Time to go Gandhi and Let the Swift Boat Sink Itself?

Is it time for Barack Obama to ignore the slings and arrows of a desperate Clinton campaign? To say, “Senator Clinton and her husband and surrogates have gone so negative in this campaign, and so far off the track of what we need to deal with as a nation, that I’m going to stop responding to her comments and innuendos and just tell you what I think we need to do to bring this country together, stop the war, repair our defense and restore America’s relationship with the rest of the world.”

I know — John Kerry would be running for his second term now if he’s stood up on his hind legs and said to George Bush during the Swift Boat crap, “How dare you, Mr. President, question my patriotism. I fought for my country — where were you?”

But Clinton has succeeded in bringing Obama down to her level with her incessant kitchen sink attacks. Every time he responds (with what I, an Obama partisan, feel is accurate criticism) he seems more like her, more like any politician. He’s off his game. He’s no longer calling us, this country, to our best. He’s no longer telling us the hard things we have to do — sacrifice, wean ourselves from energy gluttony, stop fearing one another — no longer leading us to new thinking, new perspectives, new paradigms. He sounds smaller and defensive, not expansive and forward-looking as he has before Clinton started losing and kicking over the table and game board.

Martin Luther King taught a generation of activists not to fight back with force, but with truth and character. I think it’s time for Obama to ignore the Clintons and dig deeper into what he sees for this country, the world, our society and what we can all become.

What do you think, fellow armchair strategists and crisis consultants?

— Bruce Benidt pro business payroll kind

Black Mark on the Barack Brand

There was an interesting Pew survey released today about race and the Obama-Clinton race. It showed Obama still has a 10 percent lead over Clinton nationally, and six point lead over McCain. All of this is post Wright scandal.

But the internal numbers show that he may have a tough time winning over some of the Democrats currently supporting Senator Clinton.

…white Democrats who hold unfavorable views of Obama are much more likely than those who have favorable opinions of him to say that equal rights for minorities have been pushed too far; they also are more likely to disapprove of interracial dating, and are more concerned about the threat that immigrants may pose to American values. In addition, nearly a quarter of white Democrats (23%) who hold a negative view of Obama believe he is a Muslim.

Less educated and older white Democrats, who have not backed Obama in most primary elections, hold these values more commonly than do other Democrats.

More conservative beliefs about equal rights and race are not only related to negative opinions of Obama among Democrats, suggesting the potential for defections among Democratic voters, but also are associated with negative views of him in the electorate at large.”

Geraldine Ferraro? Are you out there?

– Loveland

grants for college kind

National Transportation Spin Board

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) told the media yesterday that the I35W bridge collapse was due to faulty gusset plates and heavy maintenance equipment on the bridge. Period.

Investigators say nearly 300 tons of construction materials on the bridge “played a role” in the tragedy and there is “no basis” to believe corrosion or other maintenance issues were a factor, according to internal NTSB deliberations.

I’m not convinced when it comes to “other maintenance issues.” If it is true that there was evidence in the file four years prior to the collapse that bridge gusset plates were bent, as the Strib asserted this weekend with some pretty compelling photographic evidence, the NTSB’s conclusions are dangerously incomplete.

Those photos in the file appear to be evidence of two things 1) faulty plates and 2) safety inspectors’ failure to identify and/or address faulty plates. When it comes to important lessons moving forward, the latter finding is every bit as relevant as the former.

(Note: MnDOT cautions against concluding that the Minneapolis bridge plates were warped, because no measurements were ever taken. It strikes me that inspectors who saw those photos, should have checked them out. Maybe it was some kind of wacky optical illusion, but someone looking at photos like that should have followed up with measurement equipment. And the fact that warped gusset plates have been found on the similarly designed St. Cloud bridge leads me to think that the photos may very well show what they appear to show, and this is not some irresponsible conspiracy theory.)

The NTSB needs to determine why the warped gusset plate photographs were not acted on. What they learn could increase the chance that future inspectors will handle the situation the way they are with the St. Cloud bridge in 2008 (i.e. closing it down when they see signs of danger), rather than how they seem to have handled it with the Minneapolis bridge when they enountered the warped gusset plate photos back in 2003.

This investigation is dispiriting. The NTSB, Legislature, MnDOT and Governor should be learning, not blaming or spinning.

– Loveland

factoring companies kind