Pot Kettle Black

From TPM Election Central:

As for Obama, a senior White House official said the freshman senator from Illinois was “capable” of the intellectual rigor needed to win the presidency but instead relies too heavily on his easy charm.
“It’s sort of like, ‘that’s all I need to get by,’ which bespeaks sort of a condescending attitude towards the voters,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And a laziness, an intellectual laziness.”

I’m sorry, that’s just too easy. I’ll let Wilco do the talking for me:

Bush on Hillary

I’m surprised this little nugget isn’t getting more attention:

Karl Rove may not think much of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chances of winning the White House, but it sounds like President Bush is less sanguine. At an off-the-record lunch a week ago, Bush expressed admiration for her tenacity in the campaign. And he left some in the room with the impression that he thinks she will win the election and has been thinking about how to turn over the country to her.
The topic came up when Bush invited a group of morning and evening news anchors and Sunday show hosts to join him in the executive mansion’s family dining room a few hours before he delivered his nationally televised address on Iraq last week. Bush made no explicit election predictions, according to some in the room, but clearly thought Clinton would win the Democratic nomination and talked in a way that seemed to suggest he expects her to succeed him – and will continue his Iraq policy if she does.
As Bush was describing his thinking about Iraq and the future, he indicated he wants to use his final 16 months to stabilize Iraq enough and redefine the U.S. mission there so that the next president, even a Democrat, would feel politically able to keep a smaller but long-term presence in the country. The broadcasters were not allowed to directly quote the president, but they were allowed to allude to his thinking and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News later cited the analogy of Dwight D. Eisenhower essentially adopting President Harry S. Truman’s foreign policy despite the Republican general’s 1952 campaign statements.

This is why people worry when Hillary proposes residual forces that could number as many as 75,000; when even Bush considers that a continuation of his foreign policy agenda, it’s pretty safe to, well, consider it a continuation of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy agenda. A basic requirement for the Democratic nominee should be substantial disagreement with Bush on Iraq; it seems from this interview that that isn’t a requirement Hillary meets.
Bush’s other comments are mildly interesting too:

Bush added that Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) was impressive in his own way but the president seemed dubious the freshman senator could win given his inexperience in high office and national campaigning.
On the Republican side, according to people in the room, Bush expressed surprise that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has managed to remain the frontrunner despite his liberal positions on social and cultural issues normally critical to the party base. That’s a sign of how important the terrorism issue is to Republican voters, Bush said. But he cautioned against ruling out Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), saying he had managed to get up off the mat after a campaign implosion earlier this year.

I find it amusing that the two-term president whose only experience prior to that was six years as the weakest governor in America thinks Obama is inexperienced. Also, I think it’s hilarious how clichéd these observations are. Saying Obama’s inexperienced, that it’s surprising Giuliani hasn’t been sunk by his social views, and that McCain is having a comeback isn’t exactly original.

Evangelicals and the Left

Matt Zeitlin catches Jeralyn Merritt flipping out at the very idea that Howard Dean would acknowledge the existence of evangelicals as a political base. The problem with this brand of anticlericalism isn’t just the backlash it clearly causes; it’s that evangelicals can help the Democratic policy agenda in nontrivial ways. As the Evangelical Climate Initiative shows, evangelicals can provide an excellent counterbalance to the more libertarian elements in the Republican party that oppose any and all action against global warming. The defection of people like Anne Rice from the abortion prohibition cause to “safe legal and rare” shows that even a little bit of compromise on the issue can bring to the party voters otherwise unreachable. And there are even some evangelicals who are explicitly on the left on issues of social justice. The ideological puritanism of people like Merritt is a threat to the political success of liberal goals, and should be acknowledged as such.

Scott Chucks Chuck

LeMew is right: this A.O. Scott review of Good Luck Chuck is a thing of beauty:

I’ve occasionally heard Dane Cook, one of the stars of “Good Luck Chuck,” described as a comedian. I find this confusing, since my understanding is that comedians are people who say and do things that are funny. Perhaps Mr. Cook is some new kind of conceptual satirist whose shtick is to behave in the manner of a person attempting to be funny without actually being, you know, funny.

Ouch. But Scott actually has the balls to take on not just the creators of this crap, but the people dumb enough to pay to watch it:

But the main audience for this dim little sex comedy has no particular interest in seeing Ms. Alba act. They want to see her in her underwear and also to confront one of the central cultural questions of our time: will she take her top off?
No spoilers here! In the meantime plenty of less famous women do take their tops off, which will make “Good Luck Chuck” a must-see for young men with a subscription to Maxim but no access to the Internet. The intended viewership seems to consist of guys who fantasize about sleeping with Ms. Alba, which may represent a reasonably large share of the population. The actual paying audience, however, will more likely be those poor, deluded souls — they’ve Hi-lited all the relevant passages of that notorious pickup manual “The Game” — who think they might really have a shot.

Is this elitism? Probably. But it’s awesome, and totally called-for, elitism.

Reports of Nelson Mandela’s Death Greatly Exaggerated

This isn’t even par for the course with Bush. It’s just bizarrely stupid:

I thought an interesting comment was made — somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, “Now, where’s Mandela?” Well, Mandela’s dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.

Now I get what he meant, that any Mandela-like figure in Iraq would have been killed during the Hussein regime. But still, he has to know that it’s going to be broadcast across the globe that the US president thinks Nelson Mandela is dead. What’s more, this wasn’t a slip of the tongue thing – it was an anecdote he brought up.
Just sixteen more months, just sixteen more months…

Hillary and the Peace Process

Why does it not surprise me that Hillary Clinton’s Israel policy paper reads like something Benjamin Netanyahu wrote? As Ezra notes, it calls explicitly for a unified Jerusalem, and as Ezra’s commenter Adrian notes, it supports not only Israel having “defensible borders”, obvious code for “broader than pre-1967”, but also Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state”, an oblique way of ruling out Palestinian right of return. The only viable peace proposal, the only one acceptable to both Israel and the Palestinian authority, is one where Palestine includes East Jerusalem (without which any Palestinian state is crippled) and more or less the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza, and where Palestinians have some kind of limited right of return. Hillary pre-emptively rules out all of these conditions. I don’t think it’s reaching to say that she’d be considerably worse for the peace process than the current president.

Obama Tax Plan

Man, it’s wonky goodness like this that makes me support Barack:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is proposing more than $80 billion in annual tax relief for workers and seniors funded by an increase on wealthier investors.
Obama wants to give 150 million working Americans a $500 tax credit, expand relief for homeowners, eliminate income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 and simplify tax returns so millions of Americans can file in less than five minutes, according to a summary document provided by his campaign.
Obama’s campaign said he would pay for his proposals by closing corporate tax loopholes, fighting international tax havens and raising the top rate on capital gains and dividends.

For one thing, I love the automatic tax filing proposal. It’s so much more efficient than the current system in so many ways. It was first formulated by Austan Goolsbee for the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton project; Goolsbee has since become Obama’s main economic adviser, and so it’s good to see Obama embracing one of his best ideas.
But more importantly, the entire tax cut is designed to ameliorate a problem progressives, particularly online, have been harping on for a while, namely that wages are being taxed too much and capital is being taxed too little. By cutting taxes on wages through the $500 tax credit, which is intended to offset payroll taxes on the first $8,100 a worker earn, and paying for it by raising taxes on corporations, capital gains, and dividends, Obama’s plan would implement a direct tax shift away from wages and onto capital. The beauty of the plan is that it does this while improving one’s incentive to save. Higher taxes on capital generally discourage saving, but by eliminating taxes on seniors living on less than $50,0000 (for the most part, this means retirees living off of savings interest or annuities), Obama encourages workers to save for retirement, as under his plan the interest on that savings could be used, for the most part, tax-free.
In short, it’s a conceptually elegant proposal with a lot of obvious political appeal. That is to say, it’s what I’ve come to expect from Obama.