The Nation

May 31, 2008
Christopher Hayes

After a grueling day inside the Marriott Hotel in Washington DC, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to ratify the compromises proposed by the state parties of both Michigan and Florida. The decision almost (but not quite!) ends months of indeterminacy about the results of the nominating contests in those two states, which took place in violation of the DNC's rules.

The deal, which seats both states' delegations, but with half the voting power, nets Clinton 24 delegates and, seems to be accepted by everyone except die-hard Clinton supporters. Harold Ickes, a long-time Clinton loyalist and member of the RBC (who himself voted to deny Michigan and Florida any representation last year) said Clinton herself had instructed him to "reserve the right" to challenge the ruling at a latter party meeting in July. His statement, emailed around by the Clinton campaign to reporters, opens the possibility for a Quixotic and destructive conflict that could extend through the party's convention in Denver.

The day started early. The first person I encounter at 9am after crossing the Duke Ellington bridge from my apartment in Northwest DC to the Marriott Hotel, the location of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee Meeting, is Helen Bradley. A Clinton supporter who's flown in from Northern California, Bradley is standing in a red shirt with a sticker that says "Count Michigan and Florida" and a sign that says "Count Every Vote." When I ask her why she's there, she's sunny, earnest and on-message. She points at her sign and says. "For me, it's not about winning. Florida and Michigan should have a right to vote."

May 30, 2008
John Nichols
John Nichols

Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan leaves no doubt that an on-bended-knee press corps made it easier to peddle propaganda about the war in Iraq.

"If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq," he writes in his new memoir, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception (Public Affairs)

"The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise," McClellan explains. "In this case, the ‘liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

John Nichols
May 29, 2008
Christopher Hayes

In the latest issue of the magazine, I've got a profile of Lawrence Lessig and his new venture Change Congress.

I have to say that, perhaps because of my time in Chicago, I tend to be skeptical of process reforms and goo-goo types. I'm more sympathetic to the perspective, of, say, organized labor, which tends be that, sure it's a rotten system, but it's what we got and rathe than try to change the rules, let's just try to kick the other side's ass. But as I spent time with Lessig and worked on the profile, I became more and more persuaded that the actual mechanics of congress are so broken they might not be up the challenge of, say, passing global warming legislation. Lessig uses a pretty compelling metaphor to describe the primacy of process reform:

In comparison to saving the planet from immolation, ending donations from lobbyists might seem insignificant, Lessig told the audience at the Press Club. But the problem Congress faces is akin to that faced by an alcoholic. "An alcoholic could be losing his family, his job, his liver," said Lessig. "These are extraordinarily important problems in any scheme of reckoning; these are the most important problems he could be facing. But he will never face and solve those problems until he solves this alcoholism first. This problem that I've described is not the most important problem, it's just the first problem.... We need to solve this problem now."

May 29, 2008

Last fall was a great time for official optimism when it came to Iraq. The military "metrics" looked ever better and, as had happened at crucial moments in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, Bush administration and military statements turned practically peachy with the blush of "success." Progress was announced (repeatedly). Corners were once again about to be turned. Tipping points were on the absolute verge of being reached. "I've never been more optimistic than I am right now with the progress we've made in Iraq," effused Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, late that October. Lt. Col. Val Keaveny, 3rd Batallion, 509th infantry, offered this over-the-top mixed metaphor: "[Iraqis] are fed up with fear. Once they hit that tipping point, they're fed up, they come to realize we truly do provide them better hope for the future. What we're seeing now is the beginning of a snowball." That same month, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, citing a butcher in the suburbs of Baghdad who had seen his business rise from selling one sheep a week to one a day, said: "I don't want to overly state it... but it's starting to happen."

And then there was George W. Bush, the man who, in November 2005, more than two and a half years after he ordered the invasion of Iraq, launched his "strategy for victory in Iraq" with a speech, wielding the word "victory" 15 times and who, in January 2007, launched his "new way forward in Iraq" (aka his "surge" strategy) in an address to the nation in which he used "victory" a mere two times. On November 2, 2007, the President offered this bit of good cheer to a gathering of 1,300 soldiers graduating from basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and likely headed for Iraq (or Afghanistan): "Slowly but surely, the people of Iraq are reclaiming a normal society."

To celebrate that return to normalcy and, undoubtedly, all the corners so far turned and points tipped, the U.S. military has, in the last two months, fired at least 200 Hellfire missiles into the Iraqi capital, according to the Washington Post, most of them into Sadr City, the vast, heavily populated Shiite slum in east Baghdad. ("Just six" had been used in Baghdad in the previous three months.) Perhaps it was on the basis of such celebrations of normalcy that Senator John McCain recently promised Americans victory in Iraq in a mere four and a half years. He even offered a likely date: January 2013. Something to look forward to.

The Notion
May 29, 2008
Christopher Hayes

With congress in recess, there's not a whole ton going on here in our nation's capital. This provides your faithful blogger with the opportunity to work on the draft of his next feature piece. In the meantime, check out the following

1) Former Bush campaign staffer: "McClellan savaged for saying what everyone knows to be true."

2) David Corn on Foreclosure Phil

May 28, 2008
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Check out CNN.com for Bill Clinton's vent about how a "cover up " is hurting Hillary Clinton's chances of becoming the Democratic nominee. This is a man who has trampled on his spouse's voice every time, in this campaign, that she's found it.

The women of The Nation are the first to deplore the sexism in media commentary this primary season, but a "cover up"?

Hillary Clinton started this race last year as the one to beat--she had the money, the machine and the name recognition that assured her of quasi-incumbent status. And, indeed, she ran as a quasi-incumbent, an establishment candidate in a change- year election. Yes, there were the Chris Matthews and the Tucker Carlsons and the Mike Barnicles and the Rush Limbaughs and the women who were working out their Clinton hatred through Hillary's candidacy.

May 28, 2008
Christopher Hayes

My latest turn on Bloggingheads TV gave me a chance to vent on a particular issue that's been driving me crazy amid the entire back and forth about appeasement and diplomacy, particularly as it relates to Iran.

May 28, 2008
Christopher Hayes

Some creative thoughts on what we could have done with the money spent on Iraq.

May 28, 2008
John Nichols
John Nichols

The Bush administration employed propaganda techniques, political spin and deception to promote and then justify a war with Iraq that was unwise and unnecessary.

And a "too-deferential" national press corps allowed the president and his aides to get away with it.

Who makes this devastating, if not entirely new, charge?

John Nichols