Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Richardson for Obama (now plus video)

I just want to state how shocking this endorsement is, given where all the chips were stacked at the beginning of this marathon round of poker (i.e, in Clinton's corner.)

VIDEO of richardson endorsement

As of Richardson refusing to endorse after Feb 5th, this is much less shocking, but still amazing given that Richardson had been seen by many as campaigning to be Hillary's veep. You can see it in the debates, and in his comments and his steady defense of her when she's down in the debates (witness the exchange after her major stumble on drivers licenses in October).
For instance, in this last debate, after repeated attacks on Hillary’s honesty, Richardson used the precious few seconds he had on one of the few questions he was asked to defend her against accusations that she was in the pocket of special interests:”You know what I’m hearing here? I’m hearing this holier than thou attitude towards Senator Clinton that - it’s bothering me because it’s pretty close to personal attacks that we don’t need. Do we trust her? Do we - did she take money from special interests?” (Blogger News)
Even as late as December 2007, he and her are flirting with the thought:

After first comparing himself to former Arkansas governor and former president Bill Clinton saying they were both CEOs and have both balanced budgets, Richardson asked Clinton, "Don't you think that governors make good presidents?"

Richardson may not have anticipated the response she gave after the laughter and applause subsided.

"Well, Bill," Clinton said, "I think they also make good vice presidents."

But he's been moving at a snail's pace toward endorsing Obama. Slowly but steadily, his public comments have indicated that he prefers Obama's character. On March 3, he defended Obama's judgment against Hillary's "red phone" ad:
He was outspoken in his criticism of Clinton's new "ringing phone" ad, which suggests that Obama is not ready to become commander in chief.

"I happen to disagree with that ad that says that Senator Obama is not ready," he said. "He is ready. He has great judgment, an internationalist background."

And if this bolded bit from 10 days ago (emphasis mine, quote courtesy Los Angeles Times) doesn't indicate how he feels about being told that he "owes" Bill for being appointed as UN Ambassador and as Sec of Energy, well, nothing else does:

Richardson, as New Mexico governor, is a Democratic Party superdelegate, and he demurred on the question. But his answer still served as tea leaves to be read. "I'm truly conflicted," Richardson said. "I'm torn. I see ... a lot of loyalty I owe President Clinton. He made me U.N. ambassador. He made me secretary of Energy. He's treated me extremely well. But you know what? I paid him back. Because I served well." Richardson described Hillary Clinton as "enormously capable ... but I did run against her."

Then he focused on Barack Obama, someone he said "I don't know as well. But I think there's ...

something that is very special about this guy, that is good." Richardson related an anecdote from one of the debates: He fielded a question and then, as the next point went to another candidate, leaned toward Obama next to him on the stage and whispered, "'Boy some of these debates really boring, aren't they?' Or something like that. And he said, 'Oh god, yeah, you're right.' "

As the two were whispering, a question suddenly veered back to Richardson -- who hadn't been paying attention. "I looked at Obama and he says [whispering] 'Katrina. Katrina.' And I go back and say, 'Well, my three-point plan on Katrina is ...' Obama could have thrown me under the bus. But he didn't. So I said, 'Thanks, Obama,' and he said, 'Just listen next time.'"

Earlier I wrote that Bill Clinton apparently tried to play hardball with Richardson.
Some are folks who owe the Clintons a favor but still feel betrayed or taken for granted. Could that be why Bill Richardson, a former U.N. secretary and energy secretary in the Clinton administration, refused to endorse her even after an angry call from the former president? "What," Bill Clinton reportedly asked Richardson, "isn't two Cabinet posts enough?"
Apparently heavy-handed tactics were enough to turn him off. That's right, cos no one likes being forced to be the token water boy.

I think it's good for Richardson to have endorsed Obama, I just think it would have been better for Obama had he done it sooner, like in time for Texas. (Yes I know Obama won the delegate count but he lost the popular vote.) Also, I am impressed that he was able to buck the Clinton machine. There is a tremendous amount of pressure there, and be assured that they will find some way to get back at him.

In the general election, it will help. And for now, Richardson is one of the big name players who have been sitting on the sidelines. So this will encourage other supers to get a move on. I mean, this is really something - for someone who was supposedly auditioning for her VP to go an back Obama. Whew!

UPDATE: Apparently Richardson is saying he's endorsing Obama specifically because of his Philly speech on race. Nice validation. Man, Obama having a spine shows other Democrats what it means. I'll take that ANY day over Clinton's waffling sort of leadership.

UPDATE 2: Posted video at top, and here's a notable Richardson statement: "It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the Fall."

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