David Kirkpatrick

March 27, 2009


Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:44 pm

Marc Ambinder totally nailed today’s Republican Party – ” … the GOP is a PINO — a Party In Name Only at this point.”

December 13, 2008

This financial crisis

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:10 pm

Okay, from what I’m reading and what I’m hearing on the street — not Wall Street, but businessmen on the street — is nothing is going to be settled before May or June at best.

Not that things are getting better by then, but nothing will be predictable before then. Let that sink for a second or two. Markets crave certainty. Uncertainty stretching out for that long is not a good thing.

And then there’s this bit of news.

From the link:

It’s quite unsettling to talk to members of Barack Obama’s transition teams these days, especially those who are helping with the economics portfolio. Without going into details, the sense I get from them is that they are very worried that the economy will get a lot worse before it gets better. Not just worse… a lot worse. As in — double digit unemployment without the wiggle factors. Huge declines in aggregate demand. Significant, persistent deficits. That’s one reason why the Obama administration seems to be open to listening to every economist with an idea and is stocking the staff with the leading lights of the field. In one sense, the general level of concern among Obama advisers and transition staffers is reassuring; they get the magnitude of the problems, and they’re not going to assume that, just because the bottom has never dropped out before — certainly not in the lifetimes of most people doing policy these days, the bottom will never drop out.

Where the discussion isn’t going, at least in public,  (or the PR level), is the possibility that the first foreign policy crisis the administration will face will be the complete economic collapse of a large, unstable nation. To be sure, Pakistan is nearly broke, and U.S. policy makers seem to be aware of that; but a worldwide demand crisis could lead to social unrest in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore, the Ukraine, Japan, Turkey or Egypt (which is facing an internal political crisis of epic proportions already). The U.S. won’t have the resources to, say, engineer the rescue of the peso again, or intervene in Asia as in 1997.

December 9, 2008

Blagojevich busted for selling Senate seat

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:51 pm

Obama’s Senate seat, that is. Looks like the president-elect is completely clean of this affair aside from some of his staff mentioned in the indictment, but man, Blagojevich is an idiot. I guess he thought he could carry corruption to a new level once a native son (well a native Senator, at least) got elected president.

I have the feeling he’s going down pretty hard and can expect zero slack from an Obama DoJ. According to the indictment he at least mouthed off about forcing Obama’s hand in some fashion. I’m thinking an asshat governor with that amount of stupidity might get a strong dose of exactly what he can and cannot do.

(note: gratuitous Pulp Fiction interlude.) “Do they speak english in what?”

From the Ambinder link:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and chief of staff John Harris were indicted this morning.

Read the charging document here:


I don’t think Team Obama expected the Illinois governor to be  “intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife.” 

Most of the affidavit deals with post-election events, weird, because Blago has been under investigation for years. One allegedly incriminating conversation took place last Friday.

When discussing the Senate race, Blago allegedly told his chief of staff John Harris that, “I want to make money.”  (Unless there was a Senate candidate named Money, then he’s got a problem.”)

November 20, 2008

USS Liberty document dump

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:36 pm

Looks like a lot of government material surrounding the USS Liberty incident — for those who don’t know, that was a 1967 attack on a US Navy intelligence ship by the Israeli airforce. To this day it’s not certain whether it was a horrible accident, or a brazen military strike by Israel against an ally.

Ambinder has a link to the doc dump and some insight:

From the link:

On Monday, thanks to the National Security Archive, the National Security Agency released thousands of pages from its enormous, official, classified history of the nation’s signal intelligence and communications security operations during the code war. Its author is Dr. Thomas Johnson, the agency’s official historian.

Also from the link:

The entire history, which will take us afficiandos a while to pluck through, was once classified as Top Secret Umbra, with Umbra denoting intelligence of a specific level of sensitivity. At the bottom of the document, the reader is instructed to Handle Via Talent-Keyhole Comint Channels Jointly.  For those who aren’t intel fetishists, Talent-Keyhole is a category designation of sensitive compartmented information that deals with signals intelligence. Talent information deals with aircraft-gathered intelligence; Keyhole denotes imagery (imint) from satellites. Comint refers to sensitive signals intelligence methods and sources. Basically, the history was written at a level of classification that basically forbid even many intelligence professionals from reading it.

Of course, that’s all been declassified. Or most of it — the documents are studded with fascinating redactions…

November 14, 2008

Obama’s campaign tech

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:42 pm

Very interesting details about the tech involved in Obama’s victory on November 4.

From the link:

My inbox is full of press releases from technology entities claiming that they were responsible for giving the Obama campaign the critical edge in terms of software and data, replete with conflicting claims about who deserves credit for what.

The terms of art and trademarks can be confusing, so here’s a guide to the basic Obama technology universe, including who did what.

This stuff is dense, and it gets confusing even to practitioners — be warned. But it’s also the first look at how the Democratic Party as in institution mastered the modern technology of politics.

I’ll revise and expand this post as necessary.

The BIG advance for Democrats this cycle is NOT so much the data — it’s how the data was used and who used it.

First, a few definitions.

Clinton in Obama’s cabinet

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:35 pm

A series of thoughts from Marc Ambinder.

From the link:

6. The CW in Washington is that Obama wants Clinton in his cabinet more than Clinton wants to be in the cabinet, the theory being that the moment she steps into the administration, she loses her power base, she loses her Senate seat forever, and she loses her voice on domestic policy. She concedes her political identity.  Actually, on policy: uncuriously silent in all this is Sen. Joe Biden, who has strong foreign policy ideas of his own and a bigger platform to share them with Obama.  Would Clinton become a glorified PR tool for Obama if she accepted the job? A Powell, rather than a Rice?

November 2, 2008

Disinformation from McCain’s campaign

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:23 pm

Marc Ambinder does a thorough fisking of the last-ditch McCain campaign memo. It’s not pretty for the GOP candidate.

One point stands out here (Ambinder’s thoughts in italics):

Expanding the Field: Obama is running out of states if you follow out a traditional model. Today, he expanded his buy into North Dakota, Georgia and Arizona in an attempt to widen the playing field and find his 270 Electoral Votes. This is a very tall order and trying to expand into new states in the final hours shows he doesn’t have the votes to win.

Maybe Obama is bluffing; but David Plouffe isn’t stupid. 



One key point here is, from every credible source Obama’s been buying into new markets, and even odd markets such as video game placements, because he’s so flush with advertising cash he’s seeking places to put it.

That said, McCain has been reserving his meager resources for the final push and is expected to outspend Obama in these closing days:

In the final days of the campaign, our television presence will be bigger and broader than the Obama campaign’s presence. The full Republican effort – the RNC’s Independent Expenditure and the McCain campaign will out-buy Barack Obama and the Democrats by just about 10 million dollars.


October 24, 2008

So the circular firing squad begins apace

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:48 pm

The game’s not over and the GOP is already taking shots from within. Expect this to get worse over the next few weeks regardless how the election turns out.

From the link:

The blame game is beginning among Republicans, even as Sen. John McCain struggles to catch up in the polls in the campaign’s final days, report a trio of top Politico writers. Jonathan Martin, Mike Allen, John F. Harris write: “With despair rising even among many of John McCain’s own advisors, influential Republicans inside and outside his campaign are engaged in an intense round of blame-casting and rear-covering—-much of it virtually conceding that an Election Day rout is likely.” McCain himself participated in an interview with the Washington Times, complaining about the problems created by the Bush administration. Beyond that, “the candidate’s strategists in recent days have become increasingly vocal in interviews and conference calls about what they call unfair news media coverage and Barack Obama’s wide financial advantage — both complaints laying down a post-election storyline for why their own efforts proved ineffectual…Top Republican officials have let it be known they are distressed about McCain’s organization.” And there’s a debate about why McCain chose a “reform” rather than an “experience” message.

Update — Here’s more on the subject — he even uses the phrase, “circular firing squad” in the intro — from Marc Ambinder.

October 15, 2008

Super fast debate reax

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:22 pm

I haven’t had the chance to watch the debate except in snippets just yet after the show, but at the end McCain seemed to be a candidate who was just pleased the whole thing was over and Obama looked like a president-to-be.

Looks like the instapolls went to Obama again (these results come from the Daily Dish).

Here’s CNN:

Another very clear victory for Obama: 58 to 31 percent.

And CBS:

CBS unsurprisingly gives it to Obama by a big 53 – 22 percent margin. McCain made some headway on taxes, but this is brutal:

Before the debate, 54 percent thought Obama shared their values. That percentage rose to 63 percent after the debate. For McCain, 53 percent thought he shared their values before the debate, and 56 percent thought so afterwards.

And here’s Ambinder’s quick take on McCain’s middle game:

His substance suffered; it didn’t make sense at times. He seemed personally offended  by negative ads; he tried to make a point about Obama’s character, but all the sleight were those Obama allegedly inflicted on Obama: the town halls, campaign finance, negative ads, etc. He allowed himself to get caught up in his own grievances. It was just plain unattractive on television. He moved quickly from William Ayers to taxes without a transition.  From Obama’s opposition to trade agreements to taxes.  No intermediate steps. Blizzards of words without unifying strings.

October 14, 2008

CBS/NYT poll has Obama 53%, McCain 39%

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:48 pm

Probably an outlier, but not that crazy of an outlier. Just the fact McCain is sub-40% in any credible poll does nothing to stop the narrative his campaign is taking on serious water very late in the day.

Here’s some analysis from Ambinder on this chart:

 The jawdropping numbers from the CBS News / New York Times poll are, yes, the top-line…Obama leads among likely voters 53% to 39%.  But more than that: which candidate will raise your taxes? Respondents, by 51% to 46%, say it’s McCain.  (Why? One reason might be Obama’s advertising, which claims that McCain’s health care plan would raise taxes for “millions” of Americans.)   And preparation and readiness to be president don’t seem to be terribly important: 64% percent of the country thinks McCain is ready, but, generalizing here, a heck of a lot of those folks are voting against him.  He’s tied among whites, shooting up fifteen percentage points since the last survey; he’s winning men and women; he’s marginally improving his standing among white evangelicals; he’s substantially improved his standing among self-described moderates and among independents (a full third of this group swung toward Obama); Obama’s now getting 82% of Clinton supporters. 

You can bet that McCain’s polling team will respond to this one…a lot of the deltas in this poll are probably unprecedented for their time period.

September 30, 2008

FDIC guarantee to rise to quarter million?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:28 pm

The two presidential hopefuls are on board.

Of course do any of the adults in the room understand the FDIC couldn’t cover an honest-to-god run on retail banks?

[crickets chirping]

From the link:

Senators Obama and McCain have arrived at the idea of raising the FDIC deposit insurance limit from $100,000 to $250,000. Obama introduced the idea in a statement this morning, and McCain, in a round-robin series of interviews, made the same suggestion. The FDIC already guarantees retirement accounts up to $250,000.

Of course, the FDIC itself has only about $50b in reserves, so Congress would have to recapitalize the FDIC in the event of a series of bank failures.

September 24, 2008

Did the wheels come off the McCain campaign today?

The Straight Talk Total BS Express has been pretty creaky lately with the Palin pick proving a net loss and sinking fast. And a major financial crisis that has no end in sight, and certainly no end before the election, crashing onto the head of the candidate who’s on record a number of times explaining his complete lack of understanding economic issues.

Couple that with his campaign manager, Rick Davis, being on the take from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for a no-show job buying the two lenders access to the McCain inner circle after McCain has gone on record saying Davis has had no compensated role with either institution for several years.

Now he’s suspending his campaign because he’s going to head to DC and help solve an economic problem? Really.

Here’s a reaction from the National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru at the Washington Post:

If Senator McCain believes that he can help to enact a plan that can stabilize the markets and lay the foundation for future growth, then suspending the campaign and going to Washington was the right thing to do.

But it is hard to see what McCain can do to help, and easy to see how his intervention could hurt. He brings, as he himself has admitted in the past, no expertise to the table. And won’t Democrats be less likely to cooperate on a plan if doing so will help make McCain be the hero of the hour?

So McCain’s move may have been a mistake on substance. It may prove to be a political mistake too: If McCain can’t bring both parties together in an economic crisis after staking so much on it, won’t voters draw adverse conclusions about his leadership ability?

What do you think?

Here’s a Drudge flash report on David Letterman mocking McCain canceling his appearance tonight:

Wed Sep 24 2008 17:41:58 ETDavid Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.

Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, “Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?”

Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, “You don’t suspend your campaign. This doesn’t smell right. This isn’t the way a tested hero behaves.” And he joked: “I think someone’s putting something in his metamucil.”

“He can’t run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?”

“What are you going to do if you’re elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We’ve got a guy like that now!”



If you ask me, the wheels are off. There’s time and debates to go, but McCain is no longer a serious candidate for president. The outright lies from his staff and his mouth. The Palin pick, and subsequent quarantine. Now suspending his campaign because he apparently is incapable of legislating (something he’s been pretty derelict in since kicking his campaign for the GOP off in earnest) and participating in a debate with his adversary.

Update — Yup, the wheels are off. Here’s Ambinder’s take:

Last week, Sen. McCain said the fundamentals of the economy were strong.

To Katie Couric, he said that the country faces its worst crisis since World War II.

Talk about bipolar messaging. And it seems some part of postponing the debate may be little more than a ploy to permanently cancel the vice presidential debate. The McCain team seems very, very frightened of allowing Palin to speak at all in an unscripted environment.

This is from TPM Election Central:

The lengths the McCain campaign is going to in order to shield Sarah Palin from questioning are reaching truly comic dimensions.

Check out this nugget from the pool report, via Jonathan Martin, on John McCain and Palin’s meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko:

McCain then looked around the room and gestured as if to welcome questions. The AP reporter shouted a question at Gov. Palin (“Governor, what have you learned from your meetings?”) but McCain aide Brooke Buchanan intervened and shepherded everybody out of the room.Palin looked surprised, leaned over to McCain and asked him a question, to which your pooler thinks he shook his head as if to say “No.”


Palin can’t even be allowed to answer a question as basic as this?

What’s really sobering is that the McCain campaign continues to block Palin from answering questions even thoughit’s now resulting in reams and reams of bad press for the McCain-Palin ticket. That suggests McCain advisers know that letting her answer even the most elementary questions in an uncontrolled environment is so dangerous that it’s worth weathering the current media drubbing they’re taking in order to prevent it from happening at all costs.

Has anyone pointed out that McCain has placed Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency?

September 23, 2008

Media v. McCain

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:27 pm

For about as long as he’s been a national figure, McCain has enjoyed a very cozy — you could even say deferential — relationship with the media. The warm feelings are over.

Very stupidly the McCain campaign (I’m guessing under the instructions of Steve Schmidt) is hiding his vice presidential pick away to an unprecedented level, routinely cancels press pool events and actually is calling out pool journalists by name and claiming the singled-out are “in the tank” for Obama.

The end result of this hostility from the McCain campaign will be a hard pushback by the media. Whenever Palin actually goes before an open mike and takes real questions and not canned softballs, she’ll be eviscerated. It’s clear she has little to no grasp on almost any policy issue, or even area for that matter, and a documented propensity to lie through a tough spot rather than face the facts.

Battling the press is a no-win situation when you are trying to gain elected office.

This report from Marc Ambinder may detail the moment when the media has decided the gloves are off.

From the (second) link:

But just a little more than an hour before Palin’s first meeting was set to begin, the pool producer was notified that he would not be allowed in to the photo spray. This means that the McCain/Palin campaign would get the benefit of free pictures of Palin’s meeting with world leaders without having to face the possibility that the candidate might have to answer a question from the media.
Television networks, including <B>CBS News</b> maintain a policy that if they are prevented from having an editorial presence at an event, they will not allow cameras to shoot.

Hence — no more network/national coverage of pool events Which might work for the McCain campaign because local TV coverage of Palin is usually much less skeptical.
A stand-off between the media and the McCain campaign.

The transgression? Apparently last week, CBS News’s Scott Conroy had the temerity to ask a question of Palin during an OTR session.

Who blinks first?  UPDATE: A CNN pool producer was allowed into a camera spray of Gov. Palin’s meeting with Hamid Karzai for all of 29 seconds. No other pencils, as they call them, were allowed in.

Now — in an effort to build some good will, the McCain campaign has scheduled a press conference this afternoon — his first since August 13.

August 1, 2008

On McCain’s Obama/celebrity ad

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:48 am

Great bit of insight from Marc Ambinder and his sources, as usual:

. A prominent Republican strategist writes in:

Has anybody asked the McCain campaign if they considered Michael Deaver’s golden rule of image management — that the visual images count so much more than the voiceovers?  Deaver famously thanked a network news correspondent (Leslie Stahl, I think) for a hit piece on Reagan, telling her to watch it with the sound off — which showed a bunch of flattering presidential images with flag-waving supporters. 
The McCain ad seems to violate that idea — the images of Obama smiling and being cheered on by hundreds of thousands of American-flag-waving Europeans are downright inspiring, no matter which side you’re on.  Hell, I can’t stand Obama at this point and I find those images uplifting.  Yet McCain uses them in his own ad.  Has
anybody asked them about the wisdom of that?
Another way of saying this is: will voters associate Barack Obama with Britney Spears? Or will they just see the pictures. Or will they have a meta-reaction along the lines of: “What the heck?”

July 15, 2008

Obama’s pressing hard for Michigan

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:29 am

Ambinder has an interesting post on the large-scale effort the Obama campaign is putting forth in Michigan. Hit the link for the complete text of a campaign memo on the subject.

It sounds like both Obama and McCain are going full out to attempt to win the Michigan vote.

From the link:

To date, the campaign has hired more than 90 paid staffers and plans to hire another 80 by the national convention. There will be five full-time “constituency voter coordinators” who work with coalitions and affinity groups, like women, gays and veterans. All in all, the campaign plans to pay more than 200 people in Michigan. That’s about twice as many staffers as the Kerry-Edwards effort did in 2004.

The campaign has identified 2,000 precincts and plans to staff them with captains who will oversee neighborhood volunteer teams working on the quattrain of tasks: voter registration, voter ID, persuasion, and GOTV. They’re going to open 40 offices statewide, most of them co-located with local parties or campaigns.

The McCain campaign has put a target on Michigan; they plan to contest the state with as much — if not more — resources than even Pennsylvania.

July 10, 2008

Obama and Jackson

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:58 am

Ambinder sums up my thoughts on the “hot mic” episode from Jesse Jackson yesterday. Jackson plus O’Reilly gave Obama a wonderful political gift in terms of political spectrum positioning.

From the link:

First reaction is fairly conventional: Obama should send him a fruit basket for drawing attention to precisely the worldview that Obama wants centrist voters to know that he holds. That’s reflected in the Obama campaign’s statement, which, just in case you hadn’t heard it, makes the point explicitly:

“As someone who grew up without a father in the home, Senator Obama has spoken and written for many years about the issue of parental responsibility, including the importance of fathers participating in their children’s lives. He also discusses our responsibility as a society to provide jobs, justice, and opportunity for all. He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson’s apology,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

July 7, 2008

Obama’s acceptance scheduled for Invesco Field

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:50 am

Wow. This should make for interesting television and post-convention buzz.

From the link:

The big announcement comes tomorrow, according to Democrats.

On Thursday, August 28, Barack Obama plans to accept his nomination at Invesco Field in Denver, rather than at the Pepsi Center.

It’s going to cost the convention committee a lot of money to make the move, but Invesco Field can handle more than 75,000 spectators and will make a much better picture.

June 13, 2008

Disturbing poll for the GOP

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:32 am

These numbers bode very poorly for the GOP come November.

From the Marc Ambinder link:

Question twelve of the NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll asks whether voters want a Congress controlled by Republicans or by Democrats…

Republican-controlled Congress……. 33
Democrat-controlled Congress ……… 52

That’s the largest gap since the budget shutdown in 1995. It’s up four points from two months ago, and it’s higher than the 15 point margin that Democrats held when they took back control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. It’s also by far the highest margin for either party in the 13 years of data available from previous polls. No guarantee that the number holds, but it’s hard to imagine how it narrows that much.

June 10, 2008

Early presidential polling

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:09 am

Now that Clinton is offically out of the race Obama stretches his national lead over McCain.

From the link:

Barack Obama is enjoying a modest bump in support following Hillary Clinton’s exit from the presidential race. The latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update finds Obama leading Republican John McCain, 48% to 42%, among registered voters nationwide.

Obama has consistently held a lead of five to seven percentage points each night since it was reported that Hillary Clinton intended to suspend her campaign. These represent Obama’s strongest showing versus McCain to date in Gallup Poll Daily tracking of registered voters’ presidential election preferences. For much of the time since Gallup began tracking general election preferences in mid-March, McCain and Obama have been in a statistical dead heat. (To view the complete trend since Jan. 3, 2008, click here.)

Here’s some polling analysis from the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder:

Here’s the start of that Obama bump, per Gallup. It ain’t gonna be 15 points by the time of the convention, but there are some in McCain’s world who legitimately believe that McCain will NEVER be ahead in the popular vote (but will still win the election.)