1. Dodd's Dud
Senator Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) has decided to make a serious run to become president of the United States. Sen. Dodd's Connecticut constituents include some of the savviest financial players on the planet, ranging from hedge fund managers to CEOs of major financial firms. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, these firms have largely
funded his campaign for president.
Therefore, it was stunning to see Sen. Dodd make this clueless comment on the mortgage crisis and
"I am deeply concerned about the questions raised by Mr. Stein's story in The New York Times yesterday about the activity of Goldman Sachs in aggressively pushing subprime mortgages that they knew to be of concern while simultaneously shorting collateralized mortgage obligations. If these facts are indeed true, the Administration's inaction when this crisis began to emerge earlier this year is increasingly suspect."
The first problem with Sen. Dodd's statement comes from relying upon the analysis and opinion of Ben Stein. This is pretty dumb.
Worse, Dodd seemed to not understand how Wall Street works. Firms like Goldman Sachs are both underwriters and traders making money in a variety of ways. If they want to get short the subprime crap they underwrote, so be it.
2. Cheney's Big Stick
Vice-President Dick Cheney rarely appears in public anymore and as such has been nicknamed "Darth Vader." But he did manage to provide an
interview to Politico.com this week.
The interview covered a variety of topics. When it turned to the leadership of the House and the Senate, Cheney didn't exactly play nice. He expressed his concern for the lack of forcefulness of some Democratic congressmen and their adherence to the views espoused by their leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).
When asked for clarification, Cheney commented:
"I was being very diplomatic in the way I phrased it. Laughter. They're not carrying the big stick I would have expected with the Democrats in the majority."
I guess this is what passes for serious political discourse in Washington nowadays.
3. Straw Poll Conspiracy
I often wonder why some in the Republican Party remain so afraid of Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas). Many have commented how the GOP has lost its bearings, and a "Ron Paul" type was bound to come along at some point to shake up the party.
Paul's revolution has continued to build steam, and he's having a fantastic fourth quarter. According to his Web site, he has raised more than $10.7 million dollars with much of it coming from online donations. He will easily lead the GOP in fundraising this period (discounting Mitt Romney's personal fortune).
Another area of success for Paul has been straw polls (click
here for his showings).
He was poised to do well in another Republican straw poll in San Francisco this week that was supposed to be a nice banquet followed by a straw poll. It was possible to skip the dinner and vote in the poll. When the doors to the room opened after dinner, Ron Paul supporters flowed into the room in overwhelming numbers. It looked like another easy win for Paul.
That was until the organizers decided to change the rules for voting. Pandemonium erupted. Then the organizers decided it would be best to cancel the event, rather than allow Paul to win. You can watch the video
The Grand Old Party has a funny idea of representative democracy.
4. Kindergarten Attack
Humor can be an effective tool in any arena. Before you decide to try and implement something funny in politics, it's always good to determine two things: 1) Is it really funny? and 2) Could it backfire?
Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) had recently attacked Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.) for having planned to run for president for 20 years. The Clinton campaign responded in kind. Its "Fact Hub" did a
piece on how long Obama has been planning to run.
The response was perfect until the last two bullet points. It brought up two essays Obama had written: one in 3rd grade and another in kindergarten. This seems puerile and silly. Mark Penn, Clinton's chief political strategist, said as much on TV. When being interviewed on Joe Scarborough's
, he said "it was a joke."
It's only a joke if it's funny and doesn't backfire. If it's unfunny and backfires, it was just dumb.
Mike Huckabee has had an incredible surge in the polls. Christian evangelicals and others have finally climbed down off the fence and decided to support him. Some polls have him leading in Iowa, and a new national poll has him in second place right behind Rudy Giuliani.
One way to hurt that momentum would be to make stupid mistakes, and Huckabee made a big blooper earlier in the week. During an interview, he was questioned on the recent National Intelligence Estimate showing Iran halted its plan for a nuclear weapon in 2003.
Huckabee claimed he hadn't heard of the report, which had been released in the media more than 24 hours earlier. His staff took responsibility. Huckabee later said this:
"Well, I don't blame my staff. It is a situation where a report was released at 10:00 in the morning, the president hadn't seen it in four years and I'm supposed to see it four hours later."
I have a newsflash for you, Gov. Huckabee. You might want to instruct your staff to pass along "the" important news of the day, and saying you were just as ignorant as the President is just plain dumb.