Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 20, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

NEVADA....I see that the latest "controversy" in the Democratic race is over who won the Nevada caucuses. Hillary Clinton won the voting race, 51%-45%, but Obama's folks are trying to claim that what really matters is the national delegate count, which they won 13-12 due to oddities in the way delegates are apportioned.

I say: give it up, folks. Hillary won, and trying to pretend otherwise just makes you look dumb. Nobody's buying it. On to South Carolina.

But I'll add one thing: thanks to New Hampshire, no one is making idiotic pronouncements about any single primary contest being decisive anymore. Hillary's Nevada win is just a Nevada win. Good for her and all that, but it doesn't mean she has the nomination wrapped up, or even that she's really noticeably closer to it. That's progress.

Kevin Drum 1:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (78)

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Comments

You're assuming your conclusion, Kevin. In this particular game, "win" obviously has multiple definitions. You found one you like, but that's all.

Posted by: vorkosigan1 on January 20, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Drum, no. Don't be a Clinton shill. Hillary won the popular vote. Obama won the delegates. That's a draw.

If the media--and blogosphere--want to spin that as a Clinton win (especially after the suspicious Diebolding in NH) then some of us object.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 20, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

obama supporters are so childish, grow up. i just voted taday for hillary in florida,, there'''

Posted by: jennifer on January 20, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin has a point, but I think he's ultimately wrong. The Nevada caucus is like the electoral college. Even if you win the popular vote, that doesn't mean you win the caucus.

This is like 2000 when Gore got more popular votes, but Bush won because he won the electoral college. It would be more accurate to say Clinton won the popular vote, but Obama won because he won the most delegates, but even this is inaccurate because we don't know what the popular vote was. But if we wish to be gracious we should call Obama and Clinton co-winners for first place and say this was a tie. This would be what I would prefer to call it.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 20, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin here, and I definitely support Obama over Clinton. If Obama does end up with more delegates, it's a demonstration of how ridiculous caucuses can be, nothing more nothing less. Thank God most states do primaries, where it's one person one vote.

Posted by: Chris O. on January 20, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

So what if I revise Kevin's statement as follows ...

"I see that the latest 'controversy' in the Presidential race is over who won the general election. Al Gore won the voting race, but Bush's folks are trying to claim that what really matters is the electoral college count, which they won due to oddities in the way delegates are apportioned.

I say: give it up, folks. Gore won, and trying to pretend otherwise just makes you look dumb. Nobody's buying it. On to Gore's inauguration."

/ Just saying ...

Posted by: Callimaco on January 20, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

It would be a better argument if the Hillary team hadn't been making the "delegates are what really matter" argument at a point when they were worried about losing the vote totals.

Posted by: bob on January 20, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Likewise, Clinton came in second, not third, in Iowa, because she won more delegates.

However, I'm not happy with this state of affairs. Unlike the November election, there's nothing in the Constitution that requires Democratic primaries to be undemocratic.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 20, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's not either or. It's a simple fact. Clinton won the popular vote and Obama won the delegates. And the Dem delegates -- unlike the delegates chosen in the Republican caucus, which is handled differently in Nevada -- are supporters of the candidate they represent.

Posted by: scruncher on January 20, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush-Gore analogy doesn't work. Yes, the name of the game is delegates, but trying to argue that Obama won because he might - and I emphasize the term, might, because of the state rules - get an extra delegate is silly. This simply isn't the same as a presidential election, where the Electoral College decides it. Right now, perception if what counts.

More people caucused for Clinton. By any normal definition, that's a win. We can argue, as I would, that caucuses are stupid and subject to all sorts of manipulative nonsense. But this is the system we have.

Posted by: bear88 on January 20, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

On the facts alone, this is wrong. Whether this is a winning argument or not it another issue.

First off, we don't know that Clinton won the popular vote.

She won the county delegate vote. Obama won the national delegate vote.

For some reason, everyone has decided that the County Delegates are relevant and the National Delegates are not. Can someone explain to me why one kind of delegate is important and the other is not?

But to be clear, we have no idea of the popular vote in a caucus system. So claiming that Hillary won the popular vote is wrong. John Edwards got more than 3.7 % of the popular vote, but the caucus system tweaked it to look as such. That's just the way it is.

But under this arbitrary system, no rational person could conclude that this is anything but a tie.

Posted by: bdelloid on January 20, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus H. Christ. We're arguing about a difference of one delegate out of -- how many total? I feel sometimes like I'm living in the Kingdom of the Petulant Children.

Posted by: thersites on January 20, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I say: give it up, folks. Hillary won, and trying to pretend otherwise just makes you look dumb. Nobody's buying it.

Would you really expect either of these campaigns to *not* spin a loss in a contest that's this close and this intense? Have to say I'm somewhat surprised to see you lapsing into the childish tone -- adopted by partisans on both sides, I might add -- that seems to prevail in the comments section of blogs. I had thought you were above that kind of gloating & name-calling.

Posted by: junebug on January 20, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Right now, perception if what counts.

Good argument. Obama won what really ultimately matters in determining who gets the nomination.

But it's perception that really counts, and if the Hillary team can continue to get people to focus on vote totals, then she'll have clearly won the perception game in Nevada.

Hillary supporters have no end of such arguments, because they need them. Let's not forget the argument that her vote for the AUMA was not a vote for war, because Bush said it wasn't. Even though it was not that hard to see that Bush was lying. But we shouldn't say that Hillary was fooled by Bush. She wasn't! But the fact that she knew Bush was lying doesn't mean that she was voting for the war, even though the vote was in fact a vote for he war, because Bush said it wasn't a vote for war, and she hoped he was telling the truth. Even though he wasn't. And she wasn't fooled for a second by Bush's lies. Etc.

Maybe it was the perception that mattered, and since a lot of Americans at the time believed Bush's lies (and believed Saddam was behind 9/11, etc.), her vote was a vote to create the right perception. And what is triangulation, but the micro-management of perception?

This is why I'm not a Hillary supporter. And I'm not a "Democrat" in the sense that I'd feel obligated to vote for a bad candidate just because there's a "D" beside the name.

Posted by: bob on January 20, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Nevada was more important than Kevin seems to think. Unfortunately so, for us Obama supporters. By next Saturday Obama's win in Iowa is going to look like a fluke, after three wins for HRC since.

If Obama wins in S.C. while decisively losing the white vote--a very likely proposition--he will be marginalized as the black identity candidate. There will be no recovery from that, and it sall downhill from there. When it comes down to identity politics, the sisterhood is a lot bigger than the brotherhood.

The low information voters, the machines, the teachers unions, and the blue haired ladies are choosing HRC. They would support Obama, too, if he were the Democratic nominee. But Obama is unfamiliar, while HRC is the familiar face, the celebrity, the ersatz incumbent. All she has to do is raise questions about Obama's plans to raise your taxes, or his inexperience in dealing with the terrorists, or his secret love of Ronald Reagan or whatever ginned up crap she can invent, and the fear of the unknown will lure the low information voters back home to her.

Posted by: Fran on January 20, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Obama supporters look cool, calm and collected next to the red-faced rantings of Bill Clinton.

Posted by: JinSactown on January 20, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting if the reports were focused on delegate counts and with serious attention paid to superdelegates. Who are these people? How does a candidate get them and keep them? Which ones are not yet committed?

Posted by: James E. Powell on January 20, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

The fundamental problem is that we're all used to first-past-the-post, and very few caucuses work that way. First-past-the-post makes good sense when it's a single jursidiction making a binary choice between two very different people, but when it's within a party, or covering multiple jurisdictions, then proportional representation makes more sense, and that's why most states use it for their primary. The problem is, we Americans being unused to this system, even the politicians are unable to devise a simple system, and they have to use creaky complex ones like Nevada's, where the proportions don't add up like most people think they should.

Posted by: tom veil on January 20, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Fran: very well said, you nailed it. Failing a major mistake HRC has pretty much put the nomination away. She will win California by at least 10 points.

Gotta hand it to her, she is one tough, smart, conniving nasty politician. She's like a chameleon, she changes persona to whatever is popular to win votes. If she wins the White House we will get very little Change, just status-quo triangulation and nibbling at the edges. Just like the current "Democratic" Congress.

Posted by: JinSactown on January 20, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

What this year is showing is that Iowa and NH have very little influence except in multi-candidate primaries when they act as gatekeepers to knock off marginal candidates (such as Biden, Richardson, Dodd, etc.).

When there are only two or three candidates, those states have a much larger role, but when there are five or six candidates, you know that the top three or four will still be viable even if they do not finish in the top two in Iowa or NH.

Posted by: mfw13 on January 20, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Good lord, people aren't really spending time thinking about this are they? Hillary won the primary voting as best can be determined and Obama won the delegate count - by one. BFD. Anyone with half a clue knows that it's the delegate count that matters, but it's also fair to say a candidate won the popular voting.

Thank goodness we have mostly primaries instead of these stupid caucuses. I'm just waiting for some surrogate of the Obama campaign to trumpet that Obama leads in delegates - which he does of those tied to the voting. But the first word out of any reporters mouth needs to be 'Superdelegates'

Or we cna all just stop wasting our breath about these early contests that thankfully have meant nothing in the grand scheme of things and focus on the issues and a good old fashioned extended primary fight across most of the states.

Posted by: NC Dem on January 20, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

When we get to the convention it is delegates that will matter. But at this point it is all about creating momentum before super Tuesday. The only problem is I think we may have a lot of people voting for the underdog -just look at the pop HRC got after being declared dead after Iowa.

Did Edwards really get so few votes? Or does the caucus system strongly skew the results? If he really got so few votes I would conclude his supporters have decided for strategic reasons to support their second choice. We could be effectively down to a two horse race.

Posted by: bigTom on January 20, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal! Are you ready to answer the question yet?

How many deferments did you ask for and receive during the Vietnam war?

By your own words, you graduated high school in 1963, and conscription continued for a decade more. So how many, ex-lib? And do you ever think about the men who went in your place, who were not fortunate enough to hide out at Berkley?

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on January 20, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that it's perception that matters. And I agree with Petey at Yglesias's place that Team Clinton beat Team Obama by shaping the perception here.

But I don't really see why it makes anyone look "dumb" to point out that Obama may have gotten more delegates in the contest. And the Bush/Gore analogy is pretty apt.

Also, aren't you the same Kevin Drum who wrote (as far as I have seen) by far the most petulant sore loser screed I've seen on the blogosphere when he attacked the entire "flinty-eyed" state of New Hampshire? And not only that, he did it BEFORE the election where they went for his candidate. Let's be a little careful when we're throwing around the word "dumb".

Really, Kevin, it's apparent you have an emotional investment in Clinton that goes well beyond feeling "sympathetic" to her campaign or not wanting the evil anti-Clintonites to get their way or caring that the primary process gets extended. Isn't it about time you just own up to it?

You're a Clinton supporter. You're happy when she wins. You're whiny when she loses. Just like Obama supporters. There's no shame in it.

Posted by: Royko on January 20, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

"When it comes down to identity politics, the sisterhood is a lot bigger than the brotherhood."

I think this may be exactly what it comes down to in the primaries.

I predict the 'real' election will swing differently: November: McCain 52% Clinton 48%

Posted by: Buford on January 20, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

"For some reason, everyone has decided that the County Delegates are relevant and the National Delegates are not. Can someone explain to me why one kind of delegate is important and the other is not?"

Because one is closer to the actual vote count and regardless of the constitution and the law most americans don't believe in votes being multiplied by arbitrary fractions -- especially when districts with lackluster turnouts have more impact? Just a guess.

Check out how complicted the whole thing is:

http://www.nvdemscaucus.com/DraftDelSel.pdf

Posted by: B on January 20, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Buford - If Clinton picks General Wes Clark as her VP, she wins in November. With him on her team it neutralizes the whole war/terror/military thing. She comes out of the starting gate with California and New York on her side. Tough for McCain to beat.

Posted by: Elliott on January 20, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

We don't know how the Nevada vote went. There are no numbers on who individual caucus goers voted for, so all we know is how delegates were awarded. Obama could have won the popular vote, or it could have been Hillary, we don't know. What we do have is two delegate counts, the state delegates which Hillary received more, and the potential, non-binding national delegate count that ultimately determines the presidential nominee, which Obama wins.

Posted by: Mark on January 20, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

In my humble opinion, this is a great sermon from Obama today in Atlanta:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/01/the-ebenezer-se.html

Whether he won or lost the popular vote, I want to hear him continue to speak in this vein.

Posted by: Manfred on January 20, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Mark,

The math isn't that hard. When you have close race you get more national delegates by beating out your opponent in the districts with odd numbers of national delegates. Obama beat hillary in 2 out of 3 odd number districts. Hillary clearly won the exit polls and got more people to caucus for her. I haven't seen anyone argue differently. Clark County basically got marginalized by the delegate allocation.

Posted by: B on January 20, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

"I predict the 'real' election will swing differently: November: McCain 52% Clinton 48%"

I've seen that prediction many times and I can't say I disagree if it turns out those are the candidates. This primary campaign has hurt our chances in the general election no matter who wins the nomination, I think. And someone said later if Wes Clark was the VP choice it would swing votes her way...that's about the funniest thing I've seen in awhile. Let's assume the VP choice swings ANY votes at all (which there is very little empirical eveidence to say it does) there really aren't many people motivated by Wes Clark's lackluster political career.

Posted by: drosz on January 20, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

You can argue Nevada until forever. The bottom line, however, is that I think Barack Obama lost the nomination when he compared Bill Clinton to Ronald Reagan and Clinton came out on the short end of the stick.

Bob Dole lost his election during his acceptance speech to the GOP when he officially got the nomination by vowing to put an end to the NEA. National Education Association, not National Endowment for the Arts. Just about every teacher in America fumed and never listened to another word the man had to say.

John Kerry lost his election the day he stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon and said that if he'd known on the day he voted for the war in Iraq, all that he knew "today", his vote would remain the same.

You can parse and defend any of those statements, if you like, but the bottom line is they were so overwhelmingly stupid that the candidate never recovered.

Whichever campaign advisor told Obama to slam Hillary by comparing Bill Clinton unfavorably to Ronald Reagan should be sent into political obscurity. I'm wondering if Bob Shrum made a call and suggested that one.

Not only is there SO much political fodder that can be used against him on that statement (Reagan's support of apartheid and his refusal to fund AIDS research, for instance) but I'd bet it pissed Bill Clinton off to the point that he will work his heart out to defeat Obama.

Posted by: marcia on January 20, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and c'mon, are people really wondering how Obama got more delegate votes and why that means he came out on top in that regard? C'mon guys, we're giving political junkies a bad name!

Posted by: drosz on January 20, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK
I say: give it up, folks. Hillary won, and trying to pretend otherwise just makes you look dumb. Nobody's buying it.

I disagree. It's that type of thinking that allows a candidate who "wins" Iowa and New Hampshire to coast to the nomination, when in reality, he/she only won a few delegates out of the total needed. If the press would focus more on the delegate numbers than on the "wins", then we'd have more nomination battles that last longer, and later states would have more of a say in the matter. (Plus, it would put more pressure on messed up systems---systems that gives more delegates to the candidate that got less votes---to change and realign their delegate allotment).

Posted by: mitch on January 20, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

What is this obsession with "winning"? There is no prize for "winning" other than getting your name in the papers as the "winner". Strictly speaking, you get a certain number of delegates, which advances you closer to winning the nomination. That's all that's important. Each of these primaries, someone is called the "winner", but in truth they are running neck-and-neck, generally coming within a delegate of each other in each race.

But fixating on a victor in each primary is like saying the Patriots "won" the first quarter and acting like that means much.

Posted by: sburnap on January 20, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

In my humble opinion, this is a great sermon from Obama today in Atlanta ...Whether he won or lost the popular vote, I want to hear him continue to speak in this vein.

Posted by: Manfred

Amen.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 20, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Good grief - Bill "The Era of Big Government Is Over" Clinton's presidency was a tepid DLC-psuedo-liberalism operation that struggled fifteen years after the fact in Ronald Reagan's shadow. Bill "End Welfare as We Know It" Clinton was playing a tactical, defensive game against an agressive conservative movement that Ronald Reagan had empowered. This is political history 101. Idiot spin of Obama's recognition of Clintionism as a "hobbled" liberalism compared to Reagan's remarkable political success in putting the Democrats on defensive for a couple of decades doesn't cut it (and we won't even go into Hillary's incompetence and arrogance that screwed the Universal Health care pooch as poltically viable for the next decade and a half.)

I'm often stunned at what sheep the Clintonistas are - and politically naive beyond belief. Hillary's getting the Democratic "faithful" - Barack's pulling votes from the center and even disaffected GOP. Which will be more important in November ? And which candidate will mobilize - perhaps even revitalize - a moribund rightwing ? Going to the recycle bin of the '90s is about as dumb as Democrats get. Unfortunately a lot of them appear to be that dumb. Maybe it's that losing and/or being on the defensive has become second nature to these folks. Sad. But if you think Clintonism is about "change" from the conventional wisdom, cynicism and business-as-usual of the Beltway and the Terry McCauliffe elite Dems, you need to pull your head out of your ass.

Posted by: brucds on January 20, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary supporters have no end of such arguments, because they need them.

I've been wondering: for how many years have I been defending Clintons? How long have I been making excuses, explaining away?

"There's good reason to doubt Paula Jones veracity."

"Politics is about compromise, Don't-ask-don't-tell was as good as we could hope for."

"Yeah, okay, he probably lied under oath --- but it's not really a lie that matters. And the question shouldn't have been asked, anyway."

Again and again and again I found myself arguing with my Midwest friends about why they should support Bill or his Democratic successors (tainted by association) or Hillary. Just last Thanksgiving, I got in a huge fight with a family member defending Hillary's chances in the general election.

Before Iowa, I leaned Obama, but would have been happy with any Democratic candidate. After Iowa, the Clinton campaign ... I would support her in the GE, but I'd have to swallow the "the Clintons are not so bad" argument myself, and it has become a bitter pill. I do not relish years more of trying to defend and justify Clintons' behavior to others. I cannot believe that I will always have to feel so mixed about "my" politicians. Hillary's campaign has made me feel like I understand both "the fever swamps" of the right and the Naderites a bit better.

Posted by: Dagome on January 20, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, where was all this "Give it up" talk when Hillary's campaign said essentially the same thing after Iowa??

Here's Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson after Iowa, "This is a race for delegates…It is not a battle for individual states. As David knows, we are well past the time when any state will have a disproportionate influence on the nominating process."

Anyone know where I can find Kevin's post blasting this spin from Hillary's campaign? Oh yeah, that's right, there wasn't one.

Posted by: Dan on January 20, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

"The bottom line, however, is that I think Barack Obama lost the nomination when he compared Bill Clinton to Ronald Reagan and Clinton came out on the short end of the stick."

Oh, how I wish everyone would listen to the video of Obama's interview with the Reno Gazette. This reminds me of a game of "100 Telephones." With each retelling the original message becomes more twisted and inaccurate. Obama compared Bill Clinton to Ronald Reagan only on the element of 'change' and not on the merits of the administrations themselves. He said that he thought only two administrations had been able to dramatically 'change' Washington policy direction in the last half of the 20th C., JFK and Reagan. And he didn't attribute that change to any sort of political talent alone but rather to the fact that the American public was 'ready' for change in both instances. I was going to provide the link for the video one more time, which has apparently become my calling here, but it's no longer on the Reno Gazette site. If anyone else has a workable link to Obama's interview, PLEASE post it.

Posted by: nepeta on January 20, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Not only is there SO much political fodder that can be used against him on that statement (Reagan's support of apartheid and his refusal to fund AIDS research, for instance) ...

None of that political fodder is usable by Republicans, at least I don't see how. It is usable (by cynical manipulation) in the Democratic primary, and I agree that makes it an unwise comment. But you really think it can be used to imply that Obama --- Obama! --- was endorsing apartheid? That is cynical! I rather think that example demonstrates very well that "Reagan is great" is clearly not what Obama was saying.

I think that Democrats who react negatively to Obama's comments are displaying foolish pride. Sometimes, your enemy has strengths. To get the upper hand, it is critical to understand what those strengths are, not to pretend that they aren't there.

Posted by: Dagome on January 20, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

"There is no prize for "winning" other than getting your name in the papers as the "winner"."

I think that's exactly the point.

Posted by: nepeta on January 20, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the delegates are the real standard of victory in Nevada argument, are all of those delegates locked in as Obama/Clinton supporters at the national convention? If so, then I would argue there is a reasonable basis for spinning (remember, the original definition of spinning is presenting the facts in the most favourable light to your side and unfavourable to your opponents, but it must be facts being used and not beliefs/assumptions/etc) this as an Obama victory. If not though then it isn't. Also, while yes delegates matter, the importance of being able to claim being the victor for the Clinton side is that it creates perceived momentum that will help her increase delegate count via other victories, so I can see why the Clinton supporters would be pushing back so hard against the Obama won approach even if by the strictest definition it is accurate (delegates for winning nomination).

There is something else though regarding the Obama message I would like to bring up. From what I gather he is looking to be post partisanship, that he wants to simply reach across the lines and work with all Americans towards a brighter tomorrow. While I can applaud this sentiment, I have to question one of the basic assumptions within that approach, namely that you will be able to find those of good faith on the other side willing to work with you to allow you to succeed instead of trying to block you and make you look impotent and by extension your party/ideology impotent. It has been the pattern of the GOP in Congress post 2006, and I cannot see why it would be any different after the next election.

However, the real thing that bothers me about his approach comes down to the fact that it lets the GOP/movement conservatives "turn the page" on their massive failings and failures that have brought America to this low point in her history, especially the raping of the US Constitution in the Bush43 years aided by a compliant and complicit GOP Congress. It sometimes seems to me like Obama wants to pull the same thing Desmond Tutu did in SA with his Truth and Reconciliation Commission in terms of end game, yet he talks only about the reconciliation without having the truth faced/exposed first, and I have to wonder how smart that is. Can there be true healing and moving forward if the cancer is not first identified and removed from being in a position to further contaminate/spread? In abusive relationships in therapy is it more productive to simply talk about how important it is to heal and move on or is it necessary to examine the underlying cause(s) for the abuse and then move onto the forgiveness and reconciliation aspect? That is where I find Obama's inspirational message has some problems with it, it presumes on the good faith of the other side, and one thing I am absolutely convinced of regarding the modern GOP is that there is zero good faith within it, especially when it comes to dealing with liberals/lefties/Democrats. Indeed, I suspect the GOP would be that much more inclined to block Obama in his aims because of the fear it would cause a realignment of the electorate for a generation as apparently happened with Reagan. In other words working with a President Obama to advance his agenda could well be slitting their own political throats for a generation, and I just don't see the GOP doing something like that.

Posted by: Scotian on January 20, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK
"When it comes down to identity politics, the sisterhood is a lot bigger than the brotherhood."

I think this may be exactly what it comes down to in the primaries.

I predict the 'real' election will swing differently: November: McCain 52% Clinton 48%

I agree that this is a real danger. It seems that Hillary has been only marginally damaged by the race divide in the primaries, and maybe she can make up unenthusiastic support from african-americans in the general election.

She's clearly winning support of liberal women in the gender divide in the primary. But is she going to move conservative women? I don't know many conservative women, and Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin cannot be representative (please!), but among the evangelicals? Not to mention that she'll lose some men.

The other serious divide that broke Hillary's way in NV was generational, with bigger support from older folks who showed up in greater numbers. (I suspect the experience argument is particularly flattering to, well, those who style themselves experienced.) I suspect McCain would neutralize this advantage. I've known more than one (older) Democrat who would likes McCain.

Posted by: Dagome on January 20, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

CNN determined to spin Nevada as Obama win.

Heard this morning on wrap up report:
McCain had BIG (3% margin) win S. Carolina.

Clinton EDGED OUT (6% margin) Obama in Nevada. Obama picked up 13 delegates, while Clinton received JUST 12. (No mention of Super Delegates, most of which go to Clinton).

Translation: MSM will continue to downplay Romney and Clinton, while playing up McCain and Obama.

Posted by: DevilDog on January 20, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian, I don't see the Republicans suddenly becoming teddy bears, either. But there is great political mileage to be had be seeming to be the "reasonable" party. I believe Obama has a much better chance of claiming that mantle, even if he'll eventually be forced to discard it. There is also political mileage to gain from winning a landslide victory. That's harder to call, but again, I think Obama has a better chance.

As for truth and reconciliation... I'm not sure where you see that happening, regardless of who gets elected. Partly because Democrats would not come out undamaged, no matter that Republicans would come out much worse.

Posted by: Dagome on January 20, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Get drunk. Get crunk.

Posted by: US Grant on January 20, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Why will McCain defeat Hillary? Most people just see him as a patriot and former POW now, but his devout support of the Iraq War is bound to come to light in the general election. Given that most Americans have turned against the war, why would McCain win when McCain wants to continue the war, and Hillary wants to end it(even though she voted for the war to begin with, like McCain did)? What sense would this make?

Posted by: Lee on January 20, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

but his devout support of the Iraq War is bound to come to light in the general election

And Hillary's won't? Don't forget that as recently as last summer she was cheerleading for the surge. And she's yet to admit that her vote authorizing military action against Iraq was a mistake. At this point she can't do anything but continue to bluff about how it wasn't a mistake because Bush gave his word that he would pursue diplomacy first, etc., etc. And that's such an embarrassing excuse that most of her supporters can't bring themselves to say it.

and Hillary wants to end it

Seriously?
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10947954
In the audio report, Koppel points out that in a recent debate Senator Hillary Clinton said that her first priority if elected would be to "bring our troops home." She did not say ALL our troops, Koppel points out, and she does not mean ALL our troops. She told the New York Times three months ago that some forces would have to remain. And Koppel adds that he spoke with someone from the Pentagon who briefs Clinton, and that she had told this person that if she is elected and reelected, she expects to have troops in Iraq at the end of her second term.

After supporting the war and the surge so strenuously for so long, when she suddenly starts talking vaguely about "bringing our troops home" why would you assume she's done a complete 180-degree flip-flop on the issue? It's a semi-flip at best. She's saying what she needs to say to get elected, and can't even be consistent about it at that.

Posted by: bob on January 20, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

Many excellent points in your 4:30 PM comment. I, too, have been less than persuaded that any attempt at bipartisanship would result in any sort of progressive agenda. However, Obama said something in the Reno interview which I think better describes his point. He talked about how he didn't see a huge ideological divide in the American people themselves on many issues, having talked with many of them during his IL days and during his campaign now. This isn't to say there aren't major differences of opinion on some issues but that 'people' can be brought together on unifying principles even if legislators and political apparatchiks balk. Put simply, 'people power,' led by one with talent to bring people together on principles, will produce a change in Washington, and specifically, progressive change. I think he's very much looking at M.L. King in the area of civil rights as his role model for president. I honestly don't know whether his vision has a chance of success, but I can't but hope that it might.

Posted by: nepeta on January 20, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, although Hillary likely won the popular vote, we don't actually know what that was. The 51%-45% split is actually for the state delegates.

Here's Markos Moulitsas on the subject:

"The percentages reported for this race, by the way, aren't popular vote figures. Truly bizarre. They're based on the number of state delegates awarded. So while no one thinks Obama will win the popular vote, the percentages should be a lot tighter when the actual popular vote numbers are released."

See Update III at:

http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/1/19/19311/1279/671/439708

Posted by: LynnDee on January 20, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, the above comment re popular vote is also why, in part, Edwards probably did better than the 4% might indicate. (That and the viability thing/first ballot thing.)

Posted by: LynnDee on January 20, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

bob:

I agree with you that Hillary's statement that she was convinced that Bush was telling the truth is ludicrous. Are we really to believe that someone like Hillary, who has been through so much political intrigue and who went through so many "scandals" with Bill, could never believe that Bush just might have been lying to her? That she found it inconceivable that a president would actually lie? It's like accepting Albert Speer's claim that he had no inkling of the Holocaust until after WWII.

Posted by: Lee on January 20, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong again ex-liberal. Bush did not win the electoral college; he was awarded it by the Supreme Court! Which is not currently supreme in integrity or legality. Admit it you were never a liberal. I doubt that you know what actually defines a liberal.

Posted by: Don Quixote on January 20, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

General Electric-owned NBC News and its cable news channel MSNBC, rescinded its invitation to candidate US Representative Dennis Kucinich.


If you didn't bark like a dog of war after 9/11 you would not get to run for President.

Representative Dennis Kucinich voted against the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. GE and MSNBC, the sponsors of this debate withdrew his invitation to prevent you from discussing anything of real importance here.

District Judge J. Charles Thompson ruled in Kucinichs favor, enjoining NBC from holding the debate without him. Thompson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, If the criteria was one set of rules and you changed the rules in the middle of the game so as to exclude somebody after having invited them, Im offended by that.

So, a private company MSNBC and a munitions company GE got the Nevada Supreme Court to exclude a legitimate candidate who is one of the privileged few who represent us in the United States Congress and you go along with it.

You fell for it. What a sorry day for America.

Just think how much better off we would be today if Senators Clinton, Kerry, Obama and Edwards and others had opposed Bush's War and his Sacking of the Constitution in 2002.

If only they had stood together then.

Posted by: deejaayss on January 20, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

When it comes down to identity politics, the sisterhood is a lot bigger than the brotherhood.

I was going to gripe about what a disappointment the Dem race has become now that it's degenerated into identity politics, but Fran took care of business at 2:02. It is very disheartening.

Posted by: Lucy on January 20, 2008 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, you Obamiacs, if you want to talk delegates, Clinton has about a 100-delegate lead. Watch out what you ask for.

Bob at 2:01, I definitely agree. That's why I will likely vote Green again this year.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 20, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican party is imploding before our eyes, yet the Democrats seem hellbent on nominating the one person who could galvanize the right into a united front once again.

It is truly a wonder.

Posted by: Lucy on January 20, 2008 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

You and Atrios have been the only sane voices this primary season on the left. I have stopped visiting the other sites!

It really makes me sad to see all the vitriol on the left! There are several possibilities:

a) Progressives are no different than freepers when it comes to pettiness, shallowness, and virulence.

b) A lot of the people posting on these sites claiming to be Democrats are really Republicans sowing discord.

c) The individual ambitions of Obama and Clinton have blinded them to the real danger that come fall it won't be easy to put our house together.

If (c) is correct, then god help us all as we will get at least four (if not eight) more years of McCain, Romney, or Giuliani.

What the two candidates and their "supporters" are doing is engaging in "scortched earth tactics."

I am very sad and disillusioned!

Posted by: Independent Democrat on January 20, 2008 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Scotian why not consider Obama's actual record forging bipartisan consensus to push through progressive legislation?

Posted by: Lucy on January 21, 2008 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

The Right is in disarray, so of course the Democrats can afford to nominate someone reasonable who's base is the center and disaffected Republicans. The Republicans will never unite for the general election if the Democrats are nice to them and don't nominate Hillary ... Sure.

Reasonable doesn't get you anything but held by the nose and kicked in the ass. Ask Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Mondale, throw in Reid and Pelosi for kicks ... You've gotta want it more than the other guy, and you've gotta be willing to throttle him to get it. I'll vote for Obama if it comes to that, but does he really have what it takes to win?

Posted by: FreakyBeaky on January 21, 2008 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Scotian (at 4:30) that Obama’s basic, idealistic message of wanting to “simply reach across the lines and work with all Americans towards a brighter tomorrow,” is a laudable sentiment, but is a naïve approach and in the end an unworkable political goal. 8 years of the supremely arrogant Bush/Cheney administration tactics, with the Republicans' help, have pulled the country too far to the right and rendered us too wounded and scarred and out of synch with the rest of the civilized world for the “hands across the aisle” approach to take hold and work. THERE NEEDS TO BE A PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT, FIRST. I, for one, demand it. I am too angry at the damage that has been done. And, I would guess, the majority of Democrats and a sizable number of Independents feel as I do. Perhaps, (hopefully) the country will be ready for the Obama vision in eight years.
If, as Dagome (at 4:54) suggests, Obama is calculatingly using the idealistic message he trumpets as a mere political ploy which he knows he will “eventually be forced to discard,” because “there is great political mileage to be had be seeming to be the ‘reasonable’ party”; then, Obama’s mantle of fresh and new and idealistic is fake and a cruel joke on those who support his candidacy and vote for him. Moreover, the fakeness of his “tactical” mantel will most likely be exposed before we vote in November, and become the mill stone that will drag the Democrats to defeat.
Better the crafty realist we know (Hillary Clinton), then the possibly fake idealist (Barack Obama).
The women’s’ vote will carry Hillary to victory in November, no matter who the Republicans put up, and if the economy becomes the main issue, her victory will be by a landslide. If McCain becomes the Republican Candidate (which I doubt) he will fight an honorable, gentlemanly battle, but he will lose because he is too old and too ill and on the wrong side of too many issues, including the Iraq war situation.

I heard that the psychics’ prediction is a CLINTON/EDWARDS vs. MCCAIN/GULLIANI contest in November and that the Democrats will win. I don’t know who the vice presidential candidates will be, but I predict that the 'real' election will swing in November to a Clinton victory by more than 4% percentage points.

Posted by: Erika S on January 21, 2008 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree, Kevin. It's not a winner take all state, as you know. And in any case, if she "won", what did she "win"? A lot of votes? More votes? Well, if there is something to be won, what is it? The nomination. How does win the nomination? Clearly, delegates. By that measure, a headline announcing, "Clinton Won!" is the one that looks dumb.

Posted by: Culture of Truth on January 21, 2008 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, the readers who call for a Clinton victory are falling far short of grasping a more possible reality: which is that her candidacy would mean a Republican presidency.

This woman is a politician, whose scripted tear was presented to us as a moment of "earnestness", but I've seen better actors pull emotion out of worse scripts. Use your judgment, ladies and gentlemen, and if that is not good enough (as has been proven in the previous primaries), then just imagine her as a Republican and her act is pretty discernible. I look at her, and I see a career politician who just wants the big prize for the sake of the big prize. And for the longest time, I would have consigned myself to give her that, out of my hatred for the Republican Party, and what they were able to get away with for the past eight years. Let's be honest, that's what it was for me, anyways: hatred of a political party that made me feel like I was a traitor for dissenting from their notions of patriotism, hatred for a party that tried to hold back the clamor over global warming against the most obvious facts, hatred for the party that arrogantly dismissed the many thousands of protestors around the world against the war in Iraq, and hatred for a party so stupid that it couldn't plan effectively for the war that it was lusting to wage since before 9/11, among many other scenarios.

Which is why it’s like being through the looking glass, when I read sentiments calling for an "eye for an eye" if she is elected, and I have to wonder if the supporters of Hillary Clinton actually think that she will even “even the score”. She is a political moderate, not a liberal lefty. This woman voted for the authorization to go to war in Iraq, when every person and their gay cousin could tell it was all a bluff from the Bush administration. Yet, she helped authorized it, when her judgment should have served her the best, and yet her judgment was wrong. Either it was wrong, or she knew it was a bluff, and voted for it out of a need for political solvency, a need to establish some foreign policy “muscle”. John Edwards has since apologized, but do you think she has learned from that mistake? She makes the same sentiments against the Iranian government and its people, whether the threat is real or not. But here is the problem: how do I know she is not acting out of a need to protect the country, or to maintain political solvency? How can I possibly come to believe her and her fake tears if she has to rationalize her actions to the American people in the future?

But even if she were to get back at those nasty Republicans (to the extent that the polls allow her to do so), what was the point really? Are you all only in this to get back at Bush? Is the electorate going to be continually fighting against each other, with the red states on one side, and the blue states on the other? What kind of country can even function with this sort of polarization, where the tiny, independent majority is the king-maker, and each word can become coded to mean many different things to many different people?

I used to be a Hillary supporter; because I thought that any Democrat would be better than what we lived through the last eight years. But I saw her through my political party preference, not through my country and the ideals of it. Seeing her now through that paradigm, I really don’t have confidence in a President Clinton, and her red-faced First Husband. How ironic, that Hillary shed a tear at the possibility of America falling back another eight years. I don’t shed a tear, but I can feel that same sentiment, when I think about her taking the oath. When she takes office, the old machine will payback its friends, screw the rest, and drag this country along to a measured, Gallup-assured, word-parsing Presidency. It will be another Prozac nation, to be sure, but there is not enough reality television to keep this population sedated, I think, from the fatigue of a dynastic administration. Think of all the trees that will be cut down after Bill walks back into the House, in order to rewrite just what the meaning of “is” was, or will be, or might be, depending on what this group says it will.

Here is a former First Lady, who became a Senator from a state she barely lived within, who is now running for the highest office of the land. When the pressure gets on, when the international incidents arise, when domestic problems mount, and when there is a yearning for real leadership, there will not be a poll taken fast enough that she can rely on for direction. From the woman who brought you an authorization on the war against Iraq, the woman who trusted the same President whom many of you are disgusted by, but whom she trusted in his judgment, you would allow to run the highest office? Think leadership, people. Close your eyes, and of all the candidates that you can picture, which, out of all them, possess the quality of "leadership" which allows them to rise to the top? Which of them, can you imagine, leading this country in the uncertain future? It is arguable for a consensus, obviously, but I'm going to stake that Barack Obama, and John McCain rise to that list.

I don't really care for the past battles, really, because I'm more interested in the type of country we could become if we look toward the future. John McCain had his chance, but Dubya screwed him, and he is too old and compromised to run. It would be like watching an alcoholic try to go cold turkey, one last time. We hope he’s got it in him, but we are shocked if we will be shocked. Barack Obama is that candidate to make it happen, to whatever degree reconciliation and progression is possible nowadays. Erika S ran expressed doubts that Obama was actually being honest, and stated that she believed that his words were all an “act”. Then, she believed her assumption as fact, and ran with the narrative to try and discredit him.

I’m sorry, I appreciate that you are skeptical of a politician, but do you honestly believe that Barack Obama had this all planned out when he was playing late-night poker in Chicago with members of the political opposition to help him pass vehemently opposed legislation that would require the video-taping of confessions ( some cold water)? Did he keenly plan out his “act” of bi-partisanship and extend it to a 24-hour role that garnered the admiration and respect of his political opposites in the University of Chicago? True, he does lack the years of experience that others would feel comfortable having their candidate to have, yet the concerns of experience were not beneficial to Christopher Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden, correct?

Barack Obama, more than any other candidate, has the leadership potential and scope to allow a metaphorical and physical political realignment for the future of this polarized country, and the country would do very, very well with the “Professor” in the White House, than the wife of a former President. It’s strange that I am sounding like a Clinton hater, but these are strange times. Only a few, strange times do we have an opportunity like we have with this election, and I just really don’t want to see us drop the ball. I wanted to type more, I can write a lot more, but it’s late and I’m tired, so that’s it for now.

(Yeah, you know who I’m voting for)

Posted by: Boorring on January 21, 2008 at 4:07 AM | PERMALINK

Agree with Kevin. This argument is a disgraceful exercise in bad behavior. Take note, Saint Obama.

Posted by: lee on January 21, 2008 at 6:13 AM | PERMALINK

Boorring:

Good post, a lot of what I feel was represented. It almost feels like I've seen the veil pulled away from people I defended and respected in earlier times. After what I've seen in this primary season from the Clinton's, I'm thinking, how many times have I defended a BS storyline for them because I was blinded through a rigid, defensive stance against Republicans. I don't think America will be worse off with Clinton in the White House, but just because my side will have a slight advantage doesn't mean that's good for the country to stick a finger in old wounds. And her political career hasn't shown me strong leadership capabilities in any sense...her policy wonk credintials are highly suspect as well...so why would I vote for her?

Posted by: drosz on January 21, 2008 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

The only thing that Nevada proves is that Obama's attempt to divide whites and minorities and minority teachers from minority casino workers didn't work.

"Vote for me because I'm a minority and you owe me" isn't a winning strategy in the long run and everyone is going to know in South Carolina that Obama was willing to play the race card for an early victory he hopes will propel his shallow ego-centered campaign.

Posted by: anonymous on January 21, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Hope I'm not the only one who has noticed that ole tell it like it is Mc Cain has not been asked to explain about the Charles Keating affair in Az. and how many little gifts he accepted while doing the Az. voters job in D.C.
twooldnow

Posted by: twooldnow on January 21, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Boy, I love when we Democrats take our eye off the bigger picture. One of the two of them will be our nominee...nothing against JE who seems to be staying to become VP...so let's debate issues, and policies, and records. I support Obama, but will vote for HRC if she is our nominee...though she and her husband have lost a lot of my respect. Let's stop with being a bunch of screeching ninnies and all the shrillness against each other...save it for the GOP.

Posted by: DCnewenglander on January 21, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Don Quixote.

Wrong again ex-liberal. Bush did not win the electoral college; he was awarded it by the Supreme Court! Which is not currently supreme in integrity or legality. Admit it you were never a liberal. I doubt that you know what actually defines a liberal.

Hold on, ex-liberal did dodge the Vietnam draft, so maybe he thinks of that as being liberal. Personally I think his subconscious shame and guilt at that action is what drives most of his hawkishness now.

C'mon, ex-liberal, make peace with yourself and your God. You don't have that many years left you know.

Posted by: Tripp on January 21, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK
If, as Dagome (at 4:54) suggests, Obama is calculatingly using the idealistic message he trumpets as a mere political ploy which he knows he will “eventually be forced to discard,” because “there is great political mileage to be had be seeming to be the ‘reasonable’ party”

Yeah, that was unfortunate. Let me try again. I sometimes get in big screaming matches with my sister. Part of the reason this happens is because my sister feels that I do not merely express disagreement with her position, but actual disdain for her position --- and her, by extension. This never helps me to get my point across, and it creates needless acrimony that makes it harder for us to agree on any topic. I think Clinton has the same problem. "Some of us are right, and some of us are wrong." "Some of us haven't thought enough about what they'll do on their first day in office." It not only causes your enemies to dig in their heels, it alienates your otherwise allies.

It is much more productive to show respect for your opponent and their position, even if ultimately you are not going to agree. Note, I'm not talking about forgiving the atrocious behavior of the Republican party. I am talking about showing respect to Republican voters and independents, many of whom are fine human beings, even if sometimes misguided. Obama does this. (Note that doing this does not mean capitulating, nor does it mean sitting back and accepting your opponents blows.) Clinton seems incapable of ever doing this, even with her fellow Democrats.

Let me try another analogy, for a slightly different point: I expect my president to pursue peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. This does not make me naive. I know that their efforts will probably fail. But it surely will not happen if we stop trying. And trying is the right thing to do.

Obama is the right person to change the tone, at least for a while. Clinton cannot. She is too divisive, and has too many bitter scars already.

Posted by: Dagome on January 21, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

The women’s’ vote will carry Hillary to victory in November

Is anybody here actually acquainted with Republican women? If so you may recall the spectacle of ostensibly intelligent, educated ladies seized by dementia at the mere mention of Hillary's name. I'm not aware of an antidote to this affliction.

How about Republican men? Let's see, just within spitting distance I know a two-time Bush voter who says he'd vote for Obama. I am constantly surprised by the number of my political foes who express admiration and support for his candidacy. The main reasons they like Obama: he'll break the dynastic griplock the Bushes and Clintons have on the presidency; his desire to move past the acrimony and polarization of the (yes) Bush years will be good for the country; and he can get things done.

But but but...Hillary has weathered the right-wing mean machine!!! Well, good for her. Meanwhile how many seats could the Dems lose downticket with Hillary as headliner? How on earth will she get her healthcare plan enacted when her opposition is now exponentially more fierce than it was at the time of her first healthcare debacle?

If Hillary is the nom I'll hold my nose and vote for her, and if she wins I'll eat crow. But best case scenario: we'll have a divisive president from the power elite who won't have the political capital to advance a progressive agenda. Wonderful.

Posted by: Lucy on January 21, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I am not at all sure that you are correct, Dagome (at 12:52), in your assertion that Hillary cannot or does not show respect for her political opponents or for the opinions of those she disagrees with. By all that I read, she has worked well with her Republican colleagues in the Senate and has generally gained their respect (as well the respect of her Democratic compatriots) It seems to me she could not have earned that sort of reputation in the Senate without having the ability and inclination to listen to, and show respect for the opinions of those you disagree with.
I have heard Hillary say on several occasions that her governing style will be to listen first – to gather as many diverse opinions and views as she can, and to listen, before making up her mind and forming policy decisions. I believe her, and I think she has proved that that is her style, notwithstanding her early missteps in getting a universal healthcare plan together in 1993. I believe her when she says that her failure in that endeavor was a painful lesson and that she has learned from her mistakes.

I think her reputation of being too divisive is overblown and unfairly attached to her and is not supported by the facts – at the least not the facts of recent history.

Posted by: Erika S on January 21, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I know quite a few Republican women and men, and formerly Republican women and men, who say they admire Hillary.
Times have changed, and people have changed.

Posted by: Erika S on January 21, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

So much for anecdotal evidence.

Posted by: Lucy on January 21, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK
....Meanwhile how many seats could the Dems lose downticket with Hillary as headliner.... Lucy at 1:31 PM
The Republican turn out in South Carolina in 2008 was down from 2004 and it was down in Michigan. The Democratic turnout has been drastically higher in New Hampshire and Nevada. While the past is no predictor, it looks like the Republicans are dispirited even with a Clinton on a ticket and the Democrats are full of fire. That bodes well for the general election turnout and down ticket candidates. Posted by: Mike on January 21, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama is the right person to change the tone, at least for a while. Clinton cannot. She is too divisive, and has too many bitter scars already."
Posted by: Dagome on January 21, 2008 at 12:52 PM

And this is where you fall into the trap of belief without evidence, especially when what evidence exists would tend to indicate it is wrong. You care to show me the last time the GOP ran a campaign with rhetoric and tone that was not as bitterly partisan and nasty as possible? You care to show me why one should expect any different this time out than any prior year? Remember how in 2004 Kerry's honourable military service would be an effective counterbalance to the claims Dems being anti-military lefties? How did that work out again? Can you tell me why anyone would expect any less from a party that knows it is in trouble and is desperate because of it, indeed which is the more normal pattern when people feel desperate to become more moderate or extreme in actions/beliefs?

This is the problem I have with what I am seeing from Obama and far too many of his supporters, it is essentially a cult of personality. Only HE can change the tone, as if it were within his power alone to do so regardless of what the opposition does. Personally I just think that is wishful thinking and while optimism is important blind optimism is dangerous and misleading. The problem though is he has no record of being able to prove he can do so on the national scene (I am sorry, but State politics is not a good indicator here, the environment is too different and the level of resources your opponents have is far greater than on the State level) yet too many of his supporters think it is self evident that he can and will and therefore anyone unwilling to see this has something wrong with their perceptions. Do you understand what is at the heart of a con man? The ability to sell something that on the surface appears to be of great/rare value but at core/base is anything but, and while I am not calling Obama a con man it is hard to argue that his main political selling point has been his vision/rhetoric of post-partisanship, not his experience, not his judgment (which btw cannot be defined as superior just/solely because he got Iraq right in 2002, a single data point does not a pattern make, yet I have seen that argument repeatedly from Obama supporters), and at heart there is little difference between lofty rhetoric unsupported by specificity in how to get there and what the standard snake oil salesman sells.

This is where he keeps running into problems from what I see, and I must say I find the supporters willing to be so unquestioning about this a little disturbing. Cults of personality always put my teeth on edge no matter who they are for and there is a strong feeling/sensation of that at the core of the Obama campaign. BTW, you asked where I got the truth and reconciliation comparison from and why I thought it was relevant. It is simple, what Tutu was able to do in SA is much the same as Obama claims he wants to do for America, detoxify the partisanship and the hatred it has spawned to bring both sides together for the common good. A laudable goal indeed. The problem is though Obama does not appear to be willing to first haul out into the sunlight those directly responsible for the situation, specifically the GOP leadership since at least Reagan's day and especially GWB with the way he has turned the US Constitution and core respect for the rule of law into toilet paper. You cannot get to the reconciliation point until the wrongdoers have been exposed and their victims feel like they have finally had some justice delivered, which I might add is a feeling that is clearly within a large percentage of the Dem base. What Obama appears to be offering to me is the reconciliation without the truth first, and I don’t see it working without both taken in proper order.

Nepata:

People power is a wonderful sentiment, but exactly how often has it worked without significant upheaval from the public itself either in violent or non-violent protest? Where is that behaviour being shown these days in the US electorate/public, I must have missed it. While I agree with you regarding the voters on the GOP side, my point was never about them it was about the leadership of the GOP and those that support it from the backrooms. BTW, I would not use MLK as an example/model to run for President, there is a massive difference between being the Chief Executive of the most powerful nation on earth both militarily and economically and being a preacher and leader of a social movement. Rhetoric is great for speeches, but it doesn't do much for making the system work the way you want it to as the chief executive, and that is where Clinton's LBJ comment makes perfect sense to me, because in a political leader, especially the chief executive what you want most is someone that can make the system do what you want it to and not have the system rule you instead. I see Obama as lacking the skill sets to walk into the job and do that from day one or even year one, and given the mess America is in, given the massive infiltration of wingnut movement conservatives throughout the federal executive branch (and you know they are not just going to suddenly come over to Obama's way of looking at things when he becomes President, no it is more likely they will work to undermine his agenda and if he lacks sufficient nuts and bolts understanding of the infrastructure he will get rolled repeatedly just as happened to Clinton in his first term) this is no small/unimportant consideration and uplifting rhetoric will not change that.

Look, I understand the appeal, really I do. A message of hope and moving away from the bitterness and hyperpartisan hatreds of the past couple of decades would be wonderful and would be far healthier for America. The problem though is it takes more than a charismatic leader to do this, it takes a lot of political grunt work, a lot of social activism to put pressure on politicos not on board, and it takes a lot of finesse in manipulating the institutions you are responsible for. For all Clinton's faults she does know what the Executive branch is supposed to look like in structure which gives her a comparative baseline to work to restore it with. She clearly does know how to move things within the system, and she does have a lot of executive branch understanding precisely because she was first lady to a two tem President who instead of treating his wife like an accessory actually instead used her to help run his government as much as he was able to. Given how messed up America is those are strong selling points, and unless Obama can come up with in his speeches and his debates a better rebuttal to this than his standard fare to date I think if he wins the nomination the Dems could well lose the general. This even given the weakness of the GOP because aside from a message of hope Obama does not have a lot to offer that most Americans might think they can get from say McCain or Romney, especially after the GOP slime machine goes out of its way to frame Obama as a hopeless idealist with his head in the clouds, not ready to fight hard against the terrorist enemies out there, and trading on the premise of his race making him an automatic agent of change instead of offering the substance of change (please not this is not my opinion, but one of the main lines of attack I can easily see the GOP taking against Obama's candidacy as the nominee).

I don't think you can move on from decades of this level of bitterness and hatred mainly aimed from one side to the other (GOP to Dems) without it being exposed for what it is, the horrors it has enabled to be done in its name, and show that what the right has been saying about the left isn't just distortion but has been outright lies up there with Saddam being involved with 9/11/01. Until those that have been fighting the fight while Obama has been waiting for his time in the sun feel they have been acknowledged for their good/hard work in fighting the movement conservative menace they aren't going to want to kiss and make up with the right, and the right isn't going to want to at all...it has to be forced and the only way to do that is through such extensive shaming of their agenda/rhetoric and actions over the past few decades and what they did with the power when they had it that they have no choice but to do so. I don't see that point being anywhere near reality yet, and until it is I cannot say I think that Obama's the right man in the right place at the right time no matter how wonderful/inspiring his speeches/dreams sound. Reality is what it is, and as I said earlier in this comment while optimism is important and something to be valued blind optimism is dangerous and ultimately destructive because generally when belief and reality collide in conflict reality has this tendency of winning out no matter how wonderful the idea/belief. A sad but alas true fact of life.

My ability to believe in Americans doing the right thing took a real pounding after 2000 and especially 2004. My ability to believe that Americans will choose the optomistic/hopeful vision instead of the fear also took a real pounding from those elections and the aftermath, and the 2006 Dem midterm victory has not done anything to reassure me on that front either. What happens to the lofty debate rhetoric advantage if a significant terrorist attack hits America after Obama is the nominee and the GOP are able to paint him as the wrong person for the times because this is not a time for niceness/civiity but a time for hardness and someone that is a hard fighter first? That America needs a decisive strong CoC first and not someone that wants to be friends with everyone first. These are all GOP frames they have used in the past with success, to think that this time it won't work just because Obama is such awonderful speaker is placing faith/belief as the deciding factor, and that makes me nervous to see be it relgious belief or secular belief such as this we are talking about. Given the dynamics we have seen operating in the past 7 years now that cannot be shrugged off in my view.

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