Hillary’s Experience, Again

Kay Steiger has responded to my and Matt Zeitlin’s criticism of her “Hillary is experienced for a woman” post. Matt ably dispatches most of her rebuttals, but there are a few things I want to note. Like this:

The fact that my post engendered such a vehement no suggests that women face endless challenges when it comes to the merging of public and private lives.

Yeah, I just secretly hate female politicians. Absolutely. It’s nice to know that we can have a debate over a major presidential candidate’s argument that she’s the most experienced contender without resorting to petty accusations of sexism.
But that’s not the worst part of the response. Oh, if only that were the worst part:

I don’t expect female candidates for president to be held to “lower standards,” but rather I asked a question. What does count? The answer was overwhelmingly in favor of the existing paradigm.

Here’s what Steiger wrote in her first post:

I’m not saying that Clinton’s experience as a first lady qualifies her to be a presidential candidate — there are plenty of legitimate reasons to pick on Clinton — but it does beg the question: If women are barely represented in high-level offices, how are they supposed to “qualify” themselves for a presidential run?

It’s pretty clear, from this question, that Steiger was saying there must be some way other than holding a “high-level office” for a woman to qualify herself for the presidency. Simply put, Steiger did call for female candidates to be held to “lower standards”, as I put it in my response to her first post, or at least different standards. I think it would require a pretty strained reading of her words to come to a different conclusion.
One last thing:

[M]y post on Hilary Clinton’s first lady experience brought about exactly the reaction I might have expected: the assumption that I desire Clinton to win the candidacy and the presidency because my vote as a feminist means I will throw my support behind whatever woman approaches spitting distance.
Let’s just be clear about one thing: I do no such thing.

Yes she does. Again, let’s return to her original post:

Hillary Clinton has great experience for a woman. There are few women as qualified as Hillary Clinton for a candidacy. There’s a smattering of female governors, a mere 16 female senators (two of whom were elected in 2006 midterm elections), and a handful of high-ranking and high-profile secretaries. There just aren’t a lot of “qualified” women to pull candidates from.

Now, the only reason anyone would ever care about if a candidate’s experienced “for a woman” is if one wants to elect a woman to begin with. It makes perfect sense to read this paragraph – as I and most TAPPED readers did – as saying that Steiger wants to elect a woman as president, and thus compares the female candidate in the race’s experience not to the other (male) candidates in the race, but to other female politicians. That comparison isn’t at all relevant if one is interesting in electing the best president. It is relevant if one wants, above all else, to elect a woman. I don’t want that. The above paragraph strongly implies that Steiger does.

Rip Mix Burn

It’s long been the record industry’s policy that ripping CDs is copyright infringement; Coldplay’s X&Y album even features DRM preventing such ripping. Now, why anyone would want to rip X&Y is beyond me (burn!), but the larger point remains that a record industry with the copyright views of my social studies teacher is pretty out of synch with much of its customer base. Especially when they sue people about it:

In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.
The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

Via Matt Yglesias. Just another reason to buy music from artists not on RIAA labels. Like the good people at Matador, or Merge, or Kill Rock Stars.

Stay Classy, Dan Pipes

Everyone’s favorite Muslim-hating Islam specialist, who manages to make someone as hardline as his father seem moderate in comparison, has hitched his wagon to the “Obama’s a Muslim” meme (via Ben Smith). But wait – there’s a twist! Pipes doesn’t claim that Obama is currently a Muslim. He’s subtler than that. He, instead, charges that Obama used to be a Muslim as a child, and that this makes him a Muslim apostate, subject to punishment under Muslim law. Never mind for a second that this is, um, not at all true. Such “apostasy”, Pipes says, would hurt Obama’s ability to deal with the Muslim world as President. Because Pipes cares, first and foremost, about how the Muslim world views America; he, lest we forget, has championed such Muslim-pleasing policies as a permanent Israeli annexation of Palestine. And, after all, apostasy sure made life difficult for Argentine President Carlos Saúl Menem, who actually was a Muslim until he converted to Catholicism as an adult. Except, well, here’s what Pipes says:

The only precedent to judge by is that of Carlos Saúl Menem, the president of Argentina from 1989 to 1999. The son of two Muslim Syrian immigrants and husband of another Syrian-Argentine, Zulema Fátima Yoma, Menem converted to Roman Catholicism. His wife said publicly that Menem left Islam for political reasons—because Argentinean law until 1994 required the president of the country to be a member of the Church. From a Muslim point of view, Menem’s conversion is worse than Obama’s, having been done as an adult. Nonetheless, Menem was not threatened or otherwise made to pay a price for his change of religion, even during his trips to majority-Muslim countries, Syria in particular.

Yeah, real negative impact there. In short, Pipes’ piece is premised on the notion that he knows more about Obama’s past religious affiliations than Obama himself, and that Obama would be treated as a traitor by Muslims worldwide even though a world leader who actually was a convert from Islam wasn’t treated that way in the slightest. It’s the kind of rigorous logic I’ve come to expect from Pipes. Good thing he doesn’t have any influence or anything. Oh, wait, he’s a major advisor to the Giuliani campaign. Awesome.

Paging the Health Wonks

I wonder what health wonk types like Ezra Klein and Jon Cohn have to say about this:

Obama floats a new detail — at least one I hadn’t heard — of how he might deal with the “free rider” problem on his healthcare plan — healthy young people who don’t get insurance until they get sick.
You could “charge a penalty if they try to sign up later,” he says on Meet the Press. When he gave a very long answer to a similar question in Indianola last week, he suggested allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plans, but didn’t mention this.
This isn’t a mandate, as he tells Russert, but it does acknowledge the issue of healthy young people who choose not to buy in.

Clinton and Edwards (and their surrogates, like AFSCME) have obscured the issue by talking about the Obama plan denying sick people access to health care, which no serious analyst thinks it would, but most substantive critiques of the plan, like those Klein and Cohn have offered, focus on the free-riding problem. And now Obama has offered a non-mandate solution to it. The question is whether an incentive like this would reduce free-riding as effectively – or more so – than a mandate. I’d be really interested to hear what people more knowledgeable about the subject than myself – like Klein and Cohn – think the answer is.

Indie Bid

This is really interesting (via Taegan Goddard):

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a potential independent candidate for president, has scheduled a meeting next week with a dozen leading Democrats and Republicans, who will join him in challenging the major-party contenders to spell out their plans for forming a “government of national unity” to end the gridlock in Washington.
Those who will be at the Jan. 7 session at the University of Oklahoma say that if the likely nominees of the two parties do not pledge to “go beyond tokenism” in building an administration that seeks national consensus, they will be prepared to back Bloomberg or someone else in a third-party campaign for president.
Conveners of the meeting include such prominent Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.), and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman.

The list of acceptances suggests that the group could muster the financial and political firepower to make the threat of such a candidacy real. Others who have indicated that they plan to attend the one-day session include William S. Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and defense secretary in the Clinton administration; Alan Dixon, a former Democratic senator from Illinois; Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida; Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa; Susan Eisenhower, a political consultant and granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower; David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; and Edward Perkins, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

I have to say, a Bloomberg presidency with people like Bob Graham and Bill Cohen advising him looks really attractive. Sam Nunn’s also great on nuclear issues, even if he’s awful on social ones. I have very little patience for Boren or Hagel, however. But as much combined establishment cred as this grouping has, I wonder how much electoral sway they’ll have. None of these people are really household names, and only two (Bloomberg and Hagel) are currently in office. This seems like an endeavor destined to appeal to people like David Broder (who, appropriately enough, wrote the WaPo news article), and not actual, you know, voters. The last credible independent bid, from Perot, worked because of its populist elements (“giant sucking sound”), not because of Perot’s establishment-pleasing anti-deficit rhetoric. While a Bloomberg run backed by people like this would make the press go nuts (and appeals to anti-populist types like yours truly), I doubt it would actually get a lot of votes.

Daydream Nation, Again

As I’ve previously stated, if I dislike an album, I usually wait six months and give it another chance. Well, six months after I last listened to Daydream Nation, I tried again today. As with Return to Cookie Mountain, time made everything better. This album is clearly made of awesome. “Teen Age Riot” is riff-tastic, “Silver Rocket” rocks hard, “The Sprawl” has dueling guitar goodness, “‘Cross the Breeze” is indeed the right f’ing jam, etc., etc.
P.S. As part of my holiday reconsideration of critically-beloved artists (poor babies), I also gave Low another spin. Side two’s still too ambient for me, but I don’t know how I could have ever hated side one. I mean, “Breaking Glass” is so cracked out and delicious.

What Will Iowa Mean?

With Iowa only five days (!) away, it’s worth considering what the implications of each possible outcome would be. Here’s Noam Scheiber’s theory:

First, the three easy scenarios: 1.) Hillary wins by more than a point or two, in which case the race is basically over. 2.) Obama wins convincingly (five points or more), in which case it starts looking pretty good for him and Edwards is done. 3.) Edwards wins convincingly and Obama is third, in which case Obama is probably done and Hillary and Edwards duke it out (with Hillary enjoying a near-prohibitive financial advantage).
Short of one of these things happening, I think we’re looking at the muddle Mike was talking about last weekend. But here’s the thing: An inconclusive muddle actually benefits Obama. The reason is that a muddle kills Edwards, who needs the kind of fundraising and free-media boomlet that only a clean victory can provide. And without Edwards in the race, Obama consolidates the anti-Hillary vote, which nudges him over the top in what’s now a dead-even race in New Hampshire, makes things look pretty good for him in South Carolina (where he’s been closing but still has to convince some African-Americans he can win), and generally gives him the upper hand for the nomination.
So, somewhat counter-intuitively, Obama may have at least as many if not more “paths” to the nomination as Hillary, which is worth keeping in mind.

I hope this is true, and for the most part I think it is. One scenario he doesn’t account for is an Edwards win with Obama second, which I think would be spun as a defeat for Hillary, rather than an Edwards victory. Edwards is too far behind in New Hampshire to translate a win in Iowa into a win here, but I think that a Hillary third-place showing would drive people deciding between the two front-runners into Obama’s camp, leading him to win. Of course, I’m far from an objective observer, but Edwards just doesn’t have the base or organization (not to mention money) to go anywhere in NH.
More importantly, though, I think Noam, and Mike Crowley, overestimate the chance of an inconclusive result. Remember, the results out of Iowa are the percentages of delegates won by each candidate, not how many individual supporters they have. This means that, even as polls show a statistical tie, a strong winner comes out of the actual contest. The 2004 race is a good illustration of this. The last poll before those caucuses came out the day before them, January 21st, from the Des Moines Register. It showed Kerry in the lead, followed by Edwards, then Dean, then Gephardt. This is the order in which the candidates actually finished. However, while the Register showed all four candidates bunched close together – Kerry at 26%, Edwards at 23%, Dean at 20%, and Gephardt at 18% – the actual results were far more spread out. Kerry got 37.6%, Edwards 31.8%, Dean 18%, and Gephardt 10.6%. The point is that the caucus process amplifies even a small advantage for a candidates to give them a decisive victory. So while a “muddle” would certainly be an interesting outcome, I don’t think it’s all that likely.

Billy Kristol

By now, you’ve probably heard that Pinch Sulzberger decided that the left end of the NY Times op-ed page’s foreign policy writers, represented by such notable radicals as Nick Kristof and Tom Friedman, needs to be balanced by Bill Kristol. On a certain level, this isn’t awful news. Kristol is so transparently trigger-happy, and presents arguments so obviously shallow, that it’s unlikely his presence on the page will convince anyone who doesn’t already share his firm conviction that military force can solve any and all problems. On the other hand, this means that Bill Kristol will be paid money to write things, which is a clear affront to justice.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I need to get myself a position on an op-ed page. It doesn’t seem to require a base level of coherence or intelligence, and it pays the big bucks.