Friday, 23 May 2008

Obama Ahead By 9 Points In Ohio

In HUGE news for Democrats everywhere, Obama leads John McCain by nearly 10 points in the latest Survey USA poll of Ohio. If we can lock down Ohio as well as Pennsylvania, where Obama was also favored in the latest Survey USA poll, and Virginia, we'll be in very good shape for the general.

The poll also tested various different Vice Presidential picks for both candidates and found that Obama would beat McCain in this state with almost any VP he would select. Only a Chuck Hagel / Mike Huckabee pairing and, bizarrely enough, an Ed Rendell / Mike Huckabee match up couldn't secure Obama the victory. What have these folks got against Ed Rendell?

Anyway, the poll has Obama ahead in every age group except the over 55s and winning a helathy 57% of those who identify as politically "moderate".

Here's what will possibly be the biggest headline of the piece - after all the hand wringing about whether he could win "hard working voters, white voters" in this crucial state, he is ahead among whites by 45 to 41.

Obama to Speak for Kennedy

Barack Obama will be replacing Ted Kennedy in the commencement address that Kennedy had been scheduled to give at Wesleyan University this coming Sunday.

Barack says, "Ted and I talked about me filling in for him at Wesleyan University earlier this week. Considering what he's done for me and for our country, there's nothing I wouldn't do for him. So I'm looking forward to standing in his place on Sunday even though I know I won't be able to fill his shoes."

I'm sure that Barack will give a wonderful speech, and I'm sure that the graduating students will be delighted to have him. But I'm sure we all wish, under the circumstances that, Teddy were giving the speech himself.

Obama Goes to Denver A Little Early...

The Obama campaign is going to be hitting 3 key middle American swing states next week, visiting Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.

These are all states that have been turning "purple" and could trend blue for Obama in November.

More broadly, these are states where Democrats can and should be building long-term party infrastructure and campaigning fiercely in every race - something that Howard Dean has been very helpful in supporting. These high-growth and formerly Republican areas are some of our strongest opportunities and I am glad to see Obama moving early to build on his advantage there.

How Desperate is the GOP?

This desperate:

But the star of the show was the ancient Herbert Romerstein, who once plied his trade for the Un-American Activities committee. "We decided to start going back and seeing what things influenced him even before he was born," Romerstein announced without a trace of irony, before tying Obama to the Communist Party of the 1930s in Hawaii and Soviet spies on the island. "This is the atmosphere that young Barack Obama grew up in."

I assumed that of course the right wing loonys would spread bizarre and inflamatory smears about Barack, but I guess I assumed these smears would have something to do with things that happened while he was actually, ya know, ALIVE.

If this is the best they can do, then they haven't got much.

Actually, this is a point worth noting. Despite claims that in some way Barack has not been "vetted" - this man has received one of the most thorough testings of any politician in history. Both the vaunted Clinton research team and the attack dogs of the GOP have been digging and digging to tie Barack Obama to anything scandalous or offensive. And the result has been astonishingly thin on the ground; the best that anybody has been able to come up with is statements or actions by people Barack is aquainted with - nothing at all that touches him directly. Could it be that we have actually identified that rare beast - a sincere politician free of corruption?

Now THAT's change I can believe in.

McCain Opposes Veterans Benefits

Yesterday, over White House objections, Congress overwhelmingly passed a war funding bill that will sharply improve benefits to members of the military. Specifically, the bill enhanced opportunities for members of the military who joined after the September 11 attacks to take advantage of free University tuition as a reward for their service.

The bill passed by a massive, veto-proof majority - including a majority of Republican voters - and was strongly supported by Senator Obama. John McCain was "conveniently" not in the Senate to vote, although he did make clear that if he had been present, he would have voted no to the bill.

Obama made the following statement about McCain's position:

I respect sen. John McCain's service to our country. He is one of those heroes of which I speak. But I can't understand why he would line up behind the President in his opposition to this GI bill.

I can't believe why he believes it is too generous to our veterans. I could not disagree with him and the President more on this issue. There are many issues that lend themselves to partisan posturing but giving our veterans the chance to go to college should not be one of them.

John McCain comes from a military background, raised in an upper middle class family with a long tradition of service. So he ought to understand as well as anyone that men and women who chose to join military service deserve more reward from the country they have served than virtually unlimited, dangerous foreign assignments at wages too low to support their families. It is absolutely right that this country should create opportunities for those who chose to serve, as we have done in the past with the GI bill following WWII.

What's more, sending our young service members to college will have tremendous long term benefits to the country. Many people join the military out of high school because they have few other economic opportunities available to them, and no easy way to fund a college education. Our country badly needs more educated people to support the increasingly knowledge-based economy. What's more, we badly need to break the cycle of inequality that has made it harder than ever for the younger generation to surpass their parents in economic mobility. This is disgraceful in a country that defines itself by just such opportunities.

But most of all, these men and woman, who have been willing to put their lives on the line for their country, simply deserve better. John McCain has today badly let down the military that he has always claimed to support.

Obama Bridges - More Global Yes We Span Rallies

If you enjoyed last Sunday's Yes We Span rally, you may like to know that there are dozens of other Obama Bridges photo shoots going on in countries across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Check out this fascinating map to see where these are happening all over the world:

And while you're at it, don't forget to register to vote:

McCain to Release Health Records Today

John McCain will release his health records today, to a limited group of reporters late on Friday afternoon. Just before a Holiday weekend. Now, this is raising some eyebrows because typically Fridays are when politicians like to put out bad news (it gets buried in the weekend news when no one is watching televisions or reading papers, and everyone's forgotten about it by Monday).

So let me just say a few things:
  • I hope that the records will show he is healthy and fit to run. I wouldn't wish health problems on anyone, and I wouldn't want this election to become about a candidate's physical fitness - the issues at stake for the country are bigger than that, and that's what I hope we will be talking about.
  • However, John McCain is 71 years old - that's six years past the mandatory retirement age - and has had an exceptionally difficult life, including a relatively recent bout with skin cancer. Unfortunately, this does make his health an issue.
  • Having said that, assuming he is shown to be healthy and fit for the race, I don't think his age on its own should be a major factor in the race. Polling suggests that many voters do have an objection to voting for a person of that age (many more than are willing to state concerns over voting for an African American or a woman) but my suspicion is that voters concerns are based on worries over how much physical endurance such an individual would have. There's no better test for this question than putting that candidate through the hardest test drive in the world - a rigorous presidential campaign.
  • Besides, McCain's foreign policy ideas are so bad, his grasp of the basic facts so shaky (has he figured out yet whether Iran is Sunni or Shia?), and his domestic policy prescriptions so non-existent (will he ever release an education plan?) that frankly age is the least of his problems.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Attention Joe Lieberman....

I am pro-America.

Also, I am a Democrat.

You appear to be neither of these things.

Thank you.

Nagging: First in a Series

You'll be seeing ocassional posts from me on this blog that just flat out beg all US voters to register.

If you are a US citizen living overseas, you have the right to vote. But if you don't request your ballot THIS YEAR, you will not be able to take advantage of that right. So if you have not sent in you registration or ballot request form this year, I'm asking - nay begging - you to do so urgently.

Fortunately, this is incredibly easy to do. Go to and go through the simple series of questions. No matter what state you vote in, no matter what the rules in that state or county, this tool is designed to populate your registation form correctly and easily. When you're done filling it in the site will produce a PDF copy of your completed application, which you just need to post directly to your registrar of voters - the site even provides that information as well.

Do it today. You'll be glad you did.

Josh Marshall is Getting Annoyed

Noted with agreement but without comment.

I've always assumed, as I think most people have, that once the nomination is settled the Florida and Michigan delegates will be seated. And I can see if Sen. Clinton wants to embrace this issue to claim a moral victory even while coming short of her goal of the nomination. As things currently stand, seating them would still leave Sen. Clinton behind in delegates.

But Sen. Clinton is doing much more than this. She is embarking on a gambit that is uncertain in its result and simply breathtaking in its cynicism.

I know many TPM Readers believe there is a deep moral and political issue at stake in the need to seat these delegations. I don't see it the same way. But I'm not here to say they're wrong and I'm right. It's a subjective question and I respect that many people think this. What I'm quite confident about is that Sen. Clinton and her top
advisors don't see it that way. Why do I think that? For a number of reasons. One of her most senior advisors, Harold Ickes, was on the DNC committee that voted to sanction Florida and Michigan by not including their delegates. Her campaign completely signed off on sanctions after that. And there are actually numerous quotes from the Senator herself saying those primaries didn't and wouldn't count. Michigan and Florida were sanctioned because they ignored the rules the DNC had set down for running this year's nomination process. The evidence is simply overwhelming that Sen. Clinton didn't think this was a problem at all -- until it became a vehicle to provide a rationale for her continued campaign.

Now, that's politics. One day you're on one side of an issue, the next you're on the other, all depending on the tactical necessities of the moment. But that's not what Clinton is doing. She's elevating it to a level of principle -- first principles -- on par with the great voting rights struggles of history. There's no longer any question that she's going to win the nomination. The whole point of the popular vote gambit was to make an argument to super-delegates. And that's fine since that's what super-delegates are there for -- to make the decision by whatever measure they choose. But they've made their decision. The super delegates are breaking overwhelmingly for Obama. They simply don't buy the arguments she's making. As Greg Sargent makes clear here. There are very good reasons to think Sen. Clinton won't take this to the convention, even as today she suggested she might. But that's sort of beside the point.

What she's doing is not securing her the nomination. Rather, she's gunning up a lot
of her supporters to believe that the nomination was stolen from her -- a belief
many won't soon abandon. And that on the basis of rationales and arguments
there's every reason to think she doesn't even believe in.

How Tough Is McCain?

When the Republican primary came to an end, I felt at the time that in a sea of potential candidates all of whom seemed, frankly, creepy and/or nutcases, the Republicans had probably nominated the least bad of the lot.

John McCain was never perfect, but he's always had a bizarrely good relationship with the press, who always gravitate to those who cast themselves (accurately or not) as influential mavericks. So in the back of my mind I think I assumed McCain would be a pretty good campaigner and a serious threat to the Democrats, even in this climate that is so favorable to dems right now.

But since then I've had a chance for the first time to really watch McCain, how he operates, how he speaks, how he positions himself. And I have to say, though I still suspect they nominated the best candidate available to them, I'm really thinking - "Really? This is the best you can do?"

I mean, don't get me wrong - this will most likely be a close and tough election if only because, nowadays, they all are. But John McCain is a terrible, terrible public speaker. I'm sure he'll get better, but right now he's not good.

He's better in the open, town hall forums that he prefers - and that's why his campaign schedules so many of these. But in this format he has a tendency to go off message in unhelpful ways (witness the 10,000 years in Iraq controversy, and who could ever forget "Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran").

Then you look at the way he organises his campaign and they way he gets out his message in things like advertising.

Take a look at this ad, for example:

I mean, why are we doing Dead Poet's Society? Truthfully, the main message I take away from this is that McCain went to a fancy private school and where he ratted out his classmates a lot. He must have been real popular.

I mean, I get the honor code but what point is he trying to make here? Is he trying to hint that he would "tell on" the Bush administration's lawbreaking? Because if so, he's lying because he hasn't. Is he trying to warm the hearts of the base with old fashioned feelings? Because if so, I think he's more likely to annoy them with the reminder of their belief that he hasn't been a loyal footsoldier for Their Boy.

And then, of course, you have the latest series of scandals relating to lobbyists who work for his campaign. Politics and lobbying has long overlapped in uncomfortable ways, but this goes beyond that - I'm mean, he had at least two staff members who did lobbying and PR for the regime in BURMA. This is a country that would rather allow tens of thousands of its citizens to die than accept any help from the outside world. These people are, and believe me I use this word rarely, evil.

So McCain's whole campaign theme is supposed to be about his maverick, independant, honorableness. But then he hand picks a guy to run the RNC convention who has also worked for one of the most oppressive regimes on earth. Not exactly message discipline, right?

This Politico piece sums up some of McCain's weaknesses very well - but don't worry, looks like there will be plenty more where that came from.

Ignorance is Bliss?

Ever feel like the world is conspiring to force you to learn about things you were just as happy not knowing that much about? Here's a short list of things I kind of regret having been forced to learn about over the past 10 years or so:

Feel free to add your own in comments...

Democrats Abroad Super Delegates

By the way, on the subject of pledged delegates versus Super Delegates, it's worth pointing out that us expats have a mini-version of this prevailing national issue going in within our own midst. Barack Obama won an overwhelming majority of the popular vote in our Democrats Abroad Global primary - thus earning him the majority of our pledged delegates.

But Democrats Abroad, like other state delegations, also has super delegates - in our case these consist of our 6 elected DNC members, plus the Chair and Vice Chair of the International Group.

But we are slightly ahead of the game compared to other states - as of last week our very last undecided super delegate finally endorsed. And I'm delighted to report that the majority have gone for Barack, matching the expressed preference of their constituents. Here's the breakdown:


Robert Bell - DNC Member
Leo Perez Minaya - DNC Member
Theresa Morelli - DNC Member


Connie Borde - DNC Member
Toby Condliffe - Vice Chair
Liv Gibbons - DNC Member
Christine Schone Marques - Chair
Brent O'Leary - DNC Member

So I say, bring on the Convention - Democrats Abroad's delegation is complete, committed and prepared. Now if only the "real" states were this ready.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Oregon and Kentucky

So as you no doubt know by now, Barack won an overwhelming majority of the vote in the Oregon primary last night, but lost the Kentucky race by a similarly large margin.

A few things to point out:

  • Though defeated in the Kentucky race, it was Kentucky which, ironically, by delaring its results first put Obama over the top giving in the overall pledged delegate majority. As I said yesterday, this means he has won the majority of the delegates chosed directly by voters - not a small metric in any democratic party, let alone in the Democratic Party. Super Delegates, who will ultimately, unavoidably, be the "deciders" in this race are watching that metric with tremendous interest.
  • Although there has been much discussion that Barack supposedly has a problem with the "white working class", Tuesday's result highlights the fact that this way of looking at things is not enlightening. Although Obama did, in fact lose white voters from lower incomes by stunningly huge margins in Kentucky - he won lower income white voters convincingly in Oregon. And this is no fluke - he's also won them in a wide range of other states including Virginia (a classical Southern State which Obama turns into a swing state in the general election), Iowa and Wisconsin. So what's happening? Well, many people have pointed out that Obama's real problem seems to be with converting voters across the Appalachian region. Heading into November, Obama is going to work hard on this region, which has a unique cultural and historical background. A small improvement in this on region will pay big dividends, so I have no doubt that clever people are already putting together a detailed "Appalachia Strategy".
As usual, nothing that I can say will sound as good as our candidate, so I'll leave the final word to him. Check out last night's speech:

Yes We Span Rally - Now With Pictures

This Sunday a fired up group of 50 or more Obama supporters met for a photo session and rally on Millennium bridge here in London. This was part of a global intiative to take pictures of Obama supporters on Bridges all around the world - full credit to Meredith Wheeler of Toulouse France who came up with the initiative and has been making it happen in dozens of cities so far all around the world. We had good luck with the weather on the day and it was a cheerful, chanting crowd. Check it out - that's Meredith in the Statue of Liberty hat.

This view shows you St Paul's Cathedral behind us.

There were dozens of tourists and interested bystanders gawping and taking pictures. Fortunately, I don't think any of us there were actually shy.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Obama Up 8 Points Over McCain

The latest Survey USA poll is packed full of crunchy goodness for us political obessives. The headline figure is that Barack beats John McCain by 8 points in a head to head match up. There's also lots of good data on possible VP picks (and boy does Mitt Romney not help McCain there). But what I was most struck by was the data by party identification and ideology.

Within their own parties, right now, McCain is out-performing Barack by about 6 points, scoring 76% of all Republican votes compared to only 70% of Democrats for Barack. That's about to be expected considering that McCain has had a couple of months now to consolidate his base while the Democrats have been through a bruising primary period. Most of this difference is attributable not to cross over votes (McCain wins 17% of Democrats and Obama wins 16% of Republicans) but to undecided - 13% of Democrats are undecided compared with only 8% of Republicans.

Obama is winning by 3 points amongst independants, 15% of whom are at this point undecided. But remember that with these number as they stand - and these numbers will clearly improve for Barack as the primary comes to an end - Obama wins by 8 points!

Now look at the breakdown by ideology. McCain wins 78% of conservative voters, and Obama wins 71% of liberal voters. So far this matches up with the party ID stuff (although who are the 18% of self identified liberals who say thei will vote for McCain? That's just nutty). But now look at "Moderates" - Obama dominates this category by 56% to 33%. This is great news for the general election, and also suggests that the attempts to make Obama look like an extremist through playing up the Reverend Wright affair etc. have not penetrated with this group at all. So far.

Teddy Kennedy Update

Bringing me back down to earth from my formerly sunny outlook is the news that Ted Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

The tumor, on Kennedy's left parietal lobe, is known as a "malignant
glioma," according to his doctors, who did not give a long-term prognosis on
Kennedy's health and did not give details about the size or severity of this
tumor. This type of tumor is the most common among adults, and the survival
rates range from one to five years, depending on the severity of the

I can't think of much to say about this except how badly it sucks, and how VERY MUCH he deserves to stay healthy long enough to see Democrats take back the White House (and if you think this is an inappropriately partisan thing to say or think, than I suspect you don't really understand Ted Kennedy, whose blood runs blue in several ways).

We're thinking of you, Ted, and sending you good wishes. Lots.

Today's the Day!

This race has been like a slow build of excitement (with a drip drip drip to the nomination rather than the expected gush) but let me cautiously say that on this day it is highly likely that Barack Obama will finally go over the threshold for a pledged delegate majority with his expected victory in the Oregon Primary. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean he's the nominee for sure.

But think of it this way - there are two halves to this process, one being pledged delegates, who are intended to represent the choice of the voters. Barack will emerge as the clear winner of that margin today. The second half is, of course, the much discussed "Super Delegates" who were put in place as (let's be honest here) a sort of "check" on democracy to make sure us voters don't get to carried away with our crazy notions. You may be offended by that, but don't worry about it too much - because Barack is ahead in that margin too. So it's all good.

And while I'm feeling sunny and optimistic, let me also point out that although many in the press and within the party have expressed a lot of serious concerns about whether the extended primary process will weaken our nominee for the general election (and frankly I share some of those concerns) there is a serious up side to the extended primary as well.

Barack will finish this race with skilled, tested, fully staffed, trained and operation on the ground operations in pretty much every state of the Union. McCain will be playing catch up on this measure for weeks, maybe months. This is doubly good news for us because this is Obama's real area of strength - he's a phenomenal grassroots organiser who has made a serious commitment to building the party for the future. So our ground game this year will be second to none - and certainly not second to the demoralised, downhearted Republicans who can't even win in Mississippi these days!

Obama in Africa Screening

I just wanted to give a heads up about what sounds like a very cool event - a screening of the film "Senator Obama Goes to Africa", on Friday May 30.

The screening is organised by the fabulous Bethany Torvell, who kindly requests that you please RSVP if you plan on attending.

E-mail her to RSVP on

Here's the weblink:

Here are further details from the page:

returns to his family's roots on an emotional journey to Kisumu, Kenya - land of
his father - in this new documentary.Part personal odyssey and part chronicle of
diplomacy in action, this timely documentary follows Senator Barack Obama as he
travels to the land of his ancestry. From South Africa to Kenya to a Darfur
refugee camp in Chad, Obama explores the vast continent that is gaining
increasing importance in this age of globalization.The heart of the film is
Obama's emotional homecoming to Kisumu, Kenya - his father's former home - where
thousands of people turn out to greet him. In South Africa, we follow Senator
Obama on a trip to Robben Island - the infamous prison where Nelson Mandela was
jailed for 21 years. At a Darfur refugee camp in Chad, we see, through Obama's
eyes, the devastating effects of genocide.Throughout it all, Senator Obama
narrates the film, giving his own perspective on the journey and the
significance of Africa to U.S. interests.After the screening, there will be a
chance to talk with other Obama enthusiasts, possibly even in the sunshine. Come
along and bring friends!!
Friday, May 30 at 6:00
3 hours
Goldsmiths College, London (London, na)
CollegeLewisham Way, New CrossLondon, na 49504

McCain Keeping it Real

Oh by the way - you know how John McCain is that straight talker who calls it like he sees it, holds firm to his convictions, yadda yadda yadda? Well, it turns out - not so much:

Well worth a watch if you've got 3 minutes to spare. We've really gotta beat this guy! Onwards to November

Obama London Grassroots Event June 19

Mark your calendars - one month from today I intend to hold a grassroots organising event to help us get serious about this general election campaign. Please, invite your friends, family, co-workers what have you.

Hillary supporters and even non-democrats are more than welcome so long as their prepared to talk turkey about how we can win this election on November 4th.

Proposed Agenda:

* Voter Registration: Stephanie Stewart, Democrats Abroad's Vice Chair and premier voter registration guru will lead a training session full of essential information about America's sometimes byzantine voter registration rules, and with useful tips and tricks on how to Get Out the Vote.
* Grassroots Fundraising: The campaign has already had enormous success with raising money overseas, but I'd like us to put our heads together for some more low-dollar events and activities to raise money in the $25-100 range. Got ideas? Let me know your thoughts - no ideas too big or small at this point.
* Working With the Party: An update on how the campaign can, should and will coordinate with the party, both nationally and in terms of Democrats Abroad.
* Drink Liberally! This is your chance to relax, have a drink, meet your fellow supporters, and get excited about how much this amazing group of people (and of course our amazing candidate) have already achieved. Pimms anyone?

Time and location to be confirmed - please RSVP to ASAP if you plan to come so that I can book a room of the appropriate size.

The Price of Super Delegates is Going Up...

The Huffington Post reports that Super Delegates representing Young Democrats turned down an offer of $1Million in donations from a Hillary Clinton supporting Billionaire fundraiser. So, I guess the kids are alright after all.

UPDATE: But then, we've got Billionaires of our own.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Tough, Fearless Foreign Policy

I found this Guardian article very interesting for the way it sums up one of the things that first attracted me to the Obama candidacy: Barack is not afraid to stand up for a responsible foreign policy. For too long now, Republicans have been able to get away with the most militaristic, jingoistic, and flat out loopy views on foreign policy because Democrats thought they had a "National Security Problem."

But the trouble is that allowing the only two possible visions for America's place in the world to be either right-wing lunacy or quiet, slightly embarrassed centrism actually makes the country less secure (not just apparently so). We urgently need a political culture where it is not only "safe" to talk about negotiation, international institutions and soft power as essential tools in our foreign policy toolbox, but also clearly recognised as madness to forego these essential tools.

Democrats will always lose arguments that we are too fearful to actually have. So I'm glad to see that when George Bush rang the bell earlier this week, Barack came out swinging.

Seventy Five THOUSAND?

What can I say but WOW!

Some 75,000 people flocked to Portland’s waterfront Sunday to watch Barack
Obama speak, making it the biggest rally the campaign has held to date.
Thousands stood on the lawn, dozens watched from boats and from the bridge
stretching across the Willamette River. A few kayakers held their paddles and
tried to keep their kayaks straight as they watched the candidate, who stood on
a makeshift platform.

What I learned from the Washington Post this Morning

John McCain is in a seriously weak position.

But if we can't all play nice with each other - so are we.

Please come back, Hillary supporters, we're going to need you in November if we want to pass Hillary's top policy priorities which, luckily for you, match up really closely with Barack's. Bygones?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Teddy's OK. For Now...

It seems Ted Kennedy, who was hospitalised over the weekend in apparently serious condition after what seems to have been a seizure, is doing all right for the moment. He's been talking and joking with his family. But he's still in hospital.

I have to say, when I first saw that he was rushed to the hospital with what was then suspected to be a stroke, my heart stopped. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and Teddy is like... I don't know. Like clear drinking water - you always take for granted that he'll be around when you need him. But he's 76 years old - though he seems a lot younger.

I think he deserves to see Barack Obama elected in November and to live out his presidency, after all he's done Barack and for the country. We're pulling for you Teddy!

Say it ain't so Jim!

So if I had to create out of whole cloth my ideal Barack Obama Vice Presidential running mate, in many ways he would look a lot like Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

A popular southern populist and former Republican from a state Obama might switch over to the Democratic column, plus a strong national security and foreign policy background as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan - I mean, what's not to like?

So I'm really hoping that the comments he made on Meet the Press are just an "aw shucks" political disclaimer and not an ACTUAL statement of disinterest:

MR. RUSSERT: In the press release which accompanied your book, sent out by your publisher, it describes you this way: "Now, in `A Time to Fight': the celebrated junior senator from Virginia, who is already being mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate..."

SEN. WEBB: I, I didn't write that, and I didn't read it. So I know there's, there's all--you know, you have even asked me about that. But I'm not interested in doing that. I think we've done some incredibly productive things in the last year and a half in the Senate, and I've been able to do some things--you know, we just saw what John McCain said he wanted to see done. I think we've, from our office, been able to work across party lines and to really work to develop a formula where we can govern.

MR. RUSSERT: But if Senator Obama or Senator Clinton asked you, you'd be open?

SEN. WEBB: I would, I would highly discourage them is probably the best way to say it.

MR. RUSSERT: But you wouldn't be General Sherman and say no?

SEN. WEBB: You know, I--at this--at this point, no one's asking, no one's talking, and I'm not that interested, so.

Godwin's Law. Plus: Voter Registration and GOTV

There is a longstanding tradition in online debates that as soon as one party in a discussion invokes the spectre of Nazi-ism, the discussion is over and the other party may claim victory.

So I am ready to claim victory over the Republicans today in the ongoing discussion about US foreign policy. In case you missed, it the double-act of George W. Bush and John McCain have this week decided that Barack Obama's foreign policy approach of active engagement with
our enemies through robust diplomacy is somehow equivalent to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler. Uh huh.

How do we even begin to unpick the levels of nonsense in this thinking? (In this analogy, does W somehow fancy himself standing the place of Churchill? Because apart from the thousand other ways in which they differ, there's also the small point that Winston actually
won his war.... But never mind.)

Jamey Rubin, Clinton-Supporter and former Assistant Secretary of State puts it well when he writes:

"The Obama campaign was right to criticize the president for his remarks and for engaging in partisan politics while overseas. Many presidents have said things abroad that could be construed as violating this unwritten rule of American politics. But it is hard to remember any president abusing the prestige of his office in as crude a way as Bush did yesterday. Charging your opponents with appeasement and likening them to Neville Chamberlain in the Knesset is a brutal blow. It is bad enough that Republicans use the politics of personal destruction here at home, but to deploy that kind of political weapon at an occasion as solemn as an American president addressing the parliament of a friendly government marks a new low."

But it is also worth unpicking the thinking behind Bush's statements (and McCain's bobble-headed agreement). The charge laid at Obama's feet is of "appeasement" - the analogy being to Neville Chamberlain's permitting Hitler to Annex ethnically German sections of
Czechoslovakia (without consulting the Chzechoslovakian government, by the way).

In order for Bush and McCain's argument to make any sense at all, you would have to believe that:

* A willingness to conduct discussions is exactly the same thing as a willingness to surrender completely. In fact, Obama has always stated that the purpose of any negotiations would be to support our interests - and, by the way, that the security and stability of Israel is among
our most vital interests in the region.
* NOT negotiating or conducting discussions with our enemies is a more effective way of advancing our interests. Since Iran, for example, has been successfully accruing considerable regional power during the period that Bush and the Republicans have been advocating the Magical Power Or Toughness Through Not Talking (Let's think if it as the "Naaah naah naah, I can't hear you, I can't see you" fingers in the ear policy), this doesn't seem to hold water.

If the definition of "appeasement" is devolved to the point where it means "any constructive engagement, negotiations or discussions with regimes not already friendly to the US" then the list of appeasers must be expanded to include:

* Ronald Reagan - engagement with Gorbachev clearly proved a disastrous mistake that empowered the Soviet Regime, leading to its continued success as a superpower.
* Richard Nixon - actually WENT TO CHINA! But then he was a well known lefty America hater.
* And pretty much every other American President ever, apart from the current one, who is famous above all for the success and effectiveness of his foreign policy. Or something.

I could go on, but fortunately I don't have to because, as usual, our candidate put it best in his cutting rebuke.

"Well I want to be perfectly clear with George Bush and John McCain – if they want a debate about protecting the United States of America, that’s a debate I’m ready to win, because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for."

" the Bush-McCain worldview, everyone who disagrees with their failed Iran policy is an appeaser. And back during his “No Surrender” tour, John McCain said anyone who wants to end the war in Iraq responsibly wants to surrender; he even said later on that he would be OK keeping troops in Iraq for 100 years, but yesterday he said our troops could be home by 2013. He offered the promise that America will win a victory, with no understanding that Iraq is fighting a civil war. Just like George Bush, his plan isn’t about winning, it’s about
staying, and that’s why there will be a clear choice in November: fighting a war without end, or ending this war. Because we don’t need John McCain’s prediction about when the war will end – we need a plan to end it."

These are the stakes - 4 more years of the same arrogant, ineffective foreign policy at unforgivable costs, including devastating loss of life, or a bold new vision for America that seeks to return us to global leadership through active, smart engagement. Under a McCain
administration the solution to every problem is fear. Under an Obama
administration, like in John Kennedy's, "we will never negotiate out of fear. But we will never fear to negotiate."

Barack has announced a 50 state voter registration program to grow our electorate all around the country - I think that's great, but what about all those voters in the rest of the world? I'm looking for volunteers to work with me and the existing Democrats Abroad voter
registration team to reach out to Americans every where we can find them. Can you help? Write to obamalondon(at)

Meanwhile, why not show John McCain that you've had enough of Bush's disastrous global policies - chip in $50 (just 25 pounds, gotta love that exchange rate) today:

Don't forget, Oregon and Kentucky will hold their primaries on Tuesday - and on that day Barack is likely to finally win the pledged delegate majority. Why not help put him over the top?

Make calls using the phone banking tool here:

Also, please join my Google Group to help us all cut down on e-mail clutter: