The Times they are a-changin’

The Times (of London) yesterday reported on what looked to me like a political horror story for Barack Obama, involving an Iraqi-born billionaire said by a Pentagon report to have “served as Saddam Hussein’s principle international financial manipulator and bag man”, a multi-million dollar loan conducted through a Central American finance company, and an admission from Obama of “boneheaded mistakes”. Yet it appears to be receiving little coverage in the US, the links in the chain being admittedly rather weak (though since when has that ever stopped anyone in presidential politics?). So Hillary Clinton will evidently have to hope for some other miracle to come along in the four days before the next primaries. The latest polls show Obama streaking ahead in Texas, and closing in fast in Ohio.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

436 comments on “The Times they are a-changin’”

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  1. Oh God!

    If this is so, as a hero, Obama is down in the drain. With the rest. Similar to Whitewater, enough to tarnish the thus far unblemished image.

    What then, the clarion call?

  2. WB asked: “The Times (of London) yesterday reported on what looked to me like a political horror story for Barack Obama, ………. Yet it appears to be receiving little coverage in the US.”

    I have been wondering about this question myself. I am really surprised by how Obama has been treated with kid gloves, especially by the right wing press and commentators, except for few “Husseins” here and there. I think Obama himself has alluded to this as well when he said he is expecting a “dump-truck” on him when the nomination is finished.

    Maybe there is a conspiracy theory here. It is obvious at this stage, the right wingers hate Hillary more than Obama. So it suits them to be on the side of Obama to get rid of Hillary. But once, Obama is nominated, the gloves will be off. The PT109 Swiftboards will come, the dump-trucks will charge and there will more of the Hussein smart bombs than those dropped on Iraq. If Obama survived all these, then he will truly deserve to be POTUS. Bring it on.

    I saw one reference to the story above:

    Clinton campaign: Obama must answer for Rezko

  3. Clinton has been hitting Obama with Rezko constantly during the debates. This story has been around for quite a while, with Hillary calling Rezko a ‘slum landlord’, and questioning Obama’s ’17 year relationship’ with him. It is not a good story, absolutely, but the chains, as you say William, are so tenuous. This will be seen as sensationalising, the same as the NYTs story on McCain. It’s just not a punchy (or understandable) story. Certainly not tabloid cover stuff.

    In other news, Hillary has a version of the world tsanami, and or ‘who do you trust?’ that we saw in the Australian campaigns:

    ‘With just five days left before the critical Ohio and Texas primaries, Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (N.Y.) campaign is out with a provocative new ad that raises the specter of a future world crisis and asks voters who they would want in the White House if such an event occurred.’

  4. Pancho, you might be able to enlighten me.

    If Hillary somehow is President elect, then I would construe this as a defacto third term for Bill, as he would have a great influence in the background on policy… I mistaken?

  5. I’ve been dong a little psephological research of my own into the Democrats Texas primary/caucus system. A mathematician’s dream. Democracy at its finest! Visit “Deep in the hear of Texas” for more.

  6. Ogmios, I wouldn’t put it exactly like that – Hillary does have her own people, and her two campaign managers have been her folks, not Bill’s. But on the other hand, Mark Penn, who was at Bill’s right hand from 1996, seems to be all but directing Hillary now. There is obvious overlap between some personel, but then other Clinton Administration figures have sided with Obama and are on his team.

    I think that Hillary clouds the impression that she is a change from the past (and therefore not a continuation of the B.Clinton years) by claiming ’35 years of experience’, and complicates this further by having 8 of those as part of Bill’s Administration. It was widely assumed the Bill was going to be a big asset during this campaign, but his antics and desire for the centre stage himself hurt her bad. It is pretty obvious that he wants to be back in the Whitehouse, and until he was tucked away, didn’t do much to hide that desire. But it seems that independents and first time voters, who have changed the dynamics of this campaign, don’t necessarily want more of either Bill or the brand Clinton.

    But all that said, I’m not sure an H.Clinton administration would have greatly different goals from an Obama one. The two big ticket items will be healthcare and Iraq. And for all the nuanced arguments that each camp is spinning, if you look at their policy proposals, I don’t think that there is a great difference between them and what they are trying to achieve. I do think that there would be a difference in what they achieve, because Obama seems more willing, and able, to lead from the front and draw people along with him. He even has McCain mastermind Mark McKinnon saying that he will not continue to work for McCain if Obama is the Dems nominee.

    Further, the political landscape has shifted – the economy is different, NAFTA is on the nose and there is no longer an ‘end of history’ glow in the White House. Bill would have influence in a Hillary Administration, but wouldn’t be leading.

  7. Ogmios – and mine without a doubt. BTW (let me whisper so as not to upset those wanting to the ‘contest’ through to the end) he’s already home. Another big endorsement for him here:

    ‘Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Obama’s position on the Iraq war in 2002 was partially behind his decision to support the Illinois senator.’

  8. 728
    codger (from the previous thread)

    I haven’t followed the details on KO for quite a while, but it looks like the Turks talked tough (nice alliteration) but then blinked.

    Why? Surely not GWB having a whinge. It will take a few days to come out, but I’ll get back to you on it. Of course the Kurds aren’t reall keen on having Turkey barging over the border and killing all those “PKK” women and kiddies.

  9. KR at 700: “”Yep, he’s (GG) a real Hemingway!

    Diogenes had that bit right.”

    Awwww, that’s just too bad. Guess this means their weddings off then. Blog romance can be so superficial.

    Lovely bit of Growler Google grilling Btw, Kirri.

    Ron, The Rezco “story” as you so correctly deduce is yesterday’s beat-off, hatched in desperation under a hot media sun into today’s beat up. Anti-Obi forces are gonna have to come up with something more substantial if they want it to stick.

    And, Merry Band of Sep-Pol Tragics, guess who owns The Times of friggin’ London? Could it be the septogenarian Sep citizen who so prominently graced with his “personal presence” a monster NYC fundraiser for Calamity Alamo Clinton about a year ago…… the selfsame recidivist Machiavellian meddler who wets himself with excitement whenever the Global Power-Dice are rolled….. the mogel with the mostest and magnate with meanest pack of on-tap shills in the Known Universe?

    But can he hobble The Kid? Lord of the Rings ain’t got nuthin’ on this campaign.

    Our story continues……….

  10. EC #14 I remember the way Patrick Cook used to draw Murdoch in the 80s: seedy looking with a five-o’clock shadow hocking a newspaper on the street with the headline: “Labour Split Looms”.

  11. Worth a new thread William, because this gives insight into the incredible forces out there against Obama (and potentially any candidate) – the vested interests in seeing Clinton win, and those wanting a McCan win, and those who would win with either (Industrial/Military Complex anyone?). This is an old, old story as discussed in the earlier thread and that indicates nothing new being available to bash him with. The timing of this is very considered, with time for it to re-percolate through the voters in Ohio & Texas, but insufficient for the air to clear because there is essentially nothing in it, and hasn’t been since it first broke in April 2007. The Iraq ‘connection’ element is a new oner tosseed into refresh the story it seems to me and an incredible amount of work must ave gone into that, but still no connection can be suggested between Obama and that character.
    It will be interesting to see if this story gains any momentum this time around, but these facts are clear:

    1. Obama bought a house for an agreed price from ‘his little mate’ and fund-raiser Rezcos.
    2. No evidence of any connection to or Obama meeting with the shadowy ‘Iraq bagman’ .
    3. No evidence of any favour to Obama by anyone.
    4. No evidence of any favour to anyone by Obama.
    5. This story has been around since April 2007 and the bobcats of the political dirt world (including the IMC who have most to lose with Obama) have been able to dig up nothing since.
    6. This story and variations on its theme will continue from now to November.
    7. Whispers about a secret Muslim life will continue until November.

  12. Yes, RB, Patrick Cook on song was particularly savage. I’ll never forget his “Trevor Installation Company” hammering of hapless Kiwis and his “Furthur Uses for Agoraphobics”. The only thing I miss about the demise of the The Bulletin are the gratuitous en passant free-leafs one took of his Bully-toons in newsagents. Last time I bought a dead-wood Bully was 1991 when they shamelessly shilled the bloodbath in the aftermath of The Road To Basra. Anyway, their online edition was a constipated sick joke that died of natural irrelevance along with its pathetic parent.
    Essential viewing for all Winston Smith Fan Club members: NBC’s K.O. lands leather on The Imbecile, who is Johnny McBomb-Bomb’s No.1 supporter in The World According To GOP.
    Not sure if the link works but a deft C&P to the search engine of your choice will allow one access to the clip.

  13. The Rezko issue has been simmering for quite a long time now and the Times article is an interesting read.

    However, it does not appear that Obama has done anything improper in the entire transaction. Nevertheless, I don’t mind a politician making a mistake or two, as long as its acknowledged afterwards. The worst politicians are the ones that treat mistakes as a sign of weakness, and never apologise and try to spin the mistake.
    I.e. Bush and Howard.

  14. Thanks KR @ 13; a lot of ‘hot’ links went ‘sideways’ late August 07; following Condi…& our own ‘donation detective’

    If reports are true my guess is that the Kirkuk ‘boys’ down Baghdad way may have had something to do with it. But can’t confirm.

  15. EC,

    Grilling,………not even toasted my alliterative friend.

    KR throws up a full toss outside the leg stump, gets hit over the grand stand , spends hours looking for the ball and starts the process again. He has a great googly he tells us, but doesn’t have landing rights in this blogosphere to be of any threat to serious contributors.

    Obviously the umpire here, William Bowe, is on the take as he re-posts my re-posts from Landeryou as features on PB.

    As for Hemingway, don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for KR. When it happens, it will be a farewell to ars*e.

    For Robert Bollard,

    In case you haven’t finsihed that scrubbing yet, this might help.

  16. The Rezco stuff goes back even further than I realised. This article from 5 November 2006 goes over the whole thing in minute detail:

    “After the controversy surfaced on Wednesday, the Sun-Times presented Obama’s office with a lengthy set of questions about the land deal, Obama’s relationship with Rezko and the story’s impact on a potential 2008 bid for the White House. These are his responses …”,CST-NWS-obama05.article

    Read the article and his answers and tell me there’s something sinister in it! Talk about raking over old coals. There has clearly been nothing since then to contradict anything Obama says in his detailed answers then – names and all. Who valued the property etc etc.

    It’s fairly transparent what his opponents have done to revive it – with dried soup you just add water – in the case of dried up old smears you just add an Iraqi angle.
    So they found some Iraqi ‘bagman’ connected financially to Rezco, and trawled and trawled some more until they found this guy was passing through the same hotel as Obama once, even though they didn’t meet.
    Therefore, the anti-Obama forces say there are questions to answer. But hang on – what questions?
    All the questions were answered in November 2006, and there are no new ones to be answered arising from The Times article. No connection to the mysterious Iraqi bagman, nothing.

    It’s like the old classic to which the answer is irrelevant – Have you stopped beating your wife?

  17. This story has been worked over weeks ago in the US press following comments in earlier debates – but don’t despair, Obama’s rise through the ranks has been rapid, and that rise is not without affiliations – although, to his credit he’s been travelling light – meaning – not much baggage to tie him down – but dirt under the fingernails all the same.

  18. Ah McCain, you dont have it.

    “McCain’s citizenship called into question” – The problem arises from a phrase in the Constitution setting out who is eligible to be president. Article II, which also specifies that a person must be at least 35 years old, says “No person except a natural born Citizen” can be president. Sen. McCain is undoubtedly a citizen. He was born on Aug. 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone.

    I think they are barking up the wrong tree here, the so called constitutional experts. “natural born Citizen” simply means that, natural born, not by Julius Caesar or AI or IVF. Obviously, the US Founding Fathers knew something was coming. You know like the “All men are created equal” bit, except if you are black or yellow or red. Yes, they were men of wisdom.

  19. Thats an interesting one Finnigans – [“natural born, not by Julius Caesar or AI or IVF” ]

    What’s the anti-abortionists’ position on IVF I wonder? “God says you can’t interfere in nature therefore IVF kids must die” is probably close to the mark, or at least it would be consistent with their position on the proper fate of abortionists.

    Anyway, as to the US Constitution, surely all we have to do is go back to the second reading speech to see what the founding fathers meant!
    Maybe the phrase has to be taken all-at-once which means a natural born citizen can only be a kid born on US soil ( ie a citizen when born, not if made one later).
    Was the Panama Canal Zone US soil in 1936? I don’t think so -only under US military control.
    I see Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona in 1909 before it became a state, but it was a US territory, which is more US than ‘under US control’. He lost anyway.
    Oh-oh, McCain you’re in trouble! (Not really, I wouldn’t think)

  20. #24 – junior senator – what? another “loophole” to be closed for McCain. He was just enjoying the Iseman’s loophole. Poor McCain.

  21. Let’s see, which headline do you think is going to run:

    Markets Fall on Drumbeat of Grim Reports


    Obama shook someone’s hand


    What the rightwing wingnuts have got against them is a market collapse, a recession, a housing market collapse with millions to lose their homes, and a THREE TRILLION DOLLAR WAR, all courtesy of the Repblicans.

    I’m sure the people lined up at the soup kitchens will be passing along the newspaper and leaning over to the next guy “hey buddy, did you see that Obama, he shook the hand of some guy! I ain’t votin’ for no guy like that.”

  22. G’day KR

    One thing …

    “… according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle poll released on Friday …
    Obama … has a 6-point edge on Clinton in Texas, 48 percent to 42 percent. He trails Clinton 44 percent to 42 percent in Ohio — well within the poll’s margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.”

    … leads to another:

    “Clinton, Obama, in Cold War-style ad blitz” –
    “The Clinton campaign released a new television ad to be aired in Texas, which along with Ohio are crucial to her chances of reversing a string of losses to Obama. It shows children sleeping peacefully in bed as a narrator says:

    ” ‘It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something’s happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call.’ ”

    “The Clinton campaign hoped the new ad would convince voters she would be ready to act swiftly and decisively in case of another Sept. 11-type crisis in the United States.”

    “Obama hit back with an ad of his own, which also showed sleeping children and spoke of a White House phone ringing.”

    ‘When that call gets answered, shouldn’t the president be the one — the only one — who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start?” the narrator says.’ ”

    A good answer, I’d say, eh what??

  23. Ladies and gentleman, in order to circumvent moderator wrath and in keeping with the theme that The Iraq Fiasco has hobbled Johnny Bomb-Bomb and Alamoed Davida Crockett-Clinton, today’s Bludger Toon-Time will be presented in short sharp bursts.

    View cartoons by date. Very important if viewing later in week.

    (Sat. March 1) Contemporary American Poetry Classes: A Critical Analysis;_ylt=A0WTUZhN7chH7U4AcAQDwLAF
    Sat. March 1) The Incredible Shrinking Woman;_ylt=AqthXMpNqkgs_aCAtEDuDdne.sgF
    (Thurs Feb. 28) Quagmire McCain;_ylt=AsLfdpdvsjLGSotZCgpgz.sV2r8F

  24. junior s – I like it! Er, however, I’m not certain it is the “offiical” Obama response! Still who cares, it made me laugh.

  25. 28
    jaundiced view

    ‘It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something’s happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call.’

    A voice answers the phone, it’s Barack Obama: “Oh, hi Michelle, yeah I know it’s late, but I’ve just been chatting with Ahmejinedad, and you know, I said you we need to get this nuke thing sorted, and he said, ‘yes we can’. Funny guy, huh?”

  26. 30
    jaundiced view

    Don’t you just love the way Obama flicks this stuff aside with ‘yeah, she had her moment, and she authorised Bush to invade Iraq’.

    He’ got Clinton snookered and McCain as well, and won’t have to work hard to convince the 60% of Americans who consistently poll to pull the troops out of that mess.

    It’s his very own ‘slam dunk’! But this time, it’s a real one.

  27. I don’t think any of it matters much any more. Being a super power costs. McCain,, Clinton or Obama are going to find the cooky jar empty. Their wars will end when the rest of the would refuses to fund them.
    I wonder what the discerning collector will be able to pick up in 2010.

    And as for social policy, it’s a democracy, it really is their right to run a dysfunctional society, if that is what they vote for, lets all hail Jesus and go home.

  28. KR – Or as someone on the Huffington blog said – “I don’t trust any of them – I’ll take that call”

    EC – Thanks – At least a thousand words in each cartoon – and all of them true.

  29. Just to get the US picture in perspective:

    In January, 23.4 percent of outstanding subprime mortgages were either 60 days’ delinquent, in foreclosure or had already had the home repossessed, up 9 percent from December, according to Rod Dubitsky and other analysts at Credit Suisse.

    …and the consumer runs about 70% of US GDP:

    For the second consecutive month, spending was flat in January when adjusted for inflation, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

    …and finally, the nexus that’s getting them in the neck:

    “You can almost draw it out in a diagram,” said Bernard Baumohl, managing director at the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, N.J. “With home prices going down, consumers cut back on spending. If consumers cut back on spending, the economy weakens further. If the economy weakens further, fewer people are able to afford mortgages so home foreclosures increase.”

    …and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the backdrop to the Republican presidential campaign, and their THREE TRILLION DOLLAR WAR.

    Let’s wish them luck, coz they’re sure gonna need it!

  30. Charles @ 36 – The article says:
    “While Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo stresses there is “no disorderly sale of submarines,” individual vessels can even be found for sale on the Internet.”

    Low and behold, captain your own Whisky class submarine:

    It actually has this banner:
    “What do you get the man who has everything for Christmas?
    A SUBMARINE OF COURSE! Shop early to beat the rush!”

    I especially like the colour of the inside of the torpedo tubes, for some reason.

    $US497,000 isn’t too bad when you look at the exchange rate and think at the price of a Hummer, which will now be yesterday’s war toy in the suburbs.

    But maybe we should wait for the price to come down after the US wars end.

  31. KR @ 35 – [ ‘yeah, she had her moment, and she authorised Bush to invade Iraq’.]
    It’s looking more and more powerful – it will be the recurring answer until November I’d say. Obama’s the only one who can say it and the majority of voters are with him alreadyon it. He’s got the rails run on foreign policy as a result. No wonder he plays poker.

  32. (Sat. March 1) The Imbecile Talks Tough:;_ylt=Agb6bwizsUxO8Vz3vnV0oSFR_b4F

    (Sat March 1) In Seppo City Central, money doesn’t talk, it swears.
    Btw nifty Dylanesque header, William.;_ylt=AjnmDD4lkb7GOHaupI8ouVgl6ysC

    ( Fri Feb 29) Visualising the deletion flutter motif helps in appreciating today’s offering from Tommy T.;_ylt=Ai_egq1Dw_ZYpmeK_UqfMtJT_b4F

    Thank you for viewing, funsters. (You’re welcome j. view, evenin’ jen)
    Bludger Toon-Time is a joint BB-EC (BillBo-EnCom) Production.


  33. RCP doesn’t yet appear to include the updated Reuters poll

    Apparently, it is 45-43 (Obama) in Texas and 45-45 in Ohio.


    Of course, all of this minor movement is within the margin of error, so…

  34. Charles @ 42 – But those US instructions could be dangerous – they were probably written by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, and involve random uncontrollable behaviour by the subs unbecoming on our waterways, plus the death of small children. At least before you use any of the heat-seeking electronics I’d have a mechanic give them a proper going over.
    The Russian subs are OK in that regard – the most likely thing to happen is your boat sinks unexpectedly to the bottom and you suffocate.

  35. If Nelson doesn’t have a significant bounce then Turnbull will have to take over before the next election to simply limit the damage, he will have no choice.

  36. Kina – Nelson and Turnbull have entered the US POTUS race?? Well…I guess they were never going to be elected here, so good luck to them. Hope they’re ‘natural born citizens’.

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