Plants and Recants


That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

More amusing than the CNN/YouTube GOP debate on Wednesday was the reaction to it.

The outrage, or expressions thereof, centered on Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, who came out after retirement and queried the candidates on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Not too long after the debate ended came the revelation that he sits on an advisory committee of Clinton’s campaign — immediately drawing cries of foul from conservative pundits and bloggers who felt as if they’d been had by another skillful Hillary plant. Soon the backgrounds of every YouTube rube were being checked out: That man munching on corn-on-the-cob, asking about crop subsidies, once interned for Rep. Jane Harman, a Democrat! (And he thought we wouldn’t notice that his bites were a little too calculated).

The egg, however, was on CNN’s face (until they found out the event earned record ratings), and the network admitted that it was unaware of Kerr’s connection, made all the worse because Kerr was present in the audience and gave an extended speech. It didn’t matter that his question wasn’t too much out of left field, so to speak, as all of the GOP candidates have surely been hit with the same question on the trail. Most laughable was Pat Buchanan’s post-debate contention that Kerr should have come out while he was still in the military — isn’t that what Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is all about?

So here’s what’s been uncovered in this nefarious plot: There are people who come to a political event with a political agenda.  Surprising?

Kurtz on Clinton: The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz trailed the Clinton campaign for the day and found pretty limited access to the candidate. When he and other national reporters weren’t lost, they were stuck in the living room of some New Hampshire family and forced to listen to small talk. It is an amusing piece.

Kurtz writes, “Clinton aides say they try to stage a “press avail,” or brief news
conference, every five or six days, but they acknowledge the schedule
often slips. (Obama is also on a weekly schedule; Edwards, third in the
national polls, is more accessible.) The result is little red meat for
the press pack. In fact, much of the chatter among the reporters is
about MapQuest and GPS devices and Hertz’s NeverLost technology as they trade tips on how to track their constantly moving quarry.”

Clinton in OC: Clinton, by the way, was in Orange County on Thursday with an appearance at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church for a Global Summit on AIDS & the Church. She was the only candidate to appear in person.

Obama in Harlem: On Clinton’s turf last night, Barack Obama  hosted a fund-raiser at the Apollo Theater. Chris Rock introduced the candidate with this quip to the audience about what would happen if they voted for his chief rival. “You’d say, ‘I had that white lady! What was I thinking?” Rock said.

Meanwhile, even though the Dec. 10 debate in Los Angeles was cancelled, Obama is still planning a visit. His campaign just sent out invites to a fund-raiser that evening at the Gibson Ampitheatre at Universal CityWalk. The price is $50 per person (yes, it is getting tough to find the untapped). Ne-Yo is the special musical guests, with hosts including Scarlett Johansson, Will.I.Am, Taye Diggs,  Ryan Reynolds, Kal Penn and Kate Walsh.

Dean Event: Lawrence O’Donnell interviews John Dean about his book “Broken Government” at the Skirball Center on Tuesday. Sponsored by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the event starts at 7 p.m.

Clinton Back in L.A.: Hillary Clinton also has kept her Dec. 10 plans.  As  Obama  appears at Universal, she’ll be at the nightclub Social Hollywood for a  $250-per-person fund-raiser. It’s being billed as her final L.A. event before voting begins.

Late Night Relief: The Los Angeles Times’ Top of the Ticket blog reports that Clinton is an indirect beneficiary of the writers strike: She’s no longer the butt of jokes by late-night comedians because their shows have gone dark. According to the Center for Media and Public Affairs, Clinton was the target of 186 jokes this year through Oct. 10, followed by Rudy Giuliani with 72.

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