Sunday, August 3, 2008

Courtesy of Senator Obama: Another "Checkers" Moment

For the most part, I find Senator Obama boring. So usually in this space I do not write much about him directly. But today Senator Obama played a little trick that reminded of the person who I think of as his nearest political relative - Richard M. Nixon. There are any number of similarities between these two ambitious politicians. I won't even go into the entire ream of parallels between Senator Obama's tactics against Alice Palmer and Richard Nixon's treatment of Helen Gahagan Douglas, but it must be noted that Gahagan Douglas coined the best nickname ever for President Nixon: Tricky Dick.

The trick Senator Obama played today reminded me specifically of the trick Dick pulled when he gave his now infamous "Checkers" speech.

Let me explain.

First, Senator Obama's trick:
After months of stalemating any representation of millions of voters from Florida and Michigan and then seeking a ruling that treated the voters of Florida as half-persons and the voters of Michigan as essentially pawns whose actual votes mattered not at all, today Senator Obama wrote a letter to the DNC's Credentials Committee Chairs, saying that now suddenly he has had a change of heart and wishes it to be known that, with his warm personal regards, he would like the Credentials Committee to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations at the upcoming convention in Denver. (You can read the letter here.)

Senator Obama probably thinks this move will win him favor from the voters of those states and voters everywhere who were offended by the DNC committee meeting in May. At that meeting the Rules and Bylaws Committee (different committee than the Credentials Comittee) made every delegate from Michigan and Florida count for only half, and then on top of that, awarded a large portion of the Michigan half-delegates - and 4 add-on delegates who were selected by Michigan voters to represent Senator Clinton - to Senator Obama, who, by his own choice, never even ran in the Michigan primary.

If Senator Obama were interested in acting honestly and honorably he would encourage the Credentials Committee Chairs to seat the Michigan delegation as the people of Michigan voted: a majority for Senator Clinton and a significant minority for undecided. Instead, his letter plays a trick: it pretends to show newfound respect for rank and file voters and the delegates they elect to represent them, when in fact Senator Obama continues to mock the most basic principles of democracy - even decency, in my opinion - by refusing to acknowledge the absurdity of taking votes or delegates from a state in which he, Senator Obama, did not even run.

Second, Richard Nixon's trick, played in 1952:
At the 1952 Republican national convention, young Senator Richard M. Nixon was chosen to be the running mate of presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Nixon had enjoyed a spectacular rise in national politics. Elected to Congress in 1946, he quickly made a name for himself as a militant anti-Communist while serving on the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1950, at age 38, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and became an outspoken critic of President Truman's conduct of the Korean War, wasteful spending by the Democrats, and also alleged Communists were in the government.

But Nixon's rapid rise in American politics came to a crashing halt after a sensational headline appeared in the New York Post stating, "Secret Rich Men's Trust Fund Keeps Nixon in Style Far Beyond His Salary." The headline appeared just a few days after Eisenhower had chosen him as his running mate. Amid the shock and outrage that followed, many Republicans urged Eisenhower to remove Nixon from the ticket before it was too late.

Nixon, however, in a brilliant political maneuverer, took his case directly to the American people via the new medium of television in a nationwide hookup. With his wife sitting stoically nearby, Nixon offered an apologetic explanation of all of his finances, including the now-famous lines regarding his wife's "respectable Republican cloth coat" and the tale of a little dog named Checkers given as a present to his young daughters. "...I want to say right now that regardless of what they say, we're going to keep it." (source)

This grandstanding saved Nixon's political career, although as it turned out the slush fund highlighted in the New York Post story was just the first of a series of funds Nixon collected and used for questionable and even criminal purposes (years later one such fund financed the break-in of the DNC headquarters in The Watergate Building).

With his talk of cloth coats and little dogs, Tricky Dick fooled the American public - and the RNC and Dwight Eisenhower - into thinking he was a humble, honorable man.

Today's voters - if not today's DNC - may be a little cannier. They may catch the trick Senator Obama has tried to play today, pretending to respect the franchise while simultaneously refusing to take its results seriously. One can hope.


Anonymous kavala007 said...

On June 13 there was something in the Miami Herald about Obama replacing delegates in Florida with his supporters. If he managed to do that perhaps that's why the letter was written. I, like many others, cannot trust anything that he says or does.

August 4, 2008 at 3:33 AM  
Anonymous Not Your Sweetie said...

So, keeping "Checkers" means he'll keep the 4 delegates he stole from Hillary from Mi? And the rest of them - in an election he didn't run in?

August 4, 2008 at 5:25 AM  
Anonymous adamonis said...

Once again, *61 stacks the deck and then "graciously' changes the "rules" to accomodate a pre-determined outcome.

He really does believe that he is so much smarter that the "typical" American citizen/voter.

August 4, 2008 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger CKAinRedStateUSA said...

"If Senator Obama were interested in acting honestly and honorably . . ."


And if a frog had wings, it wouldn't bump its rear-end on the ground.

August 4, 2008 at 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senator Obama's letter is shockingly cynical. It makes fools of all of us who thought voting makes a difference and who anxiously waited for and watched the DNC Rules committee's "deliberations."

August 4, 2008 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger kcowley said...

This whole thing is outrageous. The undemocratic Democrats. Sadly the "average" citizen isn't aware that he has received delegates without his name on them. We can also thank the MSM for not clarifying that small detail. People I run into are just as unaware of this as they are that he voted to fund the war twice!

August 4, 2008 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you again for your insight. You've said previously that you have believed for some time that Obama will not win. I agree with you. Looking at the electoral map today, I believe that McCain will win. But I'd like to read your analysis of the polls and electoral map after the convention when Obama is likely to be coronated. If you could expand on your opinion in a future post, that would be appreciated.

August 4, 2008 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous DanDee said...

As soon as I read "Checkers moment" I started laughed, b/c I had an idea what was coming!

I protested in the early 70's to impeach Nixon, and I hold a similar opinion of the not-so-honest presumptuous nominee.

Go Heidi - you rock!

August 4, 2008 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger salmonrising said...


Bravo! Thanks for making the connection and sharing it...I really enjoy your insights. Each passing day it seems one can see more teachings of the Prince (Machiavelli) in the Precious.

August 4, 2008 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...


Excellent post !! Thank you.

August 4, 2008 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger CognitiveDissonance said...

Every time I think I can't possibly loathe Obama any more than I already do, he does something more repugnant. I suspect he did this to shore up his sagging poll numbers. But I have a sneaky suspicion it will backfire on him and make people even more hardened against him.

It's interesting to hear him compared to Nixon, as I've been making that connection, too.

August 4, 2008 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We completely ignore him now. His words don't mean squat these days.

August 4, 2008 at 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reading "Nixonland" by Rick Perlstein right now and it is amazing the similarities between the two. For instance Nixon was the father of the "stature enhancing trip", just like O-man's recent sojourn. The difference is that Nixon had enough sense to show some restraint on his trips!


August 4, 2008 at 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Heidi,
First, thank you for the terrific work that you, Marc Rubin and The Denver Group are doing to ensure a truly open, honest Democratic National Convention and to support the democratic process. I've contributed, and hope that you continue to run print ads and can run some TV ads as well.

I have a question. I've read elsewhere that BO has been 'replacing' Sen. Clinton's delegates (which she won fair and square by virtue of decisively winning the popular vote) with his own delegates in FL. Is this true? If so, how is this possible? If this is true (and possible) and if he's doing the same in MI, wouldn't that explain his recent so-called 'beneficent' offer regarding the FL and MI delegates and their votes? If that is the case, it is absolutely unconscionable. What can be done?
Thanks for a reply. Keep up the good fight. You are an inspiration to all of us. CK

August 5, 2008 at 2:40 PM  

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