Robert Novak Writes Mitt Romney’s Political Obit!

I like Robert Novak.  Not for his conservative views, but for his journalistic grit, and political judgement.  I was fortunate to meet him in Madison a couple years ago and talk, as we walked slowly due to his hip replacement surgery, about the way he writes his columns.  He took the time to talk, and that impressed me.  He became a journalist in the scrappy days of the profession, and I admire that about him.  I also enjoy the tales he can tell!

So I pay attention when Robert Novak writes the following.  As I find Mitt Romney loathsome I smile.

Once again, (FL) exit polls suggest that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney split the bulk of the conservative vote. McCain picked up some of the conservative vote and most of the moderate-to-liberal vote.

Romney’s second-place finish here highlights his shortcomings. He is not nearly as appealing personally as either Huckabee or McCain, and his conservative credentials are not strong enough to carry him on ideological grounds.

Exit polls and county results (FL) suggest that Huckabee again was unable to reach outside his evangelical base. While his voters are ideologically closer to Romney’s voters, it’s unclear if many of them would support Romney.

Romney simply has not shown a broad appeal. His three wins have been in his native state and two basically uncontested caucuses. He tends to finish second quite a bit, but now that the field is basically narrowed down to two men, that’s not worth much.

Romney’s ability to mount a comeback based on anti-McCain sentiment is crippled by the short timeframe. If Super Tuesday were in a month, conservatives might have time to rally behind Romney.

Huckabee does not have a realistic chance of winning the nomination. He can take votes away from Romney (though this is an open question) and collect delegates, while also bolstering his case to be a running mate.

Seven states have winner-take-all primaries, and McCain is likely to win some of the biggest — New York, New Jersey, and Arizona — as well as Connecticut. Romney should win Utah. The others — Missouri and Delaware — are unclear, but Romney is not likely to carry Missouri. From those seven states, Romney’s best-case scenario is winning two, while Huckabee carries Missouri. This would give McCain 230 delegates from four states, Romney 54 delegates from two states, and Huckabee 58 delegates from one state.

Romney’s best hope is to win a bunch of congressional districts in California, where each is worth 3 delegates. He also will do well in Massachusetts, but McCain will also win delegates there.

It is very possible that Huckabee will pick up more delegates on Super Tuesday than will Romney. If Romney is in third place in delegates on February 6, that could end his bid.

In short, Super Tuesday looks to be a McCain blowout, putting him on the threshold of the nomination.

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Conservatives Nervous Over John McCain

The greatest thing to see is the Republican Party splitting open and fighting at the time they should be uniting behind a presidential nominee. If this isn’t cheap theatre, than I have no idea what would qualify.

Conservative bloggers declare right-wingers will never support John McCain if he becomes the nominee.   Rush Limbaugh appears to have been popping oxycontin before most of his recent entertainment shows on radio.  He has went ape-crap on the air.  Meanwhile conservative talk radio in New York (WABC) is running 24 hours a day in an all out effort to demonize the Arizona Republican.

But the moderates and independents in the GOP are striking back with endorsements and money.  Stable-minded Republicans want their party back, and are fighting the conservatives to return the GOP to some sense of sanity. 

Tonight even Darth Vader’s (Robert Novak) seems to concede what is becoming the obvious.   John McCain will win. 

John McCain’s successive wins in South Carolina and Florida mean he clearly is the front-runner in a two-man race with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Everything is in his favor in the high population states, and he could come close to wrapping up the nomination because of winner-take-all Republican rules. Time is growing short for the right wing of the GOP to stop McCain or even wrest concessions from him.

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Bob Schieffer And My Coffee Mug

It may sound strange but every Saturday night for well over a decade I make sure that my ‘Sunday coffee mug’ is clean and ready for a hot beverage come the next morning.  The mug is the official “Face The Nation” one that can be seen on the famed CBS show, placed in front of those being interviewed by Bob Schieffer.  A great friend sent the mug to me while he visited New York, and the use of it every Sunday morning is now just a long running tradition.  The mug is really symbolic for the deep respect I have for the man who anchors the Sunday broadcast.

Bob Schieffer is one of those rock solid reporters that I have turned to in times of national upheaval for an honest dose of news.  During election season he demonstrates a long running love of the political process.  He is gifted with political analysis that makes the younger faces around him seen so….well…average.  He has a keen sense for blending his professional journalistic skills with a dose of humanity, and a touch of humor, to make his time on-air well worth my time.  It has been that way for decades.   He never has let me down.

But starting in January with a new President sitting in the Oval Office Bob Schieffer will not be on the air.  He announced his retirement from the Sunday morning broadcast this week.

I felt the time Bob Schieffer was the anchor of the CBS Evening News was the best for that program since Walter Cronkite left the air.  The fact that Schieffer knows how to write and craft his story to hit the facts, while drawing the audience in for more, is not easy.  But after all the years that he has devoted to his profession it comes with ease.  The fact it does look effortless on his part is just more proof of his television skills.

His grace on the air is also a well-known trait, one that has earned him respect from all quarters.  He is a man with a job to do, but proves time and again that being a gentleman does not mean he can also not be successful, or get to the bottom of the latest headlines.

Come January I will still watch “Face The Nation”, but I wonder if the coffee in the old mug will taste the same.

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As He Leaves Campaign John Edwards Still Right On Issues

As CNN reports John Edwards is leaving the race for the White House.

Prior to the start of the Iraq War many who were opposed to the invasion worried about the long-term effects on American foreign policy.  Given that there was international outrage over the way the war was being sold to buttress the rationale for the preemptive strike, and given the complexities of the Middle East on a good day, many of us had legitimate concerns about the lasting impact of this policy.

This theme has been a constant one on this blog, and must be addressed honestly by any true contender for the Presidency in 2008.  So I was pleased this past year to hear former Senator John Edwards make it clear that our moral leadership is a necessity if civilization itself is not to unravel.  Without hesitation, he stated that though there are many domestic issues that need the attention of the next President,  the overriding responsibility would be to restore our leadership to the world.  He is correct with this view.

Edwards understands in the way that John Kerry never could that world events like the horror in Darfur demands the leadership of America.  Kerry failed to challenge President Bush in 2004 over a more pro-active stance in Darfur to counter balance in the eyes of the world with what we were doing in Iraq.  When Kerry failed to even campaign on the idea of moral leadership around the globe, I lost the last shreds of hope for his campaign. 

In contrast, Edwards knew that we can’t stand in the eyes of the world seeking a leadership role if we allow genocide to take place in Darfur.  We can’t expect to be seen as credible when we speak to other nations seeking their involvement on various trouble spots, if we do not lead and act on the major issues confronting the world.

While there are many domestic needs in America for the next President to deal with, we must not nominate a candidate who says it is time to shy away from our role in international affairs.  Instead we must have a new President that is as determined to lead with moral leadership around the globe, as Bush was determined to lead with guile.

I am very sorry that John Edwards will no longer be a part of the race for the White House.  He had a real moral center to his campaign that was refreshing and sincere.  His willingness to confront the issues with honesty and punch made him more than a footnote in this race.

Thanks John for a well fought race on the issues that matter to America.

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Congressman Barney Frank, The Gay Boyfriend, And President Bush

As President Bush walked into the House of Representatives to give his State of the Union address he bumped into Congressman Barney Frank, who was on the phone with his boyfriend.

Read the whole story here.  This is a great read.

It’s a time-worn president’s trick: walk up to a congressman chatting on the phone and send your regards to the astonished person on the other end of the line, charming the listener with your regular-guy credentials.

That’s what President Bush did Monday night at the State of the Union address, when he approached Newton Democrat Barney Frank, who was talking on his cell phone in the House Speaker’s lobby before Bush’s speech.

What Bush didn’t know was that the congressman was talking to his boyfriend.

“Tell him I said, ‘Hello,’ ” Bush said to Frank, leaning in to pat the congressman’s shoulder. As Bush continued into the House chamber, Frank told his skeptical boyfriend that it had been the conservative Republican president sending his good wishes. Frank’s boyfriend didn’t believe him, so the Massachusetts lawmaker put one of the sergeants-at-arms on the phone to back up his story.

After the speech, Frank said, he felt he had to tell Bush what he had done. After all, the president opposes gay marriage, and gay rights groups do not see the president as an ally.

Frank sought out the president, who put his hand on the back of the congressman’s head to hear him more clearly in the noisy, crowded room.

“Mr. President, by the way, the person I was talking to when you said to say hello was my boyfriend,” Frank said he told the commander-in-chief.

“Well. I hope you said how open-minded I am,” Frank said the president replied.

“I considered telling [the president] I wouldn’t marry him,” Frank said, “but then I thought, ‘Nah.’ ”

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I Respect John McCain, And He Is Good For The GOP

It is tough for me to beat up on John McCain.  I certainly disagree on his position over the Iraq War, and find his attitude on some social issues to be far too conservative for our nation.  But I have long admired his fights over certain Congressional appropriations, his understanding about needing to combat campaign cash, and his attempt to find a real world solution to immigration concerns.

John McCain has a set of values and beliefs that is as much a part of the man, as his arms and legs.  He does not need to recreate his image, or rearrange his policy views to fit a campaign strategy.  While others seeking the GOP nomination, like Mitt Romney, have flip-flopped for votes, McCain has been a steady voice seeking support from the voters.

As I watched the Florida primary returns tonight on MSNBC  (WOW!) I was reminded by listening to Pat Buchanan that principled people who stick to their positions resonate with me.  As a result their views are taken more seriously.  Pat Buchanan and I disagree over most policy issues.  His strident brand of conservatism rubs me the wrong way, but I know that he does not waffle around an issue.  He stays true to himself.  Couple that with his shrewd political analysis, and you might understand why he is actually one of my favorite pundits on television.

John McCain’s certainty of who he is, and what he believes in, is an essential part of his bid to win the GOP nomination.  While Mitt Romney is trying out his latest new version of himself, we all know where McCain stands.  Like it or not, we know John McCain is solid and comfortable with himself.   The fact that voters continue to reject Mitt Romney is in large part due to the fact they do not like his “do anything to win the White House” value system.

While Mitt tries to mimic his  successful father politically, John McCain is making a stand not only for 2008, but for the future of the GOP.  McCain has the ability to lift the Republican Party up from a sick fascination with the religious right, and help to again make the GOP a sensible alternative to the Democratic Party.  This concern about the GOP being hijacked by the religious right is not new, nor does it come only from folks such as myself.  John Danforth, one of many members of the GOP, has urged moderation within the Republican Party. 

As a liberal blogger I am sure that sentiment may stun some of my left-leaning readers, but I know that two competent political parties that work to construct policy is the best route to addressing national needs.  After all, that is what this campaign is all about.

So while the right-wing frets about John McCain, I think there is a huge segment of America that will be tuned in, and excited over McCain as a principled nominee of the Republican Party.

I will be one of them.

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Caroline Kennedy’s Ad For Barack Obama


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Madison Braces For Another Winter Slam That Will Be Exciting

I have many readers from places that rarely ever experience any snow, let alone the real winter weather that we have had in Madison since the first major storm blasted the area on December 1, 2007.  For folks in the south who shudder at 40 degrees, or ponder what to do when a dusting of snow hits their highways, I offer below the following glimpse into what us hardy folks in Madison have in store for the next two days.

There is no doubt that after this winter we can all truthfully say that we have experienced a real Wisconsin winter.  We have not had one like this for many years, and we were due.  We have seen it all with nearly 60 inches of snow, and frigid days with wind chills that make it frightful outside.  The weather forecasters have used all their adjectives to describe each eventful weather maker that has ushered more snow and cold our way.  In fact we have had so much snow that I am even starting to think about spring.  And as a lover of winter that takes a lot of the white stuff!

But when I heard the forecasters stress how wild and wicked the storm to hit on Tuesday would be I put my yearning for spring on hold.  This is going to be exciting!  That armchair meteorologist in me has come to life and I am going to enjoy it.  There is nothing we can do about it anyway.  So hold on tight as the winds blow and think a warm thought.

And for the folks down south here are the details.

High wind watch in effect from Tuesday afternoon through late Tuesday night. Winter storm watch in effect from Tuesday afternoon through late Tuesday night. Wind chill advisory in effect from 6 PM Tuesday to 12 PM cst Wednesday.
Rest Of Tonight
Not as cool. Cloudy. Isolated light rain showers…then a chance of light rain showers after midnight. Near steady temperature in the upper 30s. South winds 15 to 25 mph shifting to the southwest 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Chance of rain 40 percent.
Windy…cloudy. Chance of rain showers…snow showers in the morning…then snow and chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Blowing snow in the afternoon. Snow may be heavy at times late in the afternoon. Snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches. Highs in the upper 30s. Temperatures falling into the teens in the afternoon. West winds 10 to 15 mph with gusts to around 35 mph increasing to northwest 25 to 30 mph with gusts to around 50 mph. Chance of precipitation 90 percent.
Tuesday Night
Bitterly cold. Windy. Mostly cloudy with snow likely in the evening…then partly cloudy after midnight. Blowing snow through the night. Snow accumulation around 1 inch. Total snow accumulation 2 to 3 inches. Lows around 6 below. West winds 20 to 30 mph. Gusts up to 60 mph decreasing to 50 mph after midnight. Chance of snow 70 percent. Lowest wind chill readings 19 below to 29 below zero after midnight.
Bitterly cold. Brisk. Partly sunny. Areas of blowing snow in the morning. Highs around 9. West winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts to around 40 mph decreasing to 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. Lowest wind chill readings 23 below to 33 below zero in the morning.

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