Category Archives: S.C. Democratic Primary

One of the MANY problems with political parties

Got this email today from the SC Democratic Party:


We’ve got just three more hours until our 5 pm deadline, and we still need your help to hit our goal.

Hitting this goal will bring us one step closer to defeating Nikki Haley and Lindsey Graham this fall!

Are you ready to help? Chip in now!

If you’ve saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:

Donate $7 instantly >>>

Donate $35 instantly >>>

Donate $50 instantly >>>

Or donate another amount now >>>

Onward to victory!

South Carolina Dems

And my mind zeroes right in on this part: “… one step closer to defeating Nikki Haley and Lindsey Graham this fall.”

It doesn’t occur to them that there just might be people — quite a lot of people, actually — who would be right there with them on the “defeating Nikki Haley” part, but would stop short at the “and Lindsey Graham” part, and would therefore decide they don’t want any part of any of this.

It doesn’t occur to them because they are a political party, and they have a candidate running for Graham’s seat. And if you are a political party, then you have to buy in completely to the notion that all of your candidates are better than all of their candidates. The whole our and their thing is core to your being.

Which is not the way you think, if you are someone who thinks, and have not surrendered that faculty to a group.

This is the problem with parties. Well, one of the many problems with parties…

Hoping, audaciously

BACK IN JANUARY, I said — on video; you can view it on my blog — that this year’s presidential election presented the American people with a no-lose proposition.
    It was the first time in my career when the two candidates we (and I) enthusiastically endorsed for their respective nominations actually made it onto the November ballot. So how could we lose?
    Well, there’s one way — the guy we preferred between the two guys we liked didn’t win on Nov. 4. But now that the other guy has won (and did you ever really think he wouldn’t?), I’m putting that setback behind me and looking forward to what happens next, with Barack Obama as my president.
    You could say I have no choice, but you’d be wrong. Unfortunately, we have before us a plethora of examples of how to have a perfectly rotten, stinking attitude when your preferred candidate loses, from the “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bush” bumper stickers that appeared on Republican cars before Bill Clinton was even inaugurated to all that nonsense we’ve heard for eight years from Democrats about how the election was “stolen” in 2000.
    We always have the option of being mean, petty, poor losers. But not me. Call me audacious, but every day I see fresh cause to be hopeful:

  • First, there’s Barack Obama himself. Just as John McCain was the best conceivable Republican to unify the country, Sen. Obama offered himself as the one Democrat most likely to put the bitterness of the Clinton/Bush years behind us. As we wrote when we endorsed him in the S.C. primary, “for him, American unity — transcending party — is a core value in itself.” In a column at the time, I cited “his ambition to be a president for all of us — black and white, male and female, Democrat and Republican.” When a guy like that wins an election, nobody loses.
  • Sen. McCain’s gracious (and typical, for him) concession speech left his supporters no room for bitterness, as he wished “Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.”
  • Sen. Obama’s promise that same night, in his first flush of victory, “to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn.” He said, “I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too.”
  • The appointment of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff. He’s been called a partisan attack dog, but he was defended against those who called him that by our own Sen. Lindsey Graham, John McCain’s close friend and ally. Yes, he ran the Democrats’ successful effort to take over Congress in 2006, but he did it by recruiting candidates who appealed to the political center — something his party’s more extreme elements haven’t forgiven him for. In an interview just before he was offered the job, Rep. Emanuel said, “The American people are unbelievably pragmatic. Have confidence in their pragmatism. It’s the operating philosophy of our country.” (The Associated Press says exit polls back that up: “This year 22 percent called themselves liberal, compared with 21 percent in 2004; 44 percent moderate, compared with 45 percent; and 34 percent conservative, same as four years ago.”)
  • The image of the Obamas visiting the Bushes at the White House a week after the election. No big deal, you say? It is after the way the current president has been demonized by many Democrats. The presidential election of 1800 proved the miracle of the American system — that power can change hands in a peaceful, civilized manner. That never gets old for me.
  • After days in which the more partisan types in the Senate debated just what to do to Joe Lieberman in light of his unpardonable “sin” of supporting Sen. McCain, the president-elect said that of course the senator from Connecticut should still be allowed to caucus with the Democrats.
  • The fact that on Monday, Sens. Obama and McCain will sit down at transition headquarters to chart ways to move forward together. “It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government,” said an Obama spokeswoman Friday, adding that the two men “will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality.” They will be joined by Sen. Graham and Rep. Emanuel.

    You’ll notice a certain theme in my points, and just in case I haven’t hit you over the head with it hard enough, I’ll say it again: I draw my hope from signs that this country is ready to move beyond the stupid, pointless, destructive  polarization that has been thrust upon us by the two dominant political parties, their attendant Beltway interest groups, the blogosphere and the mindless yammering of 24/7 shouting-head cable TV “news.”
    You might say that mere nonpartisanship — or bipartisanship, or post-partisanship (or my favorite, UnPartisanship) — is not enough by itself. That’s true. But without it, there’s no hope. Fortunately, I see plenty of cause to believe we’re about to see something new, and better.

Join me in hoping at

Well, it matters to THEM

Someone in the comments back on this post asked,

Why does it matter whom Mr. Warthen and his shrinking enterprise endorse for President?

Of course, there is no modest way for me to answer such assertions. I can only say that it mattered enough to Barack Obama and John McCain to make time to come see us and seek that endorsement. Also to Joe Biden, Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback.

Hillary Clinton opted not to come see us. Whatever happened to her anyway?

Still fired up, 12 months on

LIKE A ROCK STAR who prefers to do his new stuff, Barack Obama had not played his greatest hit in several weeks.
    At least, Kevin Griffis hadn’t heard it for awhile, not until Sen. Obama “pulled it out” at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D., the week that he sewed up the Democratic nomination.
    He rocked the house. Like besotted boomers doing the “na, na, na, na-na-na-na” part of “Hey Jude” with Paul McCartney, the fans sang right along.
    Mr. Griffis, 34, who spent much of 2007 here in South Carolina handling the press for the Obama campaign, was there when the hit was born.
    You’ve heard the story; Mr. Obama has told it often enough. He went to Greenwood on June 15, 2007 — one year ago today — as a favor to S.C. Rep. Anne Parks. He wasn’t having a great day. As he told the crowd at the Corn Palace:

    I feel terrible…. It is a miserable day. Pouring down rain, looks awful. I stagger over to the door and I pull open the door and pick up the newspaper and start drinking some coffee and there’s a bad story about me in The New York Times.
    I pack up my belongings and go down stairs and as I’m about to get in the car my umbrella blows open and I get soaked. So by the time I’m in the car I am mad, I am sleepy and I’m wet….

    “He really was grumpy there that morning,” said Mr. Griffis. But he did the drill, quietly, doggedly, doing what you do when you’ve promised to show up — working the room, one dutiful handshake at a time. “I wasn’t paying attention,” said Mr. Griffis. Just the usual, numb routine.
    Suddenly, this little lady — Greenwood County councilwoman Edith Childs, whom Obama describes as just over five feet tall, 65 years old, with “a big church hat” — starts her patented chant: “Fired up!” The Greenwood folks, for whom this is habit, echo the call, which she follows with “Ready to go!”
    The senator would later recall being startled: “I jumped.” Mr. Griffis, a quiet, sober-faced young white guy from Atlanta, reacted this way:
    “It really kind of scared me — I didn’t know what was going on.”
    And he had no idea how the thing would become a rallying cry. For a long time, neither did the rest of the country.
    For the next few months, Mr. Griffis recalled last week, the media narrative was all about how Obama wasn’t catching fire, how he was trailing in the polls among black voters in South Carolina — a self-fulfilling perception.
    Then, in the last weeks of the year, the narrative changed. In a Dec. 23 column, David Broder of The Washington Post wrote that “The stump speech he has developed in the closing stages of the pre-Christmas campaign is a thing of beauty… Hillary Clinton has nothing to match it.”
    It was the speech that climaxed each time with “Fired up… Ready to go!” Reality matching perception, Sen. Obama rose quickly in the polls, and won the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.
    As the campaign suffered a setback in New Hampshire and moved on to South Carolina, William Safire — former speechwriter for Richard Nixon, and ardent student of words and their power — wrote in The New York Times Magazine on Jan. 20 about the speech and its origins: “That local origin of the inspiring chant, and its familiarity to many voters in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary this week, means a lot to the Obama campaign.”
    Jim Davenport of The Associated Press (and formerly of The State) reported that Ms. Childs — who insisted to reporters as her fame grew that she was 59, not 65 — got the “Fired up” routine from Nelson Rivers, NAACP field operations chief, and he got it from the late civil rights activist and Charleston native Jondelle Harris Johnson.
    But however it started, Obama has taken the chant to undreamt-of places: Des Moines, Iowa. The Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D. The Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
    Long before he got “fired up,” of course, Barack Obama was a gifted and charismatic speaker, one who could get any Democratic crowd “ready to go.” And he’s going up against a Republican who is not a master of the set-piece speech, as he demonstrated when he tried upstaging Sen. Obama on the night he clinched the nomination, and bombed on national television.
    So it was that John McCain challenged Mr. Obama to meet him on his turf — the “town hall”-style meeting. On Friday, the campaigns were squabbling over whether the events would even take place.
    I hope they do. I had the chance to see how Sen. McCain connected with voters in small venues in South Carolina last year, during the months that his campaign was down and out, according to conventional “wisdom” at the time.
    And as Mr. Griffis said last week in Columbia (where he was getting reacquainted with his 4-year-old daughter, after having been away in Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, Indiana and South Dakota almost every minute since January), such a format plays to his candidate’s strength as well.
    “He’s a remarkably empathetic person,” he said, “and so fiercely intelligent,” he shines when given “the opportunity to put that on display.”
    I agree. For the first time in many an election cycle, my first choice in both major parties will be on the ballot in the fall. Each of them got to where he is by pulling away from the polarizing force of his respective party.
    The nation deserves to see them interact — repeatedly, if possible — in a setting as free of artifice as possible. That would be something for all of us to get fired up about.

Is Bill Clinton wagging his finger at us AGAIN?


Speaking of The New York Times this morning, did you see how it described Bill Clinton’s reaction at being reminded of his attempt to ghetto-ize Obama back here in S.C.?

More Finger Wagging From a Miffed Bill Clinton
Published: April 23, 2008
WASHINGTON — Wagging his finger once again, former President Bill Clinton chided a reporter on Tuesday for what he deemed a misinterpretation of his remarks during a radio interview in which he said the Obama campaign “played the race card on me.”
    Mr. Clinton confronted the issue of race again on Monday when he was asked by an interviewer for WHYY radio in Philadelphia about his remarks earlier this year on the results of the South Carolina Democratic primary. At the time, he likened the victory of Senator Barack Obama to that of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1998; Mr. Clinton’s comparison was denounced widely by black officials who believed he was marginalizing Mr. Obama’s victory with a racially tinged allusion to Mr. Jackson’s failed presidential bids…

What I’d like to know is, was he literally wagging his finger — you know, the way he did before? And if you don’t remember, the video is below.

Unfortunately, I have no video on the latest incident, so I’ll just have to assume the wagging was figurative this time. But we do have some nice, clear audio. Be sure to turn up your volume at the end so you can hear him say, "I don’t think I can take any s..t from anybody on that, do you?" (Some listeners hear it as "don’t think I should take any s..t," but I think it’s "can"…)

Now, having listened to that, do you feel chastened? Do you feel guilty for having thought less of our former president, even for a moment? Are you gonna stop giving him s–t now? Are you listening, you Obama supporters? Shame on anyone who would dare question Bill Clinton, as he makes clear in this other video…

S.C. primary NOT ‘racially polarized’

Note the way The Associated Press lumped us in with Mississippi:

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Barack Obama coasted to victory in Mississippi’s Democratic primary Tuesday, latest in a string of racially polarized presidential contests across the Deep South and a final tune-up before next month’s high-stakes race with Hillary Rodham Clinton in Pennsylvania.
    Obama was winning roughly 90 percent of the black vote but only about one-quarter of the white vote, extending a pattern that carried him to victory in earlier primaries in South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.
    His triumph seemed unlikely to shorten a Democratic marathon expected to last at least six more weeks — and possibly far longer — while Republicans and their nominee-in-waiting, Sen. John McCain, turn their attention to the fall campaign….

Now I don’t know what happened in Mississippi, because I wasn’t there. But I was in South Carolina, and there was nothing "racially polarized" about the vote here. I don’t care whether every single black person in the state voted for Obama and not one white person did. There was nothing about that campaign that put a wedge between the races, beyond some flap over comments made by Bill and Hillary — and as racially charged remarks go, those seemed a dud to me.

To the contrary, nothing Barack Obama said or did appealed to racial resentments or prejudices or perceptions. His campaign, and his victory — was remarkable for the very lack of such tensions. That’s what his supporters were celebrating on the night of his victory.

You want to see a racially polarized election? Look at the Memphis mayoral race I wrote about several months ago. Or for a non-electoral example, look at the way this whole Highway Patrol issue plays out, with race a consideration in every step of the conversation.

Lord knows there are plenty of problems in South Carolina relating to race. But the Democratic primary here in January was not an example of that.

Anyway, I was glad to see the AP drop that language in later versions of the story.

‘Race Doesn’t Matter:’ A note from one who was there

Just got this kind e-mail today:

Dear Brad:

My name is Whitney and I’m an American black woman (I don’t fuss with that title "African-American, hell, I’m an AMERICAN first!!!!)

Anyway, I was at the South Carolina victory rally held for Barack Obama and I’ve been meaning to send you a thank you email for your wonderful blog dated Jan. 27, 2008 (that I have shared with other blacks who agree with you 110 percent) that it’s time to end these overly divisive and counterproductive tactics that use the false veil of racism to keep this country further divided.

Yes, there will always be those who strive for division, and they come in all colors, but your blog, along with the dynamic crowd at the event, and sound-minded voters across America agree that race doesn’t matter. There are some of us who are more interested in the character of an individual than with other superficial and artificial designations.

Kudos to you Brad, you have inspired me to start calling these so called "civil rights leaders" to tell them that enough is enough and to put their money where their mouth is….we need to acknowledge when progress has been made, instead of wallowing in some kind of "sorrow"…which sells books, fills auditoriums and subsequently polarizes those of us who may have otherwise worked together.

Thanks, Brad for your courage to speak the truth.

Whitney Larkins

To which I can only say, Thank you so much. I was sorry I couldn’t be there, and I enjoy hearing from folks who were.

A dialogue about Hillary

Hello Mr. Warthen:

    Thank you for your reply. I posted to this effect in response to the blog entry in question, the one along the lines of "Watch Out, Hillary’s in Victim Mode." With all due respect, I feel it was totally unprofessional, snarky and uncalled for. Several others flamed you for it in the comments section, and you replied apologetically, to your credit, to one of them – "redd," I think it was.
    As I said in a second comment, in response to your apology of sorts, I know Mrs. Clinton. I had the pleasure of working on her campaign staff in 1992 on the Clinton-Gore ’92 campaign. She was kind, gracious, courteous and considerate to us several young ‘uns from around the country who had dropped everything to come help her and him. I have seen a side of her you most likely have not. She is not a two-dimensional cartoon villainess. She is a very bright, forceful, intense advocate for the causes in which she believes, and yes, she can be tough as nails. When was the last time that was a fault in a political leader.
    I could go on – but the notion that she is somehow evil and that Obama is pure as the driven snow is a bit much to take. Did you see where he turned his back on her last night, even as she had the good grace to extend a hand in friendship and good grace to Sen. Kennedy, who had just endorsed him? Do you forgive his campaign for fanning the flames of a race war so as to win South Carolina, based on Bill Clinton calling his claims of purity on the Iraq War a "fairy tale"?
    All I am saying is they’re both playing tough, at times dirty political hardball. Neither campaign is peopled with saints. They will, however, either of them, almost certainly do a better job than has Mr. Bush, given the opportunity. Be fair. That’s all. Personal invective of the sort you directed toward her should be beneath someone of your station.
    My two cents.

                            Christopher A. Stratton, Esq.
                            West Hartford, CT

From: Warthen, Brad – External Email
To: Christopher Stratton
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 1:00 PM
Subject: RE: Who’s the real victim?

    Thanks for going to the trouble to further share your thoughts (mind if I post them?).
    I think if you go back before this past week, you won’t find a whole lot of criticism of Sen. Clinton from me. The closest you’ll find will be my column openly worrying about the fact that a Clinton nomination would worsen polarization in the country. And if you can spot anything "snarky" in that — anything other than what I just said, an expression of concern (my distaste for our nation’s increasing partisan divisions is long-established).
    Over the past week, however, I’ve formed an increasingly negative impression. You can probably track it day by day on my blog. It really got started AFTER our editorial board meeting with Obama. I’ve just been more and more alarmed at the idea of her winning the nomination, and more and more glad we chose Obama.
    Maybe the things I’m reacting to were always there; or maybe it’s stepped up in the past week (which seems to be the conventional wisdom). Or maybe before last week, I was just trying so hard not to choose between them before our meetings that I let a lot of stuff slide. I don’t know. I do know that I’ve taken a different tone the past week, and that it reflects what I’ve been thinking…

Hello Again, Mr. Warthen:
    I very much appreciate your kindly following up on my thoughts and comments, and I respect that your general bent appears to be more deliberative and thoughtful than the taunt against Sen. Clinton which was my introduction to you. And yes, of course, please feel free to post my remarks from the prior e-mail below.
    I think the difficulty here is the translation between the more private, extraordinarily decent Hillary I have seen up close on several occasions and the sometimes over-intense Hillary that comes across in public. I think she may not see herself as the world sees her (as is true for so many of us, but for so few of us does it matter so much as it does for her). She has certain natural tendencies which don’t come off super well before a broad audience. She is a very, very intense figure. She is brilliantly intelligent and passionately committed to her causes. And she has the courage and the confidence of her convictions. And because of the courage and confidence, she ordinarily trusts her natural reactions, which at times are, to put it bluntly, to kick fanny and take names – to vanquish her opponent via sheer intelligence and intensity, in the first instance, and by other means at times as well. This is a role that suited her well as the wife of a major political figure, a sort of enforcer for her husband and an intellectual heavyweight who could also simply outsmart and out-argue dadgum near any foe.
    Now, though, those tendencies can come off as over-intense and scary when she is gunning to be the top dog in our country – and in the world for that matter. I think she may be starting to see that, but she is having to feel her way through this minefield in front of the entire world and is not extraordinarily sure-footed about it, and this has somewhat shaken her confidence – she doesn’t know when to trust her instincts and when not to. Add to that that she is up against an opponent who, sheerly as a stump salesman and presence, has the agility and grace of a lead dancer in the New York City Ballet. (The problem I have with Mr. Obama, whom I admire greatly and sincerely, is not with his talent, it’s with his seasoning, his reliability, his depth of experience and understanding. For me, Hillary is money in the bank on policy, a deeply smart, sensible, practical hand. Oddly enough, it is a bit of a conservative, cautious streak in me that is part of why I am supporting her. Personal loyalty is part of the equation for me, but by no means all.)
    Speaking of personal loyalty, Mr. W, please note that it is no coincidence that so many people who work or have worked for Sen. Clinton are fiercely loyal, and it’s not due to some brainwashing regimen, to that I can personally attest. She is extraordinarily gracious, courteous, respectful, considerate and loyal. She is a very fine friend to have and is widely loved, not merely liked, by those who spend more than a little time in contact with her. I have heard it said many times that people who have known them both have a pronounced tendency to favor her over her husband, and – remember – it was he who long ago said, back when they were finishing law school, that she, not he, should be the one who ran someday for president. I think he was deeply wise on many levels in that insight. (I think he was a very fine president on policy, by and large, but I think his personal flaws and weaknesses – and not just the philandering business – greatly undermined what could have been a far more successful presidency than it was.)
    So, catching my breath here for a moment, if she does win election to the presidency, Mr. W, I think Ms. Clinton will diligently and energetically do the rather extensive clean-up job that our federal government needs. She, better than nearly anyone, knows the extent of the damage and the fixes and repairs that need to be put into place across the broad expanse of our federal government. She will pursue these improvements and repairs with great energy, consideration and intelligence. With utmost respect, I do not believe Senator Obama can match her in these regards. She is, in my considered opinion, on balance, the better choice, but that is not to say that others cannot reasonably disagree. (I would, though, so love to see a ticket headed by her with him as the VP and still and yet hold out hope that this can happen – remember Sen. Kerry rather disliked Sen. Edwards and JFK and LBJ were not exactly chums.)
    Lastly, what I have difficulty abiding is numerous supporters of Sen. Obama’s viewing this as a clear cut, obvious choice between good and evil. It is not, and that is foolish. There are too many people whose tempers are running too hot. I hope we can heal this rift in our party, to which both sides have contributed far too much. It is highly counterproductive.
    That’s my bit for tonight.


                            Christopher A. Stratton, Esq.
                            West Hartford, CT

Intense international media interest in SC


Today I was favored with a visit from Zoe Rachel Usherwood, Foreign Affairs Producer for Sky News in the U.K. That’s her in the video above explaining her mission, which had been previously represented to me as follows in the initial request for a meeting:

… I work with The Palmetto Council for International Visitors (PCIV), a non-profit volunteer organization located in the World Affairs Council office in Columbia, SC. We are an affiliate of the Columbia Council for International Visitors, as well as a member of the National Council for International Visitors partnered with the U.S. Department of State. PCIV designs and implements professional programs for international leaders who have been selected by the State Department to visit South Carolina.
    We currently have an upcoming visitor that has specifically requested to meet with local media members during her visit.
    Ms. Zoe Rachel Usherwood is the Foreign Affairs Producer for Sky News in the United Kingdom. If possible she would welcome a meeting on Thursday, January 31st. or Friday, Feb. 1. Her biography is also attached for your consideration.
    These State Department guest has specifically requested to meet with local media concerning the election process, so we hope to be able to arrange a meeting(s) with you. These meetings last around an hour and would generally include an informal discussion about your coverage and a question/answer session.

I pass this on as a way of bringing you up-to-date regarding a phenomenon I mentioned previously here — the intense national and international interest in South Carolina during the recent primaries, which resulted in a lot of folks wanting to interview me for a change, creating such situations as me shooting video of someone shooting video of me, etc. Weird stuff.

  • I think Ms. Usherwood is the last for awhile, but last week was fairly hectic. Some examples:
    Several things didn’t work out, either because of my time, or missed communications — NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and NPR’s "On Point." On two additional occasions, Michele Norris tried to get me on "All Things Considered," but it never worked out. CNN wanted me to run down to Charleston for an interview one evening, but I declined.
  • On Wednesday, I did another live thing on the phone at some ungodly hour of the morning about our Obama endorsement on C-SPAN’s "Washington Journal." I had done the same 10 days earlier, that time on a SUNDAY morning, about our McCain endorsement.
  • Friday, I phoned in an interview with the Here and Now program on public radio out of Boston. That night, when I went by to visit my new twin granddaughters, my son-in-law said his sister-in-law in Boston had mentioned hearing me. This was reassuring, because it was good to know somebody was listening to some of this stuff I was doing.
  • Later that morning I had a good time chatting with a soundman named Anthony Birchley and a reporter named Kevin, both of the BBC, when they came down to my office to tape a segment. Kevin is an Arsenal fan, and he and Anthony had trouble taking in the fact that Williams-Brice Stadium, which looms outside my window, is a mere college sports venue.
  • Friday was actually kind of a blur. I had turned down an interview with one Danish journalist, but ended up having someone else from that country call on the phone and we talked for a while. At least I’m in demand in Copenhagen. That night, when I was standing in line trying to get in to the Obama rally, I met a Swedish reporter who, when she learned who I was, pulled out the notebook.
  • On the Saturdays of both the Republican and Democratic primaries, I did an hour live from a tent on the State House grounds with Alhurra TV. Alhurra is a U.S. government-funded operation that broadcasts into the Mideast. It’s sort of like Voice of America in Arabic. This was the trickiest of all the interviews, as my host was speaking to me in Arabic, and he was a lot louder than the man who was translating into my earpiece. But I got through it. (In the picture at the bottom of this post you see a reporter for Alhurra doing a standup in the tent just after the show I did).
  • Before I could get away from the tent, Emile Baroody of Dubai TV approached me and asked if we could talk that night. I told him I was committed to S.C. ETV from 8 to 10, so he said how about after that? I said OK, we traded phone numbers, and he asked me where ETV was located. I told him it was near that stadium south of town that Arsenal might envy.
  • Driving away, I saw I’d missed a call, from Gal Beckerman with Columbia Journalism Review. I agreed to meet him at the Starbuck’s on Gervais, and we spoke for about an hour. The place was full of out-of-town (and country) media here for the Democratic Primary. Gal (pronounced "Gaul," it’s an Israeli name) wanted to talk to me about… get this… all the media that was in town wanting to talk to me. So I was interviewed by one medium wanting to know about other media interviewing a media guy. This, if anything, topped the irony of my French TV experience.
  • That night, I did my ETV gig; maybe you saw me. Anyway, as I was packing up my laptop to head home, whom should I find, right there in the studio, but Emile from Dubai? Based on my sketchy directions, he had come out to ETV, asked permission to use their studio, and here he was with his cameraman ready to take advantage of the lighting. That Emile is one enterprising guy.

What did we talk about?  To a great extent, stuff that you could probably talk about as well as I could. Beyond that we talked about our endorsements of McCain and Obama — that was the easiest, and for me most relevant, topic.

Anyway, that completes my report on the reports. The bottom line is that I figure my experience was sort of a microcosm of what was happening to South Carolina the last couple of weeks. The eyes of the world were most assuredly upon us.


So Hillary can’t make a concession speech in S.C., but she publicly celebrates a meaningless win in Florida?


Actually, I just said pretty much all I had to say in the headline.

Saturday night, I initially posted this with the headline saying, "HIllary’s concession speech." Then I realized it was just an e-mailed statement, so I changed the headline to reflect that, expecting the actual speech momentarily. It didn’t come. I saw Edwards give his concession/nonconcession speech (not quitting, although what he’s going on for, I don’t know). But no Hillary.

Did I miss it? I was busy being on live TV and all, so maybe I missed it. Did y’all see it or hear it? I ask because it seemed pretty bizarre for her to be cavorting about on a stage transported by a campaign "victory" that gave her no delegates, in a state which the Democratic candidates had pledged (and I’m using the term "pledge" here loosely) not to campaign in, in a "contest" that was obviously a measure of starting-point name recognition.

If Obama had campaigned there, do you really think she would have run away with it? Seems doubtful, but I’d be interested to hear arguments to the contrary.

Anyway, either I’ve missed something (which is highly probable), or this sequence of events — no concession on Obama’s stunning victory in S.C., celebration of the meaningless win in Florida — would seem to be terra incognita in the Clintons’ exploration of the limits of gracelessness.

Obama’s full victory speech


Catching up with stuff now I’m back at the office, here is a copy of Barack Obama’s wonderful victory speech from Saturday night. That is, this is a copy of the prepared remarks. You can view the video here:

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama

South Carolina Primary Night

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Columbia, South Carolina

Over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that
our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country’s desire
for something new – who said Iowa was a fluke not to be repeated again.

Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in
the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good
people of South Carolina.

After four great contests in every corner of this country,
we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of
Americans we’ve seen in a long, long time.

They are young and old; rich and poor. They are black and
white; Latino and Asian. They are Democrats from Des Moines and Independents
from Concord; Republicans from rural Nevada and young people across this
country who’ve never had a reason to participate until now. And in nine days,
nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are
tired of business-as-usual in Washington, we are hungry for change, and we are
ready to believe again.

But if there’s anything we’ve been reminded of since Iowa,
it’s that the kind of change we seek will not come easy. Partly because we have
fine candidates in the field – fierce competitors, worthy of respect. And as
contentious as this campaign may get, we have to remember that this is a
contest for the Democratic nomination, and that all of us share an abiding
desire to end the disastrous policies of the current administration.

But there are real differences between the candidates. We
are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re
looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington – a status quo that
extends beyond any particular party. And right now, that status quo is fighting
back with everything it’s got; with the same old tactics that divide and
distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are
health care they can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.

So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re
up against.

We are up against the belief that it’s ok for lobbyists to
dominate our government – that they are just part of the system in Washington.
But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and
this election is our chance to say that we’re not going to let them stand in
our way anymore.

We are up against the conventional thinking that says your
ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to
the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and
judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a
common purpose – a higher purpose.

We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause
politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make
college affordable or energy cleaner; it’s the kind of partisanship where
you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea – even if it’s one
you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for
our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.

We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say
anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly
what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their
leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance
to give the American people a reason to believe again.

And what we’ve seen in these last weeks is that we’re also
up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the
habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It’s the
politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. A
politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the
confines of the categories that supposedly define us. The assumption that young
people are apathetic. The assumption that Republicans won’t cross over. The
assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor, and that the poor don’t
vote. The assumption that African-Americans can’t support the white candidate;
whites can’t support the African-American candidate; blacks and Latinos can’t
come together.

But we are here tonight to say that this is not the America
we believe in. I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a
white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. I saw
crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white
children. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to
Americans from all walks of life, and men and women of every color and creed
who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud
flag. I saw what America is, and I believe in what this country can be.

That is the country I see. That is the country you see. But
now it is up to us to help the entire nation embrace this vision. Because in
the end, we are not just up against the ingrained and destructive habits of
Washington, we are also struggling against our own doubts, our own fears, and
our own cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and
sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind
of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.

So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy.
That change will take time. There will be setbacks, and false starts, and
sometimes we will make mistakes. But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose
hope. Because there are people all across this country who are counting us; who
can’t afford another four years without health care or good schools or decent
wages because our leaders couldn’t come together and get it done.

Theirs are the stories and voices we carry on from South

The mother who can’t get Medicaid to cover all the needs of
her sick child – she needs us to pass a health care plan that cuts costs and
makes health care available and affordable for every single American.

The teacher who works another shift at Dunkin Donuts after
school just to make ends meet – she needs us to reform our education system so
that she gets better pay, and more support, and her students get the resources
they need to achieve their dreams.

The Maytag worker who is now competing with his own teenager
for a $7-an-hour job at Wal-Mart because the factory he gave his life to shut
its doors – he needs us to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship our
jobs overseas and start putting them in the pockets of working Americans who
deserve it. And struggling homeowners. And seniors who should retire with
dignity and respect.

The woman who told me that she hasn’t been able to breathe
since the day her nephew left for Iraq, or the soldier who doesn’t know his
child because he’s on his third or fourth tour of duty – they need us to come
together and put an end to a war that should’ve never been authorized and never
been waged.

The choice in this election is not between regions or
religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it
is not about black versus white.

It’s about the past versus the future.

It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and
distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for
a politics of common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared

There are those who will continue to tell us we cannot do
this. That we cannot have what we long for. That we are peddling false hopes.

But here’s what I know. I know that when people say we can’t
overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of the elderly
woman who sent me a contribution the other day – an envelope that had a money
order for $3.01 along with a verse of scripture tucked inside. So don’t tell us
change isn’t possible.

When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and
Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino
brothers and sisters I organized with, and stood with, and fought with side by
side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don’t tell us change
can’t happen.

When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide in
our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom
Thurmond, who’s now devoted to educating inner-city children and who went out
onto the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign.
Don’t tell me we can’t change.

Yes we can change.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can seize our future.

And as we leave this state with a new wind at our backs, and
take this journey across the country we love with the message we’ve carried
from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire; from the Nevada desert
to the South Carolina coast; the same message we had when we were up and when
we were down – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope;
and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we
can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a
people in three simple words:

Yes. We. Can.

McCain-Obama, and other match-ups

As I’ve expressed a number of times in the last few days — although it occurs to me it’s been on video or live TV mostly, and it’s past time I say it in writing if I haven’t already — my fondest wish for the fall is that John McCain will face Barack Obama. It would be a "no-lose proposition for the nation."

In fact, it would be the best choice of my adult lifetime. Yeah, I liked both Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford pretty much. And I had nothing particular against George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 92. But this would be the first time I was ever positively enthusiastic about either eventuality. As I’ve spoken about it in recent days, I’ve had to stop myself several times from referring to it as a "ticket," and remember to say "on the same BALLOT" instead.

As to which I’d prefer — well, I don’t know which I’d prefer. If I’m to be consistent with my constant thought of the past eight years, McCain is the man. Going into last week, I was pretty sure I still preferred him, Obama (AND Clinton) being so much less experienced. There is also his position on the war, which almost exactly matches my own.

But the excitement of the last few days has made me wonder about that. And if Obama wins the nomination — with the Super Tuesday odds still against him at this point — I’ll be even more pumped about his ability to lead us into a new kind of politics.

None of that will diminish my deep respect for McCain. But once my dream is realized — if both are nominees — I’ll be able to compare them more objectively than I can now. Now, I’m just rooting for both of them.

But if only ONE of them is nominated — say, we end up with Obama vs. Romney, or McCain vs. Clinton — that makes my own, personal preference for endorsement the easiest I’ve ever experienced. And I think it would be just as easy for the nation, because the two I prefer are the ONLY ones with appeal among independents and crossover voters.

Then, of course, if NEITHER is nominated… well, that would be what we’re used to, wouldn’t it: A bitter choice between bad and worse. Surely this country can do better than that, for once.

After what we’ve seen happen in South Carolina, my hope is higher than ever for a far better choice for the nation than we have seen in many decades.

An endorsement indifferent to race, gender

Folks who have read me over the years know that I am somewhat turned off by Identity Politics — all that "MY race," "MY gender" stuff. That’s one reason why I like a guy like Barack Obama, whose appeal transcends skin color. I am even more pleased that his supporters get it, chanting "Race Doesn’t Matter" in the moment of his South Carolina triumph.

So it is that I am further pleased by the way author Toni Morrison has endorsed Barack Obama. A friend passed on to me this bit from an ABCNews story about the letter of support she sent:

Morrison writes of her admiration for Hillary Clinton but says she "cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration".

"Nor do I care very much for your race[s]," Morrison continues to
Obama, "I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or
because it might make me ‘proud.’ "

Even better is this passage quoted by The Associated Press:

"In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare
authenticity, you exhibit somethingObama_toni_morrison_2
that has nothing to do with age,
experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other
candidates," Morrison wrote. "That something is a creative imagination
which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we
associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing
vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle
for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while
ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it.

is a gift; you can’t train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or
earn it in the workplace — that access can foster the acquisition of
knowledge, but not wisdom," Morrison wrote.

When I read that passage, "if we believe cunning is insight," it occurs to me that her respect for Hillary Clinton must have suffered a setback in recent days, which may have led to this endorsement.

Mind you, this is the writer who dubbed Bill Clinton the "first black president." For HER to embrace the idea of brushing race aside is particularly meaningful. Just as it was so powerful for a victory won with 80 percent of the black vote to be celebrated with "Race Doesn’t Matter."

Black folk are, generally speaking, more mindful that white folks of race — it’s a source of much of the tragic cognitive divide in our country. If Obama’s support had been mostly white, that chant would have meant less. As it was, it was a huge step forward for us all.

Race doesn’t matter!

Since I was doing the live gig at ETV last night, I missed a lot of the action at the Obama victory rally. I heard his wonderful speech, and that was about it.

But afterwards, I spoke to Inez Tenenbaum, and it seems I missed a lot that it would have been great to have witnessed. One, which I’ll just mention and move on, was when Bill Clinton appeared on a screen and the crowd booed, probably the only negative moment in that night of joy. But it marked an important moment, in terms of S.C. Democrats rejecting the kind of hyperpartisan, do-anything-to-win approach to politics that the former president, Sen. Clinton, and their supporters (think Don Fowler) embodied. As Inez said, "Would you ever have imagined a crowd of South Carolina Democrats booing Bill Clinton?" Until last week, no.

But that sour note just served to emphasize the alternative that had just been embraced so emphatically by South Carolina voters — the joy, the hope, the welcoming, the affirmation that filled the hearts of the hundreds of thousands who came out to vote for Barack Obama.

And that led to what had to be the high point of the night — indeed, a high point in South Carolina history: That room full of people, black and white, young and old — but predominantly young — chanting "Race doesn’t matter! Race doesn’t matter!"

People who had long been involved in struggling to make South Carolina a better place for all people, only to be disappointed so many times as things dissolved in acrimony, looked at each other in disbelief, with chills running down their spines. They truly never thought they would see the day.

This was more than just a bunch of charged-up supporters giving a team cheer. It was THE message of the day. A half million people had turned out, thousands upon thousands of them who had never voted before or hadn’t voted in years because they were so turned off by politics as usual, and the overwhelming majority had chosen the man who embodies the fact that race doesn’t matter. He embodies it in his own life — a man with a white mother and a black, immigrant father, who grew up in Hawaii (and if you haven’t lived in Hawaii — I graduated from high school there — you can’t imagine the degree to which our whole mainland black-vs.-white thing makes NO sense to the people of the islands) and abroad, a man who can’t be pegged, either in his skin or his mind or soul, as being THIS or THAT.

And he embodies it in his message, as he so eloquently encapsulated in his victory speech (and as soon as I get the full text I’ll post it here).

They were, in advance, repudiating the divisive, identity-politics, racist message that the Clintons will try to see between now and Super Tuesday (I understand that Bill has already said something like well, Jesse Jackson won South Carolina, too, as I had predicted he would). The very fact that the man whose message was the Race Doesn’t Matter got 80 percent of the black vote speaks volumes. That that was the chant in this moment of victory — rather than some cry of triumph on the part of blacks, or women (the majority of whom ALSO went for Obama), or any other demographic group — marked this as a tremendous moment in American history.

And that it happened HERE, in South Carolina, where once the majority of the state’s population was enslaved, where the Civil War started, where so many live in deep, inherited poverty, after all the scorn we have had to endure from the rest of the country over our race-based pathologies — what a wonderful, triumphant day for the people of this state!

Yesterday, we overcame so much. Thank God for this. We have overcome so much. Now, South Carolina has set the most positive example that can be set for the rest of the nation. I pray that the rest of the nation will understand the message. It has to; it just has to.

Because Race Doesn’t Matter!

What a TREMENDOUS victory speech!


As I try to listen to Obama’s victory speech, my two fellow bloggers — one a Republican, the other a Democrat — over across the room are having an argument over the war, or something they always yell at each other about. I’m not really listening; I’m listening to Obama.

Rep. Jim Clyburn just walked into the studio. He’s the U.S. House Majority Whip, who enthusiastically advances his party’s line every day. He’s a fine, dedicated public servant, but he is SO a part of the system that Obama would lead us beyond.

Meanwhile, Obama is giving a speech that marks a huge, historic step forward toward wiping that all away, toward uniting our country so that we can all pull together in making this a greater place to live. What a contrast!

Here are my rough notes from that extraordinary, historic speech from the man who just won the most astounding victory this state has seen in a presidential primary in my 20 years of covering SC politics, the biggest victory that ANY candidate in EITHER party has won thus far in the 2008 campaign for the presidency:

there were those who doubted this country’s

desire for something new

young and old, black and white

and yes, the republicans from rural Nevada

saying we are tired of business as usual in


this will not be easy, make no mistake of

what we are up against

the kind of politics that are bad for our

party, are bad for our country

running against:
exactly what’s wrong with our politics

why they tune out

give the American people a reason to

believe again.

habits that prevent us from getting things


presumption that young people are apathetic
that Republicans won’t cross over

(that white can’t vote for black, that

black can’t vote for black)

I saw what america is (and what it can be)

When I hear we’ll never change… think of

the former Thurmond staffer who knocked on

doors for THIS campaign.

YES WE CAN heal this nation.

the wind at our backs.

Out of many, we are one; as we breathe, we

will hope

(will overcome the cynicism)


Thank you, South Carolina, we love you!

We just made us some history here in South Carolina.

Our interview with the winner: Obama speaking to our editorial board

All week, I wanted to stop and edit some of the video I shot during our editorial board interview with Barack Obama Monday morning, but, well… it’s been a busy week.

I finally tried to start putting together a post on it this afternoon, but my internet connection at home crashed. So, now that it’s all over for South Carolina, I’m sitting here on the air at ETV using their Web connection, and putting up some rough unedited clips. Better late than never, right? No? Whatever. I thought you still might like to hear the man who won so hugely here talking at some greater length than what you get on the Boob Tube usually.

As regular viewers will know, my little camera only shoots three-minute clips at a time, which means they can stop and restart in odd places. But I’ve put together four sequential clips here, with only one or two seconds of real time between them, from the opening moments of the meeting.

What you’ll see here in these four clips is Sen. Obama responding to our standard opening question we use in all candidate endorsement interviews for all offices. It’s simple: We ask him to state why he’s running, and why he should be the one to get the nomination — and in this case, presumably, the presidency. Sometimes we couch in terms of a 10-minute version of the candidate’s stump speech.

This serves two purposes. First, we editors don’t get out on the trail the way reporters do, so it’s good to hear the overview of how this candidate chooses to present himself. Second, it helps us cut through the sound-bite, 24/7 news headline of the moment and step back and take a broader view of who this candidate is and what his campaign is about.

Also, it gives us a sort of base line for the rest of our conversation, as we dig further into what the candidate is really about.

The four clips include Obama’s full answer to that question, minus the second or so intervals it takes for my camera to start rolling again after it shuts off at the end of a three-minute clip. A little way through the fourth one, the senator starts answering our second inevitable question that we ask specifically of presidential candidates, which always takes roughly this form: What is America’s proper role in the world, and how should it go about playing that role?

The first segment is at the top of this post. The other three follow:

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

Perhaps when things slow down, I can put up some further parts of the interview, for posterity. Anyway, what you see above is the candidate who made such a tremendous impression on our editorial board — and obviously, on South Carolina voters.

This is so over: Hillary’s concession statement

Here, even before you hear it on the Tube (I think), is Hillary Clinton’s concession statement:

                        January 26, 2008

Statement from Hillary Clinton
    “I have called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well.
    “Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted today and welcomed me into their homes over the last year. Your stories will stay with me well beyond this campaign and I am grateful for the support so many of you gave to me.
    “We now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who will make their voices heard in Florida and the twenty-two states as well as American Samoa who will vote on February 5th.
    “In the days ahead, I’ll work to give voice to those who are working harder than ever to be heard.  For those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward.  That’s what this election is about.  It’s about our country, our hopes and dreams. Our families and our future.”

Did you go to the Obama rally? I couldn’t get in


So I did just barely manage to stay up long enough to head over to the Obama rally, and I got one of my daughters — the USC student — to go with me. But the fire marshall wouldn’t let us in. The Koger Center was overflowing.

Did you go? How was it?

Above, you see the winding queue in which we stood when there was some hope of getting in. This was just past 10:45, the original starting time for the rally.

I spent a few minutes chatting with a Swedish journalist who was also trying to get in (she had missed the cutoff time for the media area; I tend to avoid media areas like the plague when I can). Then a young kid who works for Obama (the sort who looks like he could just as easily have been working for Bobby Kennedy in ’68 — sport coat, open-necked oxford button-down shirt, campaign button on the lapel, collegiate Beatle haircut) came and told us they were trying to work out something with the fire marshal, as the  place was packed.

A few minutes later, the queue started to collapse, and we all drifted toward the door. Rumors rippled through the crowd — "it’s bad news; the line’s giving up" or "all right! they’re letting us in!" — and we paused at the doors while another kid told us (in a voice too soft for more than a few to hear, and a visage and accent that suggested the subcontinent) that it wasn’t their fault; it was the fire marshal.

Eventually, we all realized there was no point. But there was one woman, in a long white coat, who didn’t care, and moved through us leading the chant, "Fired up! Ready to go!" I turned to my daughter, and said "ready to go?," only realizing what I’d said after I’d said it. Ah, the power of suggestion…

My daughter and I began the cold walk back, two-and-a-half blocks, to my truck, parked along the median in the middle of Assembly. Ahead of us for the first block walked the woman in the white coat with a friend. She was completely undaunted, chanting all by herself for the world to hear: "Fired Up! Ready to go?" Below, you can hear her, and the kid making the announcement before joining her cry, on this poor-quality (on account of the light) video:

Everybody take cover — Hillary’s in Martyr Mode

This news is hardly surprising — Hillary Clinton’s kicking into martyr mode again, just as she did on the eve of New Hampshire:

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she must respond in kind to attacks from rival Barack Obama even though she’d rather keep the race for the Democratic presidential nomination focused on their differences on public policy issues.

"I try not to attack first, but I have to defend myself — I do have to counterpunch," Clinton told NBC’s "Today Show."

"I took a lot of incoming fire for many, many months and I was happy to absorb it because obviously, you know, I felt that was part of my responsibility. But toward the end of a campaign you have to set the record straight," the New York senator said.

Let’s review that statement again:

"I took a lot of incoming fire for many, many months and I was happy to
absorb it because obviously, you know, I felt that was part of my

In case you are not among the Elect, lemme ‘splain that to you: That’s your cue to go "Aw-w-w, that poor woman!" and "How Hillary has bled for me!"

The message in this statement is the same as the one in the famous "tears in New Hampshire" incident. No, I don’t mean the "Canuck letter," the thing that destroyed Ed Muskie. I mean when Hillary wept with her sorrow for the nation at the very thought that it might be deprived of her divinely ordained leadership.

Being only a man, I get all confused and look around for an exit when a woman starts to weep, so I sort of needed Maureen Dowd to ‘splain it to me:

    … There was a poignancy about the moment, seeing Hillary crack with exhaustion from decades of yearning to be the principal rather than the plus-one. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.

And when Hillary Clinton foresees the prospect of losing, she gets her Martyr Face on. And when Hillary gets her Martyr Face on, we’d all best duck — especially Barack Obama.