Jonathan Martin at Politico reminds us of one of the signature lines from the primary contest, where in response to a question (and a guffaw from Senator Clinton) about why there were so many Clinton advisers on Obama’s team, President-elect Obama lets loose with possibly the zinger of the election season:
Well, it is now confirmed by multiple reporting sources, so it must be true: the Obama camp is seriously considering Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State:
Putting Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton, in the position could help heal whatever lingering divisions remain in the Democratic Party after her bitter battle with Obama.
Lots of ways to interpret this, but I have to say I’m not an enormous fan of the idea. Here are the pros and cons as I see it:
I heard Chuck Todd on MSNBC today saying that Obama will likely not campaign for Jim Martin in his Senate runoff campaign. I can understand that he’s focused on the transition right now, and also that Martin faces an uphill climb. Still, I think it’s a mistake. For one thing, with the Alaska race moving our way and Minnesota still a good possibility, Georgia could end up being the Dems’ shot at 60 seats. Now, given the fluidity of cloture votes, I don’t believe that 60 is the magic number some have made it out to be, but it does represent a psychological hurdle, and besides, a Sen. Martin is a heck of a lot less likely to join a filibuster than Sen. Chambliss.
I also don’t really see what Obama has to lose by getting involved. If Martin loses, that will be what was expected, so Obama will hardly be associated with that loss. On the other hand, if he helps Martin pull off the upset, it will have Republicans shaking in their boots and will serve to validate not only his coattails but also his 50-state strategy. Besides, it’s not like this race is in Mississippi; Obama came within a few points of McCain in Georgia. Nor is Martin running away from Obama; in fact, he seems eager to have him visit.
The Republicans are going all out to crank up their base. Obama is the one guy who can truly help the Democrats turn out theirs. He should go to Georgia.
Big news out of Alaska:
The elections division still has over 10,000 ballots left to count today and thousands more through next week, but the latest numbers show Mark Begich leading Sen. Ted Stevens 125,019 to 125,016.
The new numbers, reflecting nearly 43,000 absentee ballots counted today, are from all over the state. Election night, Ted Stevens led the Democratic Begich by about 3,000 votes.
The state today is counting a total of about 60,000 absentee and questioned ballots.
I’ve frankly been very confident about the Dems picking up this seat, given the number of outstanding ballots, and the fact that I found it confounding that Alaska voters would vote to send a convicted felon back to Washington. It appears that many outstanding votes are from Dem friendly districts. So we’re getting closer to getting to the magical 60 senate number.
I have no problem if Obama keeps Defense Secretary Gates around for a little bit as a token gesture – he’ll still have to do what the President asks.
But it’s amazing to me just how pervasive the notion is that Obama must make these bi-partisan gestures. Talking to some people yesterday, they all thought it would be a “magnanimous and tremendous” gesture for Obama to keep Gates and a couple Republicans around in the cabinet.
Does anyone remember this talk being so pervasive when Republicans took over?
This picture is from the meeting at the White House between President-Elect Obama and President Bush. I’m not a body language guru, but I found this to be a pretty powerful picture. President-Elect Obama is wasting no time in asserting himself.
It was a landslide. Barack Obama crushed John McCain.
But, you’re going to have to contend with countless hacks, pundits, and others repeat the lie that it wasn’t a landslide because the popular vote margin was 52.3 – 46.2.
We had to listen to Mika B. continue her constant apologizing (does she have any other setting?) when she proclaimed the other day, “Let’s get one thing clear, this was not a landslide.” She joins the esteemed company of Sean Hannity who has a forum on his site explaining why 3.6% margin (um, it’s 6.1%) isn’t a landslide.
Um, yes it was. So let’s explain why very simply so that you can tell your friends, family, local papers, or anyone else who pretends that this wasn’t a landslide:
Partisan considerations aside, it strikes me that two of the remaining contested Senate races seem to have their processes exactly backwards. In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin are heading for a runoff, despite the fact that voters expressed a fairly clear preference for the incumbent. I suppose it’s possible that Chambliss will fail to add 0.1% of the remaining third-party voters in the runoff — and as a Democrat, I hope that happens — but the more likely outcome is that it will prove to be a waste of time and resources that merely confirms the results of the initial round. And in the event that Obama’s victory shakes up the race and allows Martin to win over voters who had supported Chambliss in the first round, suddenly we’re not talking about a runoff so much as a new election.
In Minnesota, meanwhile, you could make a good case that a runoff would be clarifying. Coleman and Franken have effectively tied with 42 percent each, which means that a runoff would allow the 16% of the electorate who voted for someone else the chance to express their second choice. Instead, as happened in Florida in 2000, the election will be decided by a vote margin that will almost certainly be less than the margin of error of even the most accurate counting method.
In the unlikely event that I were ever given the opportunity to write a state constitution, I would probably go with a modified version of the Georgia model. That is, require a runoff if no candidate reaches a certain level of support, but set that threshold below 50 percent, perhaps at 45. That way, runoffs would be reserved for elections in which a third-party candidate garnered significant support, not one in which a few gadflies chipped away enough of the frontrunner’s vote total to keep him or her below a majority.
On the heels of Rahm Emanuel agreeing to the Chief of Staff position, the RNC had decided the best response is to blast Rahm:
Republicans attacked the selection, however. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement: “This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil and govern from the center.”
This is amazingly boneheaded. Just days after McCain and Obama pledge cooperation, and with even George Bush being somewhat of a “team” player, the RNC decides to go to war on…the Chief of Staff? Watching MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell questions why they are picking this fight. Atlantic Media’s Ron Brownstein notes that this is why they are the minority party. Even the GOP pundit questioned why the RNC is starting out on this negative note. Meet the new RNC, same as the old RNC.