In every nation, there are wounds to heal.
In every heart, there is power to do it.
Barack Obama will fight for equal rights for gays just as he fought to help working-class families overcome poverty, the Democratic presidential hopeful's wife told a gay Democratic group.
Recalling his past work as a community organizer to help struggling families, Michelle Obama said he would take the same approach as president.
''Barack believes that we must fight for the world as it should be, a world where together we work to reverse discriminatory laws,'' she said Thursday at a Manhattan fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee's Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council.
Michelle Obama also drew a connection between the struggles for gay rights and civil rights.
''We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall, in the pursuit of a more perfect union,'' she said at the event, held days before the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots between gays and New York police, and the city's annual gay pride parade.
''The world as it is should be one that rejects discrimination of all kinds,'' she said.
Touting her husband's record pushing for workplace discrimination legislation as an Illinois state senator and his support of civil unions, Obama noted her husband also had brought a call for equality to conservative groups, telling churchgoers they need to combat homophobia in the black community.
The Illinois senator opposes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and says states should make their own decisions on the matter. He has said he's interested in ensuring that same-sex couples in civil unions get federal benefits.
His Republican opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain, also opposes a federal constitutional amendment but worked to ban gay marriage in his home state. McCain supports the military's ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy, while Obama has called it ''counterproductive.''
Michelle Obama's speech brought a standing ovation from the crowd of about 200 donors, who raised about $1.3 million, organizers said.
Earlier Thursday, she spoke in Manchester, New Hampshire, and credited Hillary Rodham Clinton, her husband's rival for the Democratic nomination, with bringing the concerns of working families to the forefront of the presidential campaign.
She heard from New Hampshire women juggling such work and family concerns as child care and caring for aging parents. She explained her husband's plans to expand sick time and paid family leave, help parents afford child care and make sure women get equal pay for equal work.
''We are closer to this America than ever before, and that's because of an extraordinary woman who's not in this room but she's traveling with my husband tomorrow, and that woman is Hillary Clinton,'' Michelle Obama said to sustained applause.
''I know that the folks here in New Hampshire know this better than anyone because you got to know the candidates up close and personal, but because of Hillary Clinton's work the issues of importance to women and working families are front and center.''
Clinton and Barack Obama are to make their first public joint appearance Friday in Unity, New Hampshire. (Samantha Gross, AP)
FROM CNN’s Jack Cafferty:
If John McCain doesn’t stop changing his position on the issues, he threatens to make John Kerry look like an amateur.
In order for McCain to win in November, he has to appeal to both the traditional Republican base and to independents. Dana Milbank in the Washington Post says it’s a delicate dance, and if McCain’s not careful “he’s liable to break a hip.” Of course any doctor will tell you a broken hip can be very difficult to recover from.
On Iraq, the economy, guns and God, McCain is to the right. On immigration, campaign finance reform and global warming, he’s to the left. It’s all very reminiscent of John Kerry back in 2004.
McCain went after Barack Obama yesterday, for proposing a windfall profits tax on oil companies. A month ago McCain said he was willing to consider a windfall tax on the oil companies.
What about offshore drilling? During his last presidential run, McCain was against it. Now he’s for it, saying the states should decide if they want to drill for oil off the coast. This could cost him big time in states like California and Florida which are extremely environmentally conscious.
Then there are the Bush tax cuts. McCain was against them – twice – but now he’s for them.
One week into the general election, the polls show a dead heat. But many presidential scholars doubt that John McCain stands much of a chance, if any.
Historians belonging to both parties offered a litany of historical comparisons that give little hope to the Republican. Several saw Barack Obama’s prospects as the most promising for a Democrat since Roosevelt trounced Hoover in 1932.
“This should be an overwhelming Democratic victory,” said Allan Lichtman, an American University presidential historian who ran in a Maryland Democratic senatorial primary in 2006. Lichtman, whose forecasting model has correctly predicted the last six presidential popular vote winners, predicts that this year, “Republicans face what have always been insurmountable historical odds.” His system gives McCain a score on par with Jimmy Carter’s in 1980.
“McCain shouldn’t win it,” said presidential historian Joan Hoff, a professor at Montana State University and former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency. She compared McCain’s prospects to those of Hubert Humphrey, whose 1968 loss to Richard Nixon resulted in large part from the unpopularity of sitting Democratic president Lyndon Johnson.
“It is one of the worst political environments for the party in power since World War II,” added Alan Abramowitz, a professor of public opinion and the presidency at Emory University. His forecasting model — which factors in gross domestic product, whether a party has completed two terms in the White House and net presidential approval rating — gives McCain about the same odds as Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and Carter in 1980 — both of whom were handily defeated in elections that returned the presidency to the previously out-of-power party. “It would be a pretty stunning upset if McCain won,” Abramowitz said.
What’s more, Republicans have held the presidency for all but 12 years since the South became solidly Republican in the realignment of 1968 — which is among the longest runs with one party dominating in American history. “These things go in cycles,” said presidential historian Robert Dallek, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “The public gets tired of one approach to politics. There is always a measure of optimism in this country, so they turn to the other party.”
That desire for change also tends to manifest itself at the end of a president’s second term. "Only twice in the 20th century has a candidate from the same party as a two-term president won the presidency, most recently in 1988, when George H.W. Bush replaced the term-limited Ronald Reagan, who was about twice as popular in the last year of his presidency as President George W. Bush is now.
But the biggest obstacle in McCain’s path may be running in the same party as the most unpopular president America has had since at least the advent of modern polling. Only Harry Truman and Nixon — both of whom were dogged by unpopular wars abroad and political scandals at home — have been nearly as unpopular in their last year in office, and both men’s parties lost the presidency in the following election.
Though the Democratic-controlled Congress is nearly as unpopular as the president, Lichtman says the Democrats’ 2006 midterm wins resemble the midterm congressional gains of the out-party in 1966 and 1974, which both preceded a retaking of the White House two years later.
One of the few bright spots historians noted is that the public generally does not view McCain as a traditional Republican. And, as Republicans frequently point out, McCain is not an incumbent.
“Open-seat elections are somewhat different, so the referendum aspect is somewhat muted,” said James Campbell, a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo who specializes in campaigns and elections.
“McCain would be in much better shape if Bush’s approval rating were at 45 to 50 percent,” Campbell continued. “But the history is that in-party candidates are not penalized or rewarded to the same degree as incumbents.”
Campbell still casts McCain as the underdog. But he said McCain might have more appeal to moderates than Obama if the electorate decides McCain is “center right” while Obama is “far left.” Democrats have been repeatedly undone when their nominee was viewed as too liberal, and even as polls show a rise in the number of self-identified Democrats, there has been no corresponding increase in the number of self-identified liberals.
Campbell also notes that McCain may benefit from the Democratic divisions that were on display in the primary, as Republicans did in 1968, when Democratic divisions over the war in Vietnam dogged Humphrey and helped hand Nixon victory.
Still, many historians remain extremely skeptical about McCain’s prospects. “I can’t think of an upset where the underdog faced quite the odds that McCain faces in this election,” said Sidney Milkis, a professor of presidential politics at the University of Virginia. Even "Truman didn’t face as difficult a political context as McCain.”
Eighteen-year-old Katherine Patrick, daughter of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, came out as a lesbian during an interview she conducted with her father by her side. “I’ll always remember the first thing my dad did was, [he] wrapped me in a bear hug and said, ‘Well, we love you no matter what,’” Katherine Patrick told Bay Windows, an LGBT publication that covers New England.
Governor Patrick and First Lady Diane Patrick fully supported Katherine’s decision to come out publicly, despite acknowledging that if their daughter were straight, she would not have had to make a formal announcement about the matter. “But the world is such and my job is such that rather than have someone do a ‘gotcha,’ [story about Katherine's sexuality] and our giving the misimpression that this wasn’t completely natural in our family, then we thought, ‘Alright, let’s just say it and move on,’” Gov. Patrick said.
First Lady Diane Patrick, who was caught in traffic and conferenced into the interview via phone, said she was initially trepidatious when Katherine asked to speak with her parents privately. "I often think the worst when I get that kind of build-up. And so I was thinking, ’Oh my goodness, she failed something or she did something really bad’ - not that she has a habit of doing those things - but I worried." Bay Windows reports that Diane Patrick nearly laughed with relief after her daughter turned to them and said, "I'm a lesbian."
"I thought, ’Well, what did she think we were going to say about this?’ Because I really hoped that she didn’t harbor any concern that we were going to be worried or upset or scandalized in any way," the First Lady said.
Katherine, who will be a freshman at Smith College this fall, expressed pride in her father’s recent work in LGBT rights: Gov. Patrick worked diligently to help defeat an anti-gay marriage amendment in Massachusetts last summer. "Because, of course, he didn’t know that I was gay then," she said. "So, for someone so publicly to fight for something that doesn’t even affect him was just like, ’That’s my dad,’ you know?" (The Advocate)
Sen. Barack Obama released the following statement regarding the 2008 Pride season on Saturday:
“I am proud to join with our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered brothers and sisters in celebrating the accomplishments, the lives, and the families of all LGBT people during this Pride season. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core this issue is about who we are as Americans.”
“It’s time to live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect. Let’s enact federal civil rights legislation to outlaw hate crimes and protect workers against discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Let’s repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' and demonstrate that the most effective and professional military in the world is open to all Americans who are ready and willing to serve our country. Let’s treat the relationships and the families of LGBT Americans with full equality under the law.”
“We are ready to accomplish these goals because of the courage and persistence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people who are working every day to achieve equal rights -- the gay couple who demands equal treatment in our family laws as they raise their children, the lesbian soldier who wants nothing more than to serve her country openly and honestly, the transgendered workers who asks for the simple dignity of being judged by the quality of their work. Generations of LGBT Americans, at once ordinary and extraordinary, have made possible this moment in our history. With leadership and hard work we can fulfill the promise of equality for all.”
Obama’s website has a section directed toward his LGBT constituency (http://pride.barackobama.com/). The site features the senator’s views on LGBT issues and allows visitors to search for pride events in their area. On Saturday Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed Obama and pledged her full support in helping him win the presidency. (The Advocate)
Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.
As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
"Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."
Obama in a Blowout: The Presidential Election Will Not Be Close
In early December 2007, at a time when Hillary Clinton was tracking 20-plus points ahead of the Democratic field in national polls, I published an article contending that Hillary Clinton was an inherently weak candidate, a beatable candidate, and that Barack Obama would be a stronger match against Republicans.
I argued that she had the highest "unfavorable" rating of anyone who ever had run for the presidency; that she was the only Democratic candidate who could unite and energize the Republican base; that she was running 10 to 15 points behind in generic Democrat vs. Republican presidential polls; that her head-to-head matchups with the Republican candidates were poor; that in Iowa, where she was the only female candidate with seven men, she was polling only 26 percent; that several Democratic U.S. Senate candidates had told me she would pull the ticket down in their states; and that Bill was a potentially large, uncontrollable liability (even I did not know how true that prediction would become!). Hillary never was "inevitable." The evidence of her imminent demise was there for anyone who wanted to look.
OK, that was then, this is now.
The November presidential election is not going to be close. Barack Obama is going to beat John McCain by 8 to 10 points in the national popular vote and win 300 to 350 electoral votes. Obama is going to wipe out McCain mano a mano.
I am far more confident making this prediction than I was in predicting Hillary's demise. There are many reasons why.
The Political Environment
The Republican Party is led -- and branded -- by an extraordinarily unpopular president, whose policies McCain has staunchly defended and supported (95 percent voting congruence in 2007). In the recent CBS News/NYTimes poll, Bush is at 28 percent approval, 65 percent disapproval; in the Hart/Newhouse poll, he is at 27 percent approval, 66 percent disapproval. While some presidents have fallen to low levels in the past, what is truly remarkable about Bush is how long-term and persistent voter disapproval of him has been, and the depth of voter sentiment: A May 12 Washington Post/ABC poll showed only 15 percent of voters "strongly approve," while 52 percent "strongly disapprove."
Voters think, correctly, that the country is on the wrong track. In the Hart/Newhouse poll, 15 percent of voters said the country was headed in the "right direction," while an astounding 73 percent said "wrong direction." Remember, these polls include all voters, not just Democrats.
On issues, Republicans are on the short end of everything except the military and national security. Among voters, in the NYTimes/CBS poll, when asked which party is better, on health care 63 percent say Democrats while only 19 percent say Republicans; the economy, 56 percent say Democrats, 28 percent say Republicans; sharing your moral values, 50 percent say Democrats, 34 percent say Republicans; and, dealing with Iraq, 50 percent say Democrats, 34 percent say Republicans. The Democratic Party has a 52 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable rating; the Republican Party has a 33 percent favorable and 58 percent unfavorable rating. A whopping 63 percent say the United States needs to withdraw from Iraq within 12 months; McCain wants to stay roughly forever -- and attack Iran. The Washington Post/ABC poll asked, "Which party do you trust to do a better job coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?" Democrats were chosen over Republicans, 53 percent to 32 percent.
The U.S. economy is sinking (while McCain has said he doesn't know much about the economy); gas prices are skyrocketing; the housing market has collapsed and people are losing their homes; and the Iraq Recession shows no signs of abating.
McCain has been able to stay close to parity in polls matching him with Obama, but that is the product of the bashing Obama has taken from the Clinton campaign. Once that internal scrap is behind him and he can go head to head against McCain, his polling is going to soar.
Even in fund-raising, a traditional Republican strength, the Republicans are at a disadvantage. At last reported count, Obama had $51 million in cash on hand; McCain had $11 million. In the combined cash of the national party committees, Republicans had $55.5 million; Democrats $87.1 million. The netroots has raised unprecedented amounts of money for Democrats, especially Obama; labor unions have gone deeper into their pockets and are raising more money for Democrats than in prior elections; and, even business PACs have given more money to Democrats! Business blows with the wind, and it knows which way the wind is blowing.
Simply put, this is the worst possible time for any Republican to be running for president. And this is not simply my opinion; it is an opinion that has many adherents in the Republican Party and among traditional Republican supporters. Representative Tom Davis, from Virginia, in an internal memo to Republicans, recently wrote, "The political atmosphere facing Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006.The Republican brand is in the trash can. [I]f we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf."
While many ardent Democrats would disagree with this assessment, I personally consider McCain to be an honorable, decent man. I have enormous respect for -- and cannot forget -- the fact that he declined the opportunity to be released from a North Vietnamese prison because his father had been a Navy admiral and chose instead to stay with his comrades for 5½ years. Very few of us would have done that -- I know I would not have. There is a loyalty and integrity there that we need to remember and honor. And, despite efforts to disparage the "maverick" label, the reality is that, for a substantial part of his political career, he was a Republican maverick on a variety of issues, including the environment, immigration, campaign reform, taxes and the budget. These are not inconsequential disagreements with the Republican Party, and he has been almost singular in being willing to disagree with the Republican establishment. But that is the previous incarnation of McCain, not the version we've seen for the last four years or the version who has to run between now and November.
The problem with McCain is that his brain is no longer working. There is something wrong. Many doctor friends of mine hypothesize Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is consistent with his 5½ years of great stress in prison and which can explain his violent temper, his memory lapses and his frequent mental disconnects. It also is possible that he is suffering mini-strokes, which cause momentary double vision, partial blackouts and confusion, and which could explain why he can say incredibly stupid things, sometimes the same dumb thing several times in one day, without appearing to understand what he just said. Whatever the specific cause, he is not healthy, and mentally he is struggling to hold it together.
What we are going to see in the general election from McCain is a ton of mistakes. The very thing the press likes about him, his candor and shoot-from-the-hip style, is going to kill him when the full weight of media attention is trained on him. He never has been a good speaker with a prepared text (last night, his speech was characteristically wooden, with several word confusions). The media has always loved the quick, gritty, candid McCain, but that version is gone; he now is a damaged, slower-thinking McCain, but his habits will remain the same. He will still try to be the quick wit, the maverick; it just isn't going to work. And while McCain is still capable (with help) of firing off some zingers that hit, he will be unable to sustain a narrative -- or fool the American voters -- for the next five months. This is not just about being 71; it is about being a very old 71. It might be sad to watch, but I for one will have no sympathy. There is too much at stake.
Obama is the perfect candidate for Democrats, and a nightmare for McCain. Obama, who by every metric is a brilliant strategist, thinker and speaker, is going to run circles around McCain. McCain, who is not a very good speaker even on his best day, will appear slow, befuddled and confused; he will make gaffes. Obama will be charismatic, smart, thoughtful, high-minded, alert and substantive. It will be no contest. And adding to Obama's natural advantages, McCain has just enough integrity to try to match up with Obama on issues. In that debate on substance, Obama's overwhelming intellectual superiority and mental alertness will become obvious. There will be the believers, who have jumped aboard the Obama campaign and will continue to multiply, but there also is going to be another type of vote that is going to swing heavily to Obama: the default vote. Voters are going to default to Obama because it will become obvious that McCain simply is not up to the task of being president.
This is going to be the first not-close presidential election since 1988. You heard it here first.