Homo homini rodentius est

Super (Bowl) Tuesday

Super Bowl Tuesday
It’s just like the SATs all over again! Eli is to Tom as Barack is to Hillary.

Hillary Clinton spent part of Sunday night watching the Super Bowl at a bar called Dixie’s in St. Paul MN. Of course, her enthusiasm for the Giants was about as authentic as the tears she’s been known to shed on cue (do you think she even knows who Eli Manning is?) and she whooped and hollered with the best of them when Manning’s already legendary drive defeated the sure-bet Patriots in one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. But I wonder if the irony of the situation was lost on her? Her putative hometown team aren’t the only guys making late drives at formidable opponents: CNN [released a poll today] showing that Barack Obama has not just caught up to Clinton in nationwide polls going into Super Tuesday, he may have surpassed her. The storied game plan from the Clinton camp has been that the rush of contests on Tuesday, coming so soon after Obama’s big win in South Carolina, will benefit her because her established name and reputation will trump his nascent momentum. But they may have underestimated the depth of Obama’s appeal and the dissatisfaction level toward Clinton’s candidacy within the party.

If Obama pulls off an upset the contest will drag on to the convention. That’s a long time for allegiances to settle into stony loyalties that will not easily switch come general election time. Some people are muttering about an eventual “dream ticket” of Clinton-Obama, or vice-versa. That’ll never happen — whoever wins the nomination will have to start running to the center to beat McCain and will need to pick a centrist running mate. Someone like Evan Bayh.

Meanwhile, just across the aisle, McCain looks to put a lock on his nomination on Tuesday, giving him plenty of time to shore up his right flank and prepare his assault on the eventual Democratic nominee. Alas, no Giants-like come from behind upset for Mitt Romney. He’s done.

South Carolina Dems elect McCain

Meet your new President.

It has become a cliché among the political punditry that the only thing standing between the Democrats and the White House are… Democrats themselves. With the notable exception of Bill Clinton, Democratic candidates and their party faithful seem congenitally incapable of putting together a candidacy that can win the support not just of Independents and the scant Republican crossover voter but of their own motley base. Barack Obama’s resounding victory in the South Carolina primary pretty much rings the death knell on the chances for a Democratic victory in the fall and, I would say, guarantees that our next president will be John McCain.

It would appear that Democrats learned nothing from the debacle of the 2000 election. That election showed the profound impact that a fracture in their base could have — had Ralph Nader not shaved just a few percentage points off the totals for Al Gore, there would have been no need for a Supreme Court coronation of George Bush. This time it’s worse. As has been noted [many times], outside of the Democratic party Hillary Clinton is not a very popular character. Her chances in a general election were dicey to begin with unless she faced a particularly weak Republican and, as McCain ascends, that looks unlikely. A full-on challenge to her from within her own party is evidence that even Democrats are not satisfied with their choices. And the nature of the dissatisfaction — as evidenced in the South Carolina vote — must encourage the Republicans. Obama won South Carolina with overwhelming support from blacks (78%) and women (54%), but fewer than one out of four white Democrats voted for him. And these are white Democrats. A Democrat cannot win the general election without picking up Southern states and they cannot win Southern states without white votes.

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Here Come the Memorials

Columbia 1968 protest

Just like clockwork, the 1968 anniversary articles have begun. For creatively-challenged journalists across the country — but especially here in the East — 2008 should prove to be an irresistible “perfect storm” of then-and-now comparisons that filter current events through the dusty lens of that fateful year. Unpopular president executing an unpopular war? Check. An election year suffused with issues of race and class warfare? Check. Columbia University planning to expand into Harlem amid protests from long-time residents? Check. The New York Times kicks off the trend with a couple of articles in their Education section that describe resurgent activism on local campuses. A red diaper baby of 60’s radical parentage, Thai Jones (now a grad student at Columbia, natch), [writes] with unrestrained sympathy about recent protests on campus that show an abiding heritage of lefty commitment at the Ivy League school, while [another article] by (surprise!) a Columbia faculty member describes the recent reanimation of the Students for a Democratic Society at the tiny New School in Greenwich Village.

What both articles evidence more than anything else is a poignant nostalgia for a radical time that passed with the demographic blip that created it. Pace Dylan, the times changed. Jones reluctantly acknowledges in his piece that the modern Columbia protests (which included a short-lived hunger strike over a perceived lack of multicultural studies) failed when a far larger number of counter-protesters who were offended by the strikers’ tactics mobilized on Facebook, and the New School kids are clearly oblivious to the ill-fated history of the group they espouse. Perhaps a field trip is in order — all they have to do is go out the back door of their college on 11th Street and walk down to the house at 18 W 11th, where the Weather Underground, the radical group that succeeded the S.D.S., blew themselves to smithereens while making bombs on a cold day in March 1970.

Could Al Gore crush Hillary? Well, obviously.

Last prayer, or fat chance?

Al Gore, having won an Emmy, an Oscar and now the Nobel Peace Prize, is on a roll. There’s just one prize left that many would like to see him claim that has eluded him — one that he came within a hanging chad’s breadth of receiving in 2000. It’s a sign not only of his popularity but also of the rising sense of panic among Democrats that they seem destined for a ticket headed by Hillary Clinton. The [grumblings] in the lefty media about how to stop our gal from Illinois Arkansas New York began about the time that wunderkind Barack Obama started showing [signs of flagging] in his media-fueled race for the nomination. Suddenly [stories] about the nascent Draft Gore movement increased in frequency and, now with the Nobel win, have reached a fevered pace. CNN [reports] on the pressure on him to join the race (including a hilarious quote from Jimmy Carter, who has been badgering him for so long on the issue that Gore finally had to ask Carter to stop calling his house), while the Washington Post [raises questions] about whether he could successfully raise enough money this late in the primary run-up. That would certainly be a significant obstacle to overcome were he to decide to join the race, but I think there’s an even bigger factor weighing against him, so to speak: he’s too fat to be president.

The Presidential Body Mass Index (PBMI)

[Click to view] chart of US presidents ranked according to their Body Mass Index

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Ahmadinejad at Columbia

I was very proud to be a Columbian today.

Ever since it was announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would speak at Columbia there has been almost universal condemnation of the university and its president Lee Bollinger for “giving a platform” to the dwarvish miscreant. Even people like Andrew Sullivan, who has been calling for aggressive political confrontation with Islamo-fascism since 9/11, [dismisses] the event as another lefty sop to anti-Americanism:

I take a very broad view of free speech rights in America, but I would never have invited a dictator and religious extremist like Ahmadinejad. So far, it seems his usual blend of glibness, guile and gall is exposing him to ridicule as it should. If there are no gays in his country, why is he hanging so many of them? But I wonder: would Columbia ever invite a right-wing extremist with the same views as Ahmadinejad on women, gays, Israel and the Holocaust? Or do you have to be a brown-skinned, terrorist-enabling, nuclear-proliferating, certifiable nut-job to get the invite?

Incredibly lazy thinking. I wonder if the forceful challenge that Lee Bollinger presented his hapless guest with this afternoon causes any of those who forgot that we live in a liberal democracy to recognize how important it is to confront civilly and directly such reactionary evil? Would that such an invitation had been extended to Hitler back in 1933 and his reception been as publicly eviscerating. If nothing else, Ahmadinejad’s public humiliation on a world stage he had sought out precisely to gain political stature surely means that Columbia and its administrators are now considered enemies by the Islamo-fascists and in our “war on terror” that has to count for something.

More pictures I shot around campus after the jump…

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