Obama’s Successor

According to Chris Bowers, the four main possibilities for succeeding Obama in 2009, should he win the presidency, are Jan Schakowsky, Jesse Jackson Jr., Rahm Emanuel, and losing 2006 Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth. Duckworth appears to have the inside track with Rod Blajojevich, who’ll be doing the picking. Any of them would be good choices, though I doubt Emanuel would be interested; the fourth-ranking post in the Democratic caucus isn’t something you give up lightly, and he appears to have the inside track to the Speakership.

Schakowsky and Jackson have impeccable voting records on everything except trade, where both are restrictionist but Jackson’s worse (he even voted to withdraw from the WTO). It’s a little rich that Jackson describes it as “too soon” for Schakowsky to join the Senate; he only has four more years in the body, and was elected without any previous government experience, whereas Schakowsky spent eight years in the Illinois House before her election to Congress. But Jackson’s twenty-one years younger than Schakowsky, and Duckworth’s twenty-four, meaning they could hold the seat a lot longer than Schakowsky. Duckworth is less overtly liberal than Schakowsky or Jackson, and though she’s outstanding at articulating the case against the war, that obviously won’t be worth much once Obama initiates a withdrawal. As it stands, I’m leaning toward Jackson, but there aren’t any obviously bad choices here.


39 years ago today, the American gay rights movement began in earnest. Ari Kelman links to a fascinating Charlie Rose discussion from the riots’ twenty-fifth anniversary:

The middle debate puts in stark relief the progress made in the past fourteen years, not just in legal reform but in unifying the movement. While the arguments Tony Kushner and Donna Minkowitz make here – particularly those about intersectionality and the need to work for gay dignity in concert with other social justice movements – are not gone, the organized gay movement is more focused on the political goals Andy Sullivan and Bruce Bawer mention. There’s broad agreement that the focus has to be on fighting for full legal equality, through marriage equality, repealing DADT, passing ENDA, etc., rather than the cultural efforts Minkowitz and Kushner emphasize. And it’s worked; 12 states have at least civil unions today, 12 more than when this discussion took place, and the legal precedents are in place for complete national marriage equality. Sullivan and Bawer have won the argument, in practice at least, and millions of couples are better off for it.

DC Update

You know what’s awesome? The American Prospect. I started my internship Monday, and it’s been great so far, in no small part because of the opportunity of writing for TAPPED, the group blog so awesome Joe Strummer liked it. That’s where most of my blogging has been this week; I’ll probably put more apolitical posts here throughout the summer, and do compilation posts (like this) of TAPPED stuff. So far I’ve got:
“Ten for Ten”, on the list Foreign Policy and Prospect (the British one) put together of the world’s top intellectuals; all members of the top ten this year were Muslim.
“Bruno Retires”, on, well, New York State Senate President Joe Bruno’s retirement.
“No, the Other Edwards”, opposing Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion of Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) as Obama’s running-mate. Coincidentally, I’m staying at the George Washington University dorms while I’m in DC, and my roommate is working on Edwards’ reelection campaign as a part of his job with Fraioli & Associates. Apparently, Edwards threw a fundraiser Tuesday night, after Pelosi suggested him, and it was better covered and attended than anticipated. It seems pretty safe to say that Pelosi had intended more to boost Edwards’ fundraising numbers than to actually get Obama to consider him.
“This Is Not the ‘Change’ Conservative You’re Looking For”, about Bobby Jindal’s deeply-seeded belief that castration is the greatest punishment technique since the iron maiden. No, seriously, he wants to castrate all sex offenders. Also, another reason the Prospect is fantastic? I was able to sneak an A New Hope reference into the post title. ‘Cause I’m cool like that.

Having Nunn of It – No, I Won’t Shut Up About This

30 people have now emailed David Plouffe, Steve Hildebrand, and Eric Holder to tell them they’re Having Nunn of It – thanks to all. To help out with the campaign, I created a Facebook group to convince the young ‘uns to join in – sign up if you’re interested.
The New York Times Magazine had a piece this weekend about Sam Nunn as a VP prospect, and gives the impression that (a) he’s mentioned every four years and (b) he never gets picked. True enough, but I think the fact that Nunn is, by all indications, friends with Obama, that his friends say he “seems more open to it”, and that Carolyn Kilpatrick is on record as saying Nunn is being considered, indicates that this time it’s more than just idle speculation.
Finally, as if I needed another reason to dislike Nunn, I read through this 19-year-old Time profile of him, dating to the John Tower confirmation hearings, and it’s pretty illuminating. Take this graf on how he won the general election to the Senate in 1972, after beating a Carter-backed candidate in the primary:

After defeating Carter’s man — a Harvard-educated lawyer whom Nunn chided for being “too used to air-conditioned rooms in Eastern Ivy League schools” — Nunn faced a conservative Republican in the general. The great coup, the stroke that many say put him over, was Nunn’s enlistment of Alabama Governor George Wallace as a public supporter of his candidacy. Nunn’s memory of that ploy is somewhat selective. “You have to keep the context in mind,” says Nunn — a “context” that also caused him to attack the “dictatorship created by lifetime tenure of federal judges.” “After the primary,” says Nunn, “Maddox was leaning toward supporting my Republican opponent, who was running an ad showing George McGovern with Coretta King over a line about how they were warming Georgia up for me. I counteracted that with Wallace. It was no big deal, and I didn’t get involved in actually supporting Wallace for President.”
Well, actually, Nunn was “talking up” Wallace for President — and before the threat of Maddox’s bolting was perceived. “Without George Wallace on the national ticket,” said Nunn before the Senate primary, “the Democrats cannot win. I fervently hope he will be on the ticket.”

Now, this isn’t to say Nunn was a racist or a segregationist himself – in addition to Wallace’s and Lester Maddox’s backing, he was supported by folks like Julian Bond and Andrew Young. But he was more than wiling to play into the racism of white Georgia voters – and their ensuing opposition to busing and support for prominent racists like Wallace – in order to get elected. It’d be more than a little bizarre if the first black major-party nominee picked a former Wallace supporter as his running mate.

Having Nunn of It – Yet Another Update

Thanks so much to David Mixner, Matt Zeitlin, Ezra Klein and (via email) Steve Clemens for their support. Also, a great deal of thanks are in order for Barney Frank, who made it clear publicly and to Obama’s VP vetters that picking Nunn is unacceptable. With Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick coming out of a Congressional Black Caucus meeting saying Obama name-dropped Nunn alongside Edwards as a VP possibility, the possibility of an Obama/Nunn is still very real, and still very disturbing. Sign the petition and pass it along if you haven’t already. It’s important.
In other bad VP news, both Chuck Hagel himself and Ted Sorensen are promoting Hagel as a VP option. This is, suffice it to say, an even worse idea than Nunn, so bad that I really doubt Obama is seriously considering it. Take one look at Hagel’s voting record. He gets a 0% rating from NARAL, the Human Rights Campaign, the League of Conservation Voters, SANE (the anti-nuclear group), Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the Center for Tax Justice. He gets an A from the NRA and 100% ratings from the National Right-to-Life Committee and the Christian Coalition. He gets an 8% from the AFL-CIO, an 11% from the NAACP, and a 36% from the NEA. He boasts a 92% from Cato and an 87% from the US Chamber of Commerce. The man’s really really conservative. He’d be conservative for a Republican running mate. The only issue on which he’s even close to in line with the Democratic caucus is Iraq – and he wasn’t even against it from the start like Obama. He even voted repeatedly against timetables. The man’s a conservative. He talks nice to reporters, and he hits the occasional right note about foreign policy, but he has no place anywhere near a Democratic ticket or cabinet.

Overly Bold Musical Pronouncement of the Day

In ten or twenty years, people will look back at Tha Carter III as the definitive 2000s album, the same way we think of Rumours as the definitive ’70s album, 1984 as the definitive ’80s album, and Nevermind as the definitive ’90s album. It won’t be seen as the best album (that’d be Arular), though it’s certainly up there, but it does summarize and epitomize the genre of rap and of pop music more generally that has characterized and thrived during the ’00s. The only possible alternative for the role I can think of is Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and that’s far too idiosyncratic. Not that Lil Wayne is normal, but the album is more of a piece with its time than Speakerboxxx.
Anyway, separate from its historical significance, Tha Carter III is a very, very, very good album, with several killer singles and next-to-no filler. I even like “A Milli”, the track that’s come in for the most hating. That said, I have to echo the critical consensus and name “Mr. Carter”, in which Sean (aka Jay-Z) passes his crown to Dwayne (aka Lil Wayne), as the best song:

I Am Aware of All Internet Traditions

This is why I love LG&M. So, d, as is his habit, wrote a “shorter” post mockingly condensing a wingnut blogger’s argument about how sweet it would have been if Michelle Obama were on tape attacking “whitey” (Michelle, to her credit, has one badass response to this smear). One of the blogger’s commenters took umbrage:

I should like to point out that the quote you excerpted
does not exist
in neoneocon’s post. Nor does it exist in the comments.

I can’t believe you would just make it up, but neither do I believe that the post by neoneocon was altered since I was the first in the thread and the post was then as you see it now.
Indeed, the quote appears nowhere in the post that you point to. Can you please explain this?

And yes, it was spaced like that. Some, like Jeff Fecke, were content to yell “FAIL” and leave it at that, but others tried to explain the concept of “shorter” to the poor soul. He was having none of it:

I am aware of all internet traditions and also of literary conventions in which placing something in quotes or in a blockquote means that your are quoting that person.

This being the internets, this lead to:




And, of course:

So thank you, anonymous clueless internet troll. You have improved the world, and more specifically the world’s meme supply, immensely.

Having Nunn of It

According to this morning’s Boston Globe, Sam Nunn is near the top of Obama’s VP shortlist:

The liberal freshman from Illinois and the national security specialist from rural Georgia immediately hit it off, according to interviews with confidants of the two men.

For two decades, Nunn has been floated as a potential vice presidential candidate by virtue of his national security credentials and conservative southern roots. And each time he has dis missed such talk out of hand, while the party’s nominees opted for more liberal choices from states more likely to go Democratic in November.
But this year, the personal and intellectual affinity between the presumptive Democratic nominee and the 69-year-old elder statesman – who abandoned a policy of not backing candidates in Democratic primaries when he endorsed Obama in April – makes him a real possibility as Obama’s running mate, according to interviews with current and former government officials who know both men.
“He sounds like he may be more open to it,” said Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine Corps general who served on Nunn’s Senate staff for 24 years and remains in close contact with his former boss. “He has never before endorsed anybody. That was a surprise to me.”
Those close to Nunn, speaking on condition of anonymity, say he seems more prepared to accept a vice presidential offer this year, helping to offset Obama’s lack of experience on national security and giving the Democrats a fighting chance in Georgia.
“I think he would be an excellent choice and would have to be in the top three or four for Obama,” said former secretary of defense William S. Cohen. Cohen, a Republican and former senator from Maine, and Nunn recently launched a bipartisan policy dialogue, sponsored by the centrist Center for Strategic and International Studies, designed to elevate nuclear security, climate change, national service, and other “seminal” issues in the national debate.

Jim Johnson apparently pushed Nunn for both Kerry and Obama, but now that he’s out of the picture I’d hope that this nonsense would end. No such luck, I guess.
So I’ve started a petition. I’ve registered the domain havingnunnofit.com for it; I’ll tell you when that’s up and running. When signed, the message (which details just three of the many reasons Nunn is completely unacceptable as a Democratic VP) will go to David Plouffe, Steve Hildebrand (Obama’s deputy campaign manager), and Eric Holder, one of his two running mate vetters. If anyone has Caroline Kennedy’s email address, I’ll add that to the list. We need to make sure that the Obama campaign knows just how much upset the Democratic base would be if Nunn is picked.

Burger for VP?

Dana Goldstein reports that the SEIU, like David Sirota, is pushing its Secretary-Treasurer and the Change to Win Coalition’s president Anna Burger as a vice presidential choice. She’s unconvinced:

As a lifelong progressive activist and the first woman to head a major American labor coalition, Burger is a highly accomplished, admirable individual. But she simply isn’t a realistic veep choice: She’s too lefty, has never held an elected office or served in government, and as a public speaker, I’ve found her hit or miss. Furthermore, her deep-seeded economic populism, frankly, hasn’t been embraced by the Obama campaign to date.

I actually spent much of my time reading The Argument (long post coming after graduation tonight, I promise) wondering why no one was talking about Burger’s boss at the SEIU, Andy Stern, as a VP choice. He, along with John Podesta, comes across astonishingly well, as a committed progressive who gets that the globalization information economy require a fundamental rethinking of the social contract and the New Deal-era safety net. What’s more, Stern, like Burger, was born in 1950, making both of them young enough (66) to succeed Obama in 2016. Obama has said that he’s more sure of his foreign policy credentials than his domestic policy ones, and so a pick like Stern or Burger seems to make more sense than Webb or the homophobic Neanderthal that is Sam Nunn (in all seriousness, if it so much as looks like Obama will pick Nunn, everyone I know still working on the campaign will get a mouthful from me). Stern and Burger would both bring a reformist bent, as part of CtW rather than AFL-CIO, and a combination of outsider appeal and deep experience. While Goldstein’s right that Burger and Austan Goolsbee would probably disagree on a lot, she and Stern both have a more center-left, and more globalization-friendly, economic view than many, more traditional unionist, which jibes well with Obama’s approach.
But as soon as I got back and Wikipediaed Stern, I realized the most immediate reason either pick wouldn’t work: the SEIU UHW dispute. While I don’t know nearly enough about it to take sides, the controversy centers around accusations of un-democratic behavior on the part of the SEIU leadership (i.e. Stern and Burger). That plays into the most devastating and common right-wing attacks on unions, and would allow McCain, without any basis, to play an Obama/Stern or Obama/Burger ticket as a continuation of the old days of corrupt unions and political machines. It’d be totally unfair, especially given how reformist the three are, but the SEIU UHW deal makes it possible.
So I think that, on the merits, Goldstein isn’t giving Burger her due. Either she or Stern would make a fine vice president, and a fine president in eight years. But if she’s picked, or Stern for that matter, I hope Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder have vetted them by crazy. The potential for right-wing smears is great, and we have to be sure that neither would be a electoral liability.