The Ostroy Report

The Ostroy Report is a fresh, aggressive voice for Democrats and a watchdog of the GOP/Tea Party. We support President Obama and the Democratic agenda and seek to preserve the Senate majority while taking back the House. But we're also not afraid to criticize the left when necessary.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why It'll Be McCain v. Clinton Come Tuesday Night


On Tuesday, voters in 22 states will go to the polls in what has become Super-Duper Tuesday...an historic day of key Democratic and Republican primaries and caucuses. By the time the polls close, I suspect the candidates left standing will be Arizona Sen. John McCain and NY Sen. Hillary Clinton. This will be largely due to several key social factors and political realities.

To begin with, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has double-digit leads in about 10 states and, overall, sizeabale leads in many of the most delegate-rich states. Additionally, she has the overwhelming support of whites and latinos; the latino vote being perhaps the most critical asset for her and the biggest liability for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, her only rival at this point (following former Senator John Edwards' suspension this week of his campaign). And while Obama picked up South Carolina's delegates last week, he was carried over the finish line by the state's large constituency of black voters. But Hillary, by a 2-to-1 margin, won the state's latinos. As the campaign now spreads out broadly across the U.S., the absence of this huge South Carolina-like black support will be pronounced, especially given Clinton's clear majority of whites and hispanics. She also is the favorite among the poor and middle class, and those less educated...and there's a whole lot more of them than the wealthier, educated Whites who, along with blacks, comprise Obama's key supporters. The Obama camp also touts large support among the nation's youth, but, unless this year is different (which it very well may be), history shows that young people just don't show up at the polls on election day.

What could slam the door shut on the hispanic vote would be for someone like New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson--historically a loyal Clintonite--to come out with a Hillary endorsement sometime tomorrow or over the weekend. I believe this is very likely. In exchange, and given his credentials, he sure would make for a helluva Secretary of State.

Lastly, and this should come as a shock to no one, America is still quite a racist nation. This is the biggest hurdle of all for Obama. Are voters ready for a black president? As a mostly liberal Democrat, nothing in my lifetime would make me happier than to see a black man or woman become president. And if that's 2008, I would be ecstatic. But I'm also a realist. I just don't think most voters, come lever-time, will vote for Obama. All we need to do, if we're looking for a reminder of the scale of our nation's ignorance and prejudice, is to go back to '04, when hatred of gays drove many to overlook their own best interests and be usued instead as political pawns by Karl Rove.

So, stack all this up and it appears very unlikely that Obama will emerge victorious on Super Duper Tuesday. It is more likely that on Wednesday, February 6th, Obama will officially leave the race.

Now for the Republican landscape. McCain is clearly the choice among conservatives. Despite what former Massachusettes Gov. Mitt Romney keeps saying, McCain's overall message is clearly resonating quite well among those right-wingers that the Stormin' Mormon covets. McCain keeps winning primaries for a reason. He's appealing to a coalition of independents, conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans...the latter of whom obviously represents the majority of GOP voters these days. Come Tuesday, I think McCain will largely win most of the states, with a few smaller ones perhaps going for Romney. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will likely win a couple of Southern states--Georgia and Tennessee perhaps--where a minority of ultra right wing evangelical types cling to the delusional notion that a majority of Republicans still care most about whether gays marry or if women get abortions. And it is precisely for this gross miscalculation that McCain has so far blown past his rivals....demonstrating that it is he, not they, who is more in touch with today's conservative. The Huckabee-worshipping fanatics no longer represent the party nor wield the kind of clout that Rove masterfully preyed upon in 2000 and 2004.

And now with the endorsements of former NYC Mayor (and once-GOP frontrunner) Rudy Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, McCain's momentum seems unstoppable. Throw in a possible veep choice of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent Democrat who is more conservative than the average Republican, and McCain could very well sail all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania next November.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Thank you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Real Threat to Democrats: McCain/Lieberman


Though much of the 2008 presidential campaign is still technically ahead of us, the fact is, Arizona Sen. John McCain seems all but certain to win the GOP nomination. Give the plucky war hero some credit. You could've stuck a fork in his campaign just a couple of months ago. Like him or not (and I don't), the guy's a survivor...whether it's enduring 5 years of torture as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war, or as a presidential candidate. After a highly contentious and losing effort in 2000 against the leader of the real Axis of Evil (Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzalez), 2008 finally looks like John McCain's time in the political sun. And if the scrappy Senator chooses Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate--as I suspect he will--I believe he will not only win the Republican nomination, but also the big prize next November. Democrats should be afraid. Very, very afraid. Against either leading Democrat--NY Senator Hillary Clinton or Illinois Sen. Barack Obama--this would be an unbeatable ticket.

To be sure, a McCain/Lieberman ticket would not only be attractive to run-of-the-mill Republicans, but to conservative Democrats and independents alike. On the religious front, Lieberman would likely draw the Jewish vote, as well as evangelicals, who adore his piousness. And Old Joe is an already vetted, proven entity. Remember that former veep Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 with Lieberman on the ticket. That was eight years ago. Cut to '08, and the big question is this: are voters in the United States--a country unfortunately still riddled with racial, religious and gender discrimination and prejudice--while clearly accepting of a Jew in the White House, ready to elect a Black or a woman? This is not to say that Clinton or Obama cannot win in the general election. But the simple fact is that Republicans and independents are not going to vote for Clinton. And while Obama might fare slightly better with some left-leaning independents, the bulk of these renegades will clearly go to McCain. This landscape presents a steep uphill climb for either Democrat.

Now let's look at McCain for minute. We know he's tough. We know he's a war hero. And while he's without question a military hawk, he does have a deep respect and concern for our servicemen and women, given his own battle scars. Unlike our draft-dodging president, who never knew firsthand the pain and suffering of war, the odds are McCain would think long and hard before sending our troops into battle. And as a relentlessly tortured POW, he also has an unwavering respect for the Geneva Conventions, and was an aggressive opponent of former Attorney General and torture-monger Alberto Gonzalez. This makes him a very attractive choice among the national security crowd. Ditto for Lieberman.

On the fiscal side, while he's certainly not put forth any ground-breaking economic proposals (his recent stimulus plan is "long-term based" and actually quite weak), he is a pro-growth, smaller-government, free-trader who initially opposed the Bush tax cuts but now favors them. Again, these positions will certainly appeal to Repubs, conservative Dems and the highly coveted indies.

And while I for one don't buy into this myth, he's somehow earned the reputation as a moderate, which he is anything but. Not militarily, not fiscally, and certainly not on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Yet all of this has been tempered by his much-revered rebel status. Someone who marches to the beat of his own drummer. While he's indeed sucked up to, and backed down from, Bush and others on many occasions, this independent cred, and that of Lieberman, could really resonate among voters fed up with Bush, politics and politicians in general. Stack up this ticket against "more Clinton years," as many Republicans and Democrats loudly lament, and you can see how easily it could be for McCain to be our 44th president. And by putting Lieberman on his ticket, McCain, in my opinion, becomes a shoe-in.

So, how real is this threat? A new Los Angeles Time/Bloomberg poll released Thursday has Clinton at just 46% to McCain's 42%. With 10 months to go until the election, and with what we know of McCain's record as a fighter and survivor, these are very scary numbers.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Here's What Hillary Should be Saying About "Change"


Watching the remaining crop of Democratic candidates for president--Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards--you'd get the impression they're all Washington outsiders bringing a fresh, independent vision to a process that's dominated by lobbyists, special interests and the old guard. The most prominent self-professed agent of change is Barack Obama, who also just happens to be in a very exclusive group of 100 of the world's most powerful people: the U.S. Senate. Ditto for Hillary Clinton, who also belongs to another very powerful political machine called the Clintons. And John Edwards, a former member of this prestigious group of Washington insiders, is also an extremely wealthy trial lawyer. These three hardly can hardly portray themselves as agents of change with any real credibility.

But if I was heading the Clinton campaign, here's what I'd be telling her to do: start talking about changing things back to the way they were when she and Bill resided in the White House. We don't need to bring anything "new" to Washington. Just bring back the old. Is there any rational Democrat (or even moderate Republican or independent for that matter) who would not like to turn the clock back to when we experienced unprecedented economic prosperity (low inflation, 23 million new jobs, a $230 billion budget surplus; surging stock market); were a country at peace; and were still respected in much of the world? When we were led by an intelligent, curious, responsible president who could also string together two sentences without sounding like an unintelligible moron? A president who left office with a healthy 62% approval rating.

So why is Hillary--an obvious life-long Washington insider--trying to pawn herself off as an agent of change rather than reminding us of all this relative peace, prosperity and popularity from '92-'00? What's wrong with looking back to the future? The eight years of Clinton-Gore represents a time in our country that we could use again. While I had hoped that the former vice-president would enter the race, he clearly is not (unless he slips in under a brokered convention should neither Obama and Clinton get enough delegates to win the nomination...a dream I'm still holding out for). Personally, I'd give my right arm to have Bill back in the White House, under any circumstance. I for one don't need "change," just a solid return to those indisputably successful years. And if Hillary Clinton were to remind voters of this instead of getting caught up in this bogus "agent of change" game, she'd sail straight to the White House.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Obama Shows His True Colors


The 2008 presidential campaign is heating up intensely, with the two Democratic rivals, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, at each others' throats in a fight for political survival. And it ain't pretty. In the past week the issues of gender and race entered the fray in a way that would make Karl Rove proud. But it's not as two-sided as some are saying. The culprit, in my opinion, is Obama and his surrogates, who have ratcheted up the incendiary rhetoric to a reckless, embarrassing level. For Obama, it's not about black or white, but gray. He's become quite adept at saying one thing and doing another. Of presenting himself as the candidate of change; one who'll bring civility and honorability back to the campaign trail. Of staying "above the fray," but then fraying with the best of 'em. Of blurring the racial lines in this hotly contested race and using race in both an inspirational manner and a devious, calculating one. And that's what we saw this past week. The real Barack Obama.

It all started with the now infamous comments by both Hillary and Bill Clinton, which were taken so way out of context, and blown so way out of proportion, that many in Washington and in the media should be ashamed of themselves. In short, during a recent speech, the former president, while characterizing Obama's positions on Iraq (on purportedly being so different than Hillary's), frustratingly said "This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." Somehow Clinton, who was affectionately dubbed "the first black president" by Toni Morrison back in the 90's, got entwined in a game of verbal Twister not seen since his "what 'is' is" days. The comment was interpreted as "Obama's candidacy is a fairy tale," with Bubba accused of racial insensitivity. Give us a break. All anyone needs to do is listen to the entire speech and Bill's point becomes quite clear. But that didn't stop NBC's Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press, from playing just the short comment clip during his Hillary interview Sunday and asking her about Bill's racial insensitivity. And it didn't stop South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn from piling on about this supposed racial insensitivity. And it didn't stop the NY Times columnist Bob Herbert from totally distorting the facts either. Nor did it stop countless others from spewing this nonsense.

And then, as Murphy's Law would have it, Hillary fanned the flames with her own alleged racial insensitivity. Commenting last week on the civil rights movement, Hillary suggested that Obama's inspirational speeches are not enough to truly effect change. Of the comparisons Obama has drawn for himself to John Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Clinton said "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964...It took a president to get it done." Ruh-ro. More wild accusations. More distortions. Say what you will, but Clinton's comment is dead-on. A grass-roots movement alone cannot move a nation towards real change without legislators heeding the will of the people and passing legislation ensuring lasting change. Back in the 60's the system worked. The people, led by Dr. King, brought the civil rights crisis to a boil. And Johnson used his position of power to make it law. That was and is Clinton's point.

Let's be sure about one thing: it is utterly irresponsible and reprehensible to portray the Clintons as racists or of being racially insensitive. What they have done over the years for minorities is well documented and respected. They have been champions of, and within, the Black community. The events of the past week are nothing more than shameful attempts by the Obama camp to play the race card for pure political gain.