After all of this bloodletting, will it finally be OVER?
I have been so annoyed by the coverage of this campaign, as well as the dirty tricks, the free ride of John McCain, the media obsession over Reverend Wright, etc... I have been especially unwilling to blog about the Democratic race, because all I could manage was sputtering.
Today is the much-anticipated Indiana and North Carolina primaries. Predictably, more dirty tricks have been uncovered this past week by NPR:
Group with Clinton Ties Behind Dubious Robocalls
by Peter Overby, All Things Considered, May 1, 2008
[NPR] Thousands of North Carolina residents answered their telephones last week to hear this message, delivered in a deep, soothing voice:I used to worry that Obama wouldn't be up to the Clintonian attacks, but now I realize if he can withstand this, he should be able to withstand the GOP's full-frontal assault that awaits him.
"Hello. This is Lamont Williams. In the next few days, you will receive a voter registration packet in the mail. All you need to do is fill it out, sign it, date and return the application. Then you will be able to vote and make your voice heard. Please return your registration form when it arrives. Thank you."
In fact, the deadline to register for the May 6 Democratic presidential primary had already passed. The robocall went to many registered voters who were expecting to vote that day. The call and follow-up mailings left many wondering whether they were registered for the primary or not.
This sounds like a classic example of voter suppression — sowing confusion in order to drive down turn-out. The calls seemed to be aimed at African-American communities, places where Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is expected to run well ahead of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
But the group behind the calls isn't partisan Republican or ideologically conservative. It's Women's Voices Women Vote, a 501(c)(3) charity that states its mission as registering single women to vote. The robocalls seem completely at odds with the group's usual, upbeat message. In one of the group's public service announcements, the actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus strolls thru a replica of the Oval Office and fantasizes about women electing a woman president (herself, actually, not Clinton; Louis-Dreyfus is actually supporting Obama).
Clearly, the Clintons play for keeps. More from NPR:
Will Evans of the Center for Investigative Reporting, who collaborated in reporting this story, found some Obama backers among the Women's Voices leadership, but the group mostly has ties to Clinton and her campaign. [The group's founder, Page] Gardner worked on former President Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. Board member John Podesta was President Clinton's chief-of-staff. Maggie Williams, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, used to be on the Women's Voices leadership team and did consulting work for the group.And speaking of my popular post about having an African-American name, should we wonder why Mr Robocall's phony chosen name is "Lamont"?
The Institute for Southern Studies began investigating after receiving complaints about the robocalls. The institute traced the calls to Women's Voices, which has acknowledged responsibility.
The Institute turned up other complaints about the group as well, in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. A "Lamont Williams" robocall similar to North Carolina's ran in Ohio last fall. In Virginia, robocalls days before the February primary caused voters to flood the board of elections with phone calls, in turn triggering an investigation by the state police.
Kromm says this shows at least five months of a "deceptive tactic, illegal in many states." He notes, "Each time this group is criticized for this activity, they apologize for the confusion."
The North Carolina attorney general says the robocalls are illegal. State law requires that automated phone calls identify the sponsoring group and give the recipient a phone number or other means of contacting the group. The Lamont Williams call did neither.
Gardner told the North Carolina elections board that the follow-up mailing would go to 276,118 women. Now, the fair-elections group Democracy North Carolina is working with Women's Voices to pull back as many of those mailers as possible.
And by the way, Hillary is now the candidate with balls. Oh boy.
Isn't there some OTHER way, please God, to refer to dogged ambition coupled with an abundance of political nerve, except to name this universal trait after male gonads? What about the nice southern term AUDACIOUS, or words like CHUTZPAH or MOXIE? Yeesh. Politico. com reports:
And of course, they mean it as a compliment.
Clinton may not like the story, but her supporters love it: The sheet metal workers union official in Portage, Indiana cited by [Senator Evan] Bayh had praised her "testicular fortitude" before lighting into unnamed "Gucci wearing, latte-drinking" opponents.
Also last week, a New York Post columnist wrote that she'd won the "cojones primary."
And James Carville, the Clintons' ubiquitous former aide, booster, and informal adviser made the point even more vividly, giving Clinton a two-gonad edge on her primary rival, Senator Barack Obama.
"If she gave him one of her cojones, they'd both have two," Carville said.
The ballsy fighter is the newest persona for a woman whom public life has taken from a liberal policy wonk to a devoted wife, from a wronged woman to a cerebral senator.
Just as this campaign, a campaign that began obsessed with showing strength, was revived with a show of vulnerability in New Hampshire. Last fall, she was the ultimate wonk; this spring, she's emerged as a beer-swigging, never-say-die populist—proud of her toughness above all, mocking out-of-touch elites and deriding economists as a class.
Skeptics might say these kaleidoscopic transformations have been, themselves, a bit ballsy.
Now, the candidate who would be the first woman president is being described as, metaphorically, a man.
Stay tuned, sports fans.
Listening to: Joy Division - Warsaw