Friday, December 7, 2007

Moment to brag

Many of the students who attended the trip to Iowa this past weekend have been included in on websites (I believe there's some Obama stuff...when I find it I'll post it...) and been asked many questions about the trip for both the Newswire and the Xavier Muskie News among other channels.

Well, there was apparently a NY Times photographer at the Edwards events we attended in Iowa. So! Here's my moment to brag...I found myself (though it's not obvious to anyone but me, really) in two of the pictures on the NY Times online website under the Edwards Multimedia slideshow. The links to the pictures are here:

In this picture, I am in very middle in the far background. You can see my gray sweater and colorful scarf. I like the main woman's John Edwards Superman button.

In this one, I'm the shoulder he's about to put his hand on. You can tell by the scarf again! How exciting!

~Briana Hansen

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Still Recovering


This is a picture of the Edwards Team doing "visibility." For those of you watching the weather, there was a big snow storm in Iowa on Saturday. It was a good and a bad thing...on the one hand, some of us got a chance to be a little closer to the candidates because not as many people came out. On the other, it was--well--a snow storm. This is a group of us out in the pouring cold cheering for Edwards.



These visibilities are a funny thing, because they're often small groups of young people cheering on their candidate with clever cheers. The Obama people were across the street and when they were done doing a cheer, we would start chanting for Edwards. One of the Edwards cheers I remember was "We love Elizabeth and we love John! We want to see them on the White House lawn!"

One of the staffers actually told me about this thing called a "sign war" that took place a couple weeks before we came. Each candidates team gets a set amount of time to put up as many signs supporting the candidate as possible. There can only be one person from the team inside the hall at any given time, and the teams have to tag in and out as they come to decorate. He talked about it really enthusiastically and it made me think about how encouraging it is that so many young people are still involved in the campaign process. In a world where our generation often comes across as apathetic and jaded towards the political process, it's really neat that there are games and structures in place to keep young folks involved. Though the process of choosing the person who may lead the free world is not a game, at least those involved in the long, tedious, difficult jobs of doing much of the brunt work behind the candidate find ways to keep their spirits up.

-Briana Hansen

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Super Saturday

Yesterday was filled with so much excitement, I'm still trying to recover from it all. Though I don't have much time right now, I wanted to say that I got the opportunity (with the rest of the Edwards team) to go to a forum with the Senator, then breifly talk to him afterwards and get a picture with our group. Afterwards, we did a visibility event for a while before attending a "Community Values Forum" with five of the Democratic candidates. It was a packed day filled with fun and interesting lessons and reflections.

More to come in the next couple days...

~Briana Hansen

Saturday, December 1, 2007

video

At Obama HQ

My name is Greg Koehler. I am a senior PPP major at Xavier, and I just thought I would check in and relate my brief experience with the Obama campaign last night. I was supposed to work with the Biden campaign the entire weekend, but instead the Biden volunteers spent Friday evening working for Obama due to minor scheduling complications.

Obama HQ was abuzz with life. Most (but certainly not all) of the workers are young, twentysomething devotees of the Senator, evidently having the time of their lives, despite the outrageous hours they have to put in. You can tell that they eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff, and they exude a sense of hope for the future that's contagious.

Most of us were put to work making phone calls, while another several were put on envelope stuffing and addressing postcards. Some people might be disappointed with those kind of peon jobs, but what you have to remember is that someone has to do the crappy jobs, and they may as well be done by the untrained volunteers. Besides, what's really fun about going to a big campaign headquarters is just experiencing the inside of the beehive. I love chatting with the people and and asking them about their work. I was dead tired from the bus ride, but somehow I managed to feed off of the energy, and the evening reaffirmed my belief that politics isn't dead in America. It's certainly alive and kicking here in Des Moines, Iowa.

Greg Koehler, '08

Obama greets XU


Obama greets XU

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama happened to be staying at our hotel in Des Moines. Although clearly worn after a long day of campaigning, he was gracious and generous enough to individually greet several members of our trip in a sincere and genuine manner. At approximately 12:50 eastern time, Senator Obama entered a side door at our hotel where serveral Xavier students were loitering. "Are you guys all from Xavier University? That's a long way to come," said Obama. He then proceded to greet us indivudually by name, ask about our day, and thank us for our enthusiasm.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Iowa: Edwards-Style

Well this day began like a typical day. I got out of bed around 5 a.m. to make sure I would be coherent for a long bus ride to the great state of Iowa. Before getting onto the charter bus, I did a quick interview giving basics of the experience for Channel 9. Pretty normal morning...

This trip to the great state of Iowa is anynthing but normal...The drive was fantastic in great weather. But you're not reading this for a run-down of the driving conditions--at least I hope not. So let's get to the good stuff.

The Edwards group (all four of us--four Freshman PPP majors and myself aka 'Momma Bear') were dropped off downtown Des Moines with nothing but a yahoo map, an idea of direction, and a dream in our hearts. We walked around downtown Iowa for a long time until we finally stumbled upon Edwards HQ. The moment we walked in, we were overwhelmed by Edwards stuff and the place was a buzz. A woman named Natalie was in charge of us. We were put to work within five mintutes. We were handed phone numbers, a short script, and a phone. We had walked in at 6 p.m. and apparently from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. is phone call time. Everyone in the office makes phone calls. Afterwards, they tally up how many people they got a hold of, how the conversation went, and the status of their amount of support for Edwards based on the questions asked/event information given.

Although the phone calls were important, and I dedicated a great deal of time to making them, I spent much of the time talking to many of the young people working the campaign. I wanted to find out why they've dedicated their time not only to the Iowa campaign, but to John Edwards. It was really exciting to hear their stories and to ask questions and keep my ears open about how information travels within the office itself. Everyone was exceptionally friendly and introduced themselves and were enthusiastic about our help. I even got to sit at a desk of one of the higher ups at the office so that I could make phone calls. I have a picture I'll post later...

I've actually begun seriously considering joining a campaign right after graduation. I think it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would allow me to get hands-on experience in a campaign. It would also allow me to spend the other half of the year doing an internship or theatre-related job before finally deciding upon a grad school. After even just talking to the people in the campaign headquarters, I'm starting to really think these are the type of people I want to be around and learn from--even if only briefly.

We've got a packed day of forums with the Senator and debates with all the Democratic candidates and lots and lots of freezing cold snow tomorrow...WHAT AN ADVENTURE!

-Briana Hansen

Early Morning Busride


Iowa - Day 1

A lot of people say that college students don't care about politics. Watching forty students from Xavier University loading a bus at 5:45 am, I find that very hard to believe. Frost covers car windows and everyone's breath is clearly visible in the air. The sun has not yet begun to rise, but spirits are high as the students prepare for the nine hour bus ride that lies ahead.
After an exciting start, most sleep during the first leg of the trip. We stop every few hours to stretch our legs and/or grab a bite to eat. Political movies entertain as the day progresses - American President plays through Indiana. Thank you for Smoking and Primary Colors seem to shorten our drive through Illinois and Iowa.

Republicans and Democrats alike await the excitement that is to come. On the GOP side, Xavier students will be working for Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, and Ron Paul. Other students will work for Democratic candidates John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd.
We arrive at the hotel around 4:00pm central time (5:00 eastern) and settle into the Airport Hampton in Des Moines. After unloading our belongings and freshening up, everyone gathers in the lobby to depart to their respectful campaigns. However...due to the hostage situation in Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire campaign headquarters, all of her Iowa headquarters and events were cancelled.

video

More to come in the next few days...

- Kevin

Thursday, November 29, 2007

For the Record

Hey all! I just wanted to let you all know I'll be working for the (handsome) candidate John Edwards this weekend. So Kevin will be with the Romney team and I'll be with the Edwards. Talk about different experiences...

We leave early early tomorrow morning. Let the games begin!

~Briana

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back with a vengence!

Due to various extracurricular activities, both Kevin and myself have been neglecting this blog...but! Worry not, we're back with a vengeance.

And what exciting news we have to share with the blogging community. This Friday, we are headed to the great state of Iowa to work for different presidential primary candidates. Kevin will be working for the Mitt Romney team, while I--though still uncertain exactly who I'll be working for--will be balancing him by working for the lesser of evil Democrats.

Starting today, the two of us will keep you posted on the process leading up to Iowa. Once we're there, we will also be blogging regularly to talk about our campaign experiences.

As always, please feel free to respond and reply to our posts. We want this to be a sounding board for a larger political discussion (and we actually agree on that! imagine that! we agree on something!)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Operation Righteous Response


In response to the article entitled "Propaganda, apathy and MTV," both Kevin and Briana (WORKING TOGETHER!???!?!?!) have collaberated (?!?!?!?!) to create the following "Letter to the Editor":

Dearest Newswire,

We are writing in response to Darren’s column in last week’s issue entitled, “Propaganda, apathy and MTV.” With such an intriguing name, both of us were immediately interested. Upon reading the article, this interest quickly turned to disappointment. Instead of an enticing opinion piece, it was an inaccurate and stereotypical accusation.

He writes that Philosophy, Politics and the Public students are “overzealously caring” and “forced to slave away” in local politics. After being personally involved in this program, the required hours of hands-on campaigning have provided us both with practical knowledge and enjoyable experiences that are unattainable through abstract classroom lectures.

He also writes that there was “no doubt” in his mind that a PPP student “vandal[ized]” his car by placing Charlie Winburn’s flyer on his windshield. The problem with this accusation is that no PPP student is currently involved in the Charlie Winburn campaign.

Additionally, the article infers that having an out-of-state license plate automatically excludes a student from voting locally. As Xavier students, we reside in Cincinnati and therefore have the option to vote in Ohio. Many out-of-state students have changed their registration to do just that.

While complaining that PPP students are too passionate about politics, the article simultaneously criticizes our generation for being too apathetic. This contradiction creates an unclear standard for how much we are allowed to care about the world in which we live.

We don’t deny that many people our age are not interested in politics. However, programs like PPP can inspire students to become proactive about community involvement. Through practical experiences, we learn the tools to create positive change.

Sincerely,

Kevin Hoggatt and Briana Hansen, Class of ‘08

Friday, September 14, 2007

Giuliani MovesOn Attacking Hillary


Former mayor of New York and current front runner in the 2008 Republican presidential primary, Rudy Giuliani made a smart move by publishing an ad in today's New York Times. The ad criticizes Hillary Clinton's questions from this week's Congressional hearing with General Petreaus, claiming that Clinton intended to attack the character of the four star general. The ad also links Hillary to the moveon.org ad accusing General Petreaus of being "General BetrayUs."
This is a smart move by the Giuliani campaign for several reasons. By going head to head with the Democratic front runner, Giuliani has removed newcomer Fred Thompson's name from the headlines, replacing it with "Giuliani versus Hillary." Thompson has been the talk of nearly every major news outlet this week as he quickly caught Giuliani in national polls this week. The Giuliani campaign should do everything they can to bring back the media focus to their own candidate. Secondly, it reinstates Giuliani's support for the war in Iraq. While the majority of Americans on the whole are against the war, most Republican primary voters are still for it.
However, the liberal group moveon.org is making up for their earlier ad blunder by doing the DNC's job for them. In a new television ad campaign, moveon.org plans to accuse Bush of a "betrayal of trust." The ad will run all next week. Its unspoken but fairly obvious goal is to link President Bush to General Petreaus by using the word "betray." The Republican candidates are standing behind Petreaus to justify support of the surge and the war in Iraq. If the Democrats (or more likely, moveon.org) can discredit Petreaus' testimony by implying it came directly from President Bush, the Republicans start to to lose their honorable general they have come to know, love, hang on to, and stand behind.

Kevin Hoggatt

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thompson Gaining on Giuliani, Should Avoid Being Lazy




As Fred Thompson is catching Rudy Giuliani and passing other Republican candidates in political polls across the country, his campaign needs to realize how delicate their new popularity is. Time magazine recently published an article calling Thompson "Lazy as a Fox." In doing this, Time basically did the work of every opposing campaign. As all politicos know, a candidate wants to define himself or herself before their opponents are able to. Kerry was labeled a flip-flopper in 2004, and it very well could have cost him the election.


As Sam Youngman's article in TheHill clearly points out, the Democrats are trying to build up this idea that Thompson is lazy. DNC spokeswoman Amaya Smith went as far as to say that “At his current pace, Fred Thompson will still be trying to catch his breath while voters are casting their ballots.” And don't think that only the Democrats will take advantage of this. As the primaries draw nearer and nearer, Republican candidates will be out for blood as well. Skipping two days (even though one of them was September 11th) can easily magnify the "lazy" label (or libel if you're a FredHead).

The Thompson campaign should get out the message that they were breaking in remembrance of the anniversary of 9/11, and they might want to take a step further. While avoiding negative politics as much as possible this early in the game, they should come back and attack other candidates FOR campaigning on Wednesday. I can see the article now..."During a time when the nation should be remembering those loved ones lost on that tragic day six years ago, candidates/Senators/Governors X, Y, and Z were out in full force on the campaign trail on 9/11, putting their political ambition above their respect for the Americans that died that day..."...Or something to that affect.

It would also be a great time to denounce the fund raising events targeted at people who can profit off of the events of 9/11. Senator Clinton, for example, will be hosting a homeland security-themed, $1,000-a-plate fundraiser next week. Many Democratic congressmen and senators will be there as well to lead smaller break-out sessions for the lobbyists who can profit from the changes that have occurred since September 11, 2001.

It's time for Thompson to get away from being "lazy as a fox" and time to start being "clever as a fox." So far, I'm not convinced that either are completely true.

- Kevin Hoggatt

Weekly Wednesday Update: PART II

(Sorry...this is long)

Partisan News

After much ado, Fred Thompson finally officially announced his run for the Republican nomination.[1] In doing so, he skipped the New Hampshire FoxNews debates where the other candidates were represented. Before the debate, he ran an advertisement about himself and after the debate, went alone on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno to announce his long-awaited decision. Though he received a great deal of pressure to make the announcement sooner and to attend the debate in New Hampshire, Thompson holds that he believes he has enough support to still get the nomination and raise money. He believes he can present himself as a shining alternative to the somewhat bland current Republican field.

In order to have a strong presence, he must establish himself and what he believes in. Since he got a later start in the official race than the other candidates, he must do so in a hurry. Taking on the current pack leader, Rudy Guliani, Thompson wants to clearly differentiate himself. In order to do that, he must reiterate not only his conservative value systems, but he must take stances on issues Guliani has been silent about. That’s why when he was in Iowa, he stressed his values on small government involvement and the sanctity of life. [2] Additionally, as a politician turned actor in the conservative field, many people in the press have drawn parallels to Thompson and Ronald Raegan. Thompson welcomes the comparisons.[3] Raegan, as far-right conservative who appealed to a type of Republican than the more lenient Thompson, will make Thompson even more broadly appealing to all types of Republican voter, or so his handlers believe.

Thompson must be careful, however, because his years as a lawyer are being scrutinized by both parties. Republican counterparts may be looking for old clients that make him look bad to the rest of the party. Depending on how the situation is handled by the Thompson camp, they may have found some disturbing news this week. Thompson was linked to giving advice to a colleague on how to handle two clients who happen to be part of a Libyan terrorist attack in 1992 in Scotland.[4] Thompson argues that he believes in due process and proper representation in a court of law for everyone. In the Republican mindset, where fighting terrorism is the foundation for nearly all other political positions, this could lead to problems.

Already this week, tensions between Thompson and Mitt Romney came to the forefront when Thompson accused Romney of supporting the creation of website entitled “PhoneyFred.com” which accused Thompson of poor leadership, inability to make decisions, and seeming overall incompetence for the Republican nomination.[5] Though Romney denied the link and the website was dismantled shortly thereafter, the tensions between the two camps are already setting themselves up for a intense debates, accusations, and an overall exciting primary.

For non-candidate Republicans, there will be at least 22 Senate seats they will have to contend in the upcoming 2008 election. This is almost twice was the Democrats will have to defend, and gives Republicans even more reason to get out the vote and motivate their base to the polls.[6]

On the other end of the political spectrum, Democrats have launched a exploration of the imprisonment of Don Siegelman, the former Democratic Governor of Alabama. The Democrats are arguing that the Justice Department, along with the linked Karl Rove, prosecuted the former Governor for political gain.[7] Seigelman is currently serving his fourth month out of an eighty-eight month prison sentence for federal corruption. He is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for various government positions. Democrats argue that what he did was not atypical of any Governor and that the Justice Department deliberately attacked him to make the Democrats look bad. The Justice Department refuses to cooperate in handing over official papers on the prosecution, claiming that there is absolutely no substance behind the accusations.

Fundraising

Clinton donor Hsu was finally found and taken to prison after a short attempt at a getaway. This capture is very good for the Democrats in this overall embarrassing situation. Though it will be a hard financial hit, it is important for Democrats to distance themselves as much as possible from Hsu. With him finally in control, the speculative stories can finally begin to die down in the press and the candidates, especially Clinton, can focus on gaining back those lost funds.[8] More importantly, perhaps, Clinton has to work on retaining her image as a non-corrupt fundraiser. This is especially important for Mrs. Clinton because of the Democratic campaign scandals that took place during her husband’s Presidency. Though she claims to have detailed methods to prevent corrupt donations that would jeopardize her reputation, the Hsu scandal will be difficult to overcome.

Interestingly, the Democrats especially have raised money from a large amount of youthful, non-voting donors.[9] Both Obama and Clinton have raised over a half-million dollars from youth who cannot yet vote. This indicates, to some, that they may have an appeal to a younger generation. Perhaps that appeal could be enough to motivate a generation who usually does not vote, to come support them at the polls in 2008. These donations have to be carefully monitored, however, so that it does not look like the candidates are taking advantage of very wealthy families by getting multiple donations with different names on them. These youth, however, could prove important to a Democratic President because many of them would be able to vote by the time the President was running for re-election.

Obama proved he retained some celebrity status at a huge fundraiser sponsored by Oprah this past weekend. In one night, Oprah, who has never explicitly supported a candidate until Obama, raised nearly $3 million for his campaign.[10] In a world where politics and celebrity are so closely tied, Oprah could prove much more than a powerful financial ally for Obama.

Iraq

The Iraq debate, as always dominated the press this week. Even before the much-anticipated address of Gen. Petraeus on Monday the Democrats became increasingly willing to make compromises with the Republicans on a possible timetable for troop withdrawal. They are willing to change a troop withdrawal timetable from an absolute demand to a worthwhile goal. This shift came upon realizing that the Republicans were not making as significant a shift away from the Bush administration and it’s Iraq policies as they had originally hoped.

The Monday testimony of General Petraeus proved a difficult time for the Democrats. An anti-war group that has consistently supported the Democrats, MoveOn.org, placed a full-page advertisement in the Sunday New York times in which they nicknamed the four-star general “General Betray Us.”[11] The Democrats, who have been very careful to separate military support from criticism of the harsh Bush administration, were left between a rock and a hard place. Instead of addressing the ad, which top Republicans attacked openly, the Democrats attempted to focus on the issues of Homeland security to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To make matters more difficult for the Democrats, large amounts of anit-war protesters interrupted the General’s speech and disrespected him while he was talking, to the point where some protesters were arrested. The protestors and anti-war advocates like MoveOn argue adamantly that they have substantive evidence to prove that the General only feeds lies, but it would be near political suicide for a Democrat to side with the extremist views and disrespect a decorated General.

Petraeus’ testimony allows Republicans some breathing room to answer questions about Iraq without going too far right and appealing to more moderate votes.[12] It also gives Republican candidates a non-Bush administration source to stand by their Iraq strategy. Because he is unpopular, it is dangerous to side with the Bush administration’s goals in Iraq. However, it is beneficial to use the words of a four-star General in order to help strengthen an Iraq strategy. With this report, Republicans can give an actual figure of troop withdrawal (30,000), while Democrats have to rethink and rephrase their call for a timetable and what their particular goals in Iraq should be.

Both sides closely listened to Petraeus testimony.[13] Some senators, both Republicans and Democrats, questioned idea of “buying time” in Iraq. Petraeus couldn’t answer whether or not the strategy was “making America safer” nor what would be clear-cut signs of victory that would allow for troops to come home. He adamantaly argued that a quick pull out of Iraq could harm American interests and lead Iran and others to come in and be even more forceful against Iraq. It was difficult to persuade many Senators, however, because the numbers did not show any real progress. Democratic Presidential hopefuls argued that the report provided unsatisfactory troop withdrawal promises and merely redefined the goals of Iraq policy in order to make it look more successful than it actually has been.[14] It is especially important for these Presidential hopefuls to weigh in on the Iraq update, since it is widely agreed that the next major Iraq decision will have to be made by the next President.[15]

Finally, in response to the liberal MoveOn ad, the conservative internet-based group called FreedomsWatch took out a full page ad in both the New York Times and the USA Today on September 11 that said, “We are fighting a global war against terrorism. Surrender to terrorists is not an option.”[16] The continued to argue that pulling out of Iraq would be allowing the terrorist to win. Though it was much more clandestine and has yet to spark controversy like the name-calling of their counterpart, the ad was a careful political tool to take another jab at the Democrats.

War on Terror

Osama bin Laden, after a three-year hiatus, finally released two more tapes this week to relive the 9/11 attacks and to send warnings to the Western world. The two tapes, which were spread apart by four days and mostly filled with still pictures and audio overlap that was confirmed to be bin Laden by the F.B.I. proved the symbol of terrorism worldwide is still at large.[17] The tapes featured bin Laden, sporting a newly dyed black beard, making no direct attack threats, but warning Westerners of their own “terrorism” and the consequences of their lifestyles, military endeavors and leadership choices.

These videotaped reminders are tangible evidence of the war on terrorism and come, not only during the anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks six years ago, but only days after three Germans were seized and arrested for terrorist activities.[18] The Germans, who were targeting American hubs in Germany, were also reminders of the worldwide war at large. Politically, both bin Laden and the German arrests provide powerful ammunition for both political parties. The Democrats can argue that the war on terror is an abstraction that is being either distracted or perpetuated by the Iraq conflict and that a new strategy needs to be implemented. The Republicans can use the same information as proof that Americans are not safe and need strong leadership to wipe out terrorist threats throughout the world.



[1] “Fred Thompson skips GOP debate in N.H.” by David Jackson, USA Today; Sept. 6, 2007

[2] “Stumping in Iowa, Thompson stresses conservative views” by Susan Page, USA Today; Sept. 7, 2007

[3] “For Thompson, goal is to don Reagan mantle” by Adam Nagourney and Jo Becker, NY Times; Sept. 7, 2007

[4] “Thompson Linked to work for Libyans” by Jo Becker, NY Times; Sept. 9, 2007

[5] “G.O.P. Spat Over Web Site” By Michael Luo, NY Times; Sept. 12, 2007

[6] “Hagel will retire from the senate in 2009” by David M. Herszenhorn and Jeff Zeleny NY Times; Sept. 9, 2007

[7] “Democrats Question Prosecution of a Governor” by Adam Nossiter, NY Times; Sept. 11, 2007

[8] “Clinton sees fear realized in trouble with donor” By Patrick Healy, NY Times; Sept. 12, 2007

[9] “Polls net millions from piggy banks” By Fredreka Schouten, USA Today; Sept. 12, 2007

[10] “The Oprah Factor and Obama” by Julie Bosman, NY Times; Sept. 11, 2007

[11] “The Democrats’ anti-war dilemma” by Josephine Hern and Patrick O’Conner, The Politico; Sept. 10, 2007

[12] “GOP Adopts a new political plan” by Martin Kady II, The Politico; Sept. 10, 2007

[13] “Two officials cite long-term need for U.S. in Iraq” by David E. Sanger, NY Times; Sept. 10, 2007

[14] “Candidates chip in their 2 cents” By Jill Lawrence, USA Today; Sept. 12, 2007

[15] “A General Faces Question from Five Potential Bosses” by Elisabeth Bumiller, NY Times; Sept. 12, 2007

[16] Ad in NY Times and USA Today by www.freedomswatch.org; Sept. 11, 2007

[17] “Bin Laden Releases Video as C.I.A Issues Warning” by Mark Mazzetti, NY Times; Sept. 8, 2007

[18] “Germany seizes 3 it says planned terror attacks” by Mark Landler, NY Times; Sept. 6, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weekly Wednesday Rundown - 1

Welcome to the first installment of the Weekly Wednesday Rundown, where you can find everything you need to know about the current political landscape of the 2008 presidential election. From declarations to debates, from saucy scandals to practical policies, we will examine how the remaining presidential campaigns both affect and are affected by the news of the day.

Who’s Hsu with Hillary Clinton

The entertaining scandal following the Clinton campaign approached its final chapters this week. Norman Hsu, one of the Democrats biggest fundraisers, has helped bundle more than 1.2 million for Clinton’s campaign. He’s donated $260,000 of his personal money to federal Democratic candidates and PACs as well as $330,000 more at the state level. [1]

He also happens to under FBI investigation for “straw donating,” or pressuring and paying others to send money to a campaign. Hsu pleaded no contest to this investment fraud charge in 1991, but skipped out on his sentencing in 1992. Last week he turned himself in, only to go missing again when he failed to appear at his bail hearing last Wednesday.

Apparently, instead of attending court, Hsu bought a ticket and boarded an Amtrak train going from California to Illinois. He was discovered the next morning in Colorado when another passenger noticed him lying shirtless on the ground of his overnight cabin, surrounded by numerous pills. Unaware of his surroundings, he even asked Amtrak employees if he was already in jail. [2]

Clinton’s campaign changed plans this week on what to do with the money Hsu helped gather. Originally, Clinton was going to return Hsu’s $23,000 and keep the rest. The campaign now plans to return the entire $850,000 that Hsu helped bundle. [3] This is a brilliant move by the Clinton campaign. By washing her hands clean of all that “dirty” money, she appears as the noble, honest, candidate. However, she is losing a lot of money. It will be interesting to see how many of the donors donate the money back again.

The campaign took another step though, which I think may hurt Clinton in the long run. From now on, they will be doing background checks on all large donors and bundlers. [4] This is a safe plan that will cover Senator Clinton so another donation scandal is unlikely in the future. I believe it will also turn off donors to her cause. Who wants to receive a background check for giving somebody money? I’ll give you my money, and you can invade my privacy…sounds like a good deal, right? I DON’T THINK SO.

Fred Thompson couldn’t help buy chime in on this scandal, saying that Clinton should have learned from her husband’s 1996 donation scandal with Charlie Trie. [5] I think this move is a clever way to link Hillary Clinton’s scandal with Bill Clinton’s scandals. And although Thompson was talking about the scandal with Trie, everybody knows that when you mention Bill Clinton and the word scandal, everybody’s mind goes to that little (or not so little) blue dress.

Petreaus Testifies to Congress

General Petreaus testified on Capitol Hill this week regarding the surge of troops in Iraq. He took nine hours to more elegantly say what President Bush said using three words in Australia: “We’re kicking ass.” Petreaus argued that many of the objectives of the surge are “largely being met.” He also suggested a slow reduction of troop levels until we reach pre-surge numbers around July of 2008. [6]

Liberal group moveon.org printed an article in the New York Times the day of the hearing, labeling the four-star General Petreaus, General BetrayUs. Many Americans on both sides of the aisle were offended by this attack. Since the group is openly liberal, the Democratic candidates have unrightfully been forced to shoulder much of the blame.

Senators McCain Biden, Clinton, and Obama received quite a bit of face time on the major networks for their comments during the hearing. Senator McCain’s campaign used Petreaus’ testimony to argue that McCain was correct to support the surge. They are looking desperately for something to kick start their slowing momentum. McCain will talk about his military experience and plans for Iraq in his upcoming No Surrender tour through Iowa. In response to General Petreaus’ testimony, Senators Clinton, Biden, and Obama (as well as most other Democratic candidates) began criticizing the President’s strategy in Iraq. Wait a second…I’m being told that they have already been doing this for the past few years. In a stalemate, a broken record does keep your name in the headlines.

On the whole, General Petreaus’ testimony benefited the Republican candidates. Good news from Iraq is beneficial those who believe we should continue the occupation. The testimony also gives candidates someone else to stand behind on this issue other than President Bush. As illustrated by the moveon.org ad, the Democrats can’t gain much by bashing a four-star general.

Univision Democratic Debate

Democrats met Sunday night for a debate on Univision, probably the most popular Spanish channel in the United States. This marked the first presidential debate ever to be broadcast in Spanish, a sign many believe finally gives respect to the Hispanic American vote. As the number of Latino Americans continues to grow, this voting block is becoming more and more important.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut are both able to speak Spanish. However, due to the format of the debate, both had to respond in English. Their answers were then translated into Spanish for the viewers.[7]

Break-in at Romney Headquarters

Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters in Boston were broken into this weekend. Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for the campaign said "several laptops and a TV were stolen." However, passwords and security measures should prevent any data from being recovered by the thieves. The campaign does not believe the robbers had political motives.[8]



[2] http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2007/09/10/traveling-man/

[3] http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070911/D8RIVR8G0.html

[4] http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2007/09/10/clintons_to_return_850000_in_h.html?hpid=topnews

[5] http://www.examiner.com/a-929238~Rival_charges_Hillary_Clinton_turned_blind_eye_to_Hsu_s_past.html

[6] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article2426356.ece

[7] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/09/AR2007090902033_pf.html

[8] http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8RINEB80&show_article=1

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ann Coulter, revisited

Becuase I feel so passionately about this subject, I thought I'd actually post rather than simply commenting on yours, Kevin.

So here's my take on the Coulter Chaos that has been attacking campus for the past few months:

First of all let me admit, I did not attend the Ann Coulter speech in Cintas this past week. It was an extreme struggle for me to decide whether or not I wanted to go. On the one hand, I did not want to form my opinion about her on simply biased things I had heard. This was a chance to actually see the "woman" first-hand and formulate my own reaction. One the other hand, from everything I've read/seen/listened to about her, I find nearly everything she says absolutely appauling and cannot imagine taking time out of my very busy schedule to listen to her bash anything and everything she could think of.

Then, God called and answered my predicament for me...or so to speak. I got a call from a woman who needed a babysitter. I was recommended by a Unitarian minister whom I'd babysat for a couple times before. This particular family was Jewish and the father was a Rabbi. I found the opportunity to be offcampus in a house with a beautiful meditation room, crystals all over the place, issues of "The Sun," environmentally friendly cleaning products and an overall environment of peace and tolerance a sign.

It struck me, too, that when Paul Farmer came to campus last year, there was a great deal less coverage about the event (though there was a lot of coverage, don't get me wrong) and a lot less hype, even though the man is a Saint gracing us mere earthlings. Yet, I didn't take the time to see him speak, though I followed other aspects of his visit very closely. Why, then, was I making such a big deal to go see Satan's mistress spew hate and get paid thousands for a hap-hazard, close-minded speech.

Ann Coulter is able to spew the hate that she does because other people, ancestors of the very people she now bashes, took a stance and dedicated their lives to the principles that allow her to speak and live so lavishly. For example, the "woman" belives that the United States would be a better place if women couldn't vote. The only reasons she can even say such a thing is because thousands upon thousands of women were tired of being subordinated and treated as less than human creatures. They marched, fought, sacrificed and persevered so that some day women would be able to pursue the avenues they desired and be treated as equals. The most basic of those equalities is the right to cast a vote, also considered having an opinion. Were it not for those women, Ann Coulter could not stand in front of a crowd of people (because she'd be stuck in the kitchen or raising her children) as an author (because only the most elite women would know how to read let alone write let alone be actually published as a woman) saying her opinion (something so fundemental she bases her fortune off of, yet believes that other's should be allowed to express). If she truly believes such a thing--just like she truly believes she's a so-called Christian--she should stop the hypocracy, get pregnant, get in the kitchen, make her husband a sandwich, and shut her loud mouth up. --Briana Hansen

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fred08 Campaign takes a Step in the Right Direction

I just saw this article on Drudge. Seems like the Fred08 campaign is taking a step in the right direction - trying to convince Republicans who fear a loss in 2008 that not only can Thompson defeat Hillary (or other Democratic candidates) in 2008, but his "true conservative values" and "common-sense conservative beliefs" are what the Republican party and the county need. Fred describes those beliefs as the "sanctity of life, lower taxes, less regulation, market economy, free competition, respect for private property rights, free and fair trade." The next step should be to go more in depth about how those beliefs will translate into public policy. He should explain how he will apply the concept of federalism once in office. Now that the campaign has started to define his values, they need to develop a plan. Ideals and beliefs win the base. Vision and a plan win those on the fence. If you're going to be captain of the ship, you had better know which way to sail.

- Kevin Hoggatt

Ann Coulter at Xavier

Earlier this evening I attended an event at Xavier University’s Cintas Center. I went to hear a speech from a woman with an honors degree from Cornell University and a law degree from University of Michigan Law School. I went to hear what an author of five New York Times bestsellers had to say. I wanted an intellectual lecture, comedic performance, or at least an entertaining circus. All I received was disappointment.

For the past year or so, the College Republicans at Xavier University worked, organized, and fundraised in order to bring Ann Coulter to speak here at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Being a Republican in college at Xavier University, (though not a member of the College Republicans) I wanted to see the final product or all their hard work.

For forty-five minutes, I listened to what could have been a bad night at the Apollo. Instead of an intellectual lecture, I listened to a mediocre stand-up comedian. Awkward silences followed bad jokes. An occasional punch line worked as planned, causing applause or laughter to erupt from various parts of the Cintas Center.

Most students, however, were unimpressed. During the question and answer session, one student asked Ms. Coulter how wanting more Iraqi insurgent deaths could coincide with Christian teachings of love. Ms. Coulter answered confidently that speaking on a stage is different than flying planes into buildings. Most students didn’t think this was a sufficient response. A second student tried again, bravely using a complex wording to ask the simple wristband question “what would Jesus do?” Ms. Coulter responded (not sure on the exact wording of the quote-meaning is the same) “I don’t know, but apparently you do.” In a debate, some believe that proving your opponent wrong automatically makes you right. The Xavier students were not fooled.

While hecklers at large state schools often boo her off stage with disrespectful remarks, Xavier’s students rose to the occasion, always being respectful despite Ms. Coulter’s controversial stances and sometimes abrasive comments. For this, I am proud of my fellow students. However, a few protesting hecklers getting kicked out might have made the event a little more exciting…

On a positive note, Ms. Coulter did make a few intelligent remarks. Her comments on the negatives of a socialist health care system, her ideas on improving government education through a voucher program, and her overall endorsement of capitalism held true to conservative values. She also did a good job illustrating that the American death toll in Iraq has decreased with the increased “surge” of troops. More importantly, for these few, brief moments, she presented her ideas without her usual malice.

I commend the College Republicans on their hard work in putting this event together, but I feel that in no way was Ms. Coulter’s performance worth the roughly $20,000 it cost to bring her here. To the people offended by tonight’s presentation, I commend you for acting in a respectful, positive manner. Instead of getting angry and disrespectful, you got motivated, raising nearly $25,000 for various groups on campus that Ms. Coulter has insulted.

Ms. Coulter, I am disappointed. I think you are detrimental to the image of what it means to be a Republican. While some may subscribe to your incendiary comments, many more are offended and appalled. You are an intelligent woman who has the power and fame to bring important issues to the discussion table. You have the media watching your every move. Why not use that power to do something more productive? Use your first amendment right to advance political discourse, not just to bash anyone who disagrees with you. You’re getting paid $20,000 to talk for less than an hour. Next time, replace the comedy with substance. Replace the hate with tolerance – of even understanding. Replace the tenacity with an open mind. Then you might be able to advance political discourse to a higher level – what the first amendment was originally intended to do.

But then again, she got paid $20,000 to talk for an hour while I wrote this for free. So what do I know?

- Kevin Hoggatt

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fred Thompson's Debut - Upstaging the Opposition

Although Fred Thompson wasn’t present in New Hampshire last night, his absence spoke in a voice almost as powerful as his own. While avoiding the debate prevented Fred from sparring directly with his fellow Republicans, the eight other presidential candidates seemed disappointed in him for not being there to debate the tough issues. "Maybe Senator Thompson will be known as the no-show for the presidential debates," said Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas. Senator John McCain quipped, “Maybe we’re up past his bedtime.” His fellow candidates may have been disappointed in his absence, but only time will tell if voters felt the same way.

Following the debate, Thompson appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno and announced to the world his decision to run for president, a decision politicos have speculated and anticipated for many weeks. While some say he is too late in entering the presidential race, Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, believes that voters will not hold it against him. American foreign policy ruled the discussion, but Thompson attempted to hint at his conventional conservatism and historical record. His website, www.fred08.com, offers more of his positions on the issues.

The next few weeks are critical to the Thompson campaign. He will count on his movie star aura, rich voice, and direct, personable character to attract as many supporters as possible. More importantly, he must use those skills to attract what really wins elections; MONEY. So far, the Democratic candidates have raised a combined total 177 million for the presidential election. The Republican candidates, however, have only raised 118 million. What does this mean? There is a lot more republican money out there just waiting to be collected!

In the following weeks, Fred’s campaign should focus his message toward federalism, a principle touted on the website, a message many Republican politicians have long forgotten, a message many Republican voters are dying to hear. Secondly, Fred Thompson is not Ronald Reagan, nor should he try to be. The campaign should quickly define Fred Thompson as Fred Thompson, and it should do it before the other candidates have a chance to. Avoid Reagan comparisons at all costs. Yes, they both have experience in Hollywood. Yes, they do share some similar stances. However, comparing the two will eventually lead to noting the differences. Fred might not be able to measure up. Crystal glass is beautiful, but next to a pile of diamonds, it can appear disappointing. Thirdly, Thompson should continue to answer questions directly and honestly. Voters can tell when they are being fed a rehearsed line – cough-Hillary-cough – Don’t dodge and deflect the questions.

Over the past months, Republican voters have continuously expressed their opinions about the lackluster field of Republican candidates. They continued to be unimpressed by last night’s debate. Scandals, mistakes, mismanagements, and unfulfilled promises have plagued the party for the past few years. The voters are afraid that the Republican Party will enter this presidential election without a strong candidate. They are looking to be inspired. They are looking for a conservative leader. Many are looking for another Ronald Reagan. Give them Fred Thompson, but make sure he doesn’t disappoint.


- Kevin Hoggatt