You’d have to be living in a hole to not know that the Presidential races are heating up. With Al Gore out of the race I’ve been finalizing my decision as to who I will be supporting when I vote in the Texas primary in mid-March. Unfortunately, because of where I live, my primary vote might be marginally more meaningful than my general election vote when it comes to electing our next President. I will have much greater say over state and local politics though, so I absolutely will vote. If I am in the midst of finalizing my decision then I expect that some of you are as well. Therefore, here are some political angles that might be of interest to our largely South Asian American readership as we come down the stretch. First off is a survey from DiversityInc.com that some friends of mine were emailing around [via Mercury Rising]:
As you can see, the Democratic candidates’ campaign staffs seem considerably more diverse than the Republican staffs (if you are willing to believe this survey without questioning the details of the poll). I am not sure though if I believe that Guiliani’s campaign doesn’t have a single minority. There is obviously some margin of error in a poll like this but Diversity.com attributes some of that error to the following:
While DiversityInc.com was able to get extensive feedback from the people involved in the Democratic candidates’ campaigns, nobody on the Republican side would talk to them despite repeated efforts on DiversityInc.com’s part to contact them. [Link]
You notice how Clinton seems to have the most overall diversity and also the most Asian Americans? If Bill Clinton was America’s first African American President can we expect that Hillary would be the first Asian American one were she to win?
We are also in the stage of the campaign when “major figures” are granting their official endorsements to a candidate. Just recently Pat Robertson gave his support to Guiliani. Who do we look to in the desi community for an endorsement? Well what about the OM (Original Macaca). Which campaign is S.R. Sidarth now working on after he helped Webb take down Allen with the power of his hair cut? [hat tip to former SM Blogger Siddhartha]
S.R. Sidarth — a name you might recall from the George Allen-Jim Webb race last fall — is now hard at work on the Democratic presidential campaign of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
Sidarth, of course, was on the receiving end of Allen’s “macaca” comment, which tilted the race in Webb’s direction.
No word (yet) on whether Sidarth is now working as a “tracker” for Richardson as he did for Webb. [Link]
What about Musharraf? If he was a U.S. Citizen and could vote who would he support? Or what about his political arch-rival Bhutto? Turns out they’d likely support the same candidate: “Dunkin” Joe Biden. Robert Novak clues us in:
President Pervez Musharraf and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto each placed telephone calls from Pakistan to Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to discuss the country’s crisis before either talked to President George W. Bush.
On Saturday, Bhutto emphasized to Biden the need for parliamentary elections in January with Gen. Musharraf remaining as president but leaving the army. Musharraf called Biden on Tuesday and asked that their conversation be kept confidential. Biden got the impression Musharraf could accept January elections although he had triggered the crisis by suspending the constitution.
Biden, seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, wants the Bush administration to get actively involved in resolving the situation. He wants development now of a post-election power-sharing agreement between Musharraf and Bhutto. [Link]
p>So for all you America haters out there, it isn’t Bush and the CIA that are determining the fate of Pakistan. It isn’t those incorrigible lawyers either. It is Joe Biden. Here are some excerpts from his op-ed in today’s Baltimore Sun:
First, we must take an active role in the current crisis and make it clear to Pakistan that actions have consequences. After Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed de facto martial law, President Bush’s first reaction was to call on him to reverse course. Given the stakes, I thought it was important to actually call him, and I did so. President Musharraf and I had a very direct and detailed discussion. I told him it is critical that elections go forward as planned early next year, that he follow through on his commitment to take off his uniform, and that he restore the rule of law to Pakistan. I also spoke to opposition leader Benazir Bhutto…
Second, we must move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy that gives the moderate majority a chance to succeed. The current U.S.-Pakistan relationship is largely transactional – and this transaction isn’t working for either party…
Third, this new policy cannot succeed in isolation. We must help create conditions in the region that maximize the chances of success and minimize the prospects for failure. When we shifted resources away from Afghanistan to Iraq, Mr. Musharraf concluded that the Taliban would rebound, so he cut a deal with them. Redoubling our efforts in Afghanistan would embolden Pakistan’s government to take a harder line on the Taliban and al-Qaida. [Link]
p>So what else we got? What about news from the Obama campaign? He has been closing in on Hillary in New Hampshire and Iowa. From last week’s LA Times:
Remember back in June when Barack Obama had to apologize publicly for a caustic memo his campaign leaked to reporters about Hillary Clinton’s ties to the Indian American community? We wrote about it here.
To get Clinton’s reaction, a reporter showed the memo to her campaign people, who had no promise to keep. So they turned it around on Obama by leaking it to other reporters with the same secrecy promise to demonstrate the alleged hypocrisy of his “politics of hope” campaign. It’s like a game, isn’t it? Except the stakes are rather high.
Well, during the last day or so behind the scenes, the Clinton folks, who play hardball, have been shopping around to some writers (not this one) a story idea that a couple of prominent Obama supporters had lobbied the South Carolina Democratic Party’s executive council last week to keep Stephen Colbert off the state’s primary ballot, which they succeeded in doing.
When you think about it, that’s probably a good idea. Colbert, a funny fellow who plays a political talk show host on his Comedy Central show, got Doritos to sponsor his candidacy and claimed to be showing the fundamental hypocrisy of the political system by trying to run in both parties’ primaries.
He’s good for a laugh, and normally serious Tim Russert even had him on the normally respectable “Meet the Press,” for a faux serious candidate interview. The “truthiness,” as usual these days, is that Colbert’s “campaign” provided priceless free publicity for his TV program and new book.
The Clinton folks may also have wanted Colbert off the ballot too, because each vote for…the comedian is one less for the real politicians. More likely, Clinton leads in South Carolina polls and Obama needs more votes to catch her. And polls indicate he appeals to roughly the same younger, college-educated crowd as Colbert does. So his operatives lobbied against the distracting Colbert candidacy. [Link]
The irony here is that Colbert’s popular Facebook site was also started by an…Indian American. Keep letting me know of any more South Asian American angles you’d like to hear about.