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. 

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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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