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I'm Brendan Loy, a 26-year-old graduate of USC and Notre Dame now living and working in Knoxville, Tennessee. My wife Becky and I are brand-new parents of a beautiful baby girl, born on New Year's Eve.

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Hillary's gambit

Jonathan Chait on Hillary's newly escalated Florida-and-Michigan rhetoric:

This gambit by Clinton is simply an attempt to steal the nomination. It's obviously not going to work, because Democratic superdelegates don't want to commit suicide. But this episode is very revealing about Clinton's character. I try not to make moralistic characterological judgments about politicians, because all politicians compromise their ideals in the pursuit of power. There are no angels in this business. Clinton's gambit, however, truly is breathtaking.

If she's consciously lying, it's a shockingly cynical move. I don't think she's lying. I think she's so convinced of her own morality and historical importance that she can whip herself into a moralistic fervor to support nearly any position that might benefit her, however crass and sleazy. It's not just that she's convinced herself it's okay to try to steal the nomination, she has also appropriated the most sacred legacies of liberalism for her effort to do so. She is proving herself temperamentally unfit for the presidency.

Indeed.

With regard to why her "attempt to steal the nomination" is "obviously not going to work," it isn't just because the supers "don't want to commit suicide"; it's also because the math just isn't there for Hillary. Even if Florida and Michigan are seated according to her best-case scenario, Obama only needs 19 percent of the undeclared supers to secure the nomination. Given that many of those supers are already in the tank for one candidate or the other -- i.e., they're not undecided, just undeclared -- it's inconceivable that Obama won't get at least 19% of them. So he's got the nomination wrapped up, no matter what happens with Florida and Michigan.

What, then, is Hillary playing at? I have a theory. She appears to be racheting up her rhetoric to the point where, if the Rules & Bylaws Committee does anything other than seat the Florida and Michigan delegations with full voting rights and in complete accordance with the rogue primary results, she can declare that decision an anti-democratic outrage that must be remedied, irrespective of its significance to the nomination battle, and thus use it as an excuse to keep fighting all the way to the convention, even after Obama secures the nomination by any and all mathematical standards (whether the magic number is 2,025, 2,210, or something in between). In this scenario, Hillary would most likely "suspend" her campaign, but refrain from endorsing Obama or "releasing" her delegates, and then lie in wait for the next three months, hoping some political calamity befalls him in the mean time, at which point she can sweep in like a "white knight" and take the nomination away from him.

So, you might ask, why doesn't Obama just surrender on Florida & Michigan -- since he's going to have a majority either way -- in order to deny Hillary that phony rationale for continuing her campaign? The answer is that, even if he does surrender, the Rules & Bylaws Committee won't. As I mentioned yesterday, more than just the current nomination fight is at stake here. The party's very credibility, its ability to meaningfully enforce its calendar and its rules, is on trial. Again: "the Democrats cannot simply seat Michigan and Florida, with full voting rights, in exact accordance with the results of the states' primaries, in direct contradiction of the previously imposed sanctions. If the party does this, it would completely undermine, forevermore, its ability to control the primary & caucus calendar in any way. Such an action would be abject surrender to chaos. The 2012 New Hampshire primary would be sometime in fall of 2009. They can't do it. They won't."

Hillary knows this. But instead of laying the groundwork for a reasonable compromise, she's dropping the rhetorical equivalent of nuclear bombs in the party's path, insinuating that no middle ground is possible because anything less than a complete recognition of the rogue primaries would be an affront to democracy on par with the 2000 election, the denial of women's suffrage, segregation, slavery, etc. (!!)  These are the words of a person who doesn't want a problem to be solved.

This is her path forward, people: to keep her campaign going all the way to Denver, ostensibly not because she wants the nomination, but because she wants to make sure that Michigan's and Florida's "voices are heard." It's an incredibly cynical, dishonest, destructive tactic. It will deny Democrats the ability to unify behind their nominee all summer long. It will perpetuate, particularly among low-information voters who aren't familiar with the math, the notion that Obama is trying to win the nomination illegitimately. It will degrade people's faith in the electoral process for no good reason. It will create a (false) image of the Democratic Party leadership as disenfranchisers and vote-stealers. But it's her best shot at constructing a rationale for staying in the race -- so that she can take advantage of any "July surprise" that might befall Obama -- once he has the nomination mathematically secured beyond all doubt, which will happen shortly after June 3. And since Hillary cares only about herself, it seems reasonable to presume that this is precisely what she'll do.

P.S. A Huffington Post article suggests it's quite possible Hillary will lose at the Rules and Bylaws Committee by a vote of 15-13. Hmm. You don't suppose, do you, that she might compare such an outcome to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore, and use the closeness of the vote as an excuse to soldier on to the Credentials Committee, with rhetoric along the lines of "2.3 million voices were silenced by the votes of two unelected party officials"? Nah, she can't be that shameless... [/sarcasm]

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Brendan, I'm curious about how you react to this post at Althouse

This isn't insanity. It's litigation. Quite normal. If the rules help you, you insist on the importance of rules. If the rules hurt you, they are mere guidelines that must bend flexibly for the sake of justice.

I think HRC is following a strategy that was alluded to by someone (I forget who) on an old Meet the Press podcast I was listening to the other day. According to one of the talking heads, the Clintons think that there will be a tipping point in the Obama campaign where something comes out/gets leaked from the oppo research to strip him of his rock star popularity and the party goes "Oh sh*t, we've painted ourselves into a corner with this guy".

She wants to be there to pick up the pieces when the pledged supers unpledge like rats deserting a sinking ship... are their pledges binding? I think not. My continuation on this riff: She's making all these arguments not against Obama, but to preempt something like the party turning to Gore when/if that happens.

When/if it happens, look for it to be like a replay of the Pastor Disaster. It will look like it came from the right, and Hillary will be "shocked, shocked" about whatever it is. Whether or not this will work depends on whether there's a real problem for Obama, or something that the Clinton camp thinks is a big deal but isn't as big as they think it is.

If I had to put money on it, I'd bet on the latter. I put the Wright/Ayers stuff in that class: politically damaging but not enough to cause many superdelegates to change their minds.

...In this scenario, Hillary would most likely "suspend" her campaign, but refrain from endorsing Obama or "releasing" her delegates, and then lie in wait for the next three months, hoping some political calamity befalls him in the mean time, at which point she can sweep in like a "white knight" and take the nomination away from him.

But she can do that Anyway. She doesn't NEED the Scenario of the FL/MI Excuse. The Committee could give her the Whole Enchilada and she could STILL Suspend, NotRelease, and Lurk. / In the Mean time (indeed! :) saying mean Nice things about Senator Obama and assuring everbody that she will campaign her little heart out for the party's Nominee once the party's Convention has Nominated one. / All the Excuse she needs is that we must Count Every Vote but not Before they have been Cast. ;] I.e., as Preacher Huckabee might put it in a Denver Homily: when the Roll is Called up Yonder, she'll be There. :)

...Again: "the Democrats cannot simply seat Michigan and Florida, with full voting rights, in exact accordance with the results of the states' primaries, in direct contradiction of the previously imposed sanctions. If the party does this, it would completely undermine, forevermore, its ability to control the primary & caucus calendar in any way. Such an action would be abject surrender to chaos....

Oh, but surely No: for on the Cablenewsies lately all the Dem factional fighters from Both sects :} have been Flappity-yapping about how for Next time they're going to Throw out this whole awful terrible horrible stupid hideous vile nominating Process and replace it with REFORM! :) Accordingly everything will be solved & this will Never Happen Again. :> My favorite plan is from FL Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who says just Abolish the Delegates, and the Electors while we're at it. This Way Here See, it will all be just Pure PopularVote and thus we'll be finally Rid of the problem of figuring out who Wins the Close ones. / WAW HAW HAW HAW Hee hee / Barf / ok, I can't Take it any more, just Shoot me :}

To Althouse, I would say two things. First, Hillary Clinton is not a lawyer making an argument before a court, on behalf of a client. She is a presidental candidate making an argument before the public (and, yes, the rules committee, but first and foremost the public), on behalf of herself. There's a huge difference. Lawyers can take one position one week and the opposition position the next, because they have a different client each time, and their duty is to zealously represent their client. So long as their position is an arguably reasonable interpretation of the law within the context of the particular case in question, there's nothing wrong with that. For a presidential candidate, by contrast, it is totally beyond the pale to do a 180-degree shift in one's interpretation of the governing rules of the election -- without acknowledging any such shift or explaining its intellectual underpinnings -- particularly when doing so is nothing but a transparent effort to retroactively earn a victory that one lost based on the rules in place at the time. In other words, her hypocrisy and flip-flopping wouldn't be an issue in the context of litigation; it is an issue, a very serious one, in the context of a presidential campaign.

Second, leaving aside Hillary's personal hypocrisy, her substantive argument that the rules everyone agreed to should be totally disregarded -- even though those rules obviously shaped both campaigns' strategies, and thus voters' preferences -- and the results of non-binding elections in Florida and, in particular, Michigan, should be made binding and fully effective -- and, in particular, that to do otherwise is an affront to democracy -- is an intellectually dishonest argument. It is facially incorrect; it is indefensible; it is fraudulent. And guess what? Litigators who use intellectually dishonest, facially incorrect, indefensible and/or fraudulent arguments are, well, bad litigators. They gain a reputation for their dishonesty among judges and among their fellow lawyers, and it hurts them in their careers. There's a reason the rules of civil procedure contain provisions for penalizing attorneys who make arguments that have no chance of success on their merits. That sort of behavior is not looked kindly upon by respectable lawyers, in large part because it is one reason lawyers have such a bad name among the public at large. So if Hillary's strategy is "litigation," as Althouse asserts, then it's bad litigation. And if it succeeds, even partially, it will only be because of political considerations, not considerations of her arguments' merit. Her arguments have no merit, particularly in the way she is presenting them. It is possible to make a sensible case of some sort of Michigan/Florida compromise, but Hillary isn't making that case. She is arguing for an extreme position that's totally indefensible, and casting it as not just defensible, but obviously correct -- that is, she's saying the other side's arguments are indefensible! That is the height of bad lawyering. She'd get reamed out by a good judge for doing this sort of thing in court, and rightfully so.

I think you're trying to blind me with your Jedi lawyer tricks:

I haven't followed the details, but it seems to me that you're arguing against the implications of her argument, not the argument itself. Has Hillary said that the other side is totally indefensible? Or are you just saying that it's an implication of her argument? A case can be made that she's arguing that while the other side is defensible if you're a stickler for rules, these rules gave a result that is unjust. Therefore, the rules should be overturned. This is consistent with how many in the D party view the law. In the Obama's view of SCOTUS jurisprudence - "social justice" is a major aim, if not the major goal in picking justices.

Has she ruled out compromise? If so, I missed it. I don't even think she's said what the specific form of her solution is, other than that any solution should not disenfranchise the voters in FL and MI. And it is obvious that the status quo does disenfranchise those voters, who did not directly chose to break the D rules.

I'm not defending her actual position, since I don't think there is a sensible solution to the mess. I'm just arguing that it's not beyond the pale of our political discourse, such as it is. And the standard for political discourse should be less stringent than that for conduct in court, not more. IANAL, so I admit that my perception is that litigators don't get reamed out as often as they should...

Jim Hu,
While you are obviously a smart guy, when it comes to this point, you are very, very wrong. Harold Ickes said in a conference call today that they "don't want the 55 "uncommitted" delegates to go to Obama." Ben Smith posted this less than an hour ago. The Clinton camp does NOT want this resolved for the reasons Brendan pointed out above. Everybody says, "oh, as long as she's not going negative, let her keep going." This is ridiculous. While she may be going explicitly negative, she is giving her deranged supporters the impression that this nomination process has been less than legitimate. It is disgusting and she needs to be stopped. The Democratic party and MSM are acting like a bunch of pussies. There is no other way around it.

Wade, er, thanks. IIRC, the same MTP I was listening to described Ickes as a "nuclear weapon". I also just heard this

State Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller filed a federal lawsuit today against the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to get the full Florida delegation seated at the party's national convention - with its votes weighted to reflect the results of the disputed Jan. 29 primary.

Geller, a Cooper City Democrat, is a superdelegate - assuming Florida delegates are seated at the national convention. He says he's uncommitted, but seating the full delegation based on the Jan. 29 results would have the effect of helping Hillary Clinton in her bid to catch up with Barack Obama in the contest for nominating delegates.

Geller said that's not his intention, and to bolster that claim his two co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Barbara Effman, a delegate pledged to Clinton, and Percy Johnson, a delegate pledged to Obama.


Brendan,

I like where you're going with this post but I don't think the convention is the end for Hillary. Her ultimate goal is revenge on Obama: to get John McCain elected, not to get herself elected president this year or four years from now.

Discrediting the convention result has been her strategy from back in February, when her campaign first said a convention that would not completely seat FL and MI would be illegitimate. Of course, even if FL and MI are completely seated, I'm sure she'd find some other argument to discredit the convention. Regardless, even with little money and a flagging campaign, walking out of the convention would still do a lot of damage to Obama.

After that, it would be most cost-effective for her to continue her George Wallace-like tour of culturally conservative yet Democratic areas. She would be particularly effective in white, downscale Dem-majority areas of swing states, asking Democratic identifiers to write her in as the "real" Democratic candidate.

She wouldn't even have to go especially negative on Obama through all of this. She is Hillary Clinton and people will still pay attention even if she runs a rather subtle campaign. Even if she does very little, she serves as a constant temptation for Obama to lash out at her and damage himself doing so.

What can be done to stop her? At this point, perhaps not much. The Clintons still have a lot of personal money, and this strategy wouldn't cost them very much. With each passing day, it becomes more costly for Obama to try taking her out with negative attacks.

Maybe a 527 can be started to hit her with negative attacks, but that's tricky for a 527 to do. Anyway, she's not going anywhere.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Hillary ultimately run as a 3rd party candidate, ala Joe Lieberman, with Michael Bloomberg as her VP. According to the facts before me, she would likely win the presidency fairly easily. She would be supported, ad naseum, by FoxNews, Coulter and many other powerful right-wing media, which would bring in atleast 30% of the Republican vote, all the while still automatically getting all the undeducated and low-class Democratic dummies and losers that continue to vote for her.

Absolutely correct my friends, or at least I hope that's what my candidate will do.

All you idiots know that this talk about Obama having the lead in delegates is all that matters since the rules say so, is irrelevant.

In case you overlooked the reality, Obama does not have 2025 pledged delegates and there is a reason the superdelegates were made, they at this moment, are breaking the very same rules you Obama-mamas/papas are so worried about upholding.

The superdelegates are supposed to vote the most likely winner to go against McCain, or ELSE THEY WOULDN'T EXIST, YOU FOOLISH OBAMABOTS! Will you all still wine then, when Hillary wins the popular vote after Puerto Rico (excluding FL and MI) that if Hillary is nominated, the supers will have gone AGAINST the will of THE PEOPLE?

Obama is doing good in republican states which he will never win, and he can't garner the working class Dems, that John McCain will have no trouble getting.

Running for president is a tough sport, if you don't want to be nicked on the way there, change hobbies and stop complaining about Hillary's tenacity. Politics is not a tea party, you will not win a general election by sounding nice and being too thin-skinned.

Obama's old "Change" mantra and "turning the page" rhetoric has EVAPORATED!! Rev. Wright, bittergate, and MICELLE! are going to haunt him if he goes against Mac.

Why was there no outrage when Obama pal Ted Kennedy went all the way to the convention, RUNNING AGAINST A SITTING DEMOCRAT PRESIDENT AND TRAILING BY MORE THAN 1000 DELEGATE??

Now that Hillary wants to do what every candidate has the right to do, everyone freaks out, even though both candidates need the Superdelegates to win, and Hillary only trails by less than 170 pledged delegates.

SO DO YOU OBAMAMANIACS SUGGEST THAT HILLARY SHOULD JUST DROP OUT NOW, EVEN THOUGH OBAMA DOESN'T HAVE 2025 DELEGATES??

I THINK NOT! And why would it be wrong for Hillary to suspend her campaign and wait for an Obama scandal, that is a very logical and smart move for anyone to make, since an Obama meltdown is inevitable.

Stay tuned everyone, there will be more bones and embarassing videos coming out of Obama's closet!!

And I can't wait to see the day when Hillary picks up the pieces of the Obama campaign and throws them in the trash, and GETS THE NOMINATION!!! IT will happen, and that is why you Obama fans are so worried about Hillary stayin in.

Just grow up and deal with it just like we have to deal with this Obama is the nominee rubbish being panned to us!

I sit in awe !

"Hillary08" *sounds* like classic David K, except without the spelling and grammatical errors ... it has all the logic errors ... it is, however, missing something against Bush ...

So - we seem to have acquired someone literate who can channel David K !

I sit in awe !

Have you ever noticed Alasdair, that you claim I have logic errors, but you never actually prove them? I doubt it, but just thought i'd mention it.

I don't see how Hillary running as a write-in candidate or third party independent does anything except divide the party and get McCain elected. And when McCain's term(s) is done, the Democrats are not going to look to Hillary Benedict Arnold Clinton to bring them back together. Her best bet would appear to be to campaign through the primaries, get the best deal she can on FL and MI, and then make a final appeal to the undeclared superdelegates that she is more electable than O. If O takes the nomination anyway, and he will, Hillary must support the party's choice.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see Hillary ultimately run as a 3rd party candidate, ala Joe Lieberman, with Michael Bloomberg as her VP."

Well I would, Sandy U., since in the not-Facially-implausible event that the putative Clinton/Bloomberg ticket were to Carry NY State with a Plurailty (say, 35% or so), its 31 candidates for Electors of President & Vice President so Elected would, come mid-December, Constitutionally be obligated to Chuse :} between voting for either (a) Hil for Pres OR (b) Mike for Veep, but not Both :>. (See, Constitution of the United States of America, Article XII of the Amendments thereto, which provides in part as follows, emphases Added :) ~

The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves;... [etc. ]

(Now granted, before the EVs get cast Hillary could maybe move back to Arkansas ~ or Illinois, or PA, or one of her Other native states :) ~ or perhaps Bloomie could repatriate to Boston but Still, somehow it all seems a bit Awkward. :)

PS ~ and all that Apart, Sandy U, from the logistico-legal Fact that it is now Effectively too Late for a New-party Ticket to begin a successful multi-state Ballot Petition drive. (Of course if the Clinton/Bloomberg Dream Team :> were instead to whup Bob Barr & Co. for the Libertarian Party nomination HAHAHAHAHA ;> ~ well, that'd be Different, since They have pre-attained "automatic" Ballot Status in various States. :)

Hillary will never be forgiven by party leadership for this ongoing act of sabotage. She knows that, and so has launched an all-or-nothing offensive. She has blown her present and also her future. Only supreme egotism would cause this kind of Defcom 4 tactic, one that so obviously will not work. Sad to watch it happen this way.

You know, I see all these articles about what does Hillary want, blah, blah, blah.

I don't care what she wants...I am an HRC supporter, but more than that I am vehemently opposed to BO. WE want her to stay in the race...if nothing else to remind that bogus nothing that not everyone is in love with him. He might actually have to work a little harder to win us over - like, I don't know, maybe showing up in that state.

Honestly, he will NEVER win me over. If you look at who he is, where he comes from, his friends, associates, career path, voting record, etc; not to mention the rampant rumors about his sexual preferences, one can only come up with one conclusion - HE IS A FRAUD.

P.S.

NOAH,

The next time you catch a cab, order food in a restaurant, drop your kid off at the daycare, put your kid on a bus, etc. just remember whose hands your putting them in...that would be us UNEDUCATED, LOW CLASS DEMOCRATS.

You know, I refrain from calling any names except BO. If HRC's supporters are so unimportant, why resort to trying to insult us.

WE are what keeps this country going...OUR vote is just as important as YOURS.

not to mention the rampant rumors about his sexual preferences

?!?!?

not to mention the rampant rumors about his sexual preferences

I read that line too and was like WHAT?!? Did I totally miss something?

Debbie, I think you were referring to SU's comment. Don't get too upset and he's simply the resident village idiot.

As someone who has lived in both NY (HRC) and AZ (Mac), I've had the unique opportunity to follow both HRC, and Mac from their "home" states.
HRC (and Bill) lack integrity- something I consider to be basic to what I would want to see in a president. Her ego-driven (I will do this, and I will do that) campaign, her flip-flopping- and yes, her strident, nasty campaigning turn my stomach. I would love to see a woman as president of the USA- just not THIS "woman".
Mac scares me. As a parent with offspring of an age to be drafted, the last person I would want to see in office is an affirmed, hotheaded hawk. Age does NOT equal wisdom! And also, age is a problem with Mac- he brings "mom" to his campaign stops to show that he has good genes... but it doesn't really "show to go you"- my hubby's grandmother lived to 92, very much with it, and energetic. Her daughter died in her mid 60s...
Obama, aside from his extreme charisma, also shows the ability to pick strategists well. He has made some errors, but for a man who was not well known to do as well as he has done thus far- that says something about his abilities. But, being black, and being named Obama will prove to be a problem for some people.

I wish that Obama and Clinton supporters would stop using the words "steal the election" from each other. Each candidate wants to be President. The people are divided. The fact is we have very undemocratic party rules and each of these candidates are ambitious and want to win. Each has the right to pursue this nomination within the undemocratic "Party Rules" and they are both doing that even if it means going to the convention. Historically, there have always been party fights. We don't know if a fight will be bad for the party until November but that is the way it is.
How many voters have been given copies of their party rules over the years? The majority of Democratic party member/voters are only being educated about party rules because of the closeness of this primary and we learned that each state has different kinds of primary elections, i.e. caucus states, open primaries, closed primaries, Texas-2 step, proportional representation, higher delegate counts for counties that have remained Democratic, pledged delegates, elected delegates, party delegates, superdelegates.
I voted in superTuesday, but I was on the phone to the DNC before SuperTuesday when I found out that Michigan and Florida voted and their votes were not counted. If there has ever been any principle that we need to stand for, it is to count every primary vote. If my state had been disenfranchised, you bet I would be on the streets protesting. This just happens to be one of the most important elections in a lifetime. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination has no claim to winning this election fair and square under our undemocratic rules. It will be just like Bush/Gore. Thank God, we have two candidates that will be better than Bush.For me however, the party rules will have to change for me to remain a Democrat in the future.

As a parent with offspring of an age to be drafted, the last person I would want to see in office is an affirmed, hotheaded hawk

That comment makes absolutely no sense.
I must have missed the announcement where we reinstated the draft. Last time I checked it was an all volunteer armed forces.

JO - not only that, as far as I can tell, the only person proposing the return of the draft is a Democrat - Charlie Rangel - and, when the House was GOP-controlled, it voted overwhelmingly against his attempts ...

As a parent with offspring of an age to be drafted, Obama scares me much more than McCain, just as Carter scared me much more than Reagan ... a strong opponent usually leads to a more peaceful life than a weak one ...

This country would be severely set back by any more Carter-years ... militarily, fiscally, economically - Carter was a disaster ... diplomatically, Carter's *brother* had a more sensible and coherent foreign policy ...

Alasdair, Rangel proposes the issue of a draft precisely because he believes our current politicians would not be so quick to go to war if the cost were such that they or their constituents might be harder hit by the decisions to do so.

And how has Bush/McCain demonstrated that we are a strong opponent? We are mired down in Iraq, our military resources are spread incredibly thin, such that we have to forcably re-enlist soldiers who have completed their commitment, are using National Gaurd troops and Reserves on extended overseas tours, can't support our veterans once they return home, and are seeing a resurgance of our 9/11 enemy in Afghanistan. Just because Obama won't repeat the same failed policies as Bush, doesn't mean he will repeat the same policies as Carter. Once again I have to point out to you that this is not an either/or world we live in, well the rest of us don't, clearly you continue to live in your own little world.

JO, if we continue to tax our military resources as we are doing, the only option left would be a draft.

McCain's son serves in Iraq. Every branch of the military is exceeding recruiting goals.

So one Senators son serving and arbitrary recruting goals are being met is enough to satisfy you?

Now here's a Davidian thought ... we should start enlisting National Gourd troops ... if anyone could, they should be able to squash our opponents ! Cala-bash them over the heads !

I can hear the rallying cry now ...

Courgettes, les braves !

After the RFK remark, Althouse changes her mind.

I try to think that people are never as great as their hype and hope that people aren't as bad as their worst critics say. Usually that works out, but in Hillary's case...

I also posted an attempt to think out how Rev. Wright wasn't so bad... before he went out and confirmed that he was.

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