September 13, 2006 [LINK / comment]
The primary elections
In Rhode Island, Sen. Lincoln Chafee defeated a challenge by conservative Steve Laffey, which is probably for the best from a conservative point of view, given that the liberal Democrat nominee Sheldon Whitehouse would almost certainly have defeated Laffey in the general election. "The best is the enemy of the good." In the Democratic race for Senate in Maryland, Ben Cardin defeated Kweisi Mfume and millionaire real estate developer Josh Rales. Republican Michael Steele, currently serving as Lieutenant Governor, stands a good chance of picking up a seat for the GOP. He comes across as very sincere in his TV ads, identifying with average Americans who are sick of nasty political feuds and just want someone to get something done in Washington. And speaking of our Nation's Capital, Adrian Fenty trounced Linda Cropp in the mayoral primary, which is tantamount to a general election victory given the near-monopoly on power enjoyed by the Democrats. These races and others are covered at CNN.com. It is amusing to note that Mrs. Cropp had earned the resentment of baseball fans in Washington by her rather fickle negotiating tactics over the stadium financing issue from late 2004 to early 2006, which was clearly aimed at garnering support from lower class District residents, but which failed. Ironically, she was endorsed by her former adversary in that stadium controversy, Mayor Tony Williams. Fenty was consistently opposed to any significant public funding for a new baseball stadium. I disagreed with his reasoning and suspect that political calculations were behind it, but he at least seemed to have a more principled stance on that issue than did Mrs. Cropp.
Is Webb closing the gap?
The latest Mason-Dixon poll has James "Born Fighting" Webb climbing to within four points of incumbent George Allen, largely as the result of the "macaca" gaffe. See AP / News Leader. I'll believe Webb is a serious candidate when he makes a rousing, off-the-cuff speech to a large crowd. Today, several women who attended military academies renewed complaints that Webb's dismissive remarks about women long ago contributed to an atmosphere of sexual harrassment they suffered. They appeared in a televised press conference, but I have been unable to find a news story about it in the mainstream media so far. This is only the first of Webb's several vulnerabilities that have not received due attention thus far because the candidate himself did not receive much attention.
Chris Green, a former U.S. Marine, points to the new Webb TV ad as evidence that the candidate is not even in charge of his own campaign, based on the fact that the ad refers to him as a "Soldier, Scholar, Leader...." Marines, whose necks are made of leather, have thin skins when it comes to what you call them. Soldiers are in the Army; Marines are Marines!
Khatami comes to U.Va.
Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami is on a goodwill tour of the United States, and paid a visit to the University of Virginia a couple days ago. Like the visit of Mikhail Gorbachev over a decade ago, some people took it as an affront to the Jeffersonian liberal ideals that the University represents. Brian Boddissey reports on Khatami's visit at Gates of Vienna. President Khatami was one of the few real-world figures who was mentioned in the movie Syriana. See August 30. As the movie pointed out, even though Khatami is a Shiite cleric, as all high Iranian officials are required to be, relatively speaking, he is a moderate who favors some tolerance. Unlike the current President Amhadinejad, furthermore, he never questioned the holocaust or threatened to destroy Israel. Unfortunately the mullahs who really run Iran behind the scenes objected to his modest push for reform, which is how Amhadinejad was thrust into power last year.