Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 22, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA vs. CLINTON....AGAIN....It's possible — likely, even — that everyone is tired of conversations about whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would be more effective if they win the presidency. That's doubly true since it's essentially unknowable at this point. But without really taking sides on this, I want to tease out one more thing on this subject, since I think it's a key question for liberal voters this year.

First off, a disclaimer: I believe that both candidates are (a) not only electable, but highly likely to win against any Republican opponent, and (b) close enough on policy issues that their differences are far less important than their ability to get things done. I know that not everyone agrees about this, but this is my starting point.

So who would be more effective at moving a progressive agenda forward once they got elected? There are two basic things to think about:

  • The ability to tap into the zeitgeist and sway public opinion in the direction you want it to go. In recent history, think of Ronald Reagan as the best exponent of this style of governing.

  • The ability to manipulate Congress to pass your agenda. Think LBJ as the master of this aspect of the presidency.

So who would do better on these two measures? Obama, obviously, has a tremendous ability to give inspiring speeches. He's far more persuasive than Hillary on this score. On the downside, however, his speeches don't tend to overtly push a progressive agenda as much as Hillary's do.

How would this work out in practice? Hard to say. One possibility is that Obama would get everyone inspired, but not inspired about a specifically progressive agenda. That would be bad. A second possibility, however, is that he'd manage to convince the public that his liberal agenda isn't really "liberal" — a word that's been successfully demonized by the right — but just common sense. So he gets the public support he wants, but he gets it by repositioning liberal ideas not as ideology, but as post-partisan problem solving. That would be good. The question is, will it work? Or is the direct approach more effective?

Congress is a different kettle of fish, and obviously a lot depends on just what kind of majority the new president has to work with. I think everyone's assumption here is that Obama's personal charm and readiness to listen would help him hive off at least a few moderate Republicans to pass his legislative agenda. Hillary, by contrast, is someone who knows how to throw elbows when she needs to, and she'd play a tougher, more conventional form of politics: a bit of hardball here and a bit of logrolling there, a process that might not be pretty but can be effective. And the surprising fact is that she's demonstrated a remarkably strong ability in the Senate to work with Republicans, most of whom generally trust her to keep her word and do what she says she'll do.

So: overt appeals to the public to support a progressive agenda, or a stealth appeal to rebrand progressivism? Personal charm and empathy in small meetings, or a willingness to play old style politics? Which would be more effective?

I'm not sure. I lean toward the Hillary approach because I think the Obama approach only works when there's already a real groundswell of support for significant change (as in the 30s, 60s, and 80s, for example) — and as much as I hate to say it, I just don't see that at the moment. I know the pundit class talks endlessly about the public's hunger for change and its disgust with the politics of polarization, but aside from a nearly unanimous desire to get rid of George Bush it seems to me that the basic partisan divisions we've had for the past three decades are mostly still there. It's sort of like negative campaigning, which still works great no matter how often the public says it's sick of it.

But maybe I'm just blinkered. Maybe there's a stronger hunger for fundamental change than I'm giving the public credit for. I'm ready to be convinced in comments.

Kevin Drum 2:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (240)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Which candidate is more likely to keep and increase the Democratic majority in Congress?

Posted by: jimmy on January 22, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

You're basically right.

Posted by: jc on January 22, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, whoever it was who "let the dogs out," Mitt Romney, that was ten freaking years ago.

Sorry to have to tell ya.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on January 22, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

The suggestion that Hillary is the next LBJ is a joke, right?

Posted by: MikeKC on January 22, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

The Clinton's have the best punch and counter-punch in contemporary politics. And while there maybe some "Democratic Party Leaders" who are reaching for the smelling salts, it's only because they haven't seen a successful Presidential campaign since 1996, and forgot what one looks like.

Democrats take note: this is how Presidential campaigns are won!

As a Democrat who desperately wants a Democrat back in the White House, the Clinton's muscle-flexing gives me every confidence that the they will do what it takes to beat the GOP in the fall, something that both Gore or Kerry failed to do.

Posted by: JoeCHI on January 22, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I've been smelling a sea change for a while now. Demographics are changing, and the Reagan coalition is falling apart. His unifying theme was "Government isn't the solution to problems, government IS the problem."

But we saw the fruit of that idea in New Orleans. So I think that idea has run its course. The Republican party threatens to split between the religious right, which, other than abortion/gay/hollywood stuff is quite receptive to the idea of helping the weakest among us. Enter Mike Huckabee. The business types are going to lose their support, and they may lose interest in politics altogether.

The Republicans have held seats and prevailed on issues in which they don't actually have majority support in America. Just changing that will unleash a lot of energy.

Obama isn't really positioning himself as a "policy" change agent. He's just going to change the style or character of discourse. So I don't think his election will be interpreted as a mandate for change. Hillary is somewhat better, and Edwards is square on the mark.

Anyway, I see a sea change coming.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on January 22, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Hillary is the next LBJ in that they both supported an ill-advisable foreign excursion.

Looks like you drank some serious Clinton Kool-Aid KD. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The points you mention in Obama's favor--his ability to inspire people and his presumed capacity to peel off moderate Republican legislators--are true enough.

Your praise for Clinton--that she can play political hardball--is also true. But Obama, coming out of Chicago politics, is *also* able to play old-style hardball. He has "demonstrated a remarkably strong ability in the Senate to work with Republicans" to at least as great an extent as Clinton. So I think it comes out in his favor.

And as for who better supports a progressive agenda, Obama has shown a hell of a lot more leadership in the past few years: he opposed the war in Iraq which HRC supported (and WJC enabled), just the other day he used an MLK sermon to condemn homophobia and anti-Semitism in a church, etc. Hillary Clinton might verbally support a progressive agenda during the primary campaign, but I haven't seen her take the kinds of political risks that Obama has to show real leadership.

Posted by: Joseph Clarke on January 22, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"On the downside, however, his speeches don't tend to overtly push a progressive agenda as much as Hillary's do.

How would this work out in practice? Hard to say. One possibility is that Obama would get everyone inspired, but not inspired about a specifically progressive agenda. That would be bad."

Kevin - it's hard to put this any more delicate way than that you're simply full of crap. Don't you listen to Obama's speeches. Are you so blinded by the dazzling prospect of another Clnton telling America stuff like "The era of big government is over ", or "We will end welfare as we know it", or that they're "Tough on crime" (as in executing the mentally deficient during one's primary campaign), that you assume that Hillary's disingenuous soundbites in a debate even remotely resemble the truth about Obama's ideas.

You seem like a good guy and run an excellent blog, but it's disheartening to read this braindead stuff about Obama from you. Very, very disheartening. Support Clinton if you will, but do it openly and honestly and don't let yourself sound pretty damned dumb when discussing Obama's quite clear and VERY progressive agenda.

Posted by: brucds on January 22, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I have no problem with Obama's agenda, but his comments about there being a Social Security "crisis" and his kind words about how Reagan restored "entrepreneurship" to the country only serves to undermine it. There are somethings a Democratic candidate just shouldn't do politically, and pushing the GOP's talking points about Social Security and aiding & abetting the historical revisionism of Reagonomics are a couple of them.

Posted by: David W. on January 22, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama becomes president, he will already have altered the political landscape so dramatically along the way that it will indeed be ready for the kind of action he is proposing.

By contrast, if Hillary becomes president, nothing about the landscape will change; it could be exactly like it is now.

So I wouldn't worry about Obama being ineffective; if he can win the presidency, he will have effected enough changes in the country's political culture to make his program a viable one.

So there goes Kevin's argument.

Posted by: lampwick on January 22, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I find it strange that anyone believes that Obama would not be able to practice carrot-and-stick relations with Congress. The guy comes from Chicago, and has a reputation for getting progressive things done in Republican-controlled legislature. At worst, Clinton and Obama are tied in the "sharp elbows" department.

Posted by: George on January 22, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin leans towards Clinton because Kevin's boss is one of the largest Clinton fundraisers in the country.

But Kevin will never mention that.

Posted by: Petey on January 22, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

i can't believe the corporatists at washington monthly are censoring john edwards from the debate. who got to you? big business?!?!?

Posted by: sc on January 22, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK


I suspect Hillary needs the bigger congressional majority to actually get anything done. The Dems aren't disciplined enough to hold together in the face of the right-wing onslaught, which will use her to keep the GOP congressfolk in line. A majority similar to what the GOP had during W.'s time won't be enough under Hillary to get anything done. Obama might be able to push through real progressive policies with a smaller majority through his appeal to moderates and independents, recasting liberal proposals as common-sense solutions. Not saying he will; just that given the choice between the two I think Hillary will be the real uniter-- for Republicans.

Posted by: NHCt on January 22, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

close enough on policy issues that their differences are far less important than their ability to get things done.

I agree that the differences that matter are mostly not policy differences. But picture each of them as President if Iran continues to bluster and taunt, and continues to try to develop nuclear capabilities. Which one would be more likely to continue to try to use international diplomatic pressure to resolve the problem, and which would jump most quickly to a military approach?

This is one thing that worries me about Hillary. She seems to be afraid of appearing "weak" on such issues. And so at every opportunity she's voted in favor of, and (up until last summer or so) spoken in favor of, every military plan or surge or threat that Bush has put forward.

Hillary supporters don't want to talk about this. When they do, the assumption they seem to want to make most often is that most of these votes and speeches and so on were just for political cover (they don't use the word "triangulation" of course). In other words, they hope that she didn't really mean what she was saying. But why? She can't or won't distance herself from the worst of those decisions even to this day.

And so the question is whether she'd continue as president (with her eye on a second term) to want to err on the side of war whenever taking a more diplomatic approach might mean having the Repos paint her as "weak". The same goes for keeping substantial numbers of troops in Iraq.

Obama would face the same pressures, but he's been willing to stand up to those pressures and oppose Bush's warmongering. Hillary never has.

Posted by: bobb on January 22, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Joseph Clarke: It's easy to work with the GOP in the Senate when you haven't sponsored anything major yet. (And, no, I'm not a HRC supporter.)

Obama strikes me like Jack Kennedy in one way. If elected, like Jack, he probably won't do anything major for more than two years. Jack's two big foreign policy issues of 61-62, Cuba and Berlin, were thrust upon him. He didn't even start lifting a finger on civil rights until the second half of 63.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 22, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Your calculus discounts Hillary's high negatives and off-putting personal style, esp. when compared with "The Messiah."

I know, I know, "after months of vicious right-wing attacks, how will he look?" Still looks pretty good after months of vicious left-wing attacks.

This point is not dispositive in itself, but, as you're framing the problem, it's a consideration.

Posted by: Stephen on January 22, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

And as for who better supports a progressive agenda, Obama has shown a hell of a lot more leadership in the past few years: he opposed the war in Iraq which HRC supported (and WJC enabled), just the other day he used an MLK sermon to condemn homophobia and anti-Semitism in a church, etc. Hillary Clinton might verbally support a progressive agenda during the primary campaign, but I haven't seen her take the kinds of political risks that Obama has to show real leadership.

Agree with Joseph C.

Can't at the moment take apart Kevin's post. But it contained some fallacious premises. Clinton as LBJ?

Posted by: paxr55 on January 22, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Hillary Clinton might verbally support a progressive agenda during the primary campaign"

That allegedly politically sophisticate people like Kevin and Paul Krugman fall into this timeworn trap of assuming that what an innately moderate (at best) Democrat tells the base during a primary means a damned thing is more than a bit shocking - the truth about Clinton is that she's done NOTHING to revitalize the grassroots, has a long history of very bad judgement, of the worst sort of calculated political opportunism, of taking the most money from the worst lobbies, of being surrounded by old-school hacks like Richard Holbrooke and the rest, has sleazemerchants like Mark Penn as her campaign brain trust, and tells calculated lies about her opponents with no shame. But she' "more progressive" than Obama.

For Christ sakes Kevin - listen to the entire video of Obama's speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Sunday. Do a little goddam homework. Pleeeze don't keep insulting your readers with this "Obama may not be as progressive as Clinton" horsehocky. If you're more comfortable with a bunch of recycled hawks and corporate Democrats running the country, that's your prerogative. But don't make dumb assertions like "Obama's not as progressive." It doesn't wash.

Posted by: brucds on January 22, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure about the notion that Hillary Clinton is terribly likely to win the general election. I know it was a long time ago, but remember what happened when she lost Iowa? Full scale panic in her campaign, talk of heads rolling, etc.. A lot of this was hyped by our awful press of course, but the fact is if she hadn't fallen ass backwards in to the biggest political fluke of our time by miraculously winning NH, where would she be right now? Perhaps I'm overly pessimistic and cynical but I don't think McCain will have too much difficulty beating her. Obama will face challenges, sure, but general elections in this country really are popularity contests. I wish they weren't, but surely the last 30 years should have taught us this unfortunate truth. And as much as Dems love Hillary, half the country really really doesn't.

Posted by: greg on January 22, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Reagan myth lives on

...Time magazine (6/14/04) cheered that "the Reagan years were another of those hinges upon which history sometimes turns. On one side, a wounded but still vigorous liberalism with its faith in government as the answer to almost every question. On the other, a free market so triumphant-- even after the tech bubble burst-- that we look first to 'growth,' not government, to solve most problems." As NBC 's John Hockenberry put it (6/5/04), "The Reagan revolution imagined the unimaginable. When poverty and welfare were at crisis levels in the 1980s, Reagan declared war on government and turned his back on the welfare state." The long-term impact of cuts in social spending, gutted environmental protections and other casualties of Reagan's "war on government" were relegated to passing mentions.
Reagan's fervent support for right-wing governments in Central America was one of the defining foreign policies of his administration, and the fact that death squads associated with those governments murdered tens of thousands of civilians surely must be included in any reckoning of Reagan's successes and failures....

Posted by: Mike on January 22, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

"he'd manage to convince the public that his liberal agenda isn't really "liberal" — a word that's been successfully demonized by the right — but just common sense."

Kevin, I think this assumes that Obama HAS a liberal agenda, which isn't something I've seen much evidence of. Hillary's economic, tax, and healthcare plans are much more progressive, and she doesn't go around spouting right-wing talking points about Ronald Reagan, Social Security, etc.

It says something interesting about the zeitgeist, though, that people hear "hope" and think "liberal."

Posted by: sullijan on January 22, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Count me as one who thinks there's a real "change" (that word again) coming in the electorate. 8 years of Bush's idiocy + a candidate who can charge up the base, independents and fence sitting conservatives = moving the field. I don't think Hillary can do that. At best, she would be effective at getting some moderate gains through, but do we really want another 4-8 years of politics like we've just had? I know some of the netroots and folks like Paul Krugman do, but for the people who don't live and breathe politics, the tone and promise of Obama is refreshing. With Obama, I think you can get a real shift to the left. Check out Cass Sunstein's "visionary minimalist" article from TNR. He gets into how Obama might govern and it's, to me, pretty convincing.

Posted by: Mike P on January 22, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Let's face facts: Hillary Clinton is no LBJ, a person who had real clout with the Senate. Plus, she's too tied into all the proper Wall Streeters who run our show. So expecting a getting-it-passed-in -Congress-progressive agenda from her on the economy is a fairytale.

Obama,the golden voice from the great midwest,speaks with the usual political forked-tongue and also owes Wall Street. Hope of him getting through a progressive agenda on leaving Iraq and substantially helping the poor and middle class is also,alas,a fairytale.


We need a real Robin Hood figure--take from the rich, give to the poor, end our death-cult globo- cop role in the world.

Don't see that person yet but perhaps one day..

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on January 22, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

lampwick hit it on the head, and all you need to do is use your own reasoning and branch it out from there. You nominate Hillary Clinton, you will will lose the November election. You elect Hillary Clinton, and you will see a Republican viability in the next congress. You'll see endless gridlock, and inability to get things done.

You elect Barack Obama, and you can possibly win against John McCain in November. You elect Barack Obama, and the political landscape favors the Democrats. It's that simple. Kevin saw an inkling of that possibility during Obama's speech after Iowa. The political landscape favors the Democratic Party if Barack Obama is elected President, because the independents will look at Democrats as a viable option. It won't happen with Hillary Clinton, sorry. You can point to all of her positives, but it's Hillary Clinton. C'mon.

Posted by: Boorring on January 22, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Thompson's out.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 22, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of factors Kevin doesn't include in his reasoning are the likelihood that the post-Bush divisions within the GOP now playing out on the campaign trail will continue after the campaign ends, thus giving the next President (potentially) more options than might otherwise be the case; and the centralization of power in Congress in the leadership of the respective parties, which probably will afford the next President fewer options.

He also doesn't consider the possibility that neither Obama nor Clinton may prove particularly effective in the White House. Obama's legislative record is relatively thin, and his record in executive office nonexistent. Clinton's "remarkably strong ability to work with Republicans" in the Senate has been demonstrated in the context of pretty minor stuff, legislatively speaking. As any number of people have already pointed out here, her one adventure into major-league policymaking was the health care reform effort she led in her husband's first term; this ended in a failure that left Mrs. Clinton disliked as well as distrusted by many Congressional Democrats as well as Republicans.

Of course if a Democrat gets elected this November and Democrats win enough seats in Congress, the enactment of a liberal legislative agenda will be a lot easier whether a celebrity candidate or a creature of the permanent campaign moves into the White House. And there is always dumb luck to fall back on. These possibilities aside, the record does not support optimism about either Democratic candidate's ability to do much better than tread water in the White House.

Posted by: Zathras on January 22, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

And the biggest issue, aside from Hillary's potential for losing to McCain, should be what the candidate's impact is down-ticket in "purple" and "reddish" regions. The endorsement of Obama by Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jean Carnahan is enough information for me on that one. There's no spin that puts Hillary ahead of Obama in impact on getting more Democrats in swing regions elected to congress. Because of her ability to mobilize the GOP, there will be fewer Democrats in Congress with Hillary at the top of the ticket. Which should be a deal-breaker for anyone who actually gives a shit about successfully legislating a liberal agenda.

Go figure where guys like Krugman and Kevin are coming from when they slam Obama as being inferior to Hillary for getting results for progressives. There is definitely some Clinton Kool-Aid being passed aroung.

Posted by: brucds on January 22, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

The script for the change has yet to be written, so there is no "change" candidate. We have yet to get out from under the anti-socialist neoliberal policies that were championed by "conservatives" in the United States and Britain during the Cold War. These policies were so anti-socialist that they ended up as anti-social and counter to the much older ideals of republicanism and commonwealth. They were frankly anti-parliamentarian and quite ironically anti-democratic in essence. The end result has not been more liberty, as Milton Friedman promised, but more insecurity, little social mobility and flat wages for the majority. The nationalism that came along with neoliberal imperialism was hollow and did not result in riches flowing into the home country for the general population.

No candidate is really able to dig into this yet because the counter reaction is just being formulated. For me the best person to be president is the best person to stymie and even undermine movement conservatism.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 22, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum, you keep sputing this HRC is more progressive than BO BS. A lot of your readers have called you on it but you've yet to give us a comprehesive evidence based proof, just some more hogwash.

As to who's more likely to get effective legislative things done, well lets look at their respective resumes. BO has more successful legislative accomplishements than HRC. Check out his record in the Illinois congress. Also, look at his short stay in DC and what he's been able to do. Comapre that to HRC legislative successes. Nothing to write hopme about. Of course, she is successful with the flag burning and video game moralizing type bills she likes to talk about.

Posted by: GOD on January 22, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

It amazes me that Clinton has a reputation for being able to play "political hardball" when the number of significant bills she's authored in six years in the Senate is dramatically less than the number of bills Obama's authored - and passed - in four.

Posted by: mightygodking on January 22, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

The problem I have with Obama is I'm not sure how well he will really support the progressive agenda. He seems so busy trying to curry favor with the media elite, I don't see that changing once he is in office.

If elected I think he will be a big disappointment, just as Bill Clinton was.

Posted by: DR on January 22, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"I believe that both candidates are ... close enough on policy issues that their differences are far less important than their ability to get things done"

This is really, really wrong, as best I can tell, when it comes to foreign policy.

Posted by: bob on January 22, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

A lot has been said how Obama is no JFK, but is Hillary anything close to LBJ? She has had some success as a Senator, but I don't see her doing the arm twisting necessary to get 60 Senate votes on her side unless the Democrats gain ten seats in the coming election.

Posted by: PE on January 22, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

He didn't say Hillary was LBJ -- he just used it as a way of describing what her approach is likely to be.

If the country is really ready for change then there's no need to hide what your agenda is.

Posted by: Jon on January 22, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm drinking my own Kool-Aid as well, but after watching these contentious debates and how "low" people rate Obama's abilities to take on the hard-charging attacks, I just don't see it. Obama makes on point rebuttals and also makes somewhat "progressive" arguments. I can see how the old regime, though I'm suprised to find Kevin and Josh Marshall (though he's seeing the light) and others in the blogosphere among them, get excited about Hillary and the Clintons and their abilities to "throw elbows", but I don't think that come November this is their year. After eight years of pure nastiness, I'd imagine that voters are sick of it. The Clintons are appealing to that knee-jerk reaction to get through their losses (not Obama's, look at how closely he finishes), and to turn against a fellow Democrat like that is pure evil.
Will I vote for Clinton if she's the candidate, sure. But if it's Clinton and McCain, would I take a closer look at McCain, even with his turn toward the right? Maybe. Because I'm more concerned about the probability things can get done, and that the right person is there to do it.
But really, look at what the future would hold. You think a divided Congress (even military) would appreciate Hillary, even more another four--probably eight--years with a Clinton, as President? If that's what it comes down to? Hillary Clinton is a great woman, I appreciate everything she has done and will do, as a Senator. It seems the Clintons are showing that they haven't moved with the times and are counting on hardball politics and anachronistic friends to win this nomination.
And I hope, and feel, that it comes back to defeat them. I believe it will. Just listen to Obama. That is a man with a gifted mouth and a gifted brain. It's someone who can lead this country, not just show off their resume and last name as if it's supposed to be the key to the Oval Office.

Posted by: Raven on January 22, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I could write 1000 words here, but I want to zero in on one point where your logic is incoherent.

First, you say that Clinton would make overt appeals for the country to support progressivism, while Obama would rebrand progressivism as pragmatism.

Then, you say that Obama's approach needs a great hunger for change in the country in order to succeed, while Clinton's approach does not.

Do you see the lapse in logic here? In fact, Clinton's approach necessitates a greater change in the country's attitude. America will have to embrace progressivism in a way it hasn't shown itself willing to do in the past. Obama on the other hand will not need a huge change in attitudes if he is successful in rebranding progressivism as pragmatism, as his support among independents and republicans shows that he is able to do.

I think your problem, Kevin, is a misunderstanding of what Obama means by change. What he means is a change in politics--a change in the level of trust people have in their government--that their president is not a shallow, lying, scumbag only looking out for his or her self. And yes, I am really pissed at the Clinton's right now for their lies. If the liberal media won't call them out on it, how can we blame the MSM when they don't call the Republicans out? Don't aid and abet them Kevin, or else it will never stop. Read Jake Tapper:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/01/obama-v-clinton.html

Posted by: nathan on January 22, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

If you're going to weigh in on their legislative effectiveness, I'm surprised you're not considering the Obama data offered most recently by Charlie Peters in the Post, or Brad DeLong's early incendiary review of Clinton's handling of the 94 health care initiative.

Posted by: spaz on January 22, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to hear news stories in 2011 start with the phrase "Today, Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker John Boehner..." then nothing achieves that goal more effectively than nominating Hillary! Hell, voting for Hiilary! might bring that goal two years closer for the House.

Posted by: Blue Moon on January 22, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary, by contrast, would play a more conventional form of politics: a bit of hardball here and a bit of logrolling there, a process that might not be pretty but can be effective.

Okay, I must've nodded off when this happened. What was the issue on which Clinton succeeded in playing hardball with the administration? Which logs did she roll in order to pass legislation that her Republican colleagues didn't want to see enacted? No one can dispute that she'd be as policy-savvy a President as you could ask for, but where does that leave you at the end of the day when you're facing the inevitable filibuster from Mitch McConnell? And exactly what is it you're claiming she's done in that storied Senate career of hers that earns a comparison to LBJ? It'd be great if she could push through meaningful legislation in spite of an intransigent Republican Party, but let's not simply manufacture a meme that she's been doing it all along.

Posted by: junebug on January 22, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I lean toward the Hillary approach

Why is this the 'Hillary approach'? Exactly what LBJ-style legislative accomplishments does she have under her belt?

Posted by: Royko on January 22, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Could someone please tell me what progressive legislation Hillary has "worked with Republicans" to pass? From where I sit, she sponsored a flag-burning bill, lets Schumer do the heavy lifting on things like port security, and voted for the Iraq War without reading the full NIE. I really can't think of a single progressive bill she championed. Seriously, can I have a list of such legislation. Seems like she's spent all her time running for pres and making nice to those she scares --- at this progressive NY'ers expense.

Posted by: southpaw on January 22, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Do you see the lapse in logic here?

Posted by: nathan

I've read the post five times and still can't figure out what the hell he is trying to say. Maybe he's stoned.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 22, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

How bizarre. Bill is the archetype of the triangulating, centrist, DLC golden boy, yet in this twisted logic, Obama is his rightful heir, not Hillary. She went along with the DLC's "liberal hawk" strategy, selling out progressive values in a Lieberman-esque effort to rebrand the party as pro-war.

All this navel-gazing does no good. It seems like so many liberals have such an aversion to following their gut and crowning a candidate as king that they waffle endlessly while the candidates draw out the knives to differentiate themselves from each other.

Kevin earlier said that his gut was to go with Obama, but maybe its a white, middle-class gut that is unlike other kinds of guts of other colors or classes. Untrue. The only thing different about the white middle-class gut is that it is constantly paralyzed by white, middle-class hyper-analysis and second-guessing.

Posted by: Mike2 on January 22, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

What was the issue on which Clinton succeeded in playing hardball with the administration?

Or even hardball with her Democratic Senate colleagues? (same applies to Obama). When have these potential leaders of the free world exhibited strong leadership in their own domain of the Senate?

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

If you elect Hillary, you're not just electing her--you're electing the Clinton team.

And I don't think that team has been particularly effective legislatively.

In fact, they were disasterously bad at dealing with Congress -- including Democrats. When I think of the Clinton administration and Congress, I think of a brash arrogance at first combined with excessive caution and tendency to give up after the first roadblock. Also, an eagerness to use a hostile legislature as an excuse for inaction.

Hillary Clinton has been an effective Senator, but my impression is that she is good at behind-the-scenes maneuvering on low-key issues. It's a lot harder to do that as president. It's not like President Hillary Clinton can go around and secretly pass a new health care plan.

It's a matter of faith that Barack Obama would be better at this, but I'd say it's also a matter of faith that Hillary Clinton and Co. have "learned their lesson" and will approach things differently in a new term. It's kind of like assuming that Bob Shrum has gotten smarter with each loss.

Posted by: AMP on January 22, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

1) Hillary and Bill know how to throw elbows when it comes to campaigning, but on the policy front he capitulated to Republicans every chance he got.

2) What on Earth makes you think Hillary will actually pursue a "progressive agenda"?

Posted by: asdgh on January 22, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Your questions exactly are in George Packer's article in The New Yorker today. Here:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/01/28/080128fa_fact_packer

Nickel summary is there are no hard answers, in each politician there is a bit of "the roll of the dice", but you'll understand a lot about the why of Senator Clinton by reading this article.

Posted by: Greg in FL on January 22, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Joseph Clarke >"...Hillary Clinton might verbally support a progressive agenda during the primary campaign, but I haven't seen her take the kinds of political risks that Obama has to show real leadership."

Bingo !

And note that what they are saying now has NOTHING to do with what they are likely to do when actually in office. Partly because there are a lot of other actors along the road to actually getting things done.

Wise up folks, it is ALL propaganda.

(and no, I have no idea who I will actually vote for come November)

"History can save your ass." - William Gibson

Posted by: daCascadian on January 22, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Obama would face the same pressures, but he's been willing to stand up to those pressures and oppose Bush's warmongering. Hillary never has.

Really? I would think his lack of experience with the military establishment would hinder his ability to do anything effectively ... he would get played by the hawks, as Bill Clinton did.

Furthermore, there is very little talk about Hillary Clinton's support within the military brass. I believe this is an area requiring much more attention, and we will surely hear about sooner or later.

Posted by: tang on January 22, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The next president will have to face two major problems: Iraq and the Economy.

We're in a recession folks. And if the next president doesn't fix it, we're looking at 1 and done. Honestly, I don't know who would be better to fix the mess that the Cowboy President has created. If it's going to take some bipartisanship, then I'd rather have Obama. I think people have forgotten just how much the GOP hates the Clintons and I don't expect an HRC presidency to be one of getting things done (easily). But honestly, I don't think either one of them has said anything that can shed light on how they'll manage an economic problem that is worsening by the day and will be much much worse in Jan 09. (And no, HRC's foreclosure moratorium ain't gonna cut it.)

The second problem is Iraq. We've got to get out (costs too damn much and we aren't doing anything productive anyway) but we risk sparking a genocide if we leave too quick. I'm not convinced there is any solution to that problem although I wouldn't consider myself to be an expert. But, i would say that I have a lot more confidence in Obama and his liberal internationalism than Hillary and what appears to be an affinity for neo-conservatism (or at the least, niavete).

In fact, Obama has been much more impressive on international policy than Hillary and, all things being even, a lot of their domestic policy differences are minimal. I have a real hard time understanding when people tout out her lines about getting things done when she's most noted for failed health care reform and voting for the Iraq war. At the very least, please don't drink the Clinton Kool-Aid and ignore that Obama got an awful lot done in a GOP dominated Senate in Illinois.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Thompson's out.

In memory of Phlegmatic Phred's candidacy, I'm going to go take a nap.

Posted by: bobb on January 22, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Southpaw,
Very few congress critters get to read the full NIE - it is classified at a very high level, so that even little toads with lowly secret clearance can't see it. So you can't fault anyone, excepting maybe the senior members on the foreign affairs, armed forces and perhaps the homeland security committee, who might have access to it - depending upon how magnanimous Cheney was that day.

As for the pertinent topic. I think all of us are trying to make a decision too early in the game. The situation outside is changing very rapidly - especially the economy. And maybe in a month from now Pakistan will implode. Right now I think we should ask all the candidates tough questions, and demand explicit answers about what their course of action will be with regard to solving specific problems, or responding to specific international scenarios. Without this information we will be unable to make a well reasoned and rationlized decision over who makes the best candidate for president and who would be most able to convince moderate republicans and independents to join a common bandwagon.

Like Donald from Hawaii said the other day - we have to win this one folks.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 22, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Like many Liberals, i have lived my entire life in the Northeast. I once told my wife i didn't know if we had ever had a person to dinner who owned an American car. Now I live in the center of Pensylvania surronded by Republicans. From what they say or don't say, it is obvious that we are overlooking the bias against a black man.When I say to them that they wouold have voted for Colin Powell, they tell me he was different This primary has given these folks a way of voting against obama without appearing prejudiced. Hillary will be the safer bet if she only stops acting like a common scold.

Posted by: al green on January 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

We don't know how effective Obama would be in working with Congress, but we know that HRC tried once and failed. She didn't just fail, she failed miserably. Maybe she would do better a second time after that "learning experience." Maybe not. In the real world (as opposed to the world of campaign spin) there is no real evidence that Clinton would be better at getting things through Congress and some evidence to the contrary.

Come on, Kevin. We know that you can do better than this!

Posted by: ikl on January 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan is not stoned. He made some valid points, I was shaking my head in agreement and I don't do drugs. And I hope Kevin was in agreement too, because I am still surprised that he isn't pulling for Obama yet.
There is something brewing beneath the surface here that polls and the normal, proven methods are not registering. People need to pay attention to it.
Kevin: You said it would come down to Clinton and Romney. I think you're starting to fear your words. The Republicans are turning to McCain because they know he's their best chance. And if you don't think McCain can be the next President, you haven't been paying attention the past month.
And Democrats need to look at that and congeal behind one candidate too. Enough of this "progressive" litmus test, and enough of the personal attacks. We need to find the person best for America, not for our own personal views. This an election where we need to look beyond our own personal needs, and the details of every single policy, and look for the PERSON who will best accomplish putting a salve on the past eight years.
(And I was a huge Clinton--the Bill--supporter until about two weeks ago. I guarantee you there are a ton more like me out there.)

Posted by: Raven on January 22, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Bottom line: we're electing a leader. Hillary Clinton has had countless opportunities to show leadership in the past seven years (*cough* Iraq *cough*), but I can't think of a single instance when she's stuck her neck out to promote a progressive agenda.

Obama has not been on the national scene as long as she has, but he has demonstrated a much better balance between political calculation and risk-taking leadership.

Posted by: Joseph Clarke on January 22, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, one critical thing that your analysis doesn't even speak about is the ability of a President to retain his/her clout in the face of adversity.

In the end, the ability of a President to get his agenda passed is based, more than anything else, I think, on his or her perceived support by the people.

More than anything else, this is where I see Hillary succeeding and Obama failing. Obama has never encountered serious, determined opposition in his entire, sheltered political life. For a certainty, he will do so when he enters the WH and tries to implement all the change he talks so much about.

How will he counter those attacks? I've seen precious little evidence he has good, effective answers. "Inspiration", per se, means virtually nothing in the face of an onslaught. An academic's "nuance" is useless -- having to get caught up explaining everything that comes out of your mouth because it seems to say something antithetical to your actual goals is not a positive trait.

With Hillary, in contrast, I have little difficulty envisioning her counterattacking effectively.

In some ways, the current back and forth between Obama and the Clintons show you in microcosm what they would be like in the macrocosm of the WH. Obama tries to hit back, but he never seems to knock the Clintons off their message.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 22, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton seems so unbelievably toxic to me. I guess it's time to donate to Obama's campaign. I just hope she doesn't do too much long-term damage as this process plays out.

Posted by: Erik on January 22, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

What about Edwards? Quit counting him out.

Posted by: cmac on January 22, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I am shocked reading these posts. I really appreciated Kevin's article because it discussed what is a real dilemma for me and a lot of other Democrats. I see strong arguments for both HRC and Obama and I think that he laid them out quite well.

But if I am to take the tone and substance of the reaction seriously, there simply is no dilemma because the superiority of Obama's candidacy is about as unclear as the existence of prime numbers.

Geesh, I never really appreciated what the commentariat meant when they said that Obama's support came from the Starbucks wing of the Democratic party until I read this.

Let me just point out two things. First, Kevin's claim that perhaps HRC would offer a more progressive agenda than Obama--a claim that caused several of you to more or less foam at the mouth with rage--is not exactly unique to him. He didn't make this up. Paul Krugman has itemized several occasions where Obama has criticized HRC's positions FROM THE RIGHT (Health Care, Social Security reform, and Reagan nostalgia to name just the instances that come to mind). Now you can disagree with Hillary's positions on these issues, but please don't pretend that Kevin is just making this stuff up because he is drinking Hillary cool-aid. Is Paul Krugman also a fan-boy whose judgment is unworthy of consideration?

Second, I have read and listened to a lot of reporting (which I must trust because I have no way of independently verifying this) that Hillary's promise when to was elected to the Senate to be a work horse rather than a show horse was kept and she she has earned the respect of colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her serious attention to legislation and the issues that drives it. Obama, on the other hand, has NOT earned this reputation. Instead, leaving aside from some raw personal jealousies, he is not well-liked by his Senate colleagues precisely because he is widely seen as something of a grandstander.

On the other hand, I see real appeal in Obama's ability to inspire and his appeal to independent voters. However, even this point has been exaggerated. The latest RealClearPolitics summary of head-to-head match-ups, shows that Obama does a couple of points better than HRC in a match-up against McCain. This far out from real voting, this tiny difference is meaningless.

Personally, I am stung by the last 2 general elections in which the Democratic candidates were insufficiently aggressive in fending off Republican attacks. Say what you will about Hillary, she will NOT be swift-boated. On the other hand, I fear that by November the Republican slime machine will have voters believing that Obama is a crack-dealing cousin of Osama Bin Laden.

Posted by: Tom on January 22, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

What were Bill Clinton's main legislative accomplishments? Welfare reform? Free trade and NAFTA? Balanced budgets? Base closures? Aren't these all initiatives of previous Republican administrations? Aside from maintaining funding for Head Start, what were the Clinton's great ideas and successes for education, health care, seniors and labor?

To suggest that the Clintons can manipulate Congress to pass a Progressive agenda is laughable.

Posted by: Modesto Joe on January 22, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

"The ability to tap into the zeitgeist and sway public opinion in the direction you want it to go. In recent history, think of Ronald Reagan as the best exponent of this style of governing"

Oh my God, did Kevin just pay an Obama-like compliment to Reagan??

Come on people, get out your torches and pitch forks, and let's drive this Reagan-loving blogger out of town...

Posted by: Dan on January 22, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

"On the downside, however, his speeches don't tend to overtly push a progressive agenda as much as Hillary's do."

Have you been listening to the same speeches I have?

Posted by: KathyF on January 22, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Everything I have watched happen in politics in my lifetime (and that goes back to the Truman years) tells me that Hillary very likely could accomplish a great deal (provided Democrats give us enough numbers in Congress to nullify Republican negativity).

I believe nobody's better at talking to "folks" than Obama. But I just can't see him standing up to Republicans (or, for that matter, to self-serving Democratic committee chairs).

I believe Hillary can lead.

(I believe Obama should go back to the Senate, build a reputation as somebody who can actually accomplish something, and then come back in 2016.)

Posted by: K on January 22, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I would think his lack of experience with the military establishment would hinder his ability to do anything effectively ... he would get played by the hawks, as Bill Clinton did.

Senator Clinton's "experience" got her to vote for both AUMF & Kyl-Lieberman, so if, as you say, her husband was played by the hawks, then Senator Clinton seems to be one of those hawks.

Posted by: junebug on January 22, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Norman! Come here. Come here. Norman! Hurry up! The loons.

Posted by: Ethel Thayer On Golden Pond on January 22, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone really think Republicans will commit suicide and vote for anything Hillary favors no matter how centrist?

Hillary's totemic image among right-wingers means there'd be absolutely no hope for governance by coalition under her Administration absent a Dem supermajority. Any Republican who cooperates with a President Hillary on anything risks his or her political career. They'd be pilloried by the far right and face challenges in the next primary.

Maybe some shift in the wind will inspire Republicans to cooperate for the greater good, and they'll stand up to Club for Growth, and maybe this will create a moderate Republican class, and maybe I'll father Penelope Cruz's next child.

Posted by: djangone on January 22, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

>

Endorsements don't mean votes. To pick an extremely recent example, the heads of the Cilinary Union in Nevada all endorsed Obama strongly. Their membership all voted for Hillary.

And to cite an example from history, Walter Mondale was perhaps the most endorsed candidate in all of American history. Ronald Reagan cleaned his clock electorally in 1984.

Posted by: tam1MI on January 22, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan is not stoned.

Posted by: Raven

Sorry, I was asking if KEVIN was stoned.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 22, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, why wouldn't Hillary get "swift-boated"? She's as radioactive as anyone else, and spoils for the fight. Do we really want to make things even worse by having the Clinton registered trademark out front again? You think Obama is such a rube that they have to protect us (and him) from them as if the Clintons are better equipped to take on the right-wing "conspiracy"? That boat has sailed. I guarantee you the predominance of America is ready to move beyond it.
And the Repub "machine" (notice how they also describe the Clinton "machine") is turning against McCain, and what has that done? Nothing. Their time is over, get with the present people.
And yes, I drink wine. And I listen to only NPR. And I like coffee. But Tully's, not Starbucks. And *gasp* I'm in the military, and have been to Iraq. Twice. Voluntarily. And I've been a die-hard Democrat for 16 years.
So stop with the stereotyping. This isn't the year for it.

Posted by: Raven on January 22, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK
Obama has never encountered serious, determined opposition in his entire, sheltered political life.

Oh, really?

"Obama proposed requiring that interrogations and confessions be videotaped. This seemed likely to stop the beatings, but the bill itself aroused immediate opposition. There were Republicans who were automatically tough on crime and Democrats who feared being thought soft on crime. There were death penalty abolitionists, who worried that Obama's bill, by preventing the execution of innocents, would deprive them of their best argument. Vigorous opposition came from the police, too many of whom had become accustomed to using muscle to "solve" crimes. And the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, announced that he was against it. Obama had his work cut out for him. "

In some ways, the current back and forth between Obama and the Clintons show you in microcosm what they would be like in the macrocosm of the WH. Obama tries to hit back, but he never seems to knock the Clintons off their message.

This is like that Sideshow Bob political ad. I can see it now:

Barack Obama is so weak and inept, he can't even shake off Hillary Clinton's lies about him. Vote Hillary Clinton for president.

Posted by: Tractarian on January 22, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Very few congress critters get to read the full NIE - it is classified at a very high level, so that even little toads with lowly secret clearance can't see it. So you can't fault anyone, excepting maybe the senior members on the foreign affairs, armed forces and perhaps the homeland security committee, who might have access to it - depending upon how magnanimous Cheney was that day.

You're completely wrong on the facts here. Dana Priest was pretty clear about this in the Post:

"In the fall of 2002, as Congress debated waging war in Iraq, copies of a 92-page assessment of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction sat in two vaults on Capitol Hill, each protected by armed security guards and available to any member who showed up in person, without staff.

"But only a few ever did. No more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page National Intelligence Estimate executive summary, according to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material."

Posted by: junebug on January 22, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

If you have to bring up Reagan as an example, I should think that you would note one critical difference between Reagan's tenure and that of, say, Clinton.

Reagan had no well-funded, highly organized opposition that stretched from pseudo-pundits and pseudo-thinkers at the top down to the crassest radio talk show host at the bottom. Clinton did endure such an opposition. For Reagan, under those circumstances, it was far easier for him to "inspire" rather than attack (though he certainly reached for demagoguery when it served his purposes). If anything, Reagan had such forces arrayed behind him, doing his dirty work.

No Democrat will ever enjoy that one-sided advantage. There will always be attacks against Democrats, and there will always be a need for a President capable of counteracting them.

Can Obama play that game? Every ingenuous thing he says suggests otherwise.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 22, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Tom, based on the 1990s, we should have a good idea of where the Clintons stand. Look, I think that Bill Clinton was a fairly good President, but he doesn't have an especially progressive record for a Democrat. Comparing campaign platforms is not the only way or necessarily best way to determine the "progressiveness" of candidates. I won't claim that Obama is more "progressive" than Clinton, because we don't really know that. I would say that Obama has a slightly more progressive record (small data set) and a slightly less progressive platform. The bottom line is that we know the Clinton's M.O. and it hasn't involved taking a real stand for anything important in a way that expends political capital since at least 1994. Obama might be better and, at worst, will be about the same on this front.

I agree that head-to-head matchups are just about meaningless now. I would pay more attention to the favorable / unfavorable numbers (Clinton's are poor, Romney's are really bad but probably have more room to change, McCain's and Obama's are very good but would presumably get worse in the general election). The arguments for Clinton that I can see are that (1) if the economy is the central issue, Bill's record is a plus, (2) some voters who otherwise would vote D might not vote for a black candidate (at least once the Republican spin machine goes to work), (3) she might appeal to female swing voters (plausible but unproven conjecture). I don't think that any Democrat will repeat Kerry's mistakes in the general election this year. I worry more about Clinton lacking any real message other than competence and a grab bag of individual policies. This hasn't been a winning formula for the Democrats in the past 30 years. Clinton might be different if she can run on fixing the economy. Otherwise, the Democrats will just be doing the same old thing and expecting different results . . .

Posted by: ikl on January 22, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Devil" "Shrew" "Common Scold" "Blonde Dyke" "Nurse Ratched."

These are the phrases used to describe Hillary Clinton that I've seen on progressive blogs (TPM, Hullabaloo, Political Animal) in just the last 48 hours. The mainstream media has nothing on you boys. Even George W. Bush hasn't had that many nasty names thrown at him.

Women are taking this all in, and that, of course, is why she's winning. So by all means, please keep up the torrent of sexist abuse. We're laughing all the way to the nomination.

Posted by: 103 on January 22, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is an empty vessel you get to pour your hopes into. To tell the truth (I'm largely feeling around in the dark) my impression is that Obama has a fairly strong independent/contrarian/moderate streak. I think in office he'd gravitate toward triangulation and aisle crossing and be a lot like Bill Clinton and Joe Lieberman before their behaviour got tainted with the bitterness and wounded animal behavior.

Posted by: B on January 22, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

... what Obama means by change ... is a change in politics--a change in the level of trust people have in their government--that their president is not a shallow, lying, scumbag only looking out for his or her self.

Posted by: nathan

Now THAT'S the best definition of change I have seen yet!

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 22, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Tractarian:

One simple point. Obama was never in any jeopardy of losing popularity with his own constituents, because he was situated in a very, very safe liberal seat in the State Senate. That means he could not be effectively attacked by his opponents with, say, attack ads; he essentially had free rein to push whatever he might want to.

If you don't see how important that distinction is, you're not getting something very important.

As I said, the single most important thing for a President to be able to do is to retain his or her clout in the face of determined opposition.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 22, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

But I just can't see him standing up to Republicans

You can't envision it, you mean. Your lack of imagination isn't exactly a strong selling point in your argument.

What you can't see is Hillary standing up against Bush's proposals of war, the surge, or military threats against Iran. That's not a matter of envisioning, that's a matter of looking at her record.

You can, in fact, see her not just voting in favor of all of the above neo-con ideas about foreign policy, you can see her praising Bush's handling of the war, praising the "success" of the search, talking about keeping troops in Iraq indefinitely, etc., etc. Even as recently as last summer, before she went into full campaign mode. And even now in full campaign mode she can't bring herself to admit that any of the above was a mistake.

If you want a continuation of neo-con foreign policy, vote for Hillary. Personally I think she knows better, but she's so afraid of being painted as "weak" by the Repubs that she unfailingly decides to err on the side of war.

Posted by: bobb on January 22, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Optical Weinie,
HRC herself has admitted that she could have seen the whole NIE but chose to rely on staff synopsis. I think it is unforgiveable to okay a war that will eat up other people's kids based on a synopsis. Bon Graham read the whole thing and than voted NO, citing the ambiguities apparent in the document. I don't deny that HRC is smart and hard working in service of her own interests. More than anyone, she reminds me of poor smart Judy Borden, condescended to by the sweathogs on "Welcome Back Kotter."
But contrary to her outrageous claim to have been working for me for "35 years," she's used her smarts to further her ambitions. Every once and a while, her ambitions and my interests as her constituent converge. I hope that will be the case if the FISA bill comes up again. Hopefully both she and Obama will make it back to defeat telecom immunity this time.

Posted by: southpaw on January 22, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK


Either Americans are sick and tired of Republicans, or they're not. If they are, it hardly matters who the Democratic nominee is. If they're not, I want a nominee who can explain to them why they should be.

Incidentally, we still have to survive one more trip around the sun with Dick and Dubya in the White House. Americans have 10 more months to decide whether they're sick and tired of Republicans. Most of the pro-Barack/pro-Hillary debate seems to discount the possiblity that we're in for some kind of nasty surprise between now and the election. A market melt-down, another 9/11, another Katrina, another GOP sex or bribery scandal -- who knows? It's a fair bet that SOMETHING will be an issue in the fall campaign that is not in the mix right now.

-- TP

Posted by: Tony P. on January 22, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

It doesnt really matter what the actual facts or the positions of the candidates are. What matters is the media narrative that will inevitably take shape once we have the Dem and Republican contenders.

My fear is that the media has a "crush" on Obama right now, and nothing is more bitter and angry than a jilted media once some of the more questionable things come to light (as I am sure they will, no one is perfect). This is the age of the trivial scandal, blown to sky high proportions by a bored media talking heads.

So, I think that the candidate that is mostly immune to this kind of attack is what we want. I mean seriously, what else are they going to say bad about Hillary?

The fact that she is willing to kick in some teeth and do whatever it takes to win is just a bonus. Obama just doesnt have the jugular instinct. And he seems like a really decent guy, so maybe thats for the best.

Our country doesn't need bipartisanship and a new spirit in Washington. Thats for suckers and chumps. You have to heal the infection for the patient to get better before you can change the view out the window.

And I think Hillary is the woman to kick in the teeth to get it done.

Posted by: Chad on January 22, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

When the race started what seemed like eeons ago, I was agnostic about the choices. I was happy that I wouldn't have to hold my nose or keep myself from rolling my eyes. However, since before the primaries, but much more in the last 2 weeks, I have decided that I am coming to loathe Hillary Clinton.

I was never a huge fan of the Clintons, neither liked nor disliked. He was a reasonably good president that let what was in his pants hold too much sway, but generally a good president. I felt both - especially Hillary - got bad press. It was obvious that the press hated her. Maybe their dislike was just too much familiarity, because ever since I started paying more attention to her, the more I dislike her.

I wouldn't be able to quantify why I have come to dislike her. Couldn't point to any one thing in particular and say "that is it." But I have to say that by the convention or the general election if she is the nominee, I won't have an ounce of goodwill left and may consider staying home (I would never vote for a single one of the Republicans).

Posted by: ET on January 22, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Donald...Donald, where are you? We need your insight here.

Posted by: Sharon on January 22, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

I've said it before but I'll say it again. I think Obama needs to seriously develop a strategy for keeping above the fray. If he failed at anything last night, he failed in maintaining his central message that he is all about not falling prey to the half-truth, gutter attacks. He needs his "there you go again" line - something to remind voters that his opposition wants to shoot from the gutter while he's on a different plane. That's his "change politics" truth and he failed to prove it under fire last night.

In that sense, Hillary totally out-strategized him. She drew him into a fight that he doesn't want to have and he whiffed. If he can develop a better method for avoiding the nitpicky confrontation of gutter lies then he'll withstand the GOP Swiftboat machine better than Hillary simply because Hillary's tactic is to throw as much mud back as she can (and I think people are tired of that crap).

People say he's not as good a debater. It's true. His eloquence doesn't translate to the forum as well. But it can. He just needs a catch phrase that he can use to remind people that his opponent is, once again, spewing forth lies in a desperate attempt to tarnish his record. If he gets this and uses it in a debate, I believe he'll be unstoppable. If not, this thing is going to drag into March or beyond.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Your assessment is just a restatement of the "hope" versus "experience" dichotemy. Obama is essentially relying on broadbase support to provide the basis for significant change, while Clinton is following the old playbook--small-bore proposals designed to appeal to specific demographics coupled with sharp elbowed attacks.

Perhaps the reason that there is such a generational divide among those supporting these two candidates is that the elders are jaded, and youth is optimistic.

Clearly, Mr. Drum, your response places you into the jaded category. It's important to note, however, that the jaded perspective is a form of resignation--it essentially concedes the fact that no significant change is possible in the current environment.

If I held that view, I wouldn't support Obama either. I also wouldn't be nearly as depressed as I will be if the Clinton administration is restored.

Posted by: The Dude on January 22, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Another fly in the logical ointment is the persistent assertion on the part of the Clintons that HRC (1) has been vetted to a fare-thee-well and (2) is therefore immune to the catcalls and wingnut attacks on her character.

You know, the first part is true. HRC has been vetted to a fare-thee-well. But only to the satisfaction of her supporters and those who bear her no ill will.

But what about (2)? Honestly. HRC mobilizes the haters. I think that's a given. (Hasn't this been determined in polls?)

This is another of those Clinton premises/talking points (like her vaunted experience) that, IMO, doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Her campaign hypes her weaknesses (experience and imperviousness) and attacks Obama's strengths (fill in the blanks).

What we don't know yet, and what makes this campaign so interesting, is who--what kind of voters and in what numbers--will BO mobilize?

Posted by: paxr55 on January 22, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Reagan had no well-funded, highly organized opposition that stretched from pseudo-pundits and pseudo-thinkers at the top down to the crassest radio talk show host at the bottom. Clinton did endure such an opposition.

Yes, he did endure that kind of opposition. She, however, did not, so it's an open question as to whether she can govern effectively in the face of that. There's a common & mistaken tendency among people to assume that, during the Clinton administration, she was doing everything that he was, but backwards & in heels. She is no more proven than any of the other candidates when it comes to governing, much less governing while facing the right wing noise machine.

Posted by: junebug on January 22, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

I.m sure when Hilliary takes the oval office the right will line up behind her,That has been there approach for the last eight years(Just let the President do what the President does and shut up)You don't think the right will change in attitude do you.That would be unpatrotic and not in support of the troops and we know how the right supports the troops.

Posted by: john john on January 22, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'm ready for HRC and Obama to take a firm stance on improving the adult film industry. Those movies need better plots with hotter actors and more steamy action.

Posted by: Corndog on January 22, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Our country doesn't need bipartisanship and a new spirit in Washington.

I think this gets to a key point. Hillary supporters often say things like this. But hard-core progressives don't make up a majority in this country.

There are a lot of moderates and independents (and I'm one of them) in this country. Pissing them off isn't a good way to win anything. Bipartisanship doesn't mean reaching out to the hard-core wingers, the mirror-images of the hard-core progressives. They're unreachable. It means trying to put together broad support so you actually get something done, as opposed to trying to bully everyone into giving in.

And even if you wanted to write off the moderates and independents, why would you view Hillary's polarizing style as a plus? Edwards is far more progressive than Hillary. But he's also far more appealing to moderates and independents.

Posted by: bobb on January 22, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

When interviewing candidates for a job opening, one normally looks at their record. In this particular case, you can reduce it to an apples-to-apples comparison: both have been U.S. Senators. Based on their legislative records (what laws have they helped pass and were they able to work across the aisle to get it done) and their mastery/familiarity of the issues that come with the job (the economy, healthcare, national security, the environment) you can determine who is the better candidate. I think Hillary is the better candidate using these measures.

Posted by: rashad davis on January 22, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to add: If someone started saying that I was a good marketer because my wife works in marketing, wouldn't you say they were pretty dumb?

Seems like that's exactly what about 50% of the pro-Hillary posts come down to. Well, Bill did pretty good with the econ, so I'm gonna put a check in Hillary's column for that one...

I thought that perhaps we were a bit more evolved than that. Maybe not.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

There's a common & mistaken tendency among people to assume that, during the Clinton administration, she was doing everything that he was, but backwards & in heels.

I don't at all assume that Hillary's any better than Bill at these things. Probably Bill is better, maybe considerably better. But I do think that when Bill needs to be around to help, he'll make his presence known, either in person on the TV or as an intimate adviser to Hillary.

What Hillary has certainly shown is that, however much Bill may or may not contribute to her performance, in the end she knows what to say and do to get the right effect. She's in the debates by herself, and she handles herself in almost every case superbly.

I don't particularly care how she gets the job done, just that she can do it.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 22, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Rashad Davis,

Neither Clinton nor Obama have been in the Senate for very long, not much positive could get done under Bush anyway and therefore neither has a particularly impressive record of legislative accomplishments. This is not a knock on either candidate, just a fact. However, it means that comparing legislative records in the Senate is probably not the best way to pick candidates in this context.

For what it's worth, I think that both Clinton and Obama have demonstrated an ability to work across the aisle as legislators to get stuff done. But that isn't the same as being President and neither has been around long enough to have a really, really impressive record.

Posted by: ikl on January 22, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Job Interview for Prez

Interviewer: So Hillary, your record shows you went for the hail mary on health care in 94 and failed and voted for the Iraq war. How can you defend that?

Hillary: Well, I learned that you got to get down in the trenches and get your elbows dirty. That's why I'm best for this job. I'm going to kick and punch and I'll never give up until I get what I want. I stand for UNIVERSAL health care and I'll fight for it until 2043 if I have to. I promise you, I know all their dirty tricks and I'm better than they are at them. I'm the modern day Sun Tzu!

Interviewer: And you Obama? What about your successes?

Obama: Well, I believe in a different approach, a pragmatic approach. I believe you set your goal on building a coalition of support around your ideas and fighting for that. That's what I've done in the Illinois state senate and the US Senate. My approach has been more successful. My opponent thinks that kung-fu gets bills passed. I think that convincing people that pragmatic action is a good thing gets things done. It's a difference in philosophy by I think the record shows I've been more successful with my view than she has with hers.

Hillary: You dirty Reagan supporter!

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Americans, if they didn't want a change before will certainly want change after listening to Hillary lecture them for a few months as president. Can you imagine her on the bully pulpit.

And as to Hillary 'smartness' which is supposed to be her best quality? She failed her D.C. bar exams, so she moved to Lttle Rock with Bill. Compare that with Obama's glowing 10 year student reviews as a Constitutional Law lecturer at the University Of Chicago.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on January 22, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

If Hillary gets elected -- a big if -- the Republicans will have the perfect foil for four more years of filibusters and the Senate and gridlock all around. And we'll have to get a presidential sash for Evita to go with our new status as the Argentina of the Northern Hemisphere.

Posted by: Traven on January 22, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Be reasonable. I'm not a huge fan of HRC, but she is plenty smart. Hearing her talk about policy is actually the only part of her campaign that I like.

Posted by: ikl on January 22, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

First one off their knees gets my vote.

*sigh*

I`ll probably have to write myself in come November.

"The sailor does not pray for wind, he learns to sail." - Gustaf Lindborg

Posted by: daCascadian on January 22, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Several posters have shrewdly pointed out that the effectiveness of either will be greatly influenced by the makeup of the Congress. Thus, a significant consideration is which candidacy will assist in electing more Democrats and, specifically, more progressive Democrats. Hillary is highly likely to mobilize the Republicans and while that may not be enough to have them retain the presidency, it may well result in bolstering the Republican/blue dog control of Congress so that all the sharp elbows in the world will find themselves punching pillows to no effect.

Posted by: JackD on January 22, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

She's in the debates by herself...

This is true in only the narrowest sense, as one of the larger claims she makes in those debates is based on experience that belongs to her husband, rather than her. Your claim that she's in the debates by herself doesn't hold up when, like last night, his influence on the campaign becomes a part of that very debate. Make no mistake, there were four candidates up on stage last night, and probably five, as the former president counts for two -- Bill Clinton of the 1990s, and Bill Clinton of 2008 & beyond.

Posted by: junebug on January 22, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

103: "So by all means, please keep up the torrent of sexist abuse. We're laughing all the way to the nomination."

Trust me, there are far more than a few enlightened males who've also noticed that the Obama campaign has attracted an inordinate amount of support of those people whose personal invective toward Mrs. Clinton is worthy of the late Ike Turner. Certainly, it has become the consequential factor in my own decision to support her bid for our party's nomination.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 22, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Junebug you are probably right. We are being asked whether we want a reprise of Bill's presidency. I am not sure I want to go back to the future.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 22, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I don't find it plausible that Hillary will be able to muster some sort of legistlative mastery that will allow her to get things done in Congress that Obama couldn't accomplish. You just have to look at how Congress has worked since 2006, in particular the Senate.

It has become a de facto law that you need 60 votes to pass anything. That is, the GOP filibusters or threatens to filibuster, everything the Democrats propose. Barring a Dem gain of about 11 Senate seats, I just don't see how Hillary changes that dynamic. I'm sure the GOP will find it even more delightful to filibuster into eternity if it means they can figuratively poke Clinton in the eye while doing it. So, in the current situation I don't see how Clinton weilds the right sort of influence with the right people.

In the midst of all this, I think Iraq will be a big wild card. It's on the back burner now, but a lot can happen between now and November. If Hillary finds herself running against McCain, how does she distinguish herself on Iraq? It's I was for it before I was against it. all over again.

I totally agree that if you take an objective look at policy positions there is not a lot of daylight between Obama and Clinton. In that case, taking a public stand against the war at the right time, i.e.: before it started, makes for a hell of a tie-breaker.

Posted by: Joe Bob on January 22, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK
...by November the Republican slime machine will have voters believing that Obama is a crack-dealing cousin of Osama Bin Laden.... Tom at 3:51 PM

If Obama thanks that playing the Christian card will help, he's sadly mistaken.

...Today, Greg Sargent posted a brochure which the Obama campaign is distributing in South Carolina which seem to include religious appeals at least as overt and explicit as anything Huckabee has done. The center page of the brochure proclaims -- in the largest letters on the page -- that Obama is a "COMMITTED CHRISTIAN," and includes three pictures of Obama, all of which show him praying or preaching in a Church, and also includes a fourth picture: of the interior of a Church with a large cross lurking in the background. The page also says that Obama is "guided by his Christian faith" and quotes Obama saying: "We do what we do because God is with us."
That same page prints Obama's views "on the power of prayer," and -- using the same language George Bush has frequently used as a signifier to evangelical voters -- says that Obama is "Called to Christ," "Called to Bring Change" and "Called to Serve":...

One would hope that anything this embarrassing would be a parody, but 'fraid not.

Posted by: Mike on January 22, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Donald from Hawaii you lost me. You're saying that you support HRC because some of Obama's supporters are sexist?

Wow.

If that's how you chose a candidate to support, how do you vote for anyone?

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

One thing to keep in mind, unlike 1992 there is no Newt Gingrich or similar figure ready to lead a Republican revolution. The next president is probably going to spend most of his or her time dealing with the Democratic congressional leadership. So far they have proved remarkably pliant for the inept George Bush to push around. I predict a Democratic president will get whatever he or she wants, no questions asked.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 22, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Sharon: "Speaking of Donald...Donald, where are you? We need your insight here."

Sorry, but I've got an extremely busy workday today, trying to clear my desk and calendar prior to reporting to the federal court tomorrow for jury duty. Keep up the good fight.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 22, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why should the right wingers have to rev up the attack machine? Obama's supporters are doing the job for them. People seem to forget that Bill left office with a very favorable rating. Those weren't all die hard Clintonistas. What makes you think that all of those people now hate the Clintons?

The weakest rationale I have ever heard for nominating a candidate is that the other party likes him more. I firmly believe that the haters in the Republican Party will find plenty to chew on from a black candidate with a muslim name. And no, this isn't a veiled attack on Obama. But it is a reminder that although Hillary is the target of a long standing smear machine, it's important to remember that Obama just hasn't had his turn in the spotlight yet.

I'm not so sure McCain will be the nominee. Mitt has a lot of money and institutional support, and McCain's momentum is somewhat deceptive, since up until now he has been the beneficiary of open primaries. He hasn't eactly been buring up the track with Republican voters, and those are the only ones who will be voting in primaries from now on. Thompson's out, and I suspect Huckabee won't be far behind. I really doubt their support will end up with McCain.

And as far as electability goes, Obama may well win South Carolina. But until he does, don't you think it's a little funny to argue that the more electable candidate is the one who keeps losing?

Posted by: ChrisO on January 22, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK
Obama has never encountered serious, determined opposition in his entire, sheltered political life... [Well, OK, he has, but] Obama was never in any jeopardy of losing popularity with his own constituents

Way to shift the goalposts there, Frank!

As I said, the single most important thing for a President to be able to do is to retain his or her clout in the face of determined opposition.

I agree with that; I guess I'm just not sure how 35 years of experience in triangulating and wedge-driving amounts to "retaining clout."

(I'm also not sure how "retaining clout" is necessarily good if your judgment leads you to approve things like IWR and Lieberman/Kyl... but I digress.)

Posted by: Tractarian on January 22, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

One point I would like to address that has been bothering me a lot lately. Everyone says Obama can take out McCain and Clinton can't because of the polls saying so. Except that the polls are a snapshot of this moment in time and not what reality will look like by the general election, as well as the recent graphic reminder we were shown about how wrong polls can be (ironically enough regarding HRC) in NH. Clinton polled several percentage points above what all the polls were saying going into that primary and left the pollsters and commentariat scrambling to come up with ways of explaining how they were so off and how come they were only so far off on the Clinton numbers alone. Remember, Obama polled exactly where he ended up, so this idea that he was the victim of some sort of racial "Bradley effect" doesn't work. So why then are so many people here and elsewhere so willing to make that argument against Clinton for Obama and treat it like it is an indisputable fact?

I must say I find this argument particularly reminiscent of the Kerry electability arguments of four years ago (which btw was in no small part rooted in how he had such a strong military record and how that would offset GWB's Commander in Chief aura and we all saw then end result of that) and I would have thought that taught people to spend more time going after candidates on their records and positions as hard as possible in the primaries precisely so as to weaken the ability of the GOP to do that sort of thing yet again. Like I have said before my main concern regarding Obama is his ability to withstand the GOP smear machine and a complicit anti-Dem MSM (and if you think they will still give Obama favourable coverage, or even neutral for that matter, if their darling McCain is the other candidate you are making one hell of a big assumption) once he is the candidate and how much his negatives will be driven up in the process. For all Clinton's problems her negatives are about as bad as they are likely to get and there is even the potential of having it work against the GOP because she withstood all these attacks over the years, no investigations ever found anything to actually charge her with which the whole world let alone country got to watch in the 90s, and that could well lead to many voters not so politically attuned as bloggers to think the GOP may have been making this stuff up all along.

If you are going to argue Clinton is the wrong choice arguing she is unelectable despite her strong showings in the primaries seems a bit disingenuous to me. There is also the question as to which side the independents would go to in a McCain-Obama race and a large assumption that they will break mainly for Obama, which is based on nothing more than faith in the message. The problem is going by the elections of the past few decades is that the Dem message is always obscured by the GOP noise machine and their accomplices within the MSM, and to expect that to change for Obama strikes me as being far too close to whistling in the dark. So he needs to be hit hard and often in the primaries to show he can handle it as well as to sharpen him up for the real onslaught once the primaries are over if he is the candidate. To whine about how unfair and dirty it is given the state of American politics today (and it isn't like he doesn't do his own attacking of her, for someone running on the doing politics differently it would appear that the bulk of his attacks on Clinton follow the standard mold despite his inspiring speeches) given what everyone knows the GOP and MSM are going to put the Dem candidate through no matter who it is strikes me as not understanding the reality of American politics. You can hope things will change, but to count on it strikes me as a dangerous gamble at a time when such gambles are clearly risking the future of your country.

Yes, I know I mainly go after Obama here, that is because he is the one with the real unknown weaknesses here; Clinton's have been dissected to death. I also see him as relying a lot on charisma as a core reason to support him and that he promises he will be different, something I have seen in more political campaigns in various elections in the world let alone NA than I can count and have learned to not override my skepticism about politicians generally. That being all politicians are in it for power and ego reasons at core, what I care most about is whether they seek power to accomplish specific goals they lay out or are more interested in power as an end in itself. Obama has yet to defined specifically what he will do with the power and how he will use it (as opposed to the flowery language of change and hope he talks about) broadly enough to reassure me on this point regarding him, and Clinton's for all her faults has shown that degree of specificity that I believe she actually wants to do what she claims, especially on the health care front. Obama feels too much like a cult of personality following than a true political movement at this stage for me neither to be comfortable with it nor to believe it will maintain its integrity to the general election.

There is one last point I want to make here, and that is regarding something I have noticed with youth when they get inspired into politics by a particular candidate. That being when things don't go their way they blame everyone else but their candidate and that they get very bitter about how not everyone sees the wonderful things about their candidate that they do and then get disillusioned and pull out. In other words not the same degree of tenacity to keep slugging in the hard times as well as the easy, and the frustration they show at those who they feel should be on their side and aren't tends to be rather intense too. (please note, this is a generalization with the inherent limits of generalizations, which means there will be a small but not insignificant percentage within this group that will not follow this pattern) Youth are dreamers more than doers in the political realm in democracies as a rule, and relying on them so extensively and saying they will be a key component that will sweep Obama to victory again assumes they will stick through think AND thin to the end, to date their ride has mainly been on the thick side, it is only in the last few weeks that has changed and it is telling to watch the general reactions of the Obama supporters in the blogosphere that this pattern appears to be repeating itself here.

Finally I close with the reminder I put into every comment I make on this topic, any Dem candidate is far preferable to any GOP one this time out. One of the main reasons I take the focus on Obama is to see whether and how he and his supporters are ready to handle the real fight coming after these primaries. As "racist" as Obama supporters claim the Clintons have been it is nothing compared to what you should expect from the GOP machine, and if you cannot successfully fend off the Clintons in this area it does raise questions as to how he could the GOP machine. Once I am convinced he can do this and do so without tripping over himself and leaving further openings for dedicated attack dogs to mine (this is why his vagueness is so dangerous, he leaves far too much open for interpretation, especially negatively by his foes) I'll stop, but I am not there yet, not even close.


PS:

While Obama may be interested in the politics of hope and inspiration and not the attack politics of yesteryear his online supporters certainly seem to be playing no less aggressively than the Clinton supporters from what I've seen. I would feel far more comfortable about how solid Obama's message of post-partisanship truly is if his supporters were practicing what he preaches instead of playing the game same as everyone else. Why do I hold Obama to a different standard here? Simple, he is the one running a campaign based at its core on a message of hope, optomism, and doing politics differently from the same old partisan methods,and his supporters claim that is why they are so attracted to him which makes their inability to put into practice what he preaches a real concern. From the online side of things it doesn't look at all different to me, which makes me wonder just how different it truly would be.

Posted by: Scotian on January 22, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think I kind of lost my main point in the debate between "change" and "experience". :-)

The media narrative that emerges will determine to a large degree who will win the race. Look what happened to Al Gore, the media hated him.

What happens when the shine is off Obama? What happens when the media turns on him?

To use an example from high school:

A crush gone bad on the super new hot girl is much worse than the being "friends" with the kinda pretty girl next door who you have known since Kindergarten.

I think the media will turn on Obama without mercy once the general election starts. All bets are off once they start digging for dirt and that negative frame gets set.

That was my point.

Posted by: Chad on January 22, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP senate would be more obstructionist towards Hillary I think and she would have a hard time getting her agenda, except for war, whatever it really is, done.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on January 22, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Nobcentral: "Donald from Hawaii you lost me. You're saying that you support HRC because some of Obama's supporters are sexist? Wow. If that's how you chose a candidate to support, how do you vote for anyone?"

Actually, it's easy -- especially when the one of the candidates is clearly cornering the market on the support of such sexist and abusive assholes, and the rest of his supporters start to sound like members of a cult.

Because I'm a Democrat, I'll proudly support Barack Obama in the general, should he become our party's nominee. I'll leave it at that.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 22, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama needs to seriously develop a strategy for keeping above the fray. ... He needs his "there you go again" line ... He just needs a catch phrase that he can use to remind people that his opponent is, once again, spewing forth lies in a desperate attempt to tarnish his record.

Posted by: Nobcentral

Strongly agree. It needs to be something like: "Just how badly do you want to be president, Hillary? I mean, at this point, you'll say just about anything, won't you?"

However, I would advise him to stay away from anything like Marion Barry's old line: "Bitch set me up!"

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 22, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK
Our country doesn't need bipartisanship and a new spirit in Washington.

I think this gets to a key point. Hillary supporters often say things like this. But hard-core progressives don't make up a majority in this country

BINGO. Lots of people seem to interpret Bush's 30% approval rating as a sign that a vast majority of the country has suddenly seen the light, wants to subscribe to The Nation, and wants to give all Republicans a "kick in the teeth." Sorry. I wish it were so. But Bush's 30% approval isn't because all the Joe NASCARs and Soccer Moms turned liberal, it's because the guy has run the country into the ground. (Unfortunately, many people were too dumb to see it in 2004.)

Throwing red meat at your base may get you a slim win in November (see Bush 2000, 2004) but it's independents and moderates who can swing the election toward an actual governing majority. And - here's the key - Obama has shown that you don't need to triangulate or compromise on policy to appeal to those swing voters. You simply need to show some civility, some integrity, some honesty, and yes, some respect for the other side.

Posted by: Tractarian on January 22, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the Glenn Greewald's high dudgeon Mike cites above regarding Obama's Christian flyer in, gasp, South Carolina, why is this a bad thing? Is Obama campaigning to lose in the South or to win?

You answered correctly! To win.

As HRC explained this morning, "This is a campaign." She is playing to win, with her usual gusto and (some would say) willful distortions. Obama is too, by emphasizing to Christians that he is a Christian. Now, I like Glenn. He is a great American. I bought his first book. I wonder, though, if he thinks all Christians look alike. They don't. It's a frickin' rainbow, man.

Anyway, Obama's effort with the flyer reminded me of Paul's campaign advice in 1st Corinthians, still good today. I substituted some, er, words:

"When I am with the Jews, I become one of them so that I can bring them to [the Democratic party]. When I am with those who follow the Jewish laws, I do the same, even though I am not subject to the law, so that I can bring them to [the Democratic party]. When I am with the Gentiles who do not have the Jewish law, I fit in with them as much as I can. In this way, I gain their confidence and bring them to [the Dems]. But I do not discard the law of God; I obey the law of [progressiveness]. When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to [the Dems]. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to [the Democratic party and to victory in November 2008]." --1 Cor. 9:20-22

And among Christians, guess what, Obama says he's a Christian. Big whoop.

;-)

Posted by: paxr55 on January 22, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

... one of the candidates is clearly cornering the market on the support of such sexist and abusive assholes, and the rest of his supporters start to sound like members of a cult.

If you get to the store before it closes, you might be able to stock up on more strawmen. We'd hate to see you run out.

Posted by: enough already on January 22, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Don - My point is, supporters from BOTH sides are spewing forth reprehensible stuff (although not necessarily on this board) and that it's short-sighted to base your support on a candidate who has "nicer" supporter on the internets.

This applies to Scotian as well, but my point is, I'm choosing a candidate and I'll hold them responsible for the words they say as well as those affiliated with their campaigns. But the average nutjobs, there's no controlling them.

PS - Scotian - The Obama youth vote, so far, appears to only have played a significant role in Iowa. I don't think he's banking on the under-24 crowd - it's more like a plus than anything. I also think that if you look at turnout numbers for the early primaries/caucuses, that means good things for any Democrat.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Frist just announced that, based on what he had seen on tv, Fred Thompson is officially brain dead.

Posted by: lampwick on January 22, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm ready for Mr. Drum to post an update or a comment.

Posted by: Raven on January 22, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think Edwards would bring about the change we need, and keep Congress Democratic...oh well.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on January 22, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

" Obama has yet to defined specifically what he will do with the power"

Scotian, I agree that Obama needs to be far more specific than he has been so far. Yet none of the candidates have been very specific beyond Iraq and healthcare. In the Reno interview Obama was asked what his first priorities would be. He answered that on the first day as Prez he would call in the Joint Chiefs and and change their mission to one of safe withdrawal from Iraq; secondly, he would immediately begin work on universal healthcare, hoping to have the bill passed by the end of his first year in office with implementation within three to four years; and I forget the third. It would be an interesting question to ask each candidate in a debate. What are your top 10 priorities? Or perhaps what are your top priorities after Iraq and healthcare.

Posted by: nepeta on January 22, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I've gotten a kick out of the "Iron Chef" stare that Hillary has developed for the debates. Earlier in the campaign I thought she was channeling Ellen Degeneris but now it's definitely Iron Chef Hillary.

Posted by: leo on January 22, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

This is a very good capsule of the two candidates. I already with most of what you wrote, but you leave out an important factor in the calculation.

Strong-arm, hardball tactics are effective, but they often engender animosity and bad blood that have a negative effect in the long-term for the party in power and the country as a whole.

The line between "being tough" and "the ends justify the means" is fine and often falls to the latter. Many of the Republican attacks against Pres. Clinton were unfair, but we have to acknowledge that some of the vehemence and ideological attacks were exacerbated by Pres. Clinton's political style.

When you force someone to join you rather than convince them to join you, the support is temporary and fleeting. You may win the battle, but you don't win any converts to your point of view and will often find yourself under siege later on when people lash back. Political success is limited to the first few years and long-lasting change is rare.

Finally, when you force someone to join you rather than convince them, you are less likely to find the faults in your own policy and thinking. This won't be much of a problem with Sen. Clinton because she is very smart and has a solid policy background, but it was a huge problem with the Bush administration. As a matter of principle, I want my Presidents to at least understand the concerns of the other side, because sometimes these concerns are valid and policy would be better if they were addressed.

Posted by: Jason on January 22, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Either of the scenarios Mr. Drum makes are good ones if they succeed in making the changes to our political economy that liberals, progressives and leftists are yearning for. Liberals, progressives and leftists will have to choose whether they can trust any of the Democratic nominees to expend the political capital or manipulate the political process to make these changes occur. Some will choose not to support any of them, but many will support one of the Democratic Big Three and most will support the Democratic nominee.

I imagine the 2012 election issue will be that president Hillary or Barak will require another four years to accomplish their agendas. Most liberals, progressives and leftists will have little choice but to trust them once again.

I imagine the 2016 election...

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama is playing up his Christianity partially for votes, but more importantly because there appears to be a meme floating around that he is really Muslim. In any case, Obama is the first politician I've ever heard include atheists among those who deserve an equal right to religious freedom. I would probably vote for him on that single issue itself.

Posted by: nepeta on January 22, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Which of the candidates, if either, will take the actions necessary to destroy the concept of the "Unitary Executive"?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 22, 2008 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

People ask how is Hillary more progressive than Obama? On health care the difference is clear. I come down strongly on the side that all persons must participate in the health system and only those plans that put everyone into the system are the plans I would support. Otherwise health care reform is a fantasy. There are only two ways to do that: single payor (which is best but not achievable) or mandatory insurance. Hillary and Edwards would require 100% participation through mandatory insurance. Obama would not by his own admission. I find Obama's approach distinctly less progressive.

Of course if its a debate about progressive politics, Edwards is the clear winner. I find little substantive difference between Obama and Hillary on most issues, with the exception of health care as above.

Posted by: Jammer on January 22, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin try reading this by Byron York at NRO about why Republicans are scared of Obama for starters. They know how to fight Hillary, they've been doing it for years, mostly successfully. They have no answer for Obama and won't for his entire presidency:

http://tinyurl.com/27373t

Posted by: markg8 on January 22, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

We've seen three different Repubs capture their major primaries all representing a different part of their old coalition. They're fragmented. The only thing that will pull it back together is their hatred of the Clintons. You want the huge mandate for progressive politics? Barack Obama is your candidate.

Posted by: markg8 on January 22, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Jammer,

Obama explained why he doesn't support mandated health insurance in the other night's debate, I think. Anyway, it is because low income people can not afford the price of the insurance and get fined for not participating. He points to MA as a case in point. Unless subsidies are available to make health insurance affordable to all low-income people, then I don't see how mandates can be considered fair or liberal.

Posted by: nepeta on January 22, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

103: Women are taking this all in, and that, of course, is why she's winning. So by all means, please keep up the torrent of sexist abuse. We're laughing all the way to the nomination.

Wow, I hope you're ready for a fall in November.

I know there are a fraction of HRC supporters who are petty, short-sighted, and easily wounded enough that they will back Hillary purely out of spite for something some Obama or Edwards supporter said on the internet. That type of voter should keep in mind that spite is what a politician relies on when they don't have charisma. Spite can get you through primaries, but charisma is what wins general elections. HRC has no charisma, and being angry about that fact will not magically produce any for her.

And anyone interested in the more significant differences between HRC and Obama - like what they can get done as president based on merits, not just race or gender - should read the excellent articles spaz has linked in his comment above.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 22, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

lampwick does it again!

Nice indeed.

Oh future predicting, when will you get easier?

Vote Creme or Dem, make '08 great.

Posted by: Craig Johnson's Brother's Son on January 22, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Frist just announced that, based on what he had seen on tv, Fred Thompson is officially brain dead.

Posted by: lampwick on January 22, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK


Good, now he can stop operating on cats and start on republicans!

Posted by: optical weenie on January 22, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Which of the candidates, if either, will take the actions necessary to destroy the concept of the "Unitary Executive"?

Good question. It's interesting to consider who might not.

Posted by: junebug on January 22, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Based on history Obama is much better at getting substantive legislation passed that Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 22, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Jammer, anyone who believes that on the issues it's basically a wash between Obama and Clinton: please don't act too shocked when she triangulates herself back to the centre or centre-right if need be, once she has the nomination.

President Clinton did not further a single liberal policy objective. Yes he presided over a decent economy and a competent govt. He also faced a tough situation. But what exactly is the point of this restoration? So we can go back to the days of having somebody in the White House who will...sign DOMA? NAFTA? Death penalty expansion? Not lift a finger for the labor movement? Do we have any reason to think she will be any less of a DLC corporate Democrat as president? This all strikes me as very wishful thinking.

Posted by: greg on January 22, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, this is a joke right? Can you name one actual example of Hillary doing this sort of legislative maneuvering since she's been a Senator on a major piece of legislation? You've been hoodwinked by the fraud of Clinton's claim to experience. Obama has both more extensive legislative experience in years and more of a track record of actually getting things done. Aside from helping Bush get the Iraq AUMF, what has Hillary done? Just by being Hillary Clinton, she will harden GOP opposition to her legislative agenda and ensure more gridlock. Obama or Edwards at least offers the possibility of a brief window of opportunity to get things like health care reform or a new energy policy to combat global warming done. The odds are still stacked strongly against them, but they have a better shot than Clinton.

Posted by: Ron on January 22, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

just wait for the georgetowns to start popping up. that'll gel people into a movement real fast, and hillary's small-ball proposals won't look so good.

Posted by: sick and cranky on January 22, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

This election is the first time that I have ever been actively engaged in politics...bc the stakes seem soooo much higher.....politics as usual just won't do....

There are many like me...who used to take such a lassiez faire attitude....(I've only voted once before in 2000).

We not only need to change the personnel in Washington, we need to change the way the game is played.

Sen. Obama is the first politician to ever have inspired me..

So...yes there is a substantive movement...and its growing.

Posted by: A on January 22, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing I find strange about all the postings on how Sen. Obama will be more fitted to lead Republicans to support of Democratic policies is this: have you people seen who the Republicans in Congress are?
McConnell? Boehner? If these two, or anyone like them, are still the Minority leaders after 2008 there will be no, I repeat, no compromising with any Democratic legislation. Since we aren't able to guarantee the future, we need to base our plans on what we know, that the Republicans will oppose ANY Democratic occupant of the White House no matter what.
If Sen. Obama is truly representing a "new wave", then he had best start with being honest with the public and pointing out, starting now, that his "post-partisanship politics" are based solely on the premise of massive Democratic victories in 2008; otherwise he will unable to carry out his promises.
It might work.

Posted by: Doug on January 22, 2008 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Bill was compelled to execute a retarded guy proved to me that the Clintons are willing to "throw elbows".

Those are the kinds of fighters I want working for me in the White House! I realize they found keeping control of congress and passing universal health care to be very difficult, but I'm sure this time they'll get it right! After all, don't forget what they did to Bob Dole, Rick Lazio, and that retarded guy!

Posted by: the state of the contemporary Democratic party on January 22, 2008 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

I also believe the media has given Obama a free pass and last night's debate is a perfect example. Obama hit Hillary with Walmart and Hillary hit Obama with Rezko. I've been watching t.v. most of the day and so far, have not heard any of the reporters even explain who Rezko is although the Chicago papers have reams of material about the Obama/Rezko relationship. Obama's answer about Rezko was totally lame. Why do the t.v. people ignore this issue? Is it because they just love Obama or is it that they're saving it to use when it might be Obama versus their fair-haired boy, John McCain?

Posted by: Vicki Williams on January 22, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Transformational leaders" don't campaign on the message that they are "transformational leaders." That's an assessment that can only be made in retropect, by history.

Obama and his supporters misread history when they draw comparisons between him and JFK -- who didn't make an America in decline and crisis "feel good about itself" (like a life coach preaching self-esteem) but rather reflected how good an America genuinely on the ascendent (in wealth, world influence, and most important, achievement) felt about itself.

The appeal that Obama and his supporters make, filled with emotional claims on the future, nostalgic evocations of the past, and oddly cool detachment from the present and its failures, makes me think that far from being the first post-Boomer candidate, Obama is the ultimate Boomer candidate -- and that makes me uneasy.

From "There's Gonna be a Revolution" and the Age of Aquarius to the End of History, from Savings & Loan speculation to Enron, from the New Economy to the sub-prime mortgage craze, this generation, with its preference for perception over reality, speculation over substance, public relations over problem solving, the quick fix over the long, hard and arduous slog, has chased and embraced one "new (really, this time,totally NEW!!) paradigm" bubble after another. Bubbles that are often filled with greed or giddiness or both, and that always float on a wave of denial.

But, the fat inheritance that has so far allowed the Boomers to, when those bubbles burst, push the consequences off into the future, is now nearly spent. The chickens are coming home to roost.

For that reason, I'm hoping the Obama bubble will burst during the campaign -- and not in the White House.

Posted by: mary on January 22, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Vicki - I was watching CNN's America Morning this morning and they repeatedly showed HRC's Rezko attack and not once played Obama's response. I had to read about it once I got to work. Can't speak for the rest of the networks, but CNN was going in the pro-Hillary direction when I watched. (Also think that the whole Rezko thing is much ado about nothing as far as Obama is concerned.)

Mary - You lost me. You think there's something new about the quick fix mentality that exists in America? And you think Obama embodies the quick fix mentality? And how is Hillary's "I get things done" anything more than a new "paradigm bubble"? Aside from just not liking Obama and his style, do you have any other criticism?

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

After reading every single post, link and comment of every thread regarding Cinton vs. Obama over the last two weeks, I have finally made up my mind.

I am voting for Obama.

Or Clinton. Possibly Edwards. Maybe even Kucinich. But Gravel is flat out.

There, that was easier then I thought.

Posted by: E Henry Thripshaw on January 22, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Others have probably written this upthread (sorry) but you have to look at Obama's record too. That would be mostly in Springfield. He managed to get a law passed (unanimously in the Ill. Senate) and signed mandating videotaping of interrogations in capital cases. He overcame initial opposition by a newly elected Democratic governor and, of course, the police. That is getting stuff done.

I think he also had a leading role in getting Illinois to supplement the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit. I'd say he can manage at least one legislature.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on January 22, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, please use your newly enpowered status as a California voter wisely -- Obama is an extraordinarily gifted politician, an astute thinker, and a committed, lifelong progressive. He has the capacity to bring about a broad transformation in our politics; Wal-Mart board sitting, sniping, war-voting, Mark Penn-hiring, flag-burning statute-sponsoring Hillary, for all her talents, does not. As for Obama's political skills, in addition to his accomplishments in Illinois that other commenters have remarked upon, look at what he's done in pulling himself up from obscurity (albeit impressive obscurity) to being neck-and-neck with a household name who had virtually the entire Democratic establishment and a heavily inertial media consensus behind her! Obama's candidacy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hire a leader who's as great as Bush was awful.

Posted by: Sean on January 22, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

So funny to see some of the HRC supporters criticize Obama's style, which really isn't that different from Clinton's Hope/Change message in 1992. HRC seems to have opted for the Dan Rostenkowski approach to politics: "I'm here, I'm relatively immobile, and so I'll stay here until they send me to prison." Good luck with that. How Washington changes people.

Thripshaw, you really ought to give Gravel another look. Are you going to let the MSM decide who is the serious candidate???/?

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 22, 2008 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

One thing bothers me
Everytime someone raises the issue that Obama has never dealt with serious opposition or shown proven ability to pass important legislation- you hear this story qouted (indeed it is cut and pasted word for word)

"Obama proposed requiring that interrogations and confessions be videotaped. This seemed likely to stop the beatings, but the bill itself aroused immediate opposition. There were Republicans who were automatically tough on crime and Democrats who feared being thought soft on crime. There were death penalty abolitionists, who worried that Obama's bill, by preventing the execution of innocents, would deprive them of their best argument. Vigorous opposition came from the police, too many of whom had become accustomed to using muscle to "solve" crimes. And the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, announced that he was against it. Obama had his work cut out for him."

Its just ridiculous. I am a death penalty opponent and I have never opposed a bill that would reign in police misconduct because I am afraid that "there wouldn't then be enough innocent people put on death row. "
Trust me there are already enough innocent people on death row- death penalty opponents want to stop more getting on any way possible.

So I have to think that this whole story and the supposed ooposition to Obama is exaggerated. Either the bill was not as vigorously opposed as the Obama people claim (assuming that he did this bill single-handed which I realy doubt). Or more likely, Obama was trying to compromise so much with those on the right that those who wanted a tougher bill were objecting to other provisions in the bill.

All in all this seems to be a slanted inaccurate soundbite that gets repeated ad infintum when noone really knows if its true BECAUSE the Obama people have very little else to say in support of his candidacy.

This is the problem. Obama may have promise but really except for pure faith there is really not much to show he can actually accomplish things.

Indeed, after Iowa, he has failed in organizing and mobilizing the young people and independents enough to win in open democratic primaries where he has a natural advantage. Why do we think he could do it in a general election? He doesn't live up to the hype. He will win in South Carolina (but like Jesse Jackson's win in 1988, it will be because he gets a high percentage of the black vote as a sign of pride in a brother who made good). Its not enough and won't give him a bounce in other states with different demographics.
The only reason anyone has to believe that Obama is a tranformative person who could attract independent votes is because he says so and a few people who are clearly looking for something to believe in have brought in to this claim. I don't buy into it and neither do a high percentage of other people.
For a long time, Obama supporters tried downplay this fact and move Obama's supporters upwards by unilaterally adding in Edwards voters by claiming they would all move to Obama- but as was shown in Neveda and in the national polls, a good chunk of those votes are going to Hillary.

Compare to Hillary. The results show she is appealing more to the primary voters than Obama. So if he can't even beat someone who, according to Obama supporters, is the most hated women out there, when he is speaking to a group who is more amenable to progressive ideas then how will he beat a more likeable candidate in the general election when he has to deal with those who actually oppose his agenda and have real policy differences.

Hillary may not be as inspiring- but no one doubts that she is competent and a workhorse. And as her wins in New Hampshire and Nevada show- she is organized, detail oriented and can mobilize the white women and low income workers who are the core support needed to beat a GOP candidate.

Those low income workers are the Reagan Democrats that Obama is seeking - the ones who with Latinos will make the difference in the general election - and they don't want him.

How can you argue differently

Posted by: Troy sqd on January 22, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody earlier made a comment, that Kevin's boss is a big financial supporter of the clintons -- can anyone provide a link verifying this? Because if thats true, its unbelievable that Kevin isn't disclosing that.

Posted by: Jor on January 22, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on January 22, 2008 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Jor, I may be mistaken, but I think Kevin disclosed the Washington Monthly-HRC connection maybe a month ago in a Hillary post.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 22, 2008 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

I concur with our old friend Scotian at 5:02 PM above. Primaries have to test candidates, all candidates. In 2004, Kerry breezed to victory and got creamed because he didn't fight back. In 2000, Al Gore was attacked with every lie the media could invent, and Gore was one of the most decent and serious guys out there. A candidate has to prove they can take it and that they can fight back with the toughness necessary to respond to all the slings and arrows that will come their way.

In '92, Clinton had his famous instant response team ready to discredit attacks in one news cycle. That was a lesson forgotten. So far, Obama isn't showing he is up to it. Claiming attacks are unfair won't cut it. It looks weak. I regard those dainty souls who claim to be distressed that politics isn't a Kerry cakewalk and so will not support X or Y not to be worth the bandwidth they waste with their laments. I'm tired of seeing people go down in flames to 527's, FreedomWatch, and the Republican slime machine.

... Obama is playing up his Christianity partially for votes....nepeta at 5:35 PM

Those Christ-like images are creepy. The Bush-speak of Christian fundamentalism is now another technique that he is copying from the Bush play book. This is getting monotonous.
.... Republicans are scared of Obama for starters. They know how to fight Hillary, they've been doing it for years, mostly successfully....markg8 at 5:43 PM

Yup, that's how they prevented her from becoming a senator and getting re-elected. Believe me, not party hacks like Bryon York, they will go after Obama big time

...Freedom’s Watch has loudly announced that there will be no limits to what it might do…. While initial reports suggested a budget of $200 million, people who have talked to the group in recent weeks say the figure is closer to $250 million, more than double the amount spent by the largest independent liberal groups in the 2004 election cycle.
The “no limits” phrase probably wasn’t intended this way, but it has two meanings. First, with a quarter-billion dollars, Freedom’s Watch will be able to do what it pleases. Second, driven by contemporary Republican norms, the range of Freedom’s Watch attacks with know “no limits,” because they’re unlikely to be concerned about pesky details (like decency and accuracy).

Obama explained why he doesn't support mandated health insurance....it is because low income people can not afford the price of the insurance and get fined for not participating..... nepeta at 5:49 PM

It would certainly behoove someone who claims to be concerned about the poor to develop a plan that included them. The poorest can qualify for state-funded Medicaid equivalents and children for S-Chip, at least until Bush vetoed it. Surely, he can think of a way to subsidize these. Perhaps, as his spokesperson, you can advise the campaign.


Posted by: Mike on January 22, 2008 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Someone ought to run down the list of open Senate seats for Kevin, that alone might move him off his Hillary fixation. If you want a snowball's chance in the bayou of keeping Landreau in the Senate, for example, Obama could do it, Hillary not so much. Throwing elbows will be worthless with an invigorated Repub opposition, appealing to a new coalition with a mandate for change might get things through a Senate where Collins and Specter hold the balance of power.

Posted by: bones on January 22, 2008 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

overtly push a progressive agenda as much as Hillary's do.

I have yet to figure out how supporting preemptive wars in Iraq and Iran and refusing to reject torture are "more progressive" than, say, opposing those things.

Posted by: Orson on January 22, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin--

Check out this account in the WaPo about his accomplishments in the Illinois legislature to see why I don't think Obama needs to rely merely on some nebulous "zeitgeist."

Posted by: Erik on January 22, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind when you hear Bill Clinton talking trash this week about Obama that he was a failure as a President because he lost two years of his second term - and an ability to leave a legacy - because of a lie that led to an impeachment attempt. The fact that he is lying now shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. We simply cannot afford, as Democrats, to risk losing our momentum, our majority in the legislature (Clinton lost that in 1994), and a real chance to move Democratic policies forward in DC by installing the divisive Clinton gang back into the White House.

Posted by: Thutmose on January 22, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

“PS - Scotian - The Obama youth vote, so far, appears to only have played a significant role in Iowa. I don't think he's banking on the under-24 crowd - it's more like a plus than anything. I also think that if you look at turnout numbers for the early primaries/caucuses, that means good things for any Democrat.”
Posted by: Nobcentral on January 22, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Perhaps not, but in the political rhetoric and the explanation for why he is the better choice I have seen many references to how he has captured the youth into the process, yet the data does not back that up once the voting started. This has been one of the major themes of his candidacy and therefore is why I find the lack of substance supporting this claim disturbing. There is also the fact that he like McCain in the GOP side has been pulling much of his support from outside the party, and since it is the Dem side and not the independents with the most anger (and therefore passion, something I think is being overlooked by those taking for granted how high the party support will automatically be for someone that ran as an outsider) alienating them in the primary enough so that they are not as intense as they would be otherwise is a risky strategy. Human nature is what it is, and while I expect votes to be there and a minimum intensity emotionally the more resentment Obama puts into the traditional Dems now the more he risks reducing how hard they will work for him (not just by design but far worse and more probable unconsciously) down the road.

Any one of his weaknesses that I see are not all that bad, but when I take them together and compare them to where his strength has shown itself so far I do not see something that stable nor cohesive. Now, I could well be wrong, I freely admit my own inability to be correct all the time, but because I know that I have since I was young learned to build up filtering processes in how I examine perceptions, both mine and others. One of the things I have seen for myself is how much more perception rules over reality in all things involving human interactions/dynamics and politics is a world that is far more grounded by nature in perceptual variability than most. So it is important to not just look at reality but also what it can appear as, both favourably and unfavourably when seen from various perspectives. This is why being tight with language and not being so open to interpretation is so important. So when I also start wondering whether his campaign is playing perceptual games with things like the power of the youth in this election after it appears it is not playing so much a role after all it creates another element of doubt as to the reality as opposed to the perception of this great movement forming around Obama.

Posted by: Scotian on January 22, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

“Scotian, I agree that Obama needs to be far more specific than he has been so far. Yet none of the candidates have been very specific beyond Iraq and healthcare. In the Reno interview Obama was asked what his first priorities would be. He answered that on the first day as Prez he would call in the Joint Chiefs and and change their mission to one of safe withdrawal from Iraq; secondly, he would immediately begin work on universal healthcare, hoping to have the bill passed by the end of his first year in office with implementation within three to four years; and I forget the third. It would be an interesting question to ask each candidate in a debate. What are your top 10 priorities? Or perhaps what are your top priorities after Iraq and healthcare.”
Posted by: nepeta on January 22, 2008 at 5:27 PM

I think you miss where I am looking at this from. I am not looking at this so much from the relative worth of each policy; I am talking about in terms of how it is being perceived/presented and how open that it is to interpretation, especially malevolent intentional misinterpretation. Consider my pov on this as someone like many of your voters tends to be most shaped by what I see in the MSM, because I watch a great deal of the MSM coverage including all Sunday talk shows, Friday night PBS shows like Wash Week, CNN, etc and get a sense of how it comes off there overall when I consider how I am looking at these things. Of course I am better informed than that, I do use my net access to check into sourcing and back-story and context whenever I can, but that is not going to be the bulk of your voters next election is it? I am making sure I do not let my own preconceptions of what I see in such great detail become the template I use for assuming how everyone else approaches politics and issues, especially those that are not partisans and/or political junkies unlike so many of us in the political blogosphere.

As I said when I first entered this topic here a few days ago I do not have any side I prefer here, any of the Dem candidates is so far superior across the board than any of the GOPers given the current state of reality that I will be happy with any of the choices. So for me this is not about which one suits a personal preference/agenda of mine, as it would if I were voting but I am not here. For me it is about making sure whichever Dem wins in their own party is best ready to take on the real threat, the GOP and what has proven itself to be a partisan anti-Dem MSM willing to work over the Dem side far more and with far less than the GOP side. I also have not forgotten that the viral aspects of internet politics which the Dems and progressives are using also have their flip sides in terms of being used to fight against you by the GOP and their backers.

I see a level of corruption and destruction of your basic governing systems, especially the Executive branch that is going to be decades repairing the damage of, and that is just on the domestic side of things. Foreign policy side isn’t much better either, and some things you may never get back most especially the right to call yourselves the leaders of the free world as the rest of the free world isn’t too impressed with what it has seen over the past seven years now. So someone that is to deal with this damage needs to show they grasp the minutia as well as the general, and they need to demonstrate that they are able outwit and outsmart the legacy GOPers the Executive branch is going to be full of, and this is well beyond political appointments one normally sees change when governments change, keep in mind just how extensively Bushco corrupted the professional civil service right up to the Justice department. I am more concerned that whoever wins has a grasp of what they are facing, has the fortitude and resilience to deal with it, and who can clearly beat back the GOPers who will take any advantage/mercy you show them and us it to twist the knife into your back. Not to mention protecting themselves and their side from being held responsible/accountable for these disasters by the public at large.

So I am more concerned with how much policy specifics are in the stump speeches, what range of issues are heard from, how much blind idealism is being sold versus hard reality, how tight the rebuttal language is, that sort of thing. I have watched for a long time how the movement conservatives infiltrated and took over the GOP and how they play, and so I focus on where I see the candidate most vulnerable to that. Clinton is an unusual factor because she has already been demonized extensively in her own right as well as because of her husband for 15 years now and still keeps going AND still keeps managing to win her battles for the most part despite that opposition. Whether you like that she did so or not she has done so and that is a major asset in terms of reducing her exposure that way. Sure, they can whip up the hatred of her, but the problem is much of the rhetoric used about her by the movement conservatives over the years has gotten very old/tired and more than a little of it has a clearly misogynistic edge to it and I suspect that will cause women who normally wouldn’t vote for her to do so, as well as bring in other women/people who don’t vote much if at all anymore for the same reason. So her biggest weakness and the claim she will unite the GOPers appears to me to be not quite as impossible a hurdle to defeat/clear as many anti-Clinton people would have us believe.

My priorities are having someone in the WH who is well connected to the reality based world instead of the fantasyland the GOP has inhabited. I want competence in managing the economic levers as necessary, (which includes doing something about healthcare, I have never understood how Americans can justify that over one in ten American citizens has no health care because it is more important to protect the private sector than it is the life and wellbeing of citizens) I want someone to work to restoring the precepts of the US Constitution, those are my main concerns and overall I find any Dem far superior to any GOPer in those areas. As to the rest, well I try to avoid that because I don’t have to live with it, when I do get into issues from a personal perspective it is usually because those issues and your nation’s decisions have direct and profound impact on mine. Otherwise it is a more detached academic matter to me. So I come at this from a very different perspective than most people commenting here do and am focusing on that which I do not think is being sufficiently examined because people are too caught up in the glow of Obamamania.

Sorry nepata, that is about the best answer I can give you on this.

Posted by: Scotian on January 22, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

This conversation makes no sense to me. Hillary Clinton, as much as I like her, will never win the presidency. I'm not sure there is any candidate we could have put up in the last 50 years that inspires so much hate among people in both parties. Republicans will vote in droves (even for a Mormon) just to prevent her from being elected - Democrats (so many don't like her) will stay home. We will have the worst loss since 1988 and possibly eradicate all of the gains we have worked for in the last few years.

4 years ago after it was clear that Kerry would win the nomination, my reaction was - we just lost the presidency. It was that obvious to me and all of my friends (on the hill and in the campaigning world) that he would never win. This time, we will lose it for at least 8 more years. It will be a real tragedy.

Posted by: kco on January 22, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

God, I miss Dennis Kucinich...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on January 22, 2008 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

thanks paxr55 , I must have missed that post. The quality of Kevin's posts on Obama an Clinton have been abysmal. Maybe, I should just come back here after primary season is over.

Posted by: Jor on January 22, 2008 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

kco:

In saying Hillary can't win, you sound like countless others who have woefully underestimated the Clintons in the past. Many people said Hillary's bid for a Senate seat in New York would be a disaster too. Why exactly can't she win? So what if many people hate her. Many people hated Bush in 2004! In the primaries so far, the number of Democrats who have voted has vastly outnumbered the number of Republicans. That should tell you something.

And as for your epiphany that Kerry was going to lose, the fact is that he came very close to winning--only falling short by 2% in Ohio. So it wasn't at all foreordained that Kerry was going to lose either. If he had fought back against the Swift Boaters from the beginning (both by defending his own war record and by attacking Bush's extremely vulnerable military record), he probably would have won.

Posted by: Lee on January 22, 2008 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps if everyone volunteered for a campaign instead of continually wringing their hands about our bad luck to have this candidate or that candidate, we'd win some elections.

Posted by: late on January 22, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding appearances, HRC has a great colorist working in gray highlights. Discreetly.

Experience, you know.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 22, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand the irrational vitriol against Hillary expressed here.

First, it is not only her campaign's message that she has been a serious, effective legislator respected by members of both parties. This is the consensus among her colleagues and the reporters who cover the Senate. It has been reported numerous times by numerous outlets not all of them sympathetic to her candidacy. So can we stick to, dare I say it, "reality?" It is also true that Obama has NOT earned this reputation.

Second, I would have thought it would be obvious why Obama is more subject to swift-boating than is HRC and by a large margin. Is there anything that can be said about Hillary that hasn't already been said? Of course, she has high negatives. She has been accused of everything from murder to lesbian orgies by her enemies. She has been pre-swift-boated and is hence immune.

On the other hand, Obama is not nearly as well-known by the public so he is subject to be defined by the same crowd that told South Carolinians that John McCain fathered illegitimate black children in 2000. McCain survived a similar campaign this time around precisely because it was a tired, old attack.

Posted by: Tom on January 22, 2008 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary... Obama... Whatever. I just think its fun watching the Dems momentum implode with their incessant bitching on the debate floor.

Neither one has a chance.

Posted by: Worker on January 22, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Frist just announced that, based on what he had seen on tv, Fred Thompson is officially brain dead.

That was exactly my thought when I read John Cole earlier today: "I am not surprised to see this happen, although I am surprised the Thompson campaign did not get more enthusiastic support. If anything, his campaign resembled Terri Schiavo- listless, inert, and with no signs of life, so I really don’t know why it was not greeted with more enthusiasm by our friends on the right."

Posted by: shortstop on January 22, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Obama was never in any jeopardy of losing popularity with his own constituents, because he was situated in a very, very safe liberal seat in the State Senate.

To slightly paraphrase Hillary: "Some of us were right, and some of us were wrong." Obama was right. Hillary was wrong.

Almost all of the pundits were wrong. Kevin was wrong. My extremely liberal minister was wrong. On and on and on. I felt like I was stuck in the Asch Conformity experiments. Would Obama have cracked under more pressure? Maybe. But we know for sure that Clinton did fail under that pressure.

Posted by: Dagome on January 22, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

Thanks for your long response. You said

'My priorities are having someone in the WH who is well connected to the reality based world instead of the fantasyland the GOP has inhabited.'

I would then ask if Clinton's AUMF vote showed connection to the reality-based world. I think not, although many here believe her vote was an attempt to stop the invasion by putting certain restrictions on Bush's unilateral go-ahead. So, for me, this is a simple issue. As you and I probably both know, Saddam's possession of WMD was not a puzzle for many the world over in 2002 and certainly should not have been one for a US Senator. Bush promoted a willful distortion of reality. For me, voting for either Clinton or Edwards is impossible because of this one, single vote. I need go no further for my own rationale. I have respect for those who don't have a problem with the AUMF vote; I do. For a long time I felt like a person without a candidate, mostly distrusting Obama's 'change' rhetoric, in fact, not even knowing exactly what kind of change he meant. Progressive change? Finally I know the answer is yes, progressive change. As I have continued to listen to him in different venues, etc., I am greatly impressed by his intelligence (granted, not always the most important quality), his seriousness, his listening ability, his thoughtfulness, and yes, his vision. I think many misunderstand his postpartisanship vision. It's not an attempt at compromise or appeasement. And it's certainly not aimed at hard-core Republican senators and congressmen. It's an attempt to renew popular support for what have always been American ideals of fairness, equality, compassion as they relate to all sorts of different categories: poverty, justice, war and peace, healthcare, education, taxation, etc. If he can attract such popular support as president for his initiatives, then those hard-nosed Republicans in Congress won't last long and they'll be dimished. I don't know whether he can succeed with his vision. But, if worse comes to worse, I see him being at least as capable as any other candidate of fighting for what he believes in the ways available to a president.

Posted by: nepeta on January 22, 2008 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Here is the republican playbook on Obama: coke addict, drug dealer, racist and afro-centric church, slum lord. Now, it doesn't matter if it's true, but those are going to be (heck, already are) their talking points. And anyone who thinks that a smelly land deal with Rezko isn't going to bite him in the behind, I have a word for you: Whitewater.

Also, apparently he has been calling Kenya on an almost weekly basis trying to negotiate peace. How's his vision and hope been working in that region?

Oh, look....a shiny penny...

Posted by: Kathy Sammons on January 22, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

It is beyond naive to think that HRC will be able to throw elbows and muscle through her agenda. The truth is that fairly or not her Presidency would be a psychodrama, a soap opera where Repub Congressmen will do any and everything to stop her success. You cannot underestimate the Repub antipathy for her. They will block her any repeatedly and we will all be left crying about how unfair it is. The Hillary Hatred is a real factor in how effective she could ever hope to be as President. Her negatives show she just doesn't have enough goodwill to win close legislative battles.

Why do you think Red State Senators (Tim Johnson, McCaskill and Nelson)came out in the last few weeks for Obama?

Posted by: Dresden on January 22, 2008 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

I think you're right.

But consider this: a Clinton-Obama ticket in '08 (we can dream) could theoretically deliver both Clinton's old style but effective politics for the next 8 years while grooming and seasoning Obama to come into his own style of governance down the road. After 8 years as vice president, Obama could emerge as one of the greatest presidents of all.

Posted by: DemUnity08 on January 22, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

especially when the one of the candidates is clearly cornering the market on the support of such sexist and abusive assholes, and the rest of his supporters start to sound like members of a cult.

Donald, is that supposed to count as taking the high road? There's been plenty of vitriol and personal attacks from Clinton supporters as well. Rather, from Clinton supporters who comment on blogs. Given that "blog commenters" are not a random nor a representative sampling, it does seem questionable to make any decision as if their comments constitute "data."

Posted by: Dagome on January 22, 2008 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

"And the surprising fact is that she's demonstrated a remarkably strong ability in the Senate to work with Republicans, most of whom generally trust her to keep her word and do what she says she'll do."

I'm certainly surprised at that statement. Do you have any facts whatsoever to back it up? Or is it just a convenient line to make your argument?

Posted by: converse on January 22, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

... grooming and seasoning Obama ...?

Ick. Patronize much?

Posted by: paxr55 on January 22, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

In saying Hillary can't win, you sound like countless others who have woefully underestimated the Clintons in the past. Many people said Hillary's bid for a Senate seat in New York would be a disaster too.

Hillary wound up facing extremely weak opponents in liberal NY. What are the other (national) elections that they've won "against the odds?" '92? When Perot upset everything up? Against Bob Dole?

Bill has been a great fund raiser for Democrats, but he also clearly hurt them in several national elections.

Hillary's campaign is not a lost cause, but she's not magic either.

Posted by: Dagome on January 22, 2008 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary and Obama are really quite different candidates. I asked about 20 friends - from Portland OR and San Francisco CA ... liberal places both. And I found that Hillary had very negative associations, and that was new. She didn't have such huge negatives until she and Bill Clinton started attacking Obama using Rove-like methods.

I found moderate Republicans to be more in favor of Obama than either McCain or Romney.

So - A Hillary victory will be Rovian-style, not just in terms of smear tactics - but also because it's an appeal to Hillary's base and their ability to come out and actually vote.

An Obama victory will be a broadening of a coalition of independents, Democrats, and moderate Republicans.

I feel that Hillary may in the short-term effect more "progressive" policies, but she will lead to long-term GOP resurgence. Whereas, Obama will move the country toward a long-term progressive shift, similar to the way Reagan shifted us to the right; though in the short-run be "less progressive" than Hillary.

I would rather have the latter than the former.

Posted by: jackifus on January 22, 2008 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

103: Women are taking this all in, and that, of course, is why she's winning. So by all means, please keep up the torrent of sexist abuse. We're laughing all the way to the nomination.

Donald from Hawaii: Trust me, there are far more than a few enlightened males who've also noticed that the Obama campaign has attracted an inordinate amount of support of those people whose personal invective toward Mrs. Clinton is worthy of the late Ike Turner. Certainly, it has become the consequential factor in my own decision to support her bid for our party's nomination.

Who knew blog snark could be such a dealbreaker.

Posted by: Lucy on January 22, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky Observer asks a very important question, one that bears repeating: "Which of the candidates, if either, will take the actions necessary to destroy the concept of the "Unitary Executive"?"

KD thinks Hillary Clinton will be a more effective executive because he admires how she plays tough. I'd be curious to know what he envisions will happen when, if, this willingness to play hardball is given the Unitary Executive powers?

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 22, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

PTate,

I just read a story today about this very topic. I'm going to try to find it...

Posted by: nepeta on January 22, 2008 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

re: unitary executive

check out this Q&A from the Boston Globe:

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/specials/CandidateQA/question4/

I found it refreshing actually.

When I read Hillary's positions, I don't have such an issue with her. But the character revealed by her campaign style makes me feel I could never vote for her.


Posted by: jackifus on January 22, 2008 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

PTate,

And this: Tomasky, The Guardian

Posted by: nepeta on January 22, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

So, here we go, the findings of Factcheck.org on the exchange that occurred during the debates:

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/clinton-obama_slugfest.html

No summary, just a good assessment of the charges from both camps.

Posted by: Boorring on January 22, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

Look, this shit is sport, people. Hillary is like an angler. She doesn't fish with live bait at feeding time early in the morning. She goes out in the heat of the afternoon after all the fish are full...and still catches the BIG one!

Do you know why this is? I mean, the fish are all full, tiered, and just want to spend the afternoon alone under some log. She's using artificial bait to boot! So why do they bite?

Well, she finds that sweet spot and casts over and over and over, ever so patient. Eventually, that big bad ass bass gets tiered of his/her sleep getting interrupted and lashes out to show that fucking sparkly purple worm a lesson...and gets hooked. Cleaned. Breaded and fried.

Ummmm tasty!

Posted by: elmo on January 22, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's hilarious to read Obama supporters claiming that "both sides" make nasty comments on blogs. Please. I like both candidates very much, and just decided to support Hillary in the last week or so. But it has been clear for some time that Obama's supporters (not all, of course) are much more hateful in their comments. I see people who claim to be lifelong Dems using terms like Hitlery, and calling her a witch, a harpy, shrill, etc. Not to mention Rovian, Bush lite, neo con, war monger, racist and the list goes on and on. This is in addition to the many Obama supporters who say they will not vote, or vote for McCain, if she is the nominee. This rather pales in contrast to accusing Obama of saying nice things about Reagan.

I'd love for someone to compile a list of equally scurrilous comments about Obama from Clinton supporters. And I don't recall seeing a single Clinton supporter saying they will not vote for Obama.

I also think the notion of Hillary's unelectability is way overstated, especially coming from people whose candidate keeps losing to her. There is undoubtedly a portion of the electorate that passionately hates her, but they were never going to vote for a Dem anyway. Bill Clinton had high favorable ratings when he left office, which means a lot of people in the middle liked him. What makes anyone think that all of those people now "hate" Hillary? And what evidence is there that the Republicans in Congress are seething with hatred? Do you think they're eager to refight the battles of the 90s? As far as "energizing" the Republicans, I think it's fair to say that Democrats were highly energized to defeat Bush in 2004. And they were combating a President who was already being viewed as a failure. But all of that energy failed to carry the day. The Republicans have a roster of lackluster candidates, and their party has totally screwed the pooch, and they're supporters are completely dispirited. Maybe Democratic voters can stop being so intimidated, and stop insisting that we don't nominate someone who makes the Republicans mad. How about if we pick our own candidate, instead of letting the Republicans do it?

Posted by: ChrisO on January 22, 2008 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

You mean like Obama's judgment in deciding to be nice to GOP voters and their willingness to enable those GOPers that destroyed America by being "post partisan" instead of branding them at every turn as the party of obstruction and destruction and the Dems as the ones with the ideas to save and restore America? Judgment is in the eye of the beholder nepata, and if I were to weigh those two out I would find they are at the minimum equally bad calls with profound long term ramifications for not just America but the life and limbs of Americans and others and a betrayal of all those that have died in this crusade of the GOP. It wasn't HRC that was hot and horny to invade Iraq, it was the GOP and Bushco. It wasn't HRC that was playing massive games with the intelligence and running disinformation and propaganda operations against Americans, no that was the GOP and Bushco. It wasn't HRC who decided to take America down torture road, no that was the GOP and Bushco. It wasn't HRC that took the sense of unity in America post 9/11/01 and abused it to launch an illegal war, no that was the GOP and Bushco. So why then shouldn't Obama make sure that this is at the forefront of his message of post partisanship, hmmm? After all, it wasn't the Dems that were the hyperpartisans over the past decade, no that was the GOP.

Judgment is in the eye of the beholder, and it looks like the majority of Dem voters do not hold that against her as much as you do. This AUMF talking point has gotten more than a little old, especially since it is used not just as the basis to attack HRC's judgment but to prove the excellence of Obama's. One data point does not a pattern make, and this is the problem I have with those that are willing to treat HRC's AUMF vote as the only proof needed to know her judgment is irrevocably flawed and too dangerous to trust with the Presidency. I don't mind if that is your own personal standard, that is your choice, but to demand that all others must agree with this or else they are war apologists, Clinton partisans, etc (which I have been hit with in the past when I tried to make this point from Obama supporters) or else their own judgment is also equally flawed is more than a little arrogant in nature IMHO. I live in the world that is full of grey and not black/white. Nothing is every that simplistic in life in my experience so I find it is far better to not get too sanctimonious about things like this. Judge not lest ye be judged, and Obama is inviting this by using this AUMF as a core element of his campaign IMHO, and it will eventually catch up with him, if not with Clinton in the general assuming he makes it that far.

Indeed, he has looming judgment questions coming from the questions surrounding his relationship with Rezko, and if you think the Whitewater deal was inviting GOP attacks this situation makes to look that look like nothing (don't forget Whitewater was investigated prior to Clinton becoming President and that didn't stop the GOP from using it the way that they did even though Clinton had been cleared). It is not just those 5 hours of work (an answer which also may come back to haunt him), there is a clear history of closeness and some personal connections between him and the Obama family, including between the wives apprently given the timing of the land purchase and at least the appearance of something hinky regarding home and land purchase let alone the extension (and with the GOP machine even the appearance of wrongdoing is a lot of ammunition for them to twist into perceived real wrongdoing regardless of what the facts/reality might prove out, just look at what so many of them believe about the Clintons like them murdering Vince Foster and running a drug cartel, etc) he paid for afterwards, an amount that appears to have been significantly higher than one would have expected it to be, further creating appearance of wrongdoing for the GOP machine to exploit and the MSM pundit class to get the details wrong about. So I would be a little less absolutist on this issue of judgment, as should your candidate, otherwise you all may well find it coming back to bite you in the rear end.

On that note good night, I live on the Atlantic coast and it is getting late here.

Posted by: Scotian on January 23, 2008 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, the prior comment was addressed to nepata, I must have accidently deleted it during proofing and missed it. Sorry about that all.

Posted by: Scotian on January 23, 2008 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

I will believe Barack Obama is a true Progressive when he stops presenting Social Security as needing immediate repair; when he mandates health coverage for every single American without exception; when he praises Democratic Presidents instead of Republican Presidents; and when he stops promising to pepper his administration with Republicans like Schwarzenneger, Luger and Hagel.

Democrats are now too far along in the election process to have so many questions about Barack Obama. Part of his strategy is not to provide clarity to the very Democrats who put him where he is today. I don't like it. My husband who hopped quickly on Obama's bandwagon regrets doing so.

With Hillary, what you see is what you get and whether you like her or not; cringe at her voice or not; believe she basks in the reflected glory of her husband or not; there is one thing nobody who is paying attention can deny. The woman is one tough cookie and she knows her stuff like nobody else running for President.

That is sufficient for me.

Posted by: Candace Goldman on January 23, 2008 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

Lucy: "Who knew blog snark could be such a dealbreaker."

Where did I ever say my outrage was limited to what's posted online or on the blogs? Anyone who saw the sexist and misogynist coverage of Mrs. Clinton during the five days between Iowa and New Hampshire knows exactly what I'm talking about.

I'll admit my bias. After all, I was raised by a single mother who was widowed by the Vietnam War, and I saw first-hand the bullshit sexism she endured for years. Because legally she couldn't get credit on her own (this being 1965), my grandfather had to co-sign for her mortgage.

I watched my mother be patronized by lesser men who called her "little lady", and vividly remember one very mortifying day when I was twelve years old, hearing my own baseball coach call her a "castrating bitch" because she insisted that I was to attend a family function instead of playing in that afternoon's ball game.

I saw my mother denied opportunities for professional advancement in the local school system, including one appalling time when she was aced out of a principal's position by a man less-qualified because "he had a family to support," and after all, my mother had wealthy parents to fall back upon. She left teaching at the end of the school year to work for Hewlett-Packard, and our school district lost a fine teacher and dedicated educator.

I don't want my two daughters to ever have to face what my mother and her generation went through.

And frankly, my blood also boiled when I saw Chris Matthews and his pundit cronies during those aforementioned five days ridicule and demean Mrs. Clinton as "she-devil", "castrating individual", "Nurse Ratched", "Elvira Gooch" and "Madame Defarge".

The day before the New Hampshire primary, when I saw and listened to her being mocked for her brief display of emotion in the New Hampshire diner, my mind was made up.

I really don't know how you feel about such issues, Lucy. Maybe you have your own stories about your own experiences that you wish to keep to yourself. I'm not the one to judge.

I do know women aren't immune to sexist or misogynist comments themselves, as shown by that New Hampshire women who asked Sen. McCain, "How do we beat the bitch?" I find that sort of behavior to be enabling.

In the early 1990s, I had the privilege of working on Capitol Hill for Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink, who in 1972 authored Title IX, the single most significant law affecting women's rights since the passage of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Mrs. Mink made possible the leveling of the playing field for women, making possible the educational and professional opportunities that you and other women enjoy today.

I know damn well what Mrs. Mink (who died in September 2001) would say this year: Misogyny and sexism is a pre-20th century anachronism, and it simply has to end.

So, yes, I'm more than willing to wield that small amount of personal leverage at my disposal - my own vote - to see that it happens in my lifetime. And I'll do more, by walking my precinct on Mrs. Clinton's behalf prior to our state's Feb. 24 caucuses.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, Unapologetic Feminist on January 23, 2008 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

" I don't mind if that is your own personal standard, that is your choice, but to demand that all others must agree with this or else they are war apologists, Clinton partisans, etc..." - Scotian

"I have respect for those who don't have a problem with the AUMF vote; I do." - nepeta

What more can I say? I have had this debate with many on this forum. I try to be as respectful of other individual's opinion on this matter as possible. The AUMF vote is incredibly important to me, perhaps because Senator Clinton is my senator. In any case, I agree that it's a personal call.

Posted by: nepeta on January 23, 2008 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Fuck yeah Donald! I find it so sweet that I will get to vote for Hillary not JUST because she's GOOD. But because I know my Grandmother(who raised me) is smiling somewhere in heaven...

Fuck the player haters.

Posted by: elmo on January 23, 2008 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent post, Scotian. Your commentary (more so than, say, Donald's) regarding the political resilience of Barack Obama is worth reading, and keeping in mind.
The GOP is going to throw everything they are going to get at Barack, and I am, only recently, appreciating the opportunities that the primaries allow. Though I still support Obama, I opt to await his next move.

Posted by: Boorring on January 23, 2008 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

Booring: "The GOP is going to throw everything they are going to get at Barack, and I am, only recently, appreciating the opportunities that the primaries allow. Though I still support Obama, I opt to await his next move."

Then I'm sure that you'll really appreciate this little tidbit from the Chicago Tribune.

And as I said just last night on this blog after the debate, Obama's claim that that he only worked five billable hours for Rezko was, at best, disingenuous:

Chicago Tribune (January 22, 2008)
Obama, Rezko ties again at issue -- "Suddenly, an old friendship forged on the streets of Chicago is threatening to make new waves in the Democratic presidential campaign.

"Hillary Clinton's charge this week that Barack Obama represented a Chicago 'slum landlord' in the 1990s introduced to a national audience one of Obama's potential political vulnerabilities: his long ties to Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, the once high-flying developer soon to go on trial in federal court.

"Obama angrily rejected Clinton's accusation at Monday's Democratic debate. And a Tribune review of land and court documents, law firm files as well as correspondence and other records related to Obama's eight years as an Illinois state lawmaker supports his contention that he did not directly represent Rezko's development firm. Instead, the records show, he represented nonprofit community groups that partnered with Rezko's firm.

"For years after Rezko befriended Obama in the early 1990s, he helped bankroll the politician's campaigns. Then, following Obama's election to the U.S. Senate, Rezko engaged him in private financial deals to improve their adjoining South Side properties. Those arrangements became a source of lingering controversy after the Tribune first reported them.

"Now, Rezko's federal corruption trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 25. As Obama stumps for votes, coverage of the high-profile proceedings could bring fresh, unwelcome reminders for Obama of Rezko's influence in the same Illinois political world that propelled the senator to a serious run at the presidency.

"Both men declined to comment on their once-close friendship. Obama has been accused of no wrongdoing involving Rezko and has insisted that he never used his office to benefit Rezko."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 23, 2008 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

junebug on January 22, 2008 at 5:57 PM: Good question. It's interesting to consider who might not.

That orange thing to which you linked evidently added a lot -- a lot! -- of spin to the original Tomasky-Hillary interview conducted in October.

Hillary was criticizing the Bush Administration for the most part. That orange thingie injected innuendo, not much substance, and/or other sources to back up his/her "opinion"... mostly distortions as if no one would click the link and think for themselves instead of following the snipped words that suited his/her specious under-developed argument.

And when the orange thingie commentator asks "Why review?" Because we don't know all the shit the asswipes have done, do we? No. Neither does Congress. A review would be in order to assess the complete damage. Who here, and what senator, who has a constituency to serve, has read every single executive order, pondered its implications, investigated its implementation, and knows the full record of what the WH Counsel has advised (or shredded), or the DOJ's memos (if not shredded)? Fixing legislation is the easy part. What's transpired inside the Bush WH, not so easy. It's been hard to get all that information from the Bushies who have obstructed subpoenas and congressional oversight, hasn't it?

The full impact of the damage may be worse than we know. The secrecy surrounding the Bush WH is like Fort Knox guarding its gold. Do we know fully, exactly what the NSA wiretapping completely entails? No, we do not. Bush evokes executive privilege on virtually everything... so a review -- including reviewing potential criminal activity -- from inside the WH by any new president is definitely a must-do. What innuendo the orange thingie conjures up about Hillary is pure horseshit.

The question asked, "Hasn't the Senator from New York been paying sufficient attention during the last 6 years that she can declare definitively that she'll renounce powers that George W. Bush assumed?" Is clearly answered in the interview if the orange asshat wasn't too fucking biased to see it. Below is in bold.

From the original Tomasky interview:

She continued: "There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted or that in my view that was inherent in the constitution. There were other actions they've taken which could have obtained congressional authorisation but they deliberately chose not to pursue it as a matter of principle."
Here I asked whether a sitting president, once invested with such powers, could really give some of them up in the name of constitutional principle. Clinton said: "Oh, absolutely, Michael. I mean that has to be part of the review that I undertake when I get to the White House, and I intend to do that."
Jeebus. What part of "Oh, absolutely," doesn't compute?

It's startling to hear bullshit innuendo coming from allegedly "reality-based" liberals. Bah!

Did I say bullshit enough in this post? Let me say it again... the orange thingie that you linked, junebug, is bullshit.

Here is the another question...

Which candidate to you trust to lead us out of a recession, or worse, a depression?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 23, 2008 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

“Scotian,

" I don't mind if that is your own personal standard, that is your choice, but to demand that all others must agree with this or else they are war apologists, Clinton partisans, etc..." - Scotian

"I have respect for those who don't have a problem with the AUMF vote; I do." - nepeta

What more can I say? I have had this debate with many on this forum. I try to be as respectful of other individual's opinion on this matter as possible. The AUMF vote is incredibly important to me, perhaps because Senator Clinton is my senator. In any case, I agree that it's a personal call.” Posted by: nepeta on January 23, 2008 at 12:39 AM

Fair enough, and I will admit looking back on what I was saying that I was being a bit too indistinct with my specific and generic “you”s in the comment, especially nearer to the end and for that I apologize. I find that sometimes happens when I am talking about something I find frustrating. In this case the fact that I have seen a *LOT* of really negative comments and tones from Obama supporters online in their defence of their candidate and while the Clinton side is not just sitting there meekly taking it nor causing some of their own first punches I don’t find quite the same intensity of anger/contempt/hatred in as high a percentage/proportion of them. Indeed, it is the lack of seeing politics being done differently by so many of the followers that makes me wonder whether this is less of a true movement and more a cult of personality combined with intense revulsion for the status quo regardless of why it is the way it now is.

However, that does not excuse my not being more careful in making such distinctions when shifting between addressing an individual and a larger grouping than I was, however I hope it does explain and provide understanding why given I don’t have a horse in this race beyond the party winning the Executive Branch overall. I know I said I was going for the night but alas I am suffering a fair amount of discomfort thanks to a bad leg acting up tonight and it’s given me insomnia, so I thought I’d look in again. I hope you do recognize that I am coming at this from a ‘do everything to make sure the real enemy is defeated in November’ mindset more than anything else in how I have been discussing this to date here at PA. I knew I was looking for some heat because of the focus (which of all three candidates is the one I am truly most worried about for the general where the GOP is concerned, and as I said Clinton’s have been done to death and it is more a matter of opinion as to where reality lies with them while Obama is still in the unknown on the vulnerabilities and all politicians have them especially those that aspire to this high an office) but I was hoping by presenting it from the perspective of someone that doesn’t have a personal stake in it because it is not my government while also being someone that has a reasonable understanding of how American politics works both in theory and in practice.

The forces out there arrayed against turning back many of the worst excesses of the GOP/Bush years are powerful and will be feeling more fearful of losing their power/grip, which in my experience and observation of human nature tends to make them more aggressive and dangerous than less, which is why I fear anyone not being put through the wringer now by their own side before fighting the GOP head on. While yes it can provide ammunition for the general it also can strengthen/unify the party around the winner throughout the general and argue convincingly on their behalf to doubters because they have already been exposed to the worst and therefore are less vulnerable and more able to counter the spin machine’s distractions in the general. Very similar to firing up sword metal, working/pounding the metal to remove the impurities while reheating periodically, and then quenching it to cool off in final/finished form to be used against the true target. It also shows a party that is willing to have strong dissent within its ranks and still comes together at the end of it to work together for common cause, not a bad way to realign the political dynamic also I would say.

Your political system is so toxic right now it will take aggressive detoxification, and the toxin in this cause is sentient with a mind and will of its own and it will resist as hard as it can. That is the reality of what is coming, well that, more paralysis, or capitulation. Right now those are the only real general options/paths I see open for America, and it needs the Dems to do it because the GOP certainly won't as they have clearly and repeatedly proven at every opportunity since the rea right-wingers came to power in the GOP in the 90s after working to that end since at least the early to mid 70s. There really did used to be quite a range to what conservative meant politically back then, but that got increasingly polarized by the wingers during their takeover and then once they took/consolidated power in that party they looked outward to do the same to the country. Until they are branded for who they are, what they have done and are properly accounted/punished for their crimes there can be no true reconciliation or general bipartisan working government because these extremists will simply do everything possible to prevent it no matter what as they have already proven no matter who wins November. Indeed, the more likely it looks that Obama's way can work the more they will fight it because they cannot afford to let him win because of how it will weaken their own ability to block Dem/progressive legislation down the road as they saw with the Clinton health care attempt in the early 90s.

Posted by: Scotian on January 23, 2008 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

Re:

Posted by: Boorring on January 23, 2008 at 1:08 AM


Thanks, but I think to an extent you are trying to compare apples and oranges here you know. Unlike him I have no personal stake in this because it is not my vote we are talking about, if it were my feelings would not be able to take as detached a look as I am doing here because I would be feeling the responsibility of my own choice. To be honest with you I have found his comments to be fairly good ones to read and far less toxic than many other writers/commentators I have seen from both Obama and Clinton camps. I have also found him to be one of the better informed commentators in general over the past several years that I have read his thinking here and elsewhere so I take into account the impacts/limits being a supporter takes on a person when his own partisanship takes him a bit too far, something we all are vulnerable to especially when we are true partisans/supporters of someone. Just as I try to do with the Obama side too you know, I don't tend to doubt the intentions of those on both sides, my issues tend to be more with application and execution elements.

Posted by: Scotian on January 23, 2008 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Political candidates should be fined each and every time they intentionally distort an opponent's records and held accountable for this kind of unethical behavior and slander. Example, Hillary's recent statement she made on Meet the Press in which she said: "Sen. Obama's chief strategist accuses me of playing a role in Benazir Bhutto's assassination.'' When in actuality David Axelrod never made such an accusation. He said former Prime Minister Bhutto's death will ''call into issue the judgment'' of ''taking the eye off the ball and making the wrong judgment in going into Iraq.'' That statement of her's is Outrageous and potentially Slanderous! After all, most of us teach our children to play fair -- not to lie, cheat and steal! The leaders we elect to office should be held to a higher standard and should be people of principal, high moral character, honest and forthright.

Second: There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. Unfortunately, Senator Obama had no choice other than to diplomatically confront the Clintons on their lies and misstatements. He cannot and could not allow them to paint a picture of him that is NOT TRUE. The Clintons' tactics are old time party politics and should be a thing of the past as we move towards the 21st Century, towards cleaner air, cleaner water, cleaner politics, towards a more holistic way of living. It is a greater duty and in the best interest of the country for Barack Obama to continue to stay positive and hopeful while attempting to clear his record from these misstatements -- as he continues to try to bring this country together and lift it up from fear and a distrust of one another -- and to continue to show the American people and the world there is another way to run for office other than smear and fear and tearing your opponent down with lies and slander -- Swiftboating! That is why Obama and Huckabee are so appealing. They are authentic and each in their own way are trying to lead the Americans away from dirty campaigning, lies and tricks. How can we as a country be blessed and be a beacon of light to others after all that ugly and dirty fighting (lies, distortions and slander) we can't be. There is a positive way -- honorable way to fight with dignity, honesty and truth and a dirty way to fight that is unethical and slanderous and without dignity.

And too, we have to ask ourselves as a people, why do we allow this unethical and negative way of campaigning to be acceptable and then reward this kind of behavior, with one of the highest offices in the land?

Posted by: bacalove on January 23, 2008 at 6:11 AM | PERMALINK

bacalove: "That is why Obama and Huckabee are so appealing. They are authentic and each in their own way are trying to lead the Americans away from dirty campaigning, lies and tricks. How can we as a country be blessed and be a beacon of light to others after all that ugly and dirty fighting (lies, distortions and slander) we can't be. There is a positive way -- honorable way to fight with dignity, honesty and truth and a dirty way to fight that is unethical and slanderous and without dignity."

You sound vaguely like the liner notes from a late '60s Judy Collins album.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 23, 2008 at 6:23 AM | PERMALINK

You can't say I didn't warn you all:

The Los Angeles Times (January 23, 2008)
Longtime Patron May Be Problem for Obama
"Hillary Rodham Clinton dropped the name of Barack Obama's Chicago patron into the South Carolina debate Monday night, putting front and center a tangled relationship that has the potential to undermine Obama's image as a candidate whose ethical standards are distinctly higher than those of his main opponent.

"Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, an entrepreneur who made a fortune in pizza parlors, Chinese restaurants and real estate, goes on trial next month on federal charges of extortion, influence peddling and conspiracy. There is no suggestion that Obama is involved in any of the alleged criminal activity. But the upcoming trial -- and details of Obama's relationship with its central figure -- could cast a shadow over his carefully cultivated image at a critical time.

"In recent weeks, including during the debate, Obama sought to minimize the nature of that relationship. Among other things, he has returned $85,000 in Rezko-related campaign contributions in what a staffer calls 'an abundance of caution.'

"A review by the Los Angeles Times shows that Rezko, a businessman long active in Chicago politics, played a deeper role in Obama's political and financial biography than the candidate has acknowledged."

Drip ... drip ... drip ...

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 23, 2008 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

See George Packer's article, "The Choice," on Hillary Clinton's likely style of govening in the January 28 issue of the New Yorker. I think it speaks to this debate.

Posted by: Marjorie Madigan on January 23, 2008 at 6:46 AM | PERMALINK

what about the gays? Seriously, we've been so burned by the Clinton team over and over again, how willing is Clinton going to be to burn political capital to do anything helpful? Compared to Obama, who shamed a church-ful of african americans about how they've treated gays, Clinton isn't going to do anything. And Kevin, wasn't your first response to '04 surprise at how quickly gays got sold down the river?

Posted by: jwc on January 23, 2008 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

Mitch McConnell will be unmoved by mandates for transformational change. You only deal with him by picking up 5-6 new Democratic seats along with the Presidency.

Posted by: bob h on January 23, 2008 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Paul Krugman has itemized several occasions where Obama has criticized HRC's positions FROM THE RIGHT (Health Care, Social Security reform, and Reagan nostalgia to name just the instances that come to mind)."

I got some news for ya, no policy is perfect!!! Listen, pointing out that every policy has costs and benefits doesn't mean you're approaching it from the right. It means your being honest about what progressive policies can and cannot accomplish. I know honesty and trying to convey differing aspects of policy is somewhat boring, but that's the true nature of policy. You don't hear that from the Clintons'...hmmm, I wonder why? Sheesh, have we been snowed by politicians for so long we can't get that through our heads!?

Posted by: drosz on January 23, 2008 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

I really don't know how you feel about such issues, Lucy. Maybe you have your own stories about your own experiences that you wish to keep to yourself.

Well yes, Donald, I do wish to keep my stories to myself. And of course you are right about the media's outrageous savaging of Hillary all these years and during this primary season.

I just don't see this election as a referendum on sexism. Rather, I will vote for the person who I think will make the best president. Who has the best shot of winning in November? Who will end the occupation in Iraq? Who is more likely to amass the political capital to successfully pass health care reform? Who is the least hawkish and the least inclined to prove "toughness" on foreign policy? Who will break the anti-democratic lock on power of two families from the country's economic and political elite? Who has a rare and unlikely combination of rhetorical and political gifts that seem tailor-made for the moment?

Obama supporters are well aware of the Rezko issue and other affiliations that would dog Obama in the general. Contra some of the more absurd accusations on this board, we know he's a politician. I admire Hillary's resiliency and determination very much, but given that both Hillary and Obama are a gamble, I'll go with the candidate I prefer on the merits.

Posted by: Lucy on January 23, 2008 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'd love for someone to compile a list of equally scurrilous comments about Obama from Clinton supporters. And I don't recall seeing a single Clinton supporter saying they will not vote for Obama.

ChrisO, I'm sorry I don't have the time to do this for you. But you've not done the compilation either, which means you're in danger of selection bias, so come off it. Obama's been called lightweight, glass jaw, pompous, kumbaya politician, sexist. Two more points: (1) I've posted criticisms of Clinton or defenses of Obama and suddenly, beyond any reasonable reading, I'm being tarred as a sexist pig. (2) a lot of the slime on the Clinton side is coming directly from them, not their blog champions.

Where did I ever say my outrage was limited to what's posted online or on the blogs? Anyone who saw the sexist and misogynist coverage of Mrs. Clinton during the five days between Iowa and New Hampshire knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Donald, to get a representative sampling you threw in the media?? And their atrocious behavior is Obama's fault? As if he doesn't have his own media battles? He's already boycotting Fox News.

I don't want my two daughters to ever have to face what my mother and her generation went through.

I sincerely hope the same thing. I suspect that you would agree with me that you also hope: they don't have to deal with environmental disasters wrought by global warming; they don't have to live in a climate of fear due to international terrorism; they don't have to take on the debt of useless wars; they don't have to live through a great depression. Sexism is HUGE, but there are other HUGE problems, too. Gender aside, I still think Obama's got more of the leadership skills needed to address them.

Posted by: Dagome on January 23, 2008 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Reagan was similar to Obama in two respects. They both have benefited from a completely stupid fawning, fan-like press, that behaves like love-struck teenagers instead of critical adults. Alter is practically an unpaid Obama operative, along with the others.

Also, like Reagan, he appears to have an imperial style. "I told my staff not to give me paperwork until 2 min before I need it". Difficulty with paperwork is kind of problematic in light of the Aug 6 '01 Presidential Daily Briefing.

Reagan was dissimilar to Obama in other respects. Reagan was completely committed and passionate and strong in regards to his Republican corporate agenda. Obama doesn't even have a strong agenda. He plays both sides depending on which special interest he is trying to court. Social Security, CAFA, Peru trade, Clean??? coal?, weakest on health care, Schiavo, Big Polluters Energy Bill supporter, McClurkin. I couldn't stand Reagan but the old bastard never pretended to be for Democratic ideas.

Reagan was also dissimilar to Obama in that he a personal charm and humor, (although it totally escaped me) that caused a lot of people to connect with him. Obama's showing amongst Hispanic voters in Nevada should give people a clue that not all non-white voters are going to be enthralled with the phony Obama the way elite media have been.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 23, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

donald: You can't say I didn't warn you all:

no one would ever think of saying such a thing. really.

Posted by: as it unfolds on January 23, 2008 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

It almost seems like Chrissy is foaming in the mouth whenever she writes about Obama. The hatred is palpable. You really need to chill the fuck out.

Posted by: GOD on January 23, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

You know, when Obama noted in his "I am a Christian" bit that it was a mistake to cede Evangelicals and other Christians to the right, it reminded me, of course, of Amy Sullivan's controversial tenure here at Political Animal.

So Donald, I guess I do have a story for you (although it is a trivial one), since it occurred right here on this board. I remember some guy from Team Left calling me a "cunt" for saying that I'm pro-choice despite personal squeamishness about abortion, and that I, an atheist, agreed with A. Sullivan's contention that it was a good idea to court evangelicals and other potential allies in the fight against the right.

So I've been predisposed for some time to Obama's call to expand the progressive coalition. Appeals to revenge sexist slights, not so much.

Posted by: Lucy on January 23, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Since Senator Obama thinks that there is a crisis with Social Security (Bush talking points), I wonder if he would have supported the private accounts that were pushed recently by the current administration. I also wonder what would have happened had there been the private savings accounts "invested in the Stock Market" that were being touted as the answer as little as a year ago. The Clinton's balanced budget that was left after President Clinton's 2 terms would have taken care of that as would Al Gore's "lock box". This crisis of Social Security is one created by people who are out to destroy the program by privatization. Now that is a Reagan idea and was very popular in the bi-partisan community that Obama touts. I'm staying with the LIBERALS. I'm not about to join hands across the aisle as Senator Obama envisions. That would be suicide.

Posted by: glennmcgahee on January 23, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

jwc: Compared to Obama, who shamed a church-ful of african americans about how they've treated gays...

Gee, that's nice. Read Pam Spaulding, why don't you? "...Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, a local leader in Houston's black community, Bush supporter, and senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, will be campaigning in support of Barack Obama. ...What's not in this Houston Chronicle article is that part of the outreach of Windsor Village United Methodist Church includes an "ex-gay" ministry...

OK. What does this look like to you --
A. Another example of the Obama campaign hypocrisy toward the gay community;
B. Triangulation with LGBTs to keep and gain socially conservative black votes;
C. A necessary evil to reach a large segment of a community that has been allowed to foment homophobia in its ranks;
D. Progress -- proof that Obama's public challenge the black community about its homophobia is wrong has not prevented pray-away-the-gay folks like Caldwell from endorsing and campaigning for him.
E. All of the above.
The easy answer to the above multiple choice, of course, is E. All of those scenarios exist, and are valid opinions for folks to hold, depending on your perspective. That is, at its core, what Barack Obama has been trying to do in terms of reaching out to a broad spectrum (literally) of voters. That does, however, come at a steep price.
The tragic history of the damage caused by the ex-gay movement is well-documented on several blogs, and any inkling that the decision to give public recognition to a proponent of such a movement by the Obama campaign as a supporter will at the very least, raise a lot of eyebrows, if not generate outright anger. The LGBT community is tired of being an ATM and told to sit patiently at the back of the bus, or worse, wait on the sidewalk as buses pass us by.
More at the link...

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 23, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

From the Tomsky interview, posted above:"Here I asked whether a sitting president, once invested with such powers, could really give some of them up in the name of constitutional principle. Clinton said: "Oh, absolutely, Michael. I mean that has to be part of the review that I undertake when I get to the White House, and I intend to do that.""

I have figured out something that Hillary Clinton could do that would make me embrace her despite all my misgivings--if she were to say something like, "my administration will review what has been done by the Bush WH, and where there has been wrong-doing, laws broken, see that the perpetrators are charged with their crimes."

My dream is to see George Bush and Dick Cheney tried for war crimes. If a second Clinton WH could make that happen....

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 23, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

GOD-thing: you need to take your rose-colored Obama glasses off and do a reality check.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 23, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Donald, have I mentioned I love you? You are the first here to tap into an important cohort...men raised by single mothers. These sons...mine among them...have been first-hand witnesses to the desperate and unequal struggles of women who have "families to support." And for them and their mothers, this is no small thing.

Posted by: Sharon on January 23, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13: Stop lying. Where did you get the information that the asshole minsiter will be campaigning for Obama. Did you even read what's in the link your provided? The guys says on his website that he is endorsing Obama and he (not Obama) has asked to be involved in Obama's campaign. So where did this "...will be campaigning in support of Barack Obama" nonsense you wrote come from?

Posted by: GOD on January 23, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

And further on the issue of sons raised by single mothers...I believe Obama himself was such a one. In the interest of uniting, he might remind his supporters that feminists issues are important issues for all Americans.

Posted by: Sharon on January 23, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

This is a bit off-topic, but I'm not sure why anyone who defends Obama or mentions they like his leadership capabilities are shouted down as children from the "real adults" who support Clinton. Why is it more adult-like to support Hillary? I pay my taxes, my bills, work for what I have, and I'm raising my children, why are you any more adult than me? I've seen no quantifiable information that tells me her votes are more progressive, nor that her political acumen has yielded any substantial progressive policies while in the Senate or as First Lady. We can argue the leadership capability argument is merely subjective, but the others are most definitely not. Who thought up this "adult" meme?

Is it the hope for abrasive politics that makes one an "adult"? Are you picking up what I'm putting down here?

Posted by: drosz on January 23, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

glennmcgahee,

You can find most answers to your policy questions about Obama's positions at Obama's campaign website. In reference to SS: "Obama is strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security." His solution is, like most Dem candidates, to raise the ceiling from which SS payroll taxes are taken. Other reforms:

Reform Corporate Bankrupcy Laws To Protect Workers and Retirees;

Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less Than $50,000/yr;

Create Automatic Workplace Plans;

Expand Retirement Savings Incentives for Working Families;

Prevent Age Discrimination;

See? Not so hard. I support Obama because I think he is the MOST liberal of the three leading Dem candidates.

Posted by: nepeta on January 23, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

PS: And there is a short paragraph under each of the above headings describing the objective. You really don't have 'guess' at Obama's policy positions.

Posted by: nepeta on January 23, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I want to put every person who obsessively and tiresomely posts about the singular acceptability of his or her own candidate, plus every poster who is convinced the world will end if another of the major Democratic candidates is nominated, together in a soundproofed strongroom with nothing but water, stale bread and a communal toity--and make them stay there until after Super Tuesday. Who's with me?

Posted by: shortstop on January 23, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

PTate,

Please don't take this as a criticism because it isn't. How much political capital and time consumed would it take to prosecute the Bush crowd for crimes committed? It seems to me it would be an overwhelming task. Certainly there are issues, e.g., unitary executive power, torture, habeas, etc. that must be reviewed and policies changed to reflect constitutional and legal principles. Departmental reviews are also in order. But I'm almost willing to let historians do the job of recording Bush crimes for posterity, although certainly some commissions to investigate particularly flagrant abuse are in order. There's just so much on the next administration's plate. I think the direction must be forward-looking rather than backward.

Posted by: nepeta on January 23, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Dagome: "Donald, to get a representative sampling you threw in the media?? And their atrocious behavior is Obama's fault?"

Did I ever say that it was? In fact, where in that particular post of mine (12:23am) did I ever say anything negative about Barack Obama -- or even mention him? I was talking exclusively about what moved me to support Mrs. Clinton.

Why do you automatically assume that one's preference for a particular candidate is necessarily opposition to your own preferred candidate?

I'd suggest that you stop projecting your own thoughts upon others, and assume that they would behave just like you. I've already stated upthread that I would proudly support Obama in the general election, were he to be our party's nominee. Nor am I asking you to support Mrs. clinton in the general, if you feel so strongly about her. Why isn't that good enough for you?

Many of you overly vociferous Obama supporters really need to learn to just agree to disagree with someone, accept that person's electoral choice -- and / or rationale for that choice -- as being equally as valid as your own, and then leave it at that.

As I have said before, your own negative behavior toward your fellow Democrats doesn't help your candidate's cause.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 23, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

Sounds like a plan, 'cept think of the airfare from Hawaii to the PA lockup, and then all the dissension over what type of stale bread: pita? rye crusts? sourdough. Oy. Think about the attacks on our motives, our bona fides, our . . . oh, I give up.

The truth is, our fellows discredit themselves and that should be punishment enough.

Argument by condescension and name-calling is no argument.

And I like Packer's New Yorker piece, out this week.

Here are some nuggets:

Electability:

Peter Wehner served in the Bush White House until August, 2007, working for Karl Rove, the Administration's chief strategist. Wehner, who is now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in Washington, said that, as a candidate, Hillary Clinton would provide a "much more target-rich environment" than Obama. Republicans wouldn't need to uncover new scandals; they would simply remind voters of the not so distant Clinton wars. "Certain regions of your brain are latent," Wehner said. "But if there's a word or a sound or a memory that you hear, that region of your brain lights up again. And I have a feeling that, with Bill and Hillary Clinton, there are latent regions of the brain that will light up, and, if the Democrats don't light it up, the Republicans will.

On Obama, again, from Wehner:

As for Obama, Wehner's only complaint is that he's a liberal: "I find him to be very impressive. He would be much more difficult for Republicans to handle. He has much more breakout potential."

And the final graf, quoting Dee Dee Myers:

"Hillary needs to connect two things," Myers said. "What's in her heart and what she wants to accomplish and why. There are many reasons to think she'd be a good President. She knows what she wants to do, she understands how the process works, she's shown an ability to work with Congress, she's become more incrementalist. But the Presidency isn't all that powerful, except as the bully pulpit. It comes down to your ability to get people to follow you, to inspire. You have to lead. Can she get people to come together, or does she remain such a polarizing figure? That's what the campaign will be about." In other words, winning the Presidency might require Clinton to transcend her own history.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 23, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta: " How much political capital and time consumed would it take to prosecute the Bush crowd for crimes committed? It seems to me it would be an overwhelming task. "

I agree with you. Hercules probably faced less challenge cleaning up the Augean stables.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 23, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN: Yep, the Augean stables metaphor is a good one! (gr)

Posted by: nepeta on January 23, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Here's just one issue, the rush to war (for the record):

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush and his top officials ran roughshod over the truth in the run-up to the Iraq war lying a total of 935 times, a study released Wednesday found.

Bush and his then secretary of state Colin Powell made the most false statements as they sought to drum up support for the March 2003 invasion to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the study alleged.

In a damning report, the Center for Public Integrity found "935 false statements by eight top administration officials that mentioned Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, or links to Al-Qaeda, on at least 532 separate occasions."

"Bush and seven of his administration's top officials methodically propagated erroneous information over the two years beginning on September 11, 2001," the center said.

"These false statements dramatically increased in August 2002, just prior to congressional consideration of a war resolution and during the critical weeks in early 2003 when the president delivered his State of the Union address and Powell delivered his memorable presentation to the UN Security Council," the CPI added.

Posted by: nepeta on January 23, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

And when the orange thingie commentator asks "Why review?" Because we don't know all the shit the asswipes have done, do we? No. Neither does Congress. A review would be in order to assess the complete damage. Who here, and what senator, who has a constituency to serve, has read every single executive order, pondered its implications, investigated its implementation, and knows the full record of what the WH Counsel has advised (or shredded), or the DOJ's memos (if not shredded)?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 23, 2008 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

The point, since you missed it, is that Clinton didn't answer the question. How much does she need to "review" the extraordinary powers that Bush is taken on to say that, as President, she won't unilaterally declare US citizen an enemy combatant? How much "review" does she need to reassert legislation that the Department of Justice is answerable to Congress, particularly as it relates to implementation of the Patriot Act? For Christ sake, how much "review" does she need to reinstate the ban against torture? That one, alone, made this a softball question, but she took a pass on it.

Nobody has suggested that the incoming administration shouldn't go over everything related to Executive power with a fine tooth comb, but the the idea that she needs to review the history of Bush's Presidential signing statements in order to weigh in on these other issues is simply ridiculous.

Posted by: junebug on January 23, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

There is no need to convince you. I believe that should Obama win the nomination, a Republican will win the presidency.

I have been to the heartland and, sadly, they will not be voting in Obama anytime soon.

Posted by: LugiDaMan on January 23, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK
....I think he is the MOST liberal of the three leading Dem candidates....nepeta at 11:00 AM
Others find him to be the least progressive and I find their analysis more compelling .
Who's with me? shortstop at 11:23 AM
I was until that communal toity part. Shy .... you understand?
....I think the direction must be forward-looking rather than backward. nepeta at 11:24 AM
It may be noble to give a pass to all the crimes the Bushistas have committed, but it would be better to assign a few good attorneys to examine all the circumstances in order to make whatever new laws are necessary to prevent future abuses of power and to prosecute that can be prosecuted. I realize that most of the fault lies with the previous Republican congress, but more is needed to prevent another president from showing such contempt for the Constitution. Posted by: Mike on January 23, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

There is no need to convince you. I believe that should Obama win the nomination, a Republican will win the presidency.


I have been to the heartland and, sadly, they will not be voting in Obama anytime soon.

Is this a parody of some kind? If not it must be lamest comment on the thread.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 23, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Except for the post where sweaty guy forgets to italicize the second line, nyuk nyuk nyuk...

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 23, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I would remind folks who find Obama to be "to the right" of Hillary - that Bill Clinton wasn't the most progressive candidate in 1992. That's one reason he was able to win the general.

Posted by: jackifus on January 23, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

The question you raised about an underlying fundemantal push for change I think is being seen all across the country. Young voters, Obama is winning the young voters. If this is not the call for change and the force to do it I don't know who is. I believe that if Hillary gets it, the fact that she is so pushy and old school, she will maintain the alienation that Bush has built between the two parties.

As a young voter, maybe the old people aren't ready for Obama's ideas, but the young ones sure are. If he doesn't get it this turn around, you can sure bet your bottom dollar that if he is true to what he is saying, he will get it in 2012 or 2016. That is one great thing about youth, they just keep coming.

Posted by: young student on February 6, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Americans know how the forked tongue of Obama would work in practice by measuring the differences between what he says now and what he wrote in his books. That the two are different shows him to be a man of flux, and only able to play to the moment, much like LBJ, just better at it.

He and Romney have more than a little in common but in a Democrat, it is unexpected, so difficult to see as clearly.

Looks like the Dems have screwed up yet another election as McCain waltzes off to the big WH. By positioning himself as the safety valve, how could he lose?

Posted by: Pat on February 12, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly