Saturday, May 31, 2008

The End Times

How will Hillary Clinton devise an exit strategy for Iraq when she can't even come up with one for the Democratic primary campaign?

Yes, the Apocalypse nears - the last days of the bruising, interminable nomination battle between Clinton and Obama. The signs are everywhere: renegade preachers causing hell for candidates of both parties...earthquakes, tornadoes and cyclones...Hillary Clinton raising the specter of assassination...even a DNC Rules Committee meeting televised live on CNN. Surely, the end is near. And then what's a pundit to do?

But before we get to the blog...here are some things you may have missed: Our most recent song, "Torn Between Two Democrats," about those conflicted, undecided superdelegates...John Edwards endorsing Obama....John McCain campaigning in the Bay Area....Nancy Pelosi telling San Francisco reporters the Democratic nominee will be chosen by the end of next week...and President Bush sitting down for an exclusive interview with our CBS Radio White House correspondents, Peter Maer and Mark Knoller (hmm, that link seems to have disappeared, we'll work on that).

And now back to our blog.

It's over, Hillary. She knows it, too. Save your irate emails, Clinton supporters, I'm not taking sides, I just call 'em as I see 'em, and what I see here is a presidential nominee named Barack Obama.

Look, when I went out on my quadrennial limb six months ago, I said Hillary would be the nominee, and you all know how it pains me so to be wrong about something. Sigh. I guess it has to happen sometimes, even if it's only once every four years.

Clinton is still making blustery threats about taking her delegate fight to the credentials committee, or even the convention floor in Denver, but I really think that's just empty straw-grasping. She's a clear-eyed, pragmatic politician, and she well knows that to scorch the earth of the Democratic Party in a futile tantrum would be to close the White House doors to any future Clinton presidency...at least until Chelsea turns 35. No, after the DNC decision on Michigan and Florida this weekend - giving Obama delegates from Michigan that he never even won - her best bet is to accept the inevitable, endorse Obama this Wednesday and hope he puts her on the ticket.

As for Obama - he's turning into a regular gaffe-a-minute George W. Bush. Did you catch his Memorial Day act? His Auschwitz mistake made national headlines - but it was his Sixth Sense moment that made me gasp. Yes, he told a veterans' group in New Mexico that his uncle had been among the first American troops to liberate Auschwitz. Well, it turned out to be his great-uncle, and it was Buchenwald, not Auschwitz. The GOP jumped all over him on that one, pointing out that the Soviets, not the U.S. Army, had liberated Auschwitz. A Republican spokesman even wondered if Obama's great uncle had served in the Red Army (yes, he's descended from Communists too, not just terrorists!)

I can forgive Obama a slip like that. Family history often gets distorted or misremembered over the years, although it would behoove him to get his death camps straight. For decades, I've been told that my lefthanded cousin Hank Sovern was an undefeated pitcher for the Yankees' AAA team, on the cusp of big league greatness, when World War Two broke out. He traded his pinstripes for GI khakis and never pitched again. Except, I can find no record of him in any baseball record book. So who knows? If I ever run for president, I won't bring him up.

But Obama's real jawdropper came earlier in that same Memorial Day speech. He began by saying "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes – and I see many of them in the audience here today – our sense of patriotism is particularly strong."

Oops. Do you feel that chill in the air? BARACK SEES DEAD PEOPLE. Not a huge surprise, since he's from Chicago, where dead people are the key to winning an election. Apparently, as many Americans do, Obama confused Memorial Day - a tribute to those who give their lives in military service, dating back to the Civil War - with Veterans Day, which salutes living former soldiers and sailors, replacing the Armistice Day that began after World War One. His scripted speech didn't include the parenthetical about seeing fallen heroes in the audience. Apparently, he ad libbed that. Something tells me he didn't write this speech himself!

Now we all make mistakes. I made the mistake of underestimating Obama, and overestimating America's racism, when I predicted Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. We've all seen Hillary commit one faux-pas after another, and John McCain, too, pretty much on a weekly basis. But if President Bush said the things Obama said last week, the late-night comics and the pundits would have been merciless. Don't let your Obama love blind you to his flaws. He's still a politician, folks, and a fairly novice one at that.

And while I'm calling 'em as I see 'em...I covered John McCain's latest Bay Area campaign swing the week before last. No flag pin in his lapel. In fact, I've covered him at least five times in the last year, and not once have I seen him wear a flag lapel pin. Never. For that matter, I've never seen one on Hillary either (not in person; I have seen them wear them during debates or televised speeches). So why is Obama held to a higher lapel pin standard? Someone needs to start circulating pictures of ALL the candidates, sans flag pin, on the Internet.

And an odd tidbit from that McCain event: his press passes had "Visit to the United States" printed on them. Were these left over from some foreign dignitary's junket? Is McCain actually from Albania or something? Is what we've suspected all these years, true - that the Bay Area really IS the real America, and all those flyover heartland states are some bizarre foreign hinterland? The campaign staffers shrugged, and had no explanation. As the Apocalypse nears, maybe McCain is hoarding resources, and is bumming leftovers from the Pope's recent visit.

The devil is always in the details...

P.S. Here's the link to Obama's Sixth Sense moment, on YouTube.

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