Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 4, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CONTRAST....Time's Karen Tumulty reports that the Clinton campaign plans to respond to their loss in Iowa with much sharper attacks on Barack Obama:

"We've got to start holding him to the standard people hold her to," Clinton's chief strategist Mark Penn told reporters aboard the campaign's chartered jet to New Hampshire. "I think there's a basic choice between experienced leadership for change and inexperienced leadership that talks about change."

Added another adviser: "You're going to see some very sharp media now." That suggests the next round of Clinton ads will go beyond the previous gentle references to Obama's lack of experience and begin to look at, for instance, inconsistency in his voting record. They are looking at issues like gun control, where he previously took a harder stand that may not play well with gun-loving voters in New Hampshire, and health care, where he previously expressed support for a government-run health care system. Clinton plans to exploit every whiff of inconsistency.

No surprise here. Republicans are obsessed with "contrast" campaigning — i.e., lots and lots of attack ads — and obviously the Clinton folks now feel like this is their best chance to engineer a rebound in New Hampshire. But is five days enough time to make a dent?

Kevin Drum 1:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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If that's the sum total of their strategy ("inconsistency in his voting record") then the Clinton campaign is cooked. Stick a fork in it.

People vote for/against a candidate based on their positive/negative feelings towards them. Issues count but only insofar as those issues trigger pos/neg feelings.

If Clinton goes all left-brain in this phase of the campaign, it's over.

Posted by: Ara on January 4, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

If I were Hillary, I'd hold back just a bit. Between John Edwards and Mudcat Saunders (who mysteriously appeared on Fox this morning despite the Edward's boycott of said station), I think THAT campaign will be taking on Obama in a big way. Better for Hill to take the high road since the media will punish her for any attempted take down of Obama. I hate to say Mickey Kaus is right about anything, but it may have been good for Edwards to finish second last night because he seems loaded for bear against Obama this morning.

Posted by: Teresa on January 4, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

make a dint? in what? her 10% lead in new hampshire? kevin, i love you, but that just didn't make sense.

Posted by: elfranko on January 4, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Muslim black African basketball player who learned suicide bomber jihad in a secular madrassa and did a bunch of coke off of a Koran with white women while smoking doobies!

Posted by: Hillary Clinton -- For Change!! on January 4, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

After just hearing Obama's solution for healthcare, Clinton and Edwards are looking better and better. The insurance companies just breathed a huge sigh of relief. Obama is all "HOPE" and no solutions.

Posted by: magisterludi on January 4, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like its going to be sad watching Hillary and her stooges trying to harness the ol' Joementum for the rest of this race...if Mark Penn had any honor he'd strip naked and walk 400 miles from Hillary's campaign headquarters without food, water, fire or shelter...and if the Beverly Hills haircut populist takes the low road, Obama will look even better in contrast... somebody needs to say "break a leg" or something, because I've never supported a winner before and I'm getting scared that things are looking too good.

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 4, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

elfranko: I meant, make a dent in the obvious momentum Obama has coming out of Iowa. That's all.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 4, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

"I hate to say Mickey Kaus is right about anything, but it may have been good for Edwards to finish second last night because he seems loaded for bear against Obama this morning."

Loaded for bear, or just loaded? He had a trial lawyer's aura of desperation last night... also lacked class, acting like he was taking a victory lap.

he should fad with some digntity. he is through.

Posted by: tom on January 4, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with "experience" as Clinton's message is that it's actually a fear-based strategy -- fear of what could happen on "day one" if the next president isn't "ready". The challenge Senator Clinton faces is to talk about being "ready on day one" as a way to begin achieving change faster than her campaign implies that Obama (or Edwards) would do. Just saying "think of what could happen" and frightening people about the early bumbling days of an administration (not the most flattering allusion, but that's what I think of when I hear the Clinton message), will not appeal to voters seeking change.

Posted by: Prairie Sage on January 4, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Barack Hussein Obama! Barack Hussein Obama! Barack Hussein Obama!


Posted by: Hillary Clinton -- For Change!! on January 4, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

She should go way, way, way negative now. Siccing her people on Obama with concern-troll references to madrassas and drug habits has worked out really well for her so far. She has zero record of inconsistency herself, so that's all good. And she's got such an engaging persona that she can afford to take the gloves off against someone who projects radiant likability. Plus, New Hampshire voters are renowned for their extreme lack of sophistication.

Oh, my.

Posted by: shortstop on January 4, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what I don't get: Why go negative in NH? It just doesn't make much sense. I mean, assuming she maintains her wildly fluxuating lead, why risk it? It seems like going negative is the WORST possible option and it smacks of desperation. I think we may be witnessing electoral suicide here.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 4, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary has to go tough against Barak. He'll win the "positive" candidate every single time and unless she makes very sharp and direct contrasts that paint him in a bad light she'll remain static at best and will succumb to the momentum Barak has.

Posted by: Fred F. on January 4, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

And she's got such an engaging persona that she can afford to take the gloves off against someone who projects radiant likability.


Just remember, my experience largely consists of giving Bush the authorization to bomb the shit out of some brown people -- twice -- over some nonsense Dick Cheney told me about WMD. And I didn't even bother to read the intelligence reports on WMD before the Iraq War! That inexperienced Barack Obama did! That's why he was against the war from the start!

But I digress...

Did I mention my health care plan? Who in America has more credibility on health care than me? It's not like I've ever turned a national health care plan into an utter fiasco and a laughingstock or anything!

Posted by: Hillary Clinton -- For Change!! on January 4, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Appears Hillary was completely unprepared for this outcome. If she was prepared, she would have launched those aggressive attack ads in time to make a difference in Iowa and NH.

That said, good to have Hillary's campaign prepare Obama for the general election by giving him a taste of what Rove will throw at him.

Posted by: rational on January 4, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a novel idea... instead of destroying the man who may end up being your party's nominee, why not double your efforts at explaining to NH voters why they should choose you?

Posted by: Grumpy on January 4, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

You are over reacting. Take a valium, or go and give Inkblot a good snuggles.

The race has only started. There's a long way to go yet. MSM hasn't even started digging into Obama's background, whereas they've had 2 decades to go after Hillary and she has managed to survive.

The past drug use is going to get him. And we will be able to thank the repugs for that.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 4, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary's not going to win Obama voters that way. The change Obama is talking about isn't about the details of policy, it's a change in the approach to politics. Obama attracts people because it sounds like he has a grasp on "the vision thing", and can offer them a chance to be part of something positive that is historic and bigger than themselves. People who are attracted to that offer are just going to be turned off by what they will perceive as Hillary pounding on picky quibbles about wonkish policy details. That kind of political argument is exactly what they want a change from.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 4, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

The race has only started. There's a long way to go yet. MSM hasn't even started digging into Obama's background, whereas they've had 2 decades to go after Hillary and she has managed to survive.

America's ready for another four years -- at least -- of a rightwing slimefest over none other than me, God's Only Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton! Because H.R.C. stands for C.H.A.N.G.E.!

Aren't you excited America?!? Just think four more years of the scandals of the 1990s, this time extending well into 2012!

And my husband! You get more of my husband on TV all the time talking about stuff! On TV! All. The. Time!

Posted by: Hillary Clinton -- For Change!! on January 4, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

optical weenie: "The past drug use is going to get him. And we will be able to thank the repugs for that."

As most regulars here know, I'm no supporter of Sen. Obama, but for God's sake, let's be fair here -- that happened over 25 years ago!

And further, Obama himself brought up the issue on his own, which will sufficiently diffuse its controversy to the point that people like you who persist in bringing it up will be properly dismissed as trafficking in old news.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 4, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see why *so* much importance is put on the Iowa Caucuses. They don't indicate the future nominees so much as they weed out the people who didn't have much of a chance to begin with. I'm from Iowa. If I remember correctly, the "winners" of the Iowa Caucuses have, historically, not been the eventual presidential nominee for their parties.

Posted by: Angela on January 4, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

If I remember correctly, the "winners" of the Iowa Caucuses have, historically, not been the eventual presidential nominee for their parties.


Posted by: John Kerry on January 4, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

If I remember correctly, the "winners" of the Iowa Caucuses have, historically, not been the eventual presidential nominee for their parties.

Hola, amigos!

Posted by: George W. Bush on January 4, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Either Clinton or Obama is far preferable to anything on the (R) side. Clinton's voting record, however, isn't exactly a liberal role model either. It would be easier to be more enthusiastic about either Clinton or Obama if they actually exhibited any real demonstrable leadership in the Senate, which has been floundering under Reid.

Posted by: AJ on January 4, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it will matter much. Obama was helped greatly by the caucus format, and by Richardson and Kucinich throwing their support his way. That support would have a much greater impact in a caucus environment than it would in an open primary.

Hillary should save her bullets. Edwards, unfortunately, is the candidate in the most trouble. He expended a lot of energy and, more importantly, money, and still finished a distant 2nd. He is also more aligned politically with Obama, and may have the most to gain by going negative.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on January 4, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that I care what sort of stuff Obama did to his brain 25 years ago. It's that there are an awful lot of stiff folks out there who will, especially the older ones who are the ones who vote the most. It's not fair, but it's reality.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 4, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Obama was helped greatly by the caucus format, and by Richardson and Kucinich throwing their support his way.

Yes, Dennis Kucinich's mighty electoral juggernaut clearly played the role of kingmaker in this primary.

[pick a handle and stick with it - mod.]

Posted by: Indeed on January 4, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

re: Obama's admitted drug use

GWB's record as a drug-using, alcoholic loser was well-known before 11/00, and that didn't prevent him from, arguably, winning two Presidential elections.

Then again, it really helps when you, your brother, and your Dad's Supreme Court get to decide whose votes count.


Posted by: Zorro on January 4, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Clinton's past drug use really had an impact. Puleeeze.

Posted by: Ed on January 4, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

It seems like Hillary's great asset has always been her strength and toughness, and she therefore started losing ground when she backed off and backed away from bring up Obama's inexperience and inconsistencies. It doesn't matter if the press implies she is the B-word personified. They are going to anyway. Attack the press for not doing their job vetting and asking tough questions of all the candidates. If it's fair game for Obama to attack Hillary as he did when questioned her records/transparency (when he destroyed his own) and fair game for Obama to bring up her voting records, Hillary should go straight at him and bring up his missed votes, his Iran vote and his ineptitude in chairing his subcommittee. Our lazy, not very smart msm is giving Obama a free ride. Intelligent people shouldn't. Especially Hillary.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 4, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I'm taking a more distanced viewpoint here, but considering the stuff the Republican slime machine has thrown at the Clintons (plural) over these many years, the Clintons have not done a very good job of responding or deflecting. It is true that Bill won two elections, but the first was won before the slimers had really gotten into high gear (perhaps they were restrained a bit what with having a reasonably popular incumbent running in 1992). The failure to respond to the television ads attacking the "Hillerycare" proposal was fatal. The vaunted Clinton instant response team failed to show up for that battle. Worse in my mind, Hillary failed to force the conservative faction to drag concessions from her in public; this might have resulted in something very similar to her proposal, but would have been viewed by the American people as a reasonable compromise and therefore a consensus document. But no . . .

So why should I trust either her political instincts or her core principles, when she demonstrated nothing of the sort in that highly critical period early in Bill's first term?

With other commenters here, I also don't see this as the women's breakout candidacy; rather I see it as the heir to Bill candidacy. I think we can survive without it.

Posted by: Bob G on January 4, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Bill Clinton's past drug use really had an impact."
Posted by: Ed on January 4, 2008

You can't change the subject. The poster referred to 'GWB' which obviously means George W. Bush, our current failed president.

Posted by: MarkH on January 4, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Loaded for bear, or just loaded? He had a trial lawyer's aura of desperation last night... also lacked class, acting like he was taking a victory lap.

I keep hearing this. It's such a desperate smear, and I can't imagine either Hillary or Obama thinking it'ld benefit them, so I'm guessing it just popped up from some worried supporter.

It's a really crappy smear. It's unsupported by the memes surrounding Edwards, which means it can't get traction period. It's unsupported by the speech (only someone 100% decided against Edwards would even notice that, much less take it in that fashion), and it's not being reported.

It just comes across as, well, classless and desperate. What's the point? It makes you look afraid of Edwards, like you're resorting to the cheapest of shots in a desperate attempt to stop him.

Since he doesn't have a lot of momentum, it's a weird impression to be giving out.

Posted by: Morat20 on January 4, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I hope she tries - that'd be playing right into Obama's hands: "See? There she goes again. Those old, divisive politics..."

Posted by: cazart on January 4, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Cross-posted from Ambinder's blog:

I agree that personal attacks are something Clinton should avoid, unless there's some beef behind them. So far all the crap they'll tried to pull on Obama hasn't had any substance. But there are legitimate policy differences with Obama that they can -- and must -- use. They should start with Obama's views about Social Security. And they should take on the mandates issue. She can make a cogent, intellectually respectable case that mandates make sense. Use a phrase like "everybdy benefits, everybody shares responsibility" or "universal healthcare, universal responsibility" or somesuch. She can accuse Obama of offering "pie in the sky" on healthcare. She should drop the bullshit about "change" as Obama's obviously the much fresher face. And yet, switching from George W. Bush to Hillary R. Clinton would obviously constitute a huge degree of change over the status quo. She doesn't need to keep using that word -- and should avoid it -- because Obama's cornered the market on it. Rather, she can imply the degree of change she offers simply by stressing her party affiliation (Hi, I'm Hillary Clinton, and I'm a Democrat running for president). Her key buzzword should instead be "experience." It will stress the fifteen year age gap between her and her opponent, and emphasize his rather unproven record. And yes, she should vigorously go after her opponent for "lack of experience in a dangerous world."*

*The political gods must really look with favor, though, upon Obama. I mean, the current flash point making the headlines in world affairs is Kenya. I don't know about you, but I rather suspect it's the young whippersnapper candidate who would be in the best position of anybody to make a contribution on that particular crisis were he president.

Posted by: Jasper on January 4, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

cazart: If Hillary plays it as Obama being "soft" and unable to stand up to valid questions and criticism Obama will lose by playing the "she's being divisive card". Being "soft", unable to play in the big leagues, "soft" on crime, terrorism, etc, only having "soft solutions" to hard questions always seems to work.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 4, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

As to Edwards, in a reasonable world, Hillary would have to get past Edwards to take a shot at Obama. This morning I listened to Edwards. His take is that after Iowa the race is now a two person race and Hillary isn't the second person.

If it wasn't for the media, and what is left of 120,000,000 in her pocket he would probably be right.

Hillary came third. She is the one with the real problem. The NH polls were taken before Iowa. Lets see if they hold up. I bet Obama jumps ahead in a couple of days. She will probably beat Edwards, but then again maybe not.

If she goes all negative on Obama she will just piss off everybody.

Edwards has a real argument that Obama has to address. How do you secure real change if you are singing Kumbaya with the bad guys? We heard Obama start to sharpen the message just last night. Watch for subtle changes in his health care program to bring it more in line with Edwards and Clinton. If I am Edwards I don't get personal with Obama. I stick with the nagging voice that says you can't trust corporatists. Of course Edwards argument doesn't work for Hillary. She is in bed with the corporatists and much to busy pleasuring them to sing Kumbaya.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 4, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. saying your male opponent's "soft" approach to issues won't work of course has great double entendre appeal.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 4, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

The blogs are full of Clinton this, Romney that. They talk about how Clinton will now need to tease apart Obama’s positions on the issues. How McCain may now be the one who can win New Hampshire, if he sticks to the issues.

What many of the blogs are missing is the element of charisma. Many voters will choose their candidate not based on his or her position, but on whether or not they feel connected to that person.

GW Bush played that element all the way to the White House. His supporters didn’t really care where he stood on many of the issues. What they cared about was the feeling of being connected to the guy, like he was one of them, and vice versa.

I suspect that Hillary has a lot more positions on the issues than Barack. I suspect also that Obama’s supporters don’t care so much about his positions as they do about HIM.

we saw the disaster that voting for someone becasuse you like him created under GW Bush. Perhaps it woudl be best to stick to the message, but i suspect Clinton will lose much like Gore did. And Obama may not win the White House, but he is much more likely to win the nomination now.

Posted by: Chris on January 4, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

The record thus far is that negative campaigning just slides off Obama. Moreover, as one commentor said, negative campaigning simply stamps Clinton as the campaign of fear as opposed to that of hope, thus doing Obama's work for him. I felt his way watching her husband campaign for the nomination. It was just obviouis that no one else was even in his league as a politician. The same with Obama.

Posted by: Matt on January 4, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

My conclusion from Iowa is that both the Republicans and the Democratic caucus-goers preferred the populists and the appealing candidate who was not an attack dog on the trail to the establishment candidate throwing money at the race. For the Republicans, the populist and the kinder-and-gentler politician was the same candidate, Huckabee. For the Democrats the kinder and gentler candidate was Obama, and the populist was Edwards. In both cases, the populists and the Kinder and gentler candidates defeated the well-financed establishment candidate.

I think that the real problem the voters have is that the Reagan Revolution has lasted a generation, and now it has crashed and is burning. It has totally failed in every respect. The basic American political problem is (1.) corporatism and (2.) a dominant group of both Republican and Democratic politicians in Washington who are beholden to the corporations because of the way campaign financing works.

Those voters who understand what is happening are becoming strongly anti-corporatist, and the rest of the voters are blaming the problems on the rather surface aspects of blatant political negativity that everyone can see. Since the Press is part of the establishment, they are as frightened of the populists as Wall Street it, so the Press (David Broder, for example) are pushing the idea that the real problem in American politics is the lack of civility between politicians. That's where the Bipartisanship crap is coming from.

If I am correct, and if those in New Hampshire have similar feelings to the caucus-goers in Iowa, then for Hillary to go negative will be self-defeating.

Besides, the Press has already anointed Obama. He just had to show a glimmer of success in Iowa to get their support (they detest Hillary and equally dislike Edward's populism), and Obama outdid himself in Iowa. Now he is the Press' golden boy, particularly since he is not making all those nasty populist noises like Edwards and Huckabee.

Posted by: Rick B on January 4, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

"experienced leadership for change"... how stupid does that sound? HRC's problem is that she's trying to climb on board the crowded "change" train but needs to differentiate herself. Whereas Edwards is about forcing change of a broken system and Obama is about change through unity, Clinton is trying to claim that she can lead change because... why? ... because she's experienced in the established system?

That's absurd and voters know it. She can't compete in the change meme. She'd be much better of talking about returning the country to the prosperity, world leadership we enjoyed before King Shrub.

Posted by: Prince Myshkin on January 4, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Five days is not enough time. And traditional contrast arguments will not be enough to propel an unpopular Hillary past a very popular and about to be lionized by MSM Obama. The experience schtick will not work because enough folks recognize Hillary is not all that experienced and because Obama's life story is so much more impressive than Hillary's life story.

It will take scandal/dirt for Hillary to beat Obama and, of course, the Clintonistas will not hesitate to use whatever they can find. As someone once said, now the fun part starts.

Posted by: brian on January 4, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

One other question, why do guys like Penn and apparently others even talk to the media about their plans? I don't see how it helps Hillary. Is it just to feed their own egos?

Posted by: brian on January 4, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

People that act like the media is just now gonna look into Obama need to put down the bong.

They have dug and dug, and there's nothing there.

The Clinton subterranean goons have been digging for the better part of a year, and the best they could come up with was that he wrote a paper in kindergarten saying he wanted to be President.

The Clintonistas trying to attack Obama as being ambitious, that's a hoot.

They have an opposition research division bigger than the Rand Corp. and they've come up with nothing.

Oh yeah, then they had to resort to something HE PUBLISHED...that he had done drugs. Only they wondered if he hadn't been a dealer! The desperation is palpable.

They can't grasp the country is sick of this stuff. They can't grasp most of us have tried drugs, and most of the country appreciates honesty about it rather than "I didn't inhale" insulting fabrications.

Fire away, Hillary. Get down and dirty. We wouldn't expect anything less from you, much less the Mark Penn Blackwater-defending-types you have surrounded yourself with.

Posted by: filmex on January 4, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Memo to Mark Penn: Having just gone through Hillary's record as a Senator in order to make my own choice come Super Tuesday, my reaction is: bring it on. 'Cause your girl's got nothing.

The sum total of her experience is putting up with Bill's philandering and pulling a Cheney out of her hat with the botched health care task force, which is why all you've got her saying is that she's "experienced" -- you're long on adjectives, short on nouns, Mr. Penn.

Of course, as she pointed out last night, she did have that book ghost-written about how to have other people raise your children. So there's that.

And she voted with Lieberman for the aborted war in Iran, though that act of "leadership" seems not to come up very often in your campaign rhetoric.

That kind of "leadership" I can get with Giuliani.

No thanks.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on January 4, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

I hope Obama is ready for the Slickwillie Boating he is about to get.

He should come back with a devastating counterpunch which does indeed draw out the "differences": the Clinton’s bad faith, their dishonesty and arrogance-- the cash for pardons—Marc Rich.

Compared to Little George, Clinton’s Presidency was stellar. But compared to a non deviant, Clinton was uninspired and mediocre at best. At worse, he set the tone for dishonesty and cynicism that in some respects enabled this current crowd to say and do whatever they want.... “because they can”. As Slick Willie said regarding why he had his intern give him a blow job… “because he could” .

The impeachment was bullshit, but the Clinton’s raced to the bottom… “I did not have sex with that women”… “depends to the definition of what the word “is” is, the right wing conspiracy… lying to a grand jury, having sex with a young intern under his employ… a cum stained dress as evidence, DNA tests. . Whitewater was a right wing witch hunt, but it also showed that she destroy documents and used her and his influence for corrupt purposes.

And did I mention MARC RICH and cash for Pardons? I can’t understand why so many are still so enamored.

Don’t we deserve a chance at something better?

Posted by: larry on January 4, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

The attack game carries its own dangers. Even Democrats whose fisrt choice is not Obama, will be put off by attack adds. After all the likihood that he will be the nominee is now too great to forgive the sin of dissing him.

With any luck the D nomination will be wrapped up quickly, and we can enjoy watching the Republican's circular firing squad.

Posted by: bigTom on January 4, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK


I will be greatly surprised if Hillary quits as long as there is any chance whatsoever, which means long beyond February 5. She is, as her husband said, in it until the last dog dies.

For that matter, Edwards probably will not quit until Obama cuts a deal with him for vp (or maybe Hillary buts such a deal) or Edwards calculates that continuing to run hurts his chances in the next campaign. I saw Brooks said today Edwards is finished as a politician. No way. He'll be back with his next phony schtick four years from now or 8 years from now and he might some day succeed.

Posted by: brian on January 4, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

>"...why not double your efforts at explaining to NH voters why they should choose you?"

Maybe because there's nothing there of substance?

For my part, I can't think of anything significant that she's accomplished... there is certainly nothing that would earn Hillary a chapter in "Profiles in Courage". (if you're old enought to remember that book).

Posted by: Buford on January 4, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Every time Hillary pounds the "experience" drum I have to wonder: what did her vaunted 'experience' get me in the run-up to Iraq? An 'experienced' progressive Democrat should have tried to stop us attacking a nation that hadn't and couldn't attack us, when it was so likely to become a quagmire.

If her experience didn't keep her from that blunder, I frankly don't care much for it.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 4, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

"I think there's a basic choice between experienced leadership for change and inexperienced leadership that talks about change."

Well, lets see, when it comes to "experience" Hillary is a toddler compared to Joe Biden, so that position is already takened.
So that leaves her with "change" which she pays lip service too, but when it came time to stand and deliver "change" she did what every other else did...voted for more of the same.
Someone close to her should inform her with diagrams, citations, and posters proving that "more of the same" does not equal "change."

Posted by: sheerahkahn on January 4, 2008 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

obviously the Clinton folks now feel like this is their best chance to engineer a rebound in New Hampshire. But is five days enough time to make a dent? - Kevin Drum

Someone in a previous thread mentioned the idea of holding a set of regional primaries as an alternative. I think the ideal solution would be to have 5 states hold primaries/caucuses at once at the beginning, but from decidedly *different* geographical regions. What about the notion of having Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, New Mexico, and Oregon all go AT ONCE at the beginning. That would give a more balanced picture of all the candidates in all of the major geo regions of the US in one snapshot.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 4, 2008 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

AJ: It would be easier to be more enthusiastic about either Clinton or Obama if they actually exhibited any real demonstrable leadership in the Senate

Like when Edwards co-sponsored the Iraq War bill? That kind of leadership?

Posted by: hlah on January 4, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK


I remember you mentioning that you were annoyed with Obama because he appeared to attack his opponents from the right. Now Hillary announces that this is actually her strategy -- to go after Obama for being too "liberal" on guns and health care in the past. This sounds eerily similar to the behavior indicted in your past criticisms.

Posted by: Danny on January 4, 2008 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Penn - Hillary Clinton's chief strategist - was going to be the next political guru, part Rove and part Carville until he ran straight into Reality. Last night Iowans voted 71% for opponents and 29% for the supposed unbeatable Hillary. What gives?

Penn has never understood Hillary's campaign very well for the following reasons:

1. Deciding to imitate Karl Rove's tactics after Hillary's meltdown in Philly,

2. Focus Group polling that was woefully out of touch with prevailing sentiments, e.g., first Hillary's "experienced" - which she isn't - then she's the "candidate of change,"
which she never could be considering the kind of patronage she's relied on,

3. Dedicating so much time in Iowa for no clear victory,

4. Taking New Hampshire for granted in large measure,

5. Presuming that Bill's unorthodox candidacy would serve as a viable precedent for Hillary, which it hasn't and won't,

6. Presuming from the beginning that all Hillary had to do was scapegoat Bush while neglecting to clearly differentiate herself from the other candidates, which set, by this time, an irrevocable pattern,

7. Allowing Hillary's speeches and dialogue to express a vague sense of specificty while promising enormous change, e.g., Hillary insisted she wouldn't answer "hypotheticals," while the other candidates were thrilled to elaborate on their ideas,

8. Talking and acting tough in the same mold as W as a way of engendering confidence that Hillary's capable of fighting terrorism while most Americans are, at the same time, sick of the way the "War on Terror" has gone, including all the Neocon bravado,

9. Alluding to the notion that Bill will be there as an anchor when everyone knows about the friction - a very confusing scenario that hasn't yet been fully explored, e.g., would he effectively be a sort of V.P.?

10. Playing the gender card, which in Iowa proved to be a mistake,

11. Ineffectually fighting the false stereotype that Hillary is a genuine liberal, or, in some people's minds, an out and out socialist, which is going to hurt her in the south beginning with South Carolina,

12. Not effectively controlling the staff, which operates recklessly since there's not sufficient leadership at the top - look for more resignations and/or firings during Jan.,

13. Not capitalizing on Hillary's early success by aligning with her opponents and making deals for the time when they would bow out, e.g., Richardson originally showed alignment with Hillary but subsequently backed Obama as will the rest when the time comes,

14. Relying too heavily on a few issues, such as Healthcare, rather than serving as a beacon for shaping the Democratic platform - the differences among the top candidates now in terms of Healthcare are neglible considering that all plans will face legislative revisions once they're activated, and,

15. Not maximizing her existing endorsers and overplaying inconsequential endorsements like the Register, which has never picked a candidate who became President.

Last but not least, Feb 3 is Super Tuesday, which will solidify the race and send Hillary back to her carpetbagging ways in luxurious Westchester County, NY. By Feb. 5 Mark Penn, which he claims is a seminal date for Hillary's fate, will have had 48 hours to be dreadfully depressed over how he flubbed up. In all fairness, had he been responsive to all 15 issues, Hillary still didn't have much of a chance of winning since her negative ratings are so high and people just don't like her.

Posted by: hilda crain on January 5, 2008 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

The flaws, dear Hillary, lie not in the stars or Obama, but in thyself. Should she have stood for anything but pandering, I might have supported her. She positioned herself so "moderately" she became a Republican. It is like the ending of Animal Farm.

She has morphed into Gingrich with a wig. And I look to a man from Illinois to heal the great rifts in this nation. Funny thing, history repeating itself. . .

Posted by: Sparko on January 5, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

I am a Democrat. I hate Bush’s presidency. I hated the war in Iraq before we were involved and continue to. I think we are in deep sheet politically and economically due to the money wasted on this war. I believe we need a President who can get us out of it. I am not going to vote Democrat if Obama gets the nomination. Depending on the Republican nominee, I might vote Republican - because he could be less evil then Obama.

Change is a beautiful word that sounded very seductive when used by Obama, especially today considering the sheet that we are in. Without change, mankind would stand still. However it is only a seductive word at the moment. What we need right now is somebody who can and knows how to navigate us out of where we are and Obama is not this person. There were political leaders before that wanted change, but what they achieved was destruction - like in Russia &Iraq. Not all changes are good and it is extremely important when, where and how changes are implemented!
What is Obama’s position today in Kenya?

Posted by: an on January 6, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Mark Penn is a genius.

He singlehandedly took a candidate with all the money in the world, history on her side, tremendous name recognition, and a lifelong history of accomplishments and turned her, for purposes of the Democratic primary, into an unelectable, hardly likable, insider who is turning people off by the droves with these Rovian tactics and smears.

I'm laughing, laughing, and laughing some more.

Posted by: Dave from queens on January 6, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I did jury duty in Chicago. We filled out a questionaire beforehand and the judge interrogated us thoroughly on all the questions...except criminal arrests and trials. I thought that odd, but then guessed that if one probed in this area there would be no black jurors in Cook County, leading to the usual charges of bias.

Seems like black candidates and affirmative action appointees like Dr. Rice get similar softball treatment for the most part.

Posted by: Luther on January 7, 2008 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

One thing is for sure, Hillary isn't going to go nearly as negative as the Republicans will, should Barack Hussain Obama get the nomination.

Posted by: Patrick Cropper on January 7, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Are the Democrats really dumb enough to self-destruct AGAIN, by nominating Barack Hussain Obama?

Don't anwer that...of course they are.

If this keeps up, I'm quiting the Democratic Party after 47 years, and declaring myself an independent.

Posted by: Patrick Cropper on January 7, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

And you know who I'm really sick of?...John Edwards.

That clown couldn't even win re-election to the Senate from his own state, and he made a terrible VP candidate in 2004.

John Edwards needs to quit losing elections, and get a job.

Posted by: Patrick Cropper on January 7, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Just plain, WOW. The hypocrisy is thicker than Georgia fog.

Clinton's campaigners say they are going to respond in kind to the treatment they've recieved and it's spun that Senator Clinton's a big ol' meanie. They're only saying that Barrack should get equal treatment, but your readers think that's not equitable.

For some strange reason, even with so-called liberals, it's perfectly OK to savage a Clinton, but we'd all better play with kid gloves with everyone else.

Here's a scoop for you, folks: It doesn't matter which Democrat wins the nomination, he or she will be eviscerated once said nomination is sewn up. The press hates Clinton, that's true, and that's what accounts for most of the phoney stories (her laugh, her wrinkles, her cleavage) ginned up by red-faced pundits. But they don't really *LIKE* Barrack and when/if he's the only target, he'll get all barrels.

If Obama can't take what a single liberal senator dishes out, how in the hell can he expect to survive the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?

I've seen no indication that the junior senator from Illinois understands what he's up against. In fact, everything I hear from him is filtered through the rose-colored glasses tinted by his sycophantic sidekicks.

Damn, damn, damn. I'm so sick of playing nice and losing. But I understand the appeal: it worked so well for Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and John Kerry, not to how mention Bill's playing nice got him an impeachment.

Posted by: rickl on January 7, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe the Dems are in the process of giving away another election to the Republicans.

After 8 years of Bush and his terrible job performance, after 8 years of a war started under false pretenses, after 8 years of tax cuts for the rich, high energy prices, and now a collapse in housing prices...and the Dems are still going to lose...this time by nominating a guy named Barack Hussain Obama.

I'm beginning to think Democrats are a party of victims and losers. They'd rather complain at cocktail parties about whomever is in the White House, than win an election.

If it weren't so sad, it would be funny.

Posted by: Patrick Cropper on January 7, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK
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