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The [Monday] Papers

"As Sunday afternoon was quickly becoming Sunday night, Robbie Gould's onside kick was skittering across the turf at Qwest Field," Clare Farnsworth writes this morning in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"If the Chicago Bears recovered, it would give them one final shot at scoring a last-second touchdown to send their game against the Seahawks into overtime.

"But quicker than any memories could be evoked of the Bears' overtime victory against the Seahawks in the second round of last season's playoffs, free safety Brian Russell got to the ball and slapped it out of bounds.

"End of threat. End of the Bears (4-6) as a playoff contender, perhaps."

Or, as our very own Jim Coffman writes in Bear Monday: "It all added up to a big step toward the abyss."

Divine Right
"This is God's favorite song."

Slime Time
"Obama Rips 'Slime Politics.""

Except when he's the one practicing it.

Driving Me Crazy
The latest flap among Democratic presidential candidates about drivers licenses for illegal immigrants exemplifies one facet of why I won't be voting for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Let's take Hillary first.

My problem isn't that she flip-flopped on the issue, because she didn't. That's a fabrication. If you look at what she said in the debate in Philadelphia that got her in so much trouble, you can see that she never said she would support as president allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, but that she could see how New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer was moved to just such a plan in the absence of national immigration reform. The states are stuck in a void without federal action; governors are enacting makeshift policies to cope the best they can. I'm not bothered at all by her reluctance to undercut Spitzer, which is what really got her in trouble. So be it.

My problem with Hillary, though, is that she cynically bowed to pundits proclaiming a "poor performance" in that debate - even Kos thought she did well - rather than stand up and fight for the truth of what she said and what she believes. She found it easier to finesse the issue away.

It reminds me of Al Gore's great failing in 2000. Instead of standing up for himself against the cascade of lies and myths perpetuated by the media including the one that had him claiming to have invented the Internet, he incorporated jokes about the non-existent claim into his stump speech as a path of lesser resistance.

I'd prefer candidates who stand up for themselves and the truth. If they won't stand up for themselves, after all, they sure as hell aren't going to stand up for you.

Obama is guilty of the same thing. When he was criticized in an earlier debate for saying he would meet with the leaders of North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran anytime without precondition in his first year as president, that's not what he really meant. What he really meant was wholly reasonable: That we should engage in diplomacy with our enemies instead of refusing to speak to them like the ill-tempered children of the Bush Administration.

After awkward attempts to walk Obama's statement back based on a disconnect between the literal question and Obama's answer, Obama began to go with the idea instead, proclaiming it part of his new politics. It was a way to soothe the pundits rather than explain that he didn't mean what it sounded like he meant.

If you believe Obama would really meet in the White House face-to-face with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without any diplomatic groundwork - i.e., preconditions - in his first year as president, followed by visits from Kim Jong Il, Basher al-Assad and Fidel Castro, you're smoking crack.

This is the kind of disingenuous media strategy that is part and parcel of today's presidential campaigns, because in large part it was media pressure that caused each candidate to behave like weasels. The pundits like to set out the terms for candidates as to what it will take for them to lay off this issue or that; demanding an apology, a condemnation, a more clever way to manipulate the voters, an acceptable "cleaning up" of a "problem." And the candidates play along.

The truth about the drivers license issue is that it is a federal issue, not a state issue. States will act in a vacuum until federal action is taken, and a president can hardly blame them. Presidents can't be in the business of telling each state what to do, though each candidate ought to have an opinion on whether federal immigration reform should have a drivers license provision - or if it will tackle the issue in a way to make drivers licenses moot.

In one sense, then, Obama is right: The issue is a distraction. Theoretically. On the other hand, in the absence of comprehensive federal legislation, which could be years in the offing, states will act. To governors, what Obama calls a distraction is a reality staring them in the face.

What I haven't seen is a case for how either Obama or Clinton would pass comprehensive immigration reform that so far has been unattainable. How will they succeed where the Bush Administration has failed? After all, for the most part Obama and Clinton agree with the Bush plan. Including that 700-mile fence on the Mexican border. Talk about a distraction.

Played For a Sucker
Paul Krugman on Obama's Social Security folly.

Chicago In Song
The Hold Steady channels Nelson Algren.

Rock Heresy
Avril Lavigne performed at the American Music Awards last night, an event I have absolutely no interest in. It is hardly the best of American music. But one day I'll explain my seemingly sacrilegious theory about how Lavigne is like the Replacements.

The Beachwood Tip Line: On the make.


Posted on November 19, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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