observer:

In 49 years of living in Charlotte, I’ve seldom offered my opinion in writing and never submitted

Hugh McColl, Jr.

Hugh McColl, Jr.

a piece such as this. The condition of our country compels me.

The economic disarray threatening our community and nation poses critical challenges but also presents opportunity. We can observe the presidential candidates in the crucible of crisis.

Only one of them demonstrates the needed intellect, fortitude and temperament. That is why I have decided to publicly support Barack Obama.

What is needed in Washington is sound judgment and exceptional leadership. Through the years that I’ve been a businessman and before that an officer in the Marine Corps, I saw what qualities make effective leaders. I see them in Obama: a sharp intellect, stiff spine and steady hand.

Obama’s economic plans will restore market confidence and provide a blueprint for a better future. His pragmatic, intelligent economic plan will stop our financial slide and restore the expansion and confidence we knew in the 1990s. Obama’s tax relief plans for small businesses and the middle class should provide much-needed economic stimulus.

Obama also has an energy plan that makes sense. He will shift energy use from foreign oil toward alternative, domestic sources. This will create millions of “green collar” jobs and enable us to capitalize on alternative energy. These cleaner energy solutions will protect the planet for our children and grandchildren and free us from depending on hostile nations.

We could not have built Bank of America into the leader it has become without a highly educated workforce. Obama proposes to invest in education to ensure we remain the most productive and efficient in the world. We must take these steps to stay globally competitive.

I greatly respect all that John McCain has done for our nation. But it is Barack Obama whom we need now.

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Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, Jr., endorses Obama

I just have to post the whole endorsement.

Sorry, Dad, I’m Voting for Obama

Christopher Buckley

Christopher Buckley

by Christopher Buckley

The son of William F. Buckley has decided—shock!—to vote for a Democrat.

Let me be the latest conservative/libertarian/whatever to leap onto the Barack Obama bandwagon. It’s a good thing my dear old mum and pup are no longer alive. They’d cut off my allowance.

Or would they? But let’s get that part out of the way. The only reason my vote would be of any interest to anyone is that my last name happens to be Buckley—a name I inherited. So in the event anyone notices or cares, the headline will be: “William F. Buckley’s Son Says He Is Pro-Obama.” I know, I know: It lacks the throw-weight of “Ron Reagan Jr. to Address Democratic Convention,” but it’ll have to do.

I am—drum roll, please, cue trumpets—making this announcement in the cyberpages of The Daily Beast (what joy to be writing for a publication so named!) rather than in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column. For a reason: My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”

As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails. One correspondent, if that’s quite the right word, suggested that Kathleen’s mother should have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a Dumpster. There’s Socratic dialogue for you. Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best. At any rate, I don’t have the kidney at the moment for 12,000 emails saying how good it is he’s no longer alive to see his Judas of a son endorse for the presidency a covert Muslim who pals around with the Weather Underground. So, you’re reading it here first.

As to the particulars, assuming anyone gives a fig, here goes:

I have known John McCain personally since 1982. I wrote a well-received speech for him. Earlier this year, I wrote in The New York Times—I’m beginning to sound like Paul Krugman, who cannot begin a column without saying, “As I warned the world in my last column…”—a highly favorable Op-Ed about McCain, taking Rush Limbaugh and the others in the Right Wing Sanhedrin to task for going after McCain for being insufficiently conservative. I don’t—still—doubt that McCain’s instincts remain fundamentally conservative. But the problem is otherwise.

McCain rose to power on his personality and biography. He was authentic. He spoke truth to power. He told the media they were “jerks” (a sure sign of authenticity, to say nothing of good taste; we are jerks). He was real. He was unconventional. He embraced former anti-war leaders. He brought resolution to the awful missing-POW business. He brought about normalization with Vietnam—his former torturers! Yes, he erred in accepting plane rides and vacations from Charles Keating, but then, having been cleared on technicalities, groveled in apology before the nation. He told me across a lunch table, “The Keating business was much worse than my five and a half years in Hanoi, because I at least walked away from that with my honor.” Your heart went out to the guy. I thought at the time, God, this guy should be president someday.

A year ago, when everyone, including the man I’m about to endorse, was caterwauling to get out of Iraq on the next available flight, John McCain, practically alone, said no, no—bad move. Surge. It seemed a suicidal position to take, an act of political bravery of the kind you don’t see a whole lot of anymore.

But that was—sigh—then. John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

All this is genuinely saddening, and for the country is perhaps even tragic, for America ought, really, to be governed by men like John McCain—who have spent their entire lives in its service, even willing to give the last full measure of their devotion to it. If he goes out losing ugly, it will be beyond tragic, graffiti on a marble bust.

As for Senator Obama: He has exhibited throughout a “first-class temperament,” pace Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s famous comment about FDR. As for his intellect, well, he’s a Harvard man, though that’s sure as heck no guarantee of anything, these days. Vietnam was brought to you by Harvard and (one or two) Yale men. As for our current adventure in Mesopotamia, consider this lustrous alumni roster. Bush 43: Yale. Rumsfeld: Princeton. Paul Bremer: Yale and Harvard. What do they all have in common? Andover! The best and the brightest.

I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. He is also a lefty. I am not. I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets. On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian. I believe with my sage and epigrammatic friend P.J. O’Rourke that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.

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