Quick Takes: Obama Knocks Down the False Equivalence Nonsense

* President Obama returned to the campaign trail today with a speech in Philadelphia. As Joan McCarter reports, he had a few choice words for the media on false equivalency regarding transparency, foundations and fitness for the presidency.

He railed, as much as Obama rails, at the professional media for the “frivolous stuff that gets covered everyday.” He directly addressed the “guys in the back,” saying, “I’m just telling you the truth about how I feel about this. Do you mind if I just vent for a second?” Then he unloaded: “You know, you don’t grade the presidency on a curve. This is serious business.” Then he started in on transparency: “You want to debate transparency, you have one candidate in this debate who’s released decades worth of her tax returns. The other candidate is the first in decades who refuses to release any at all. You want to debate foundations and charities? One candidate’s family foundation has saved countless lives around the world. The other candidate’s foundation took money other people gave to his charity and then bought a six-foot-tall painting of himself.”

Then fitness for the presidency: “One candidate who’s traveled to more countries than any secretary of state ever has, has more qualifications than pretty much anyone who’s ever run for this job and the other who isn’t fit in any way, shape, or form to represent this country abroad and be its commander-in-chief.” He chided the traditional media for allowing for “our standards for what’s normal” to have changed, “because he says it over and over and over again the press just gives up and they just say, well, yeah. Okay.”

You can watch the whole speech here. And you’ve gotta admit…the guy’s still got it!

* If you want to talk emails, Nina Burleigh has the real story.

For 18 months, Republican strategists, political pundits, reporters and Americans who follow them have been pursuing Hillary Clinton’s personal email habits, and no evidence of a crime has been found. But now they at least have the skills and interest to focus on a much larger and deeper email conspiracy, one involving war, lies, a private server run by the Republican Party and contempt of Congress citations—all of it still unsolved and unpunished.

Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails…

Most troubling, researchers found a suspicious pattern in the White House email system blackouts, including periods when there were no emails available from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. “That the vice president’s office, widely characterized as the most powerful vice president in history, should have no archived emails in its accounts for scores of days—especially days when there was discussion of whether to invade Iraq—beggared the imagination,” says Thomas Blanton, director of the Washington-based National Security Archive.

* The Republicans in North Carolina have come up with a new excuse for getting rid of early voting. This one’s a whopper.

The North Carolina Republican Party has spent years trying to cut the early voting days available in their state — after ordering studies that found voters of color disproportionately cast their ballots early. Even though they lost in federal court and are mostly losing at the county level, the leaders of the state GOP have a new argument: early voting will allow dead people to influence the election in the crucial swing state.

“We have a situation here where you have to be alive on Election Day. If you vote early, you still have to be alive,” the state GOP’s executive director Dallas Woodhouse told local Fox reporters. “In a very close race you could literally have dead people voting.”

* Jared Bernstein wrote his thoughts about the good news from the U.S. Census Bureau that I mentioned earlier today.

Such a trifecta — lower poverty, higher middle-class incomes and more people covered by health insurance — is rare in this annual report. In fact, since 1988 (the first year for which census data on health insurance are available), the only other year that brought simultaneous official progress on poverty, median income and health insurance was 1999.

These very positive results were largely driven by two factors: a stronger labor market that finally began to lift the living standards of low- and middle-income working families and the diffusion of health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. In other words, both the economy and public policy were finally pulling for the middle class and the poor. Given the powerful forces of inequality pushing the other way, the results show the extent to which this one-two punch — full employment and progressive policies — can lift the living standards of working families.

* Hillary Clinton has launched a new “college calculator.”

Over the last year, Hillary Clinton has released a bold agenda to ensure that anybody in America who wants to get an education can get one. At a time when college costs have risen 40 percent in a decade after adjusting for inflation and in which outstanding student debt exceeds $1 trillion, it is time to tackle this problem once and for all. That’s why Hillary has proposed policies that will offer immediate relief to the more than 40 million Americans with student debt, while enabling future college students the opportunity to graduate debt-free so they can pursue their dreams.

To see how Hillary’s proposals might benefit you and your family, visit our college calculator at www.hillaryclinton.com/calculator

* Finally, the Clinton campaign has a new ad out that puts the focus on “deplorable” right back where it belongs.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.