Friday, October 31, 2008

Remembering Lady Bird Johnson: Liz Carpenter: A Hillary supporter's case for voting for Obama

In 1960, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson took a whistle stop train tour on behalf of Kennedy-Johnson ticket through a number of small towns, including my family's hometown of Culpeper, Virginia. I have always remembered Lyndon Johnson's words as he left Culpeper in the dust -- "What has Richard Nixon ever done for Culpeper?" It amused Culpeper citizens and my family at the time and it still makes me chuckle today. I thought of that campaign fondly as I read Liz Carpenter's piece about a later campaign by the Johnsons. I hope you enjoy it. . . . Womanpolitico -- Kay Slaughter

06:11 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Liz Carpenter was press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson from 1963 to 1969 and is a best-selling author. Jim Comer is a speaker and the author of "When Roles Reverse: A Guide to Parenting Your Parents."

Forty-four years ago this month, I boarded a train at Washington's Union Station with Lady Bird Johnson for a 1,682-mile whistle stop campaign. We stopped 47 times, in towns large and small. Along the way, Lady Bird faced down hecklers, spoke to hundreds of thousands of voters and made history. Just three months earlier, President Johnson had signed the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, which ended discrimination in public accommodations. For the first time, African-Americans had full access to restaurants, hotels, theaters and public transportation. Many Southerners were furious with the president.

But we couldn't write off the South in the election, and, with her blend of gentility and grit, Lady Bird was the perfect surrogate. As I planned her schedule, she told me, "Don't give me the easy towns, Liz. Let me take the tough ones."

While her charm came through, she did not mince words. In a Southern accent that she shared with her audiences, she said, "The hard duty of assuring equal constitutional rights to all Americans falls, not only on the president but on all who love this land. I am sure we will rise to that duty. We are a nation of laws, not men, and our greatness is our ability to adjust to the national consensus."

Those words were powerful but not popular. We faced hecklers at some stops, crude signs at others, and even death threats. Our roughest moments came in Charleston, S.C., where the hecklers would not stop, and neither would Lady Bird. Her courageous words got through, overwhelming the messengers of hate.

More than four decades have passed. I turned 88 a few days after the Democratic Party nominated an African-American as its candidate for president.

Much credit goes to President Johnson who persuaded senators to pass a tough civil rights bill after a hundred years of filibuster and delay. Barack Obama's nomination would not have been possible without presidential leadership and the work of thousands of unsung heroes, some who gave their lives to ensure "equal justice under the law."

Although I was an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter in the primaries and feel she would make a great president, I believe her spirited contest with Mr. Obama strengthened each of them. For the last four months of the campaign, the two major candidates agreed on 90 percent of the issues.

While I look forward to the day we have a woman in the Oval Office, I'm happy to endorse Barack Obama. He is right on the issues, smart and unafraid to surround himself with people who challenge his views.

Hillary has made scores of speeches supporting Mr. Obama. If she can get over her loss, so can we. Any Democrat who considers supporting John McCain must count the cost of such a vote: Four more years of Bush policies, the continuation of the war in Iraq, expanded tax cuts for the rich, no progress in health care reform, right-wing Supreme Court justices and a vice president who is profoundly unprepared to be president. Sarah Palin is against everything the women's movement stands for: She may be female in gender, but she's a good old boy at heart.

As I cast my ballot, I'll be remembering 1964 and the Lady Bird Special slowly winding its way through the South. I'll hear the cheers and the hecklers. I'll recall the soft-spoken courage of Lady Bird, who went into her beloved South and campaigned for long-overdue change.

And I'll picture a 3-year-old named Barack Obama who grew up, believing that he, too, had a chance to become president.

Liz Carpenter was press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson from 1963 to 1969 and is a best-selling author. Jim Comer is a speaker and the author of "When Roles Reverse: A Guide to Parenting Your Parents
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Goode Race Could Be Election Surprise
October 28, 2008
By John McArdle
Roll Call Staff

DANVILLE, Va. — When Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) finally took the stage to roaring applause from 500 supporters at the Danville Community Market on Friday, he picked up right where 5th district Congressional candidate Tom Perriello (D) left off, hammering Republicans for policies that led to the nation’s current economic crisis.
The rally in Danville was well-timed. This week, the city is set to demolish a condemned portion of the now-defunct Long Mill textile plant, which for decades was at the heart of the town’s textile industry and a major employer for Danville residents. The mill closed down in the mid-1990s, and plans to turn the site into a new shopping and residential center never materialized.

Perriello’s camp views the mill as a symbol of the economic decline that Southside Virginia has experienced under Rep. Virgil Goode (R) and an example of why new leadership, focused on reviving small businesses, is needed in the 5th district.

That message has caught fire. Now, Perriello — a 34-year old attorney who was a political unknown when he entered the race — could be the surprise of the commonwealth on election night.

If he wins, it will be a sign that the Democratic wave on Election Day has turned into a flood.

Polls taken just two months ago showed the six-term Congressman ahead by more than 30 points in this conservative south-central Virginia district. Perriello’s internal polling, taken in mid-October, showed him just 6 points behind.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sees an opportunity in the district. The committee has spent $325,000 in independent expenditures in recent weeks on the race, most of it going to fund TV ads. By comparison, Perriello’s entire media budget for the cycle is about $750,000.

As of last week, the DCCC began buying time in the Richmond media market, which covers about 15 percent of the district. It was an area that Perriello’s campaign had already deemed too expensive to play in on television, and the campaign had planned to cover the territory with mailings and field operations.

Perriello is also expected to benefit from a Democratic presidential campaign that has made Virginia a priority this cycle. That could be especially important because Sen. Barack Obama’s (Ill.) presence on the ticket is expected to boost voter turnout among the district’s 24 percent black population. Perriello’s latest polling numbers conservatively estimated that black voters would make up 18 percent of the electorate on Election Day, leaving plenty of room for growth.

“He’s young, he’s energetic, he can raise money and this is the right time,” Joyce Glaise, a former Danville City Council member, said as she headed into the Biden rally on Friday.

But another Democratic supporter noted as she was waiting in line that the 5th district “is very Republican, so it’s going to take a lot.”

The 5th district voted for President Bush by double-digit margins in 2000 and 2004, and Goode’s worst performance in six elections came in 2006 when he beat Democrat Al Weed by a very comfortable 19-point margin.

Goode does his own press and prides himself for being “hands-on” when it comes to constituent issues.

That trait — not to mention his pronounced southwestern Virginia drawl — has made it very hard for any Democrat to argue that Goode has “gone Washington” during his time on Capitol Hill.

But Goode’s hands-on approach in almost every aspect of his campaign has also been criticized by some Republicans, who say it isn’t a feasible way to run a modern campaign.

One Virginia Republican consultant argued Monday that Goode runs “a 19th-century campaign in the 21st century” and that it allowed an unknown candidate to establish himself and become credible in a contest that should have been a slam-dunk for Goode.

“At the end of the day, does Virgil lose? No. He’s too well-known. But at some point in time, this election ought to serve as a wake-up call” for how Goode runs his campaigns, the consultant said.

As the race has narrowed in recent weeks, Goode’s response has been to paint Perriello as a liberal lawyer whose political philosophy doesn’t fit with the conservative values of the district.

Perriello was raised in Albemarle County, which is home to the liberal bastion of Charlottesville, and he earned his law degree in Connecticut at Yale University. After school, he worked for a nonprofit organization in New York.

At the Biden campaign event on Friday, a Republican staging a one-man counter-rally called Perriello “a liberal carpetbagger.”

“He left here to go to New York to become a lawyer,” said Elmer Woodard, himself a lawyer in Danville. “If he was so concerned about us, why did he leave here in the first place?”

Goode said Perriello’s law school and New York connections are what gave him the ability to raise a staggering $1.5 million as of Oct. 15. Goode has raised $1.49 million this cycle. In 2006, Weed raised less than $600,000 when he challenged Goode.

“The New York money and the California money has allowed him to attract more DCCC money,” Goode said on Monday.

According to campaign finance information complied by CQ MoneyLine, Perriello has brought in just under $200,000 from New York and just over $100,000 from donors in California.

“You have to be fearful of someone like him who is New York slick,” Goode said.

Goode noted that Perriello has made much of his promise this cycle not to take donations from corporate political action committees but “corporate PACs give money to [Rep.] Charlie Rangel [D-N.Y.] and Charlie Rangel gives to him.”

Goode argues that Perriello is playing loose with the truth when he blames Goode for the region’s job losses.

“We’ve lost manufacturing jobs because of free-trade agreements,” Goode said. He said that what workers in Southside Virginia really needed in recent years was more Members of Congress voting against free-trade agreements.

But Perriello told the crowd at Friday’s rally that it’s Goode who likes to twist the truth, especially when he’s scared of losing. He cited a recent television commercial with a picture of the Democrat that Perriello says was darkened and altered in order to make him appear more sinister.

“From one side we have a politics of fear. A politics of trying to survive by convincing people just how scary the alternative is instead of offering a plan for change,” Perriello told the crowd. “We’ve seen it from my opponent, Congressman Goode. ... I tell you this: The 10,000 jobs we’ve lost during Congressman Goode’s time is a lot scarier than that picture.” Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October 12 Electoral Map Picks by Kay Slaughter from "The Fix" Contest in Washington Post

<p><strong>><a href=''>2008 Election Contest: Pick Your President</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the 2008 presidential election and enter to win a $500 prize.</p>

I gave Obama the states Kerry won and then added in Virginia, New Mexico, and North Carolina, where I believe he is currently leading. Sphere: Related Content

THE HARDEST VOTE by George Packer, The New Yorker

Barbie Snodgrass had agreed to meet me at a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, on a strip of fast-food restaurants and auto shops west of downtown Columbus, Ohio, but she didn’t have much time to talk. Her shift as a receptionist at a medical clinic, which got her out of the house at six in the morning, had just ended, at three; the drive home, to a housing development in a working-class suburb south of the city, took half an hour. She then had a little more than an hour to eat, change clothes, let the dog out, check up on her sister’s two teen-age daughters—Sierra and Ashley, who were under her care—and then drive back into Columbus, where she worked the evening shift cleaning the studios of a local television station, and where her day ended, at ten. She also worked some weekends. She was forty-two, single, overweight, and suffering from stomach pains.

Snodgrass sat down at my table and refused the offer of a soft drink. She was wearing a drab ensemble of gray cotton sweatpants and a loose-fitting pale-yellow knit top, and her brown hair fell in bangs just above her eyes. I asked for her thoughts about the Presidential candidates, and she said, “Someone who makes two hundred or three hundred thousand a year, who eats a regular meal, who doesn’t have to struggle, who doesn’t worry if the lights are going to be turned out—if he doesn’t walk in your shoes, he can’t understand.”

In Snodgrass’s shoes, it hardly made sense to draw a paycheck. “You’re working for what?” she asked. She hadn’t finished college, and the two jobs that kept her “constantly moving” brought in a little more than forty thousand dollars a year, but after the mortgage (a thousand a month), car payments (three hundred and fifty), levies for supplies at the girls’ public high school, fuel, electricity, stomach medicine, and a hundred dollars’ worth of groceries each week (down from eight bags to four at Kroger’s supermarket, because of inflation) there was basically nothing left to spend. She could cut corners—go out for a McDonald’s Dollar Meal instead of spending seven dollars on a bag of potatoes and cooking at home. But that meant the end of any kind of family life for her nieces.

“These days, you have to struggle,” she said. “As a kid, I used to be able to go to the movies or to the zoo. Now you can’t take your children to the zoo or go to the movies, because you’ve got to think how you’re going to put food on the table.” Snodgrass’s parents had raised four children on two modest incomes, without the ceaseless stress that she was enduring. But the two-parent family was now available only to the “very privileged.” She said that she had ten good friends; eight of them were childless or, like her, unmarried with kids. “That’s who’s middle-class now,” she said. “Two parents, two kids? That’s over. People looked out for me. These kids nowadays don’t have nobody to look out for them. You’re one week away from (a) losing your job, or (b) not having a paycheck.”

Snodgrass, who has always voted Democratic, was paying close attention to the Presidential campaign—she had taped both candidates’ Convention speeches, and watched them when she had time—but her faith in politicians was somewhere close to zero. She wanted a leader who would watch out for people in the “middle class,” people like her who had no one on their side. “I think McCain is going to be just like Bush the next eight years,” she said. “I don’t see how it’s going to change.” To her, Sarah Palin, a working mother close to her own age, felt more like a token choice than like a kindred spirit. “I think McCain picked her so women can relate to her, not because she’s the best person for the job,” Snodgrass said. “She’s more of a show for the American family.” Hillary Clinton had been better, but even she couldn’t fully apprehend Barbie Snodgrass’s predicament.

She remained uninspired by Barack Obama. His Convention speech had gone into detail about his policy proposals on matters like the economy and health care, which seemed tailored to attract a voter like Snodgrass, but they filled her with suspicion. His promise to rescind the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans struck her as incredible: “How many people do you know who make two hundred and fifty thousand dollars? What is that, five per cent of the United States? That’s a joke! If he starts at a hundred thousand, I might listen. Two hundred fifty—that’s to me like people who hit the lottery.” In fact, only two per cent of Americans make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year, but that group earns twelve per cent of the national income. Nonetheless, the circumstances of Snodgrass’s life made it impossible for her to imagine that there could possibly be enough taxable money in Obama’s upper-income category—which meant that he was being dishonest, and that she would eventually be the one to pay. “He’ll keep going down, and when it’s to people who make forty-five or fifty thousand it’s going to hit me,” she said. “I’d have to sell my home and live in a five-hundred-dollar-a-month apartment with gang bangers out in my yard, and I’d be scared to death to leave my house.”


Monday, October 6, 2008


Though the Commonwealth of Virginia has voted Republican in ten straight Presidential elections, a new poll by Suffolk University signals that Democrat Barack Obama is poised to break that historic streak. Obama (51 percent) leads Republican John McCain (39 percent) by 12 percentage points. "Barack Obama has built a coalition of suburban DC area progressives from the north, African-American voters from the south, and young voters statewide," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. “That broad-based support suggests a 44-year Republican run in the Old Dominion State, dating back to Lyndon Johnson’s victory in 1964, is in jeopardy."

The poll shows last Thursday’s vice presidential debate was a net plus for the Democratic ticket. Exactly three-quarters (75 percent) of likely voters watched and scored Joe Biden (46 percent) the clear winner over Sarah Palin (26 percent), while 20 percent said neither won the debate. When asked if the debate affected their presidential selection, 32 percent said it made them more likely to vote Obama, while 18 percent said the debate moved them to McCain, and 47 percent said the debate didn’t affect their decision.

“The toxic state of the economy in the final year of the Bush Administration is making many Republican candidates radioactive,” Paleologos said. “As has been the case in other Suffolk battleground states, the recent Wall Street and economic turmoil has been costly to the Republican party in Virginia.”

When likely voters were asked which political party -- if any -- deserved blame for the shaky economy, 39 percent blamed the Republicans; 15 percent blamed Democrats; 31 percent said neither; and 13 percent were undecided. And when asked which candidate voters trusted more, Obama led McCain 50 percent to 37 percent, a dramatic uptick from other recent Suffolk surveys in other battleground states.In the clash between the Old Dominion’s two former governors, Democrat Mark Warner (57 percent) leads Republican Jim Gilmore (25 percent). Independent Greens candidate Glenda Gail Parker secured 1 percent; 15 percent were undecided; and 2 percent refused to pick a candidate.The economy/jobs issue (52 percent) dwarfed all other issues in the survey, including the Iraq War (9 percent) and healthcare (8 percent). Taxes, moral values, terrorism, and education all tied with 6 percent.
The Virginia bellwethers disagreed on the presidential winner. In Accomack County, Obama led McCain 41 percent to 40 percent, but in the city of Chesapeake McCain led Obama 42 percent to 36 percent. Bellwether ID’s are designed to predict outcomes - not margins - and to supplement the Suffolk statewide polls.

In 2008, Suffolk University bellwethers, when they agreed on an outcome, were 95 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners in both Democratic and Republican primaries, and, when in agreement with the statewide Suffolk polls of the respective states, were 100 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners.

The Suffolk University poll was conducted Friday, October 3, 2008, through Sunday, October 5, 2008. The margin of error on the study of 600 is +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the Virginia statewide survey were likely voters. In the bellwether polls, there were 282 respondents from Chesapeake city and 303 respondents from Accomack County, and both were surveyed separately from the statewide poll. Marginals and 120 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site on Monday, October 6, 2008. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.

WOMANPOLITICO COMMENT: I guess I'll have to change my electoral map (see below), since I have been very pessimistic about the Democratic presidential candidate winning Virginia. If the Suffolk University poll is correct and this trend continues in Virginia, then it may be an indication that there will be an overwhelming Obama victory in the electoral college. I hope so ! Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Sarah Palin's farcical debate performance lowered the standards for both female candidates and US political discourse

Michelle Goldberg,
Friday October 03 2008 18:30 BST

At least three times last night, Sarah Palin, the adorable, preposterous vice-presidential candidate, winked at the audience. Had a male candidate with a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made such a brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the voting public, it would have universally noted, discussed and mocked. Palin, however, has single-handedly so lowered the standards both for female candidates and American political discourse that, with her newfound ability to speak in more-or-less full sentences, she is now deemed to have performed acceptably last night.By any normal standard, including the ones applied to male presidential candidates of either party, she did not. Early on, she made the astonishing announcement that she had no intentions of actually answering the queries put to her. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also," she said.

And so she preceded, with an almost surreal disregard for the subjects she was supposed to be discussing, to unleash fusillades of scripted attack lines, platitudes, lies, gibberish and grating references to her own pseudo-folksy authenticity. It was an appalling display. The only reason it was not widely described as such is that too many American pundits don't even try to judge the truth, wisdom or reasonableness of the political rhetoric they are paid to pronounce upon. Instead, they imagine themselves as interpreters of a mythical mass of "average Americans" who they both venerate and despise.

In pronouncing upon a debate, they don't try and determine whether a candidate's responses correspond to existing reality, or whether he or she is capable of talking about subjects such as the deregulation of the financial markets or the devolution of the war in Afghanistan. The criteria are far more vaporous. In this case, it was whether Palin could avoid utterly humiliating herself for 90 minutes, and whether urbane commentators would believe that she had connected to a public that they see as ignorant and sentimental. For the Alaska governor, mission accomplished. There is indeed something mesmerising about Palin, with her manic beaming and fulsome confidence in her own charm. The force of her personality managed to slightly obscure the insulting emptiness of her answers last night. It's worth reading the transcript of the encounter, where it becomes clearer how bizarre much of what she said was. Here, for example, is how she responded to Biden's comments about how the middle class has been short-changed during the Bush administration, and how McCain will continue Bush's policies:

Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced [sic] your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? ... My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here's a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate.

Evidently, Palin's pre-debate handlers judged her incapable of speaking on a fairly wide range of subjects, and so instructed to her to simply disregard questions that did not invite memorised talking points or cutesy filibustering. They probably told her to play up her spunky average-ness, which she did to the point of shtick - and dishonesty. Asked what her achilles heel is - a question she either didn't understand or chose to ignore - she started in on how McCain chose her because of her "connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills?"None of Palin's children, it should be noted, is heading off to college. Her son is on the way to Iraq, and her pregnant 17-year-old daughter is engaged to be married to a high-school dropout and self-described "fuckin' redneck". Palin is a woman who can't even tell the truth about the most quotidian and public details of her own life, never mind about matters of major public import. In her only vice-presidential debate, she was shallow, mendacious and phoney. What kind of maverick, after all, keeps harping on what a maverick she is? That her performance was considered anything but a farce doesn't show how high Palin has risen, but how low we all have sunk.

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