Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chastised By Chafee

Scotty McKay of The Providence Journal just reviewed an advance copy Lincoln Chafee's memoir. Chafee as you may recall was a moderate/liberal Republican senator who opposed the Iraq War and was defeated in his 2006 re-election bid. Following his defeat, Chafee left the Republican Party. According to McKay, Chafee has harsh words for both Republicans and Democrats in his book about. Here is the money quote:
“I find it surprising now, in 2008, how many Democrats are running for president after shirking their constitutional duty to check and balance this president.

They argue that the president duped them into war, but getting duped does not exactly recommend their leadership. Helping a rogue president start an unnecessary war should be a career-ending lapse of judgment.”
And that says it all about Hillary Clinton. At least John Edwards apologized for his mistake.

Let's Embolden Obama With A Progressive Firewall

Since returning from work today my inbox has been flooded with people either venting about Edwards dropping out, praising his campaign or wondering what if anything I have to say. Viscerally, I’m despondent about his leaving. Even if Edwards wasn’t likely to prevail he set the pace on the issues debate. Edwards was far ahead of candidates in both parties on healthcare, poverty, the plight of the working poor, the phony global war on terror and global warming.

John Edwards is a champion of progressive values. Only a progressive mandate can facilitate the massive modernization our infrastructure needs, implement an exponential upgrade of public education to ensure the future, nurture a commitment to research and development for cleaner energy, reorient the economy so it values work over gentrified wealth, empower unions so wage earners will have more leverage, reform a justice system that supports a prison industrial complex by disproportionately incarcerating young black men and challenge America’s empire culture so we’re no longer at odds with the civilized world.

The best response for Edwards supporters like myself is to work for a progressive firewall in congress and statehouses nationwide. Given all the Republican resignations in Washington as well as the changing political landscape in state capitols, this can be achieved. A progressive firewall will hopefully either embolden a President Barack Obama towards greatness or earn respect through leverage with a President Hillary Clinton, to achieve as many objectives as we can.

Should a John McCain become president, it will take a progressive firewall to effectively challenge and obstruct the calamity of American conservatism that he represents and be in a strong position to ascend in 2012. Hardly an ideal scenario and I am certainly not giving up on the White House for Democrats this year. But one thing Democrats have learned the hard way over the years is that we can’t be too dependent on a single personality.

Even so, Obama’s immense potential does penetrate my despondency over Edwards departure. Perhaps he truly can assemble a movement that achieves critical mass and reverses the trajectory of American politics. I want to believe Obama can inspire a transformation from our ethos of greed to a culture of community. I had more faith in the tangible, gritty, populist struggle waged by John Edwards. Yet, if Obama can incorporate Edwards blend of populism with his fighting fire with water persona then he’ll be one of the great ones. With a progressive firewall behind him, hope may not require audacity so much as the will to roll up our sleeves. So as of now Barack Obama is my candidate as the quest for economic and social justice goes forward.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Parody of Insipid Media Coverage

What's really scary about this hilarious parody video from The Onion is just how close to the mark it is. It's not hard to imagine any of the major news networks covering how the presidential candidates would appeal to obese voters instead of informing people about substance.

As Obese Population Rises, More Candidates Courting The Fat Vote

Monday, January 28, 2008

Food For the Soul

Allow me to take a break from political blogging to promote an upcoming fiction and poetry reading in New York City on Thursday, February 7th @ 7PM. Sponsored by the Writers Studio, the four writers featured that evening are Larry Joseph (see picture), Alice Mattison and faculty members Lesley Dormen and Lisa Bellamy.

Some may be familiar with Larry Joseph’s work as he is a renowned social critic. In 1983, Joseph won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the Pitt Poetry Series for his first book, Shouting At No One.

Alice Mattison is an accomplished writer as well with four novels, three previous short story collections, and a volume of poetry to her credit. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, The New Yorker, The Threepenny Review, Glimmer Train, and Ploughshares.

Lesley Dormen is a widely published author and senior teacher at the Writers Studio. Simon & Schuster published The Best Place To Be, Dormen’s book of linked stories in 2007. Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Five Points, Open City, Glimmer Train and the anthology 20 Over 40, and have been nominated for Best American Short Stories.

It happens that Lisa Bellamy is a good friend and former office colleague of mine. So I’m especially interested in her poetry and will hopefully be able to attend. Lisa’s poetry has been published in Tiferet, Harpur Palate, Poetry Midwest, Rainbow Curve, Skidrow Penthouse and other magazines. She received an honorable mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007 and is working on a poetry collection.

Admission is free and there is a cash bar and café. Please spread the word.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Big Dog Has Rabies

It took me awhile to warm up to Bill Clinton in 1992. During the primaries that year I was a Paul Tsongas supporter. Ironically, I didn’t agree with Tsongas on fiscal/economic policy but sensed he was an intelligent and decent man with an authentic core. Compared to Bill Clinton, Tsongas seemed to be a beacon of rectitude.

Bill Clinton, remember had executed a retarded inmate on death row to enhance his credentials as a tough on crime “New Democrat” presidential candidate. So while I didn’t agree with Tsongas’s position on the capital gains tax cut I couldn’t ever imagine him gratuitously executing anyone.

Yet Clinton also stood stall in front of a factory in New Hampshire during tough economic times and admitted no president could magically restore the jobs they had lost. I thought of that when Mitt Romney pandered to economically distressed voters in Michigan recently. Instead, Clinton became the first American politician to effectively articulate an economic transition strategy for a high-tech inter-connected world. When the right-wing conspiracy and tabloid media went after him, Bill Clinton relentlessly promoted his “Putting People First” agenda. While George Herbert Walker Bush and Ross Perot tossed rhetorical grenades at each other, Bill Clinton talked about investing in human capital.

And Clinton was tough. The still fresh traumatic memory of the Mike Dukakis ’88 campaign was a toxic poison ravaging my guts. I had canvassed for Dukakis while attending college. One curmudgeon accused me of campaigning for someone who sympathized with rapists and communists. The evil slander machine of James Baker, Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes didn’t just savage Dukakis personally. You see, they also successfully demonized liberals like me as unpatriotic, indecent people to be ridiculed as unworthy participants of the American mosaic.

Dukakis, was a good man. Sadly though, he didn’t just fail to stand up for himself. He didn’t stand up for people like me who believed in economic and social justice, human rights and a cleaner planet. Speaking of a cleaner planet, how the hell did the Bush Crime Family that earned a fortune through oil ever get away with portraying Dukakis as a polluter? To this day that blows my mind.

None of that stuff worked on Bill Clinton. He could take a punch and throw some elbows in return. At the time I found the Clinton “War Room” refreshing. At last Democrats were kicking back. Today, I detest James Carville but at the time I considered him and George Stephanopolous heroes. Bill Clinton was winning me over with his toughness, resiliency and yes I believed there was something to the empathy. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton impressed me as a smart, tough, advocate for the progressive cause. The “two for one” pitch made Bill Clinton more appealing to me.

Once Clinton selected Al Gore as his running in 1992, I believed the stars were aligned for a season of hope. I was twenty-three, idealistic yet also cynically hardened by twelve Reagan-Bush years of division, wedge issues, welfare-Cadillac queens, racism, social intolerance, xenophobia, homophobia, flag burning/pledge of allegiance propaganda and Christian fundamentalist ascendancy. I wanted to feel inspired by a movement of national unity around a new progressive paradigm.

That year I wrote a letter to college friends living out west (remember when we wrote actual letters?) that Clinton’s success “depended on building bridges all Americans can walk upon. Republicans want to blow a few bridges up and convince the white middle class the blacks did it.”

After the Democratic convention at Madison Square Garden I bought a Fleetwood-Mac greatest hits tape and played “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” at least once a day. I wanted to believe so badly. Clinton effectively conveyed my sentiments in his 1993 inaugural when he spoke about “forcing the spring.” I wanted to believe the country was ready.

We all know what happened from there. Clinton scandals combined with a vicious right-wing counterattack resulted in an era of triangulation and the ascendancy of predatory reactionaries. Some things were accomplished: expansion of the earned income tax credit for the working poor, sound monetary policy which gave a boost to the bond market and kicked the economy, two decent Supreme Court justices, peace in Ireland and a decade of relative peace and prosperity to name but a few. We could’ve done a lot worse and if the 2000 election wasn't stolen from Al Gore I'm convinced 9/11 would never have happened.

Sadly, the “Big Dog” as he’s been affectionately known in the progressive blogosphere has rabies now. As anyone who has read my blog writing knows (all five of you!), I have expressed misgivings about Barack Obama. My preferred candidate is John Edwards. But I sure as hell give Obama credit for trying to stitch a progressive diverse movement together across ethnic, gender and age demographics. It’s not so easy communicating the same message across the divide of race and class. Bobby Kennedy was on the cusp of doing just that when he was gunned down in 1968.

Could it be that a moment of possibility has arrived again? Bill Clinton doesn’t want you to believe it. He shamefully exploited racial divisions to deny the politics of hope for his own self-aggrandizement and hunger for restoration with his wife as proxy. Any residual affection I ever had for him is gone. When a dog contracts rabies, even if it’s a beloved family dog, the family has no choice but to put that dog down for the good of the community. My fellow Democrats, it’s up to us to put the Big Dog down.

Holy Crap! Barack Obama Is Black!

Anybody out there ever watch the Family Guy cartoon on the American Goebell’s Network otherwise known as FOX? The only reason to watch FOX is for cartoons such as The Simpsons or The Family Guy. How ironic FOX airs cartoons with satirical commentary about America’s conservative culture.

Anyway, some years ago, an episode of the Family Guy showed imbecile father/husband Peter Griffin watching Star Trek on television. In typical Peter fashion he observed, “Holy crap! Lt. Uhura is black!” Adding to the humor was how Peter watched Star Trek regularly and only realized Uhura was black that very moment.

Watching news coverage of this year’s presidential campaign I feel like everyone from corporate media executives, field reporters and the Clintons have declared: “Holy crap! Barack Obama is black!”

Bill Clinton hoped to diminish the outcome of South Carolina by noting how Jesse Jackson (a black man!) won the primary in 1984 and 1988. In other words just a black man getting a lot of black votes in South Carolina. Black votes can’t possibly be considered as a credible bellwether of a candidate’s political viability unless they’re supporting the Clintons. The media of course fanned the flames of race to further generate hype. Hype is far easier to cover than substance anyway.

Sadly, it will only get worse as we approach Epic Tuesday on February 5th. You will read and hear more “horserace” garbage about the Clintons scheming for the woman vote and using subtle codified language to remind voters that Obama is the “black candidate.” Meanwhile, the John Edwards populist anti-corporate message will be dwarfed, as the media instead focuses on how he splits white southern voters with Hillary Clinton.

Finally, you will begin to read how important Hispanic voters are in states such as California as pundits ponder whether “brown” voters combined with women will help Clinton over Obama. A subtle backdrop to all this is how the corporatist media could never allow John Edwards to prevail because he just might implement policies that benefit wage earners at the expense of America’s corporatist pro-war plutocracy. Populism isn't sexy and doesn't fit into a narrative that reconciles with America's corporatist brain massage machine.

Please forgive me for pointing out that the stakes demand infinitely more respect than treating this election as an insipid beauty contest. For starters, the greatest threat to humanity today is global warming. Nothing else comes close. Certainly not the fear mongering canard known as "radical Islam" exploited by sniveling neo-cons.

On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cited a report from Independent Alert, a London based peace organization that identified 46 countries with 2.7 billion people where climate change and water-related crises create "a high risk of violent conflict" while an additional 56 countries, with 1.2 billion people "are at high risk of violent conflict." I posted about this very topic in December 2005 and noted evidence of a growing water shortage in the American southwest.

How come we never hear any of the candidates asked about the world’s pending crisis regarding access to fresh water? All the Democratic candidates and John McCain regularly utter platitudes about global warming but have any of them even thought through the challenges ahead once global water shortage reaches critical mass? Has any journalist thought of asking them about the issue during the debates instead of their usual gotcha drivel?

And then there is the minor problem of America’s crumbling infrastructure. Typically, infrastructure and capital projects fall under the bailiwick of state and local governments. Seven years of insipid conservative rule, crony capitalism and tax cuts favoring the rich have created a fiscal calamity for municipal governments nationwide. Perhaps the candidates should be asked if they have a plan to bail out municipal governments and how they intend to pay for it.

In yesterday’s New York Times, William Yardley reported about the increasing demands for infrastructure repairs and the inability of municipal governments to meet their obligations. If you think that isn’t important I suggest talking to those Minnesota families who lost loved ones when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed last summer. And don’t get me started on New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.

If we're discussing race why not ask the candidates about the number one growth industry in America today: incarcerating young black men to populate our prisons? America’s prison industrial complex is as much a blight on our national soul as Guantanamo. What does Barack Obama think about that? Perhaps he should be asked that question during the debates.

Finally, I realize Americans would prefer to just ignore the world but like it or not, we’re currently occupying two countries. Regardless of whatever propaganda you read about the surge working in Iraq or progress in Afghanistan, our continuing occupation of both countries is ineffective and immoral. Yet how many interviews have you observed with the presidential candidates when they’re not asked a single question about either Iraq or Afghanistan? Why not ask the presidential candidates what they intend to do about the increased opium trade in the United States due to our occupation in Afghanistan?

There is also more to the world than America’s occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Rape and violence against women is used as a weapon in the Congo’s ongoing civil war. Genocide continues in Kenya and Darfur. The Bush Administration, Prime Minister Olmert’s government in Israel and Palestinian President Abbas thought they could simply inhumanely ignore the people of Gaza. As a result there is a border crisis with Egypt to further destabilize the region.

Challenges abound at home and abroad with far reaching repercussions for our society, economy, security and ecosystem. Furthermore, the American empire is disintegrating and the fall out needs to be managed with tolerance and sense. But who cares about any of that? Barack Obama is black! Holy crap!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Horserace or Horse Manure?

My immediate response to Saturday’s results in South Carolina and Nevada are jaded despair. None of the candidates in either party, including my preferred candidate John Edwards, inspires my confidence about the future. Even worse, my preferred candidate with the most progressive message didn’t even garner five percent of the vote in a heavily unionized state.

Overall, too many figures in the corporatist media, as well as bloggers, are consumed by the “horserace.” The focus has been on Hillary Clinton’s tears, Barack Obama’s platitudes, John Edward’s hair or John McCain’s so-called “authenticity.” There was also the silly hair splitting about who said what in the Clinton and Obama camps over race or inspid attention on Obama’s statements about his disorganized desk. What the hell is wrong with all you people out there? Why are people so incapable of focusing on the salient challenges of our time and demanding answers from the declared candidates about why their ideas are best? Sad to say, today's candidates don't measure up to previous presidents.

America for all its flaws benefited from skilled leadership at crucial junctures in history. Our first president, George Washington, established a legacy of peaceful succession in an era of kings while surrounded by enemies. Abraham Lincoln kept the union together in spite of a bloody civil war due to the evil institution of slavery that wasn’t sustainable. Theodore Roosevelt took on entrenched corporate interests that were turning America into a plutocracy and established reforms that later became the building blocks of the New Deal. His cousin, Franklin Roosevelt saved America from an economic depression that impoverished millions with the New Deal and mobilized the country to defeat Nazi Germany's quest for global domination and genocide.

During the Cold War, presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy managed to avoid the calamity of nuclear war in spite of reactionaries inside the military industrial complexes of both the United States and the Soviet Union. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were flawed, paranoid leaders who prosecuted a self-defeating immoral war in Vietnam but both also successfully pursued détente with the Soviets. President Jimmy Carter helped put human rights on the map and empower a dissident movement inside the Soviet Union that leveraged Ronald Reagan to seek accommodation with the reform minded Michael Gorbachev and end the Cold War.

Today’s challenges, requires a caliber of leadership beyond even Washington, Lincoln and FDR. Those presidents were guided by the concept of American Exceptionalism. It’s an ideology practiced by presidents and political parties in this country for over two centuries. It’s based on a firm conviction that our society is morally superior, America knows best and our consumption of over a quarter of the world’s resources entirely justified. I know there are some knee-jerk conservatives out there thinking, “another blame America first leftist.”

I don’t blame America first. The world itself is flawed with greed and we’re a part of it. America was simply in the best position to pursue its greed because of power. Many other societies would have been far worse for this planet in the role of super power. I’m proud of my country in many ways. If not for the United States of America my grandfather would have perished in a Polish concentration camp and I never would have been born. I love my country even with all its flaws and warts. But we have to be honest with ourselves.

America’s power is descending. In recent years we’ve overreached due to greed, immorality and misguided hubris. We’re over extended economically, strategically, militarily and spiritually. America and the world can no longer afford our addiction to empire. At one time it could be plausibly argued that the American empire preserved a level of needed stability in a bipolar world. Today however, evil non-state terrorist actors and multinational corporations regulate this planet with more influence than centralized governments.

Hell, Blackwater has one of the largest armies in the world and Osama Bin Laden has no allegiance to any flag. Meanwhile, the global economy we long championed is now carving up financial institutions such as Citcorp. When even banks are experiencing a credit crunch due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and selling off assets to Saudi Arabian princes, your average wage earner will be left in the dust faster than you can say the American dollar is sucking wind.

The next president will have to usher in a new era of humility, conservation and international cooperation without surrendering America’s sovereignty or producing a destructive backlash among xenophobic racists, desperate plutocrats, delusional hawks and anti-civil libertarians. While I suspect many Americans can rationally and intellectually jettison our national security empire state it will require a severe cultural adjustment.

Even the most progressive peace advocates among us have grown up with an America as a colossus and many citizens will have difficulty embracing new realities. Furthermore, much of the planet alienated by America’s greed, imperialism and heavy- handed militarism will have to be cajoled into joining us in a mission to save humanity from global warming and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Among the candidates for president in both parties I don’t see a leader possessing the combination of strength and finesse to confront contemporary realities. Edwards has the most progressive message, Obama is a gifted man who offers great symbolism and even Clinton would be an improvement over Bush. Hell, John McCain would be an improvement over Bush simply because he doesn’t advocate torture. My boss would be an improvement over Bush. Your boss would be an improvement over Bush. People I personally dislike would be an improvement over Bush.

So yes, it’s nice that next year at this time we’ll have a new president regardless of who prevails. But I am not confident that any of these candidates is the right person for the moment. How can anyone be? My advice to citizens is stay as informed as possible in this shallow environment and don’t be easily seduced by platitudes, misinformation and just plan horse manure.

I also advise that disenchantment is no excuse for apathy. As disenchanted as I am, I intend to vote and increase participation through get out the vote efforts as much as possible. Ultimately, our only salvation is an informed, realistic electorate that's involved, asks questions and makes itself heard.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

PBS Gets Cozy With Mike Huckabee

Below is a transcript provided by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) of Judy Woodruff's interview with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Or you can listen to the audio by clicking here. This interview illustrates why bloggers like myself have utter contempt for the corporatist media. And yes that now apparently includes PBS which is supposed to be a cut above and serve only the public. In a disgraceful display of inept journalism, Woodruff asks one horse race question after the other.

This man may become the Republican nominee and perhaps our next president. I don't think he will but it's not impossible. So why not ask him questions of substance? They're plenty to chose from.

Why not ask Huckabee about the Bush Administration's policy of supporting Musharaf in Pakistan? Or how long the United States should maintain an occupying force in Iraq? Does Huckabee agree with his new best friend John McCain that it's acceptable if we remain in Iraq for another 100 years? For that matter, how the hell does Woodruff not ask Huckabee a single question about Iraq or Afghanistan where American forces are currently fighting, killing and being killed themselves? What does Huckabee intend to do about facilitating peace between the Israelis and Palestinians?

There are plenty of domestic policy questions to ask Huckabee as well. Such as why he doesn't believe in evolution and whether he supports science education. Also, given Huckabee's penchant for granting pardons as governor and his disillusionment with the justice system, does Huckabee intend to tackle the prison industrial complex should he become president? How much government intervention in economic policy does Huckabee support given his adversarial relationship with conservative stalwarts such as the Club For Growth, National Review and Rush Limbaugh? Since Huckabee has expressed sympathy for citizens earning $50,000 per year or less, would he support revoking the bankruptcy law passed by congress in 2005 and signed into law by President Bush?

These are just a few examples of questions Woodruff could've asked. Many of you reading this post no doubt have better questions. I would be just as angry if Woodruff asked fluffy questions of Democrats, including my preferred candidate John Edwards. Woodruff approached this interview as if she were questioning a football coach about how his season was going. For damn sure I know I could ask far better questions of a presidential candidate than this. So could many citizens. Anyway, read the transcript below and judge for yourselves. If you share my disenchantment with this interview, let PBS know by clicking here. It's only the presidency at stake.


JIM LEHRER: Judy Woodruff was on the flight with Huckabee to New Hampshire this morning and spoke with him again early this afternoon.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Huckabee, congratulations.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), Presidential Candidate: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The first question, is you had a lot less money.


JUDY WOODRUFF: You had a much smaller organization.


JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you think you did it in Iowa?

MIKE HUCKABEE: I think we did it because we had a message that people resonated with.

And they wanted to believe that there was still a place in American politics for a person who didn't come at them with a lot of money and razzle and dazzle, but came at them with an authenticity that they felt like was about them, not about the campaign, but about the people, who are supposed to be the very recipients of all this message we create.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that what happened in Iowa translates to the state of New Hampshire, where we are right now, a very different state...


JUDY WOODRUFF: ... everybody has started to point out?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Americans different in some maybe thoughts or emphasis still have the same ideas. They want a government that lets them be free, that leaves them alone, that doesn't interrupt and interfere with every aspect of their life, that lets them go to work and keep more of what they've worked hard to have.

Those are principles that I think are valid anywhere. Now, there may not be as much focus, for example, in New Hampshire on the sanctity of life or maybe even traditional marriage, as you would see in Iowa. But on issues like lower taxes, less government, and then a more efficient government, that'll be a focus here in New Hampshire that I think is universal anywhere.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Why do you think there's less focus on those issues here?

MIKE HUCKABEE: It's probably just because of the demographics of the state.

There are a lot of conservative people on social issues -- values voters I think is now the vogue term -- a lot of them here in New Hampshire. But this state has a long history, dating all the way back to the fact that it was the state that declared independence six months before the rest of the country did.

It's an independent state. Their motto, live free or die, and they mean it up here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, you're coming in here competing in a place where the polls are already showing Governor Romney and Senator McCain neck and neck. You're way back. Are you going to compete all the way here?

MIKE HUCKABEE: We'll compete. Whether or not we can win New Hampshire, that's never been something that we said we had to do. We knew that we needed to do well in Iowa. We didn't think we had to win there to stay on our feet.

But we're running first place in South Carolina, first place in Florida and in Texas and a lot of other states. And, so, what we want to do is to still be one of those people that are competing in these early states, and then start winning in places like South Carolina and Florida.


MIKE HUCKABEE: In essence, we ended up doing better than we thought in Iowa, better than we should have done, by anybody's conventional standards of how politics is supposed to play. We might even surprise some people in New Hampshire.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Governor Romney, among other things, this morning, he complimented you on your win, but he went on to say that you were helped, in his words -- and he used the word unusual several times -- unusual strengths. And he mentioned the fact you're a pastor.

Your base, something like 80 percent, or maybe even more, of the vote that you received in Iowa was from Christian conservatives. And they are saying you don't have that situation in New Hampshire. You don't have it in a lot of other states.

MIKE HUCKABEE: You know, there's this sort of myth that Christian conservatives only care about God and gays. Well, you know what? Christian conservatives care about their families eating. They're concerned about energy independence. They're concerned about functional government.

And so the fact that they're Christians, there may be a lot of them in Iowa, doesn't mean they're not also fiscal conservatives, doesn't mean they also want a strong national defense and they want a strong position on terror. Those are issues that are also important to them.

So, I think it's the same mind-set that said all along when you say, the commentators say that this is why it was, these are the same commentators that said, if I didn't have $100 million by the end of the year, I wouldn't make it. Well, I made it, so they were wrong. And I'm still here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Romney also ran some pretty tough ads.


JUDY WOODRUFF: He might say they're not so tough. He would say just that he's pointing out the facts...


JUDY WOODRUFF: ... about your record, being lenient with illegal immigrants in the state of Arkansas.

Do you expect that kind of a campaign here over the next few days? And, if so, are you going to run ads that are critical? You ended up pulling one back in Iowa.


You know, I felt that the positive approach worked better for us there. And people appreciated it. His ads hurt us, there's no doubt about it, because he attacked me. He ran over 14,000 ads in Iowa -- that's a lot of ads -- many of them targeted toward me.

In addition, Washington special interest groups, like Club For Growth, hammered me with over half-a-million dollars of negative, nasty television ads.

But I think, at the end of the day, a lot of people in Iowa just said, you know, this political dumpster-diving has got to stop. It demeans all of us and the system. And no matter what they said, people just got to the point they said, I'm not believing this stuff.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And does that mean you're not going to be criticizing him? I mean, what exactly does that mean in this campaign?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Well, I certainly reserve the right to defend my record. I reserve the right to point out where he's been completely inaccurate when he's portrayed things on my record, which he has on many occasions.

Senator McCain's doing a pretty good job of taking him on here in New Hampshire, because he did the same thing to Senator McCain here that he tried to do to me in Iowa, and that's just act like, "Well, we're both good men, but" -- and then relentlessly hammer away and make up things about our records, which I found very offensive.

It's one thing to say something about my record that I have to say, hmm, boy, he got me on that one. I really did it.

But when he said things like that I had cut the sentences for methamphetamine dealers, when, in fact, I had doubled the sentences, and they were four times harsher than his in Massachusetts, meth labs went down 48 percent in my state during the time I was governor, when he said that I increased spending, and The New York Times called him out on that, and pointed out that his figures were totally made up, and that, in fact, my expenditure increases during the 10-and-a-half-year tenure was pretty much in line with what he had done in his four years in Massachusetts.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned John McCain. The two of you are saying pretty nice things about each other. Some people are wondering if you have reached some kind of a pact, where you're not going to -- where you're basically going to let each other alone.

MIKE HUCKABEE: It's not about a pact. I think it's about the fact that both of us believe that the discourse of politics ought to be more civil.

We both believe that we have unique positions that we ought to stand for. We're not so weak in our own positions that we have to attack somebody else as to kind of do the political sleight of hand, so, watch this hand, so you don't see what I'm doing with this one.

I think both of us have records that we can proudly stand on and defend. So, I don't have to attack John McCain. John McCain doesn't have to attack me.

Besides that, I do -- I like the guy. I think he's an honorable guy, and I've said that publicly. I've said it in debates. I will say it to you. I will say it to anybody.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you going so far as to say as you would cede New Hampshire to him, that you wouldn't compete as much here?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Oh, I don't know about ceding anything. I think he's in a very strong position. He's a well-known commodity here. I'm not that well-known here.

He's spent a lot of time, has deep relationships here. He'd be the favorite to win it. But five days is a long time in New Hampshire. I'm not giving up yet.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, the turnout in Iowa last night, big turnout -- bigger turnout on the Republican side...


JUDY WOODRUFF: ... much bigger on the Democratic side. In fact, the turnout in the Democratic, almost twice what it was among Republicans, even though the voter registration is about even.

Does that say something nationally that should be a cause for concern for Republicans?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Not yet. No, I don't think so.

We had a much bigger turnout than was predicted. Some people thought that the turnout would be as low as 80,000. It was clearly over that. We saw that. We went to Waterloo, almost couldn't get in, got stuck in traffic, didn't think I'd get in or get out and get back to Des Moines.

In fact, when I got back to Des Moines, I landed, my BlackBerry was lighting up like crazy when we got to turn it on. Turned out, while we were gone, flying around, trying to get back there, I'd won the doggone Iowa caucuses.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Huckabee, thank you very much, and congratulations, again.

MIKE HUCKABEE: Thank you, Judy.