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Tilting at Windmills

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May 25, 2008
By: Hilzoy

Hillary Clinton has an op-ed in the NY Daily News called "Why I Continue To Run." In addition to lamenting the fact that an unnamed "some" took her remarks about Bobby Kennedy's assassination out of context, she makes two points that are worth remarking on. First:

"I am running because I believe staying in this race will help unite the Democratic Party. I believe that if Sen. Obama and I both make our case - and all Democrats have the chance to make their voices heard - in the end, everyone will be more likely to rally around the nominee."

This might or might not be true in the abstract. In the actual world, however, everything depends on how Hillary Clinton conducts herself. She can continue to make her case in a constructive and positive way, trying to show that she is the best candidate while doing her best to defuse the idea that the nomination was somehow stolen from her, and to reconcile her followers to the idea that she lost fair and square; or she can try to undermine Obama's claim to be the legitimate nominee, if he wins. "Staying in the race" describes both options. But only one of them "will help unite the Democratic Party", and make "everyone (...) more likely to rally around the nominee." Hillary Clinton has not chosen that option.

I just heard someone on one of the talk shows say that it must be hard for Hillary Clinton to give up her dreams. I appreciate this fact, and I do not envy her. However, as I wrote a few days ago, Hillary Clinton is a responsible moral agent. She has the power to decide which of these two approaches she will pursue. Moreover, she has now had several months to get used to the idea that she lost. If she were an adult, she would deal with it. The fact that she seems instead to require our indulgence while she sorts through her emotional issues just gives me one more reason to be glad she lost: Presidents are often confronted with crises, at 3am and other times, and they do not always have the luxury of working through all the stages of grief before coming up with a response.

Clinton also claims that she is more electable than Obama:

"Finally, I am running because I believe I'm the strongest candidate to stand toe-to-toe with Sen. McCain. Delegate math might be complicated - but electoral math is not. Our campaign is winning the popular vote - and we've been winning the swing states we need to get 270 electoral votes and take back the White House: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and West Virginia."

Let's leave aside both the arguments about the popular vote and the problems involved in extrapolating from primary votes to the general election, and focus on electability in the actual world. In the actual world, the only way Clinton can win the nomination, absent some genuine catastrophe, is for the superdelegates to decide to give her the nomination. If that happened, would she be more electable? She might have an edge over Obama in Appalachia, but she would surely be at a serious disadvantage among African-American voters. This might not have been true had she won the primary on pledged delegates: in that case, Obama's supporters would probably be disappointed, but would manage to get over it.

Obviously, I cannot speak for African-American voters, but I imagine a number of them might wonder whether it's possible for an African-American candidate to win at all; and that a larger number probably feel that if a black candidate were to win, that candidate would have to surmount challenges that no white candidate has to face. For instance, any black candidate has to negotiate a whole minefield of issues, as was shown by the number of insulting articles early on about whether Obama was "black enough", and, in a different way, by the focus on Jeremiah Wright. Had Obama lost straightforwardly, I imagine those voters would have been disappointed, but hardly surprised. And since African-Americans have an unbroken record of voting for white candidates for President, there's no need to ask whether they would have been willing to do vote for one this time.

But despite the fears of those voters, Obama has actually won a majority of pledged delegates, and he won them with the support of a lot of white voters in a lot of predominantly white states. This strikes me as a wonderful thing; I cannot imagine how it would feel if I had gone through my entire life wondering, in my heart of hearts, whether anyone who looked like me could ever win a major party nomination. And if, at this point, the superdelegates were to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton, or to any white candidate, it's hard for me to see how I would not feel robbed not only of my candidate's shot at the nomination, but of some portion of my hopes for my country.

Again, I cannot speak for African-American voters, but I cannot imagine how Hillary Clinton could be nominated at this point, after Obama won a majority of pledged delegates, without taking a very big hit to her ability to motivate and mobilize African-American voters. Any attempt to figure out who is more electable has to take this into account. Talking about Clinton's edge in Kentucky and West Virginia without taking into consideration the damage she would do to Democratic support among African-Americans, is at best pointless, and at worst dishonest.

(Cross-posted at Obsidian Wings.)

Hilzoy 12:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (101)

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Comments

shillary's campaign has relied on rush limpball's "Operation Chaos".

She shamelessly uses kkkarl rove's dishonest talking points.

This should tell you everything you need to know about her.

After hucklebee's remark about pointing a gun at Obama, there is no excuse for this - it was not accidental - shillary has said the same thing verbatim at least 3 times.

She is "catapulting the propaganda" - doing the dirty work for mclame. These are the memes that will be used later to cover up another stolen election.

She is a traitor to her party - she must go - Dems don't need her in any way.

This nation was not founded to be a monarchy of 2 elite families that each feel an entitled to the POTUS. Our democracy is not NASCAR

NO BUSH-CLINTON-BUSH-CLINTON DYNASTY!

In the end, she answers to the same criminal cabal.

Posted by: on May 25, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

But despite the fears of those voters, Obama has actually won a majority of pledged delegates, and he won them with the support of a lot of white voters in a lot of predominantly white states. This strikes me as a wonderful thing; I cannot imagine how it would feel if I had gone through my entire life wondering, in my heart of hearts, whether anyone who looked like me could ever win a major party nomination.

Yes but the real question is, whether that is attributed to the Race Chasm or to Appalachia.

Posted by: MNPundit on May 25, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

The Hillary hate never stops, does it? I'm in this 'til the last dog dies because I'll never give into it, and I will never reward the Obama campaign for leveraging it. So much for the conflicts of the 90s! All the Republican smears from that time have been recycled by the Obama Fan Base for use against a Democrat. Well done! Now, cue the wankfest....

Posted by: Lambert Strether, Philadelphia, PA on May 25, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Hillary,

I'm sure that you're a nice person and all, but I don't care if you could defeat McCain by a wider margin than Obama can, you voted for George Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Sadly there are lots of folks who make unfortunate mistakes that later they come to regret but which can't be undone.

Join the club.

Yours truly,
Dave

Posted by: dave howard on May 25, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

You know, all Hillary had to do to win the nomination was to admit forthrightly that her vote on the Iraq War was a mistake. But, then again, Clintons do not make mistakes, do they? Except of the venial kind, that is.

Posted by: redterror on May 25, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I hope as this draws to a close, and thereafter, reporters/bloggers/pundits and just ordinary people will continue to call her out on her bogus "popular vote" argument. She needs to be reminded that four caucus states didn't even count their popular vote.

Posted by: lina on May 25, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

At least she's not spewing that idiocy about how Obama can't win NY or CA because she won the primaries. I guess the polls that show her within the MOE against McCain in CA got that line cut out. And in a number of states she cites (NM, NH, NV and MI) Obama is and has consistently been stronger than she against McCain. She's been dropping like a rock in FL, and that's before McCain (and Lieberman, and Charlie Crist) start seriously campaigning.

As Lambert Strether demonstrates, the "Everybody's picking on me!!" strategy is all the Clinton campaign has left. Does anyone really think the petulant victimization could have beat "WarHeroandReformer" John McCain?

[to the willfully incomprehending: Scare quotes meant to imply ironic disdain for MSM framing]

Posted by: Jim on May 25, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not even remotely pro-Hillary, but I really don't think it's productive to keep coming up with strident explanations of why she's wrong to stay in the race. Let her stay. It'll all be over soon enough.

I actually think we're better off having a three-month campaign against McCain than a five-month one. As long as the current level of intra-party conflict on our side stays where it is, it won't do much long-term damage to Obama, and it robs McCain's campaign of free coverage, because until he's competing directly with Obama, McCain will be boring.

Posted by: dj moonbat on May 25, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

While I agree with the points Hilzoy made, which have been made before more than once by others, and agree that Hillary's arguments are bizarrely impotent (as if she's just pretending to have an argument) I wish Hilzoy and others discussing Hillary's tenacity would talk about the rabid feminist Hillary-supporters who think that asking Hillary to gracefully quit amounts to telling her to sit down and shut up. In my mind, there's only 2 possible real explanations for why she's staying in: she either is really trying to subtly destroy Obama so she can run in 2012, or she's doing this to satisfy her feminist base (which seems more believable to me). Why have none of the bloggers discussing this issue talked to Hillary's rabid supporters about the issue of staying in vs a graceful exit?

Posted by: alawyn on May 25, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

[Thread hijack... a watershed moment in history is happening this weekend... for now, it's happening pretty quietly]

What happened? A good chunk of the american population stayed home. They couldn't afford to travel... and it happened almost overnight.

As fuel soared above the $5/gallon point I'm seeing for the first time the shock set in that the old American lifestyle is 'over'. Co-workers that were complacent a few weeks back are now openly and genuinely worried.

For much of the middle class, discretionary income is now going to fuel. Over the summer, businesses dependent on travel and/or discretionary spending will be collapsing left and right.

This will be coupled with huge inflationary hits in the stores as transport costs make their way to the shelves.

Somebody needs a 'plan'... and 'now' is really way too late. This should be the number 1 issue on every candidates platform... trust me, it will be by the end of summer.

Posted by: Buford on May 25, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy is, of course, right again. Clinton has demonstrated an utter lack of suitability for higher office in the manner in which she has campaigned. I'm glad she cratered in the primary before cratering in the general (very likely) and being a disaster in office (certain if she squeaked in.) The saddest bit for me is the manner in which she, like Bush, has dragged better people than her down with her.

Lambert - who posted here - is an instructive example. He was a former regular at Kos, and an incisive (if crotchety) progressive commentator. Lambert now runs a 24/7 Obama hate site at Corrente, complete with regular Nazi references about Obama. He led a 5 minute hate on the "bitter" crap so extreme it provoked the mockery of satirists at Sadly No (and elsewhere across the progressive blogosphere). And now he's complaining about "Hillary hate." In other words, he's become both vicious and thin-skinned; a prototype of the remaining Hillary bloggers. Virtually none of the pro-Hillary sites have open comments; they frequently ban dissenting voices; and they dismiss criticism by claiming it comes from "derangement syndrome" and by creating ever-lengthening enemies lists. People who think that she's choosing poor tactics, or who think that she fought well but has lost, are engaged (according to Lambert et al.) in a game of "Why won't the bitch quit"? It's another regular feature over at Corrente.

The leader never is in error and never fails; she is only failed by others. And the real offense is always, always the fault of others - it's their fault even if they are offended by something that Dear Leader said. Remind you of anyone?

She chose this route. She could have emphasized issues; she could have defused anger on things like the Iraq war by actually acknowledging mistakes. But she can't, just like she couldn't actually apologize for the recent remarks on RFK, or other mis-statements. She has set the tone of a binary campaign: her supporters and her enemies. And people associated with her have been dragged down as they follow her - unfortunately, I think, with permanent consequences for their reputations. I think it's tragic, truth be told, and the only good news is that in the past week it collapsed under its own weight.

Posted by: Marc on May 25, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy's article is well put. The longer Hillary stays in, the bigger fool she makes of herself. We all understand that campaigns try to spin things, particularly when their candidates are not doing well, but Hillary should understand that she is losing her personal credibility as she continues to say ridiculous things, and it will affect her ability to carry out her role as a Senator and senatorial candidate in future years.

There is one part of the HRC argument that is actually a bit amusing. Here is a campaign that failed to do the delegate math early on, and proved its incompetence by the failure to contest lots of caucus states and small state primaries. Now, Hillary's campaign is arguing that they, and they alone, are savvy to electoral college math, unlike the opposing side.

Posted by: Bob G on May 25, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Wah! Wah! Wah! Hillary won't quit! Wah! Wah! Wah! Hillary won't quit! Wah! Wah! Wah! Hillary is so mean! Wah! Wah! Wah!

Someone give the Obama babies their bottles.

Posted by: Ed Whitson on May 25, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

What Hillary needs to prove to us is not only why she should win, BUT WHY OBAMA SHOULD LOSE.

If the first part of this challenge is difficult, the second part is impossible. She can come up with all the funny math she wants in support of her own case, but in making the case against Obama, she has to overturn very basic math ... hell, it's not even math ... mere arithmetic: pledged delegates.

As for Hillary's pathetic display of self-aggrandizing victimhood, imagine if the roles were reversed. Obama would have been forced to drop out months ago. Hillary is a victim? Riiiiiiiiight. We are giving her all the privileges of political royalty, just not the presidency.

Posted by: BombIranforChrist on May 25, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'm tired of unity. I want someone who is going to fight for my interests. Obama and his supporters need to win. If you can't win, then you have to negogiate. Hillary has shown that she has enough strenght to force him to negogiate. Let's see what kind of uniter he is at the convention. If he's not really a uniter, then he should step aside and let the street fighter do what she does best.

Posted by: Chad on May 25, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as a long-time Democratic Party member:

Two of the most important constituent groups in the Democratic party are supporting history making nominees and unfortunately, only one will win and the other's backers will be disappointed. Neither group has the "right" to the nomination, they competed under the same rules.

Only one way of winning is fair and that's by obtaining the most delegates since that is the method that the nomination is awarded.

Once 2,026 delegates are won (and we have to go by that number since the holder of that number of delegates will be in control of the credentials committee and be able to apportion the delegations of the penalized states of MI & FL) it is over. That's the process that is in place for this year. If you want to change it to Popular Vote or Electoral Vote or All Caucus or All Primaries or All Super Delegates, you can...next election cycle. Anything else is just an attempt to sabotage the existing nomination process and obtain the nomination by coup.

If you are interested in electing a Democrat, in stopping 4 more years of Bush and interested in preventing more right-wing appointments to the Supreme Court, the loser and their backers must to accept that this was close but they lost.

This applies equally to both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.

Let's get on with it and with winning in November.

Posted by: The Other Ed on May 25, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

On this day of our Lord, I solemnly state, "Jesus, that was a long post, and if you commenters think I've got the attention span to read your words too, then ....

...hey, where are you going? I was getting to the point! Gimme jes one more secund...

Posted by: absent observer on May 25, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Obama and his supporters need to win. If you can't win, then you have to negogiate. Hillary has shown that she has enough strenght to force him to negogiate. Let's see what kind of uniter he is at the convention. If he's not really a uniter, then he should step aside and let the street fighter do what she does best.

Well that's an interesting way of looking at it. Obama needs to win, but Clinton simply needs to be close enough to persuade the leader to negotiate. Is that her strategy for the general? "So what if I'm behind in electoral votes? And as for the popular vote, I'm ahead if you count Puerto Rico & Guam. Anyway, I'd be the stronger President." Sure, McCain may win the election, such as it is, but is he strong enough to negotiate with a street fighter like that?

Posted by: junebug on May 25, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's funny that so many commenters are shocked, shocked! at Hillary's M.O. - isn't this the same woman who's been taught by the MSM that if she stonewalls long enough problems melt away? From her double secret healthcare task force that taught Cheney everything he needed to know, to Whitewater, to billing records, even to who hired Craig Livingstone, she's learned that obnoxiousness pays. She can always spin it later as steadfast tenacity for the greater good, even while she dumps acid and paranoia on Obama's foundation pillars. What I don't get is why the Party Elder/Superdelegates don't take a dose of ethical Viagra and close this thing down, maybe not piss off the over 50 women by demanding she quit, but by telling, en masse, Wolfson and McAuliff that they have decided there's no way they are going to give it to her and she should go out by showcasing her strengths, not inventing cabals or enemies lists.

Posted by: loki on May 25, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Contrary to the doom-&-gloom prognostications of some Obama supporters, this race has not torn the Democrats apart. It's just kept the media focus on the Democrats while McCain languishes far behind.

Hillary has proven to be a good sparring partner for Obama, toughening him up for the big fight after the nomination.

Posted by: otherpaul on May 25, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Clinton also claims that she is more electable than Obama:"

This is surely a strange claim giving the way some of her supporters have acted.
"I am more electable" is basically a claim that America hates women less than it hates blacks. This may or may not be true, but it's hardly a claim that aligns with the claim of some of her supporters that women are worse off in the US than are blacks.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 25, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

"I cannot imagine how it would feel if I had gone through my entire life wondering, in my heart of hearts, whether anyone who looked like me could ever win a major party nomination."

I can. Actually I have done it twice; this year and 48 years ago. Well not really "looked like me" - I had been raised learning about Al Smith's disastrous campaign. The feeling in 1960 was that if Kennedy made it then I would really be a citizen; not a member of an oddball group that had to be tolerated.

This year I had a faint hope that a woman might be treated with respect. Instead she has been expected to be a nice lady and move aside so some one else can have their dream. If she flubs a line she is unfit to lead; if she doesn't she is a robot. All the people who talk about "dynasties" should be aware that nepotism rules have been being abandoned because they disproportionately harm women.

Posted by: Bostonian in Brooklyn on May 25, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

As long as the current level of intra-party conflict on our side stays where it is, it won't do much long-term damage to Obama, and it robs McCain's campaign of free coverage, because until he's competing directly with Obama, McCain will be boring.

This is true until the voting stops. When it gets down to just bribing superdelegates, then thins will be really, really bad. The loser needs to bow out after the last primary, even if there's enough super delegates to give him or her a chance.

Posted by: on May 25, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Boston gasbag - you are such a lying liar - this is not about gender. This is about integrity and democratic ideals. What part of this don't you get:

(1). Shillary is actually using kkkarl rove's talking points

(2). Rush Limbaugh's operation chaos is responsible for some of her "victories"

(3). Shillary proclaims that uneducated white voters are more important than others - racist on its face.

Please, quit eating those famous baked beans and then lettin' out the gas here in the thread.

Posted by: on May 25, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

What possible good did it do for Hillary to revive this Friday-before-Mem-Day-weekend story on Sunday? Is Ickes a total fool? Let's sleeping dogs lie. Teh bozos.

Posted by: wren on May 25, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

The democratic establishment had decided very early in the game that Obama will be the nominee. We all could see the writing on the wall when they all came out to endorse him after SC and Bill Clinton was accused of playing the race card. Later he was endorsed when it was the most opportune to influence a primary, like Bill Richardson did on the eve of a primary. He was waiting for the most effect and do the most harm to Clinton and called himself a friend of the Clintons.

I feel they used us, the voters, I wasted my time. Hillary was used too as long as she was needed and now she should step aside and make it easy for Obama. And anyone who supports Clinton is considered a racist, an uneducated brainwashed old, white woman or a red neck from Kentucky and all the Obama supporters are the well educated young superior Americans.

To top it off we have Olbermann's tirade about her wanting to see Obama dead. As if she does not have to worry about all the hate out there against her and as if she is immune to assassination. Democrats spewing the same vitriol the Republicans did when Bill was president. And they should know better, after all they take pride to be more intelligent.

I accuse Olbermann to stir up hate in order to increase his ratings.

I will vote against McCain and will be an independent in future. I have no illusion, politics is a dirty business. Hillary is not perfect by a long shut neither is Obama, he will be as political and as opportunistic like the rest of them. As always we vote for the lessor evil.

Posted by: renate on May 25, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

...she makes two points that are worth remarking on.

She's made those points (and others) before, and they've been remarked on ad nauseum before. How about a hiatus on the question of Hillary withdrawing until the second week of June?

Posted by: has407 on May 25, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

The democratic establishment had decided very early in the game that Obama will be the nominee.

Early on HRC was the expected winner who had lined up a stellar list of the Dem establishment in her corner. Come on do better.

I feel they used us, the voters, I wasted my time.

I wish I could be compassionate at this farce, but: boo frickin hoo.

This has been one of the most historic races in American history. Huge, longstanding barriers have been broken. Two important groups of our population now know that they are not automatically excluded from the top position of American leadership. And you feel used? Good golly.

Yes someone had had to lose. And the process could have played out in better form, but we are Americans. We do not do the right thing easily.

I didn't see my name sake on MSNBC do his thing, but he is a blowhard that's how he earns a living. Yet Hillary sure has had a "tin ear", or tin something, and has said a few things not shedding a reknowned wordsmith such as herself in a great light.

If, at this date, she wants to stay out of the line of fire she might stop talking about race, assasination and other touchy issues not related to policy.

Keith O may have been over the top (again, I did not see) but jeese it cannot take a genius to figure out not to say essentially: I am staying in this because the Black guy might get shot.

What, that not what she said? That is what some of my co-workers of color heard. They would rather someone called them bitter.

Posted by: on May 25, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry that was me above at 6:43.

Posted by: keith g on May 25, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

At present the only way Sen. Clinton can get the nomination is at the convention and with the votes of regular delegates - the supers won't side with her unless she can convince a sizable number of Sen. Obama's delegates to vote for her AFTER the first ballot (presuming neither has the required delegate total before the convention). She would also have to maintain control of all of her present delegates; something that would most likely not happen.
If Sen. Obama gets the required number of delegates prior to the convention, Sen. Clinton will challenge the seating of the MI and FL delegates. Assuming she loses that vote, I think she would most likely have her name entered as a nominee and, once the first balloting is done, move to make Sen. Obama the nominee by unanimous vote.
My own belief is that much of what is happening now is simply Sen. Clinton giving warning to Sen. Obama that he must sreiously take into account the views of the nearly half of the Democratic Party that voted for her rather than him. She is simply trying to maintain as much political influence as she possibly can while not damaging the Democrats chances of victory in November.
She has too much to lose to risk being blamed for a Democratic defeat in the general election, which is what will happen if she doesn't support the nominee completely. But if she supports him completely, she loses much of her ability to influence - not run, but influence - the campaign. I think that is the explanation for much of what we have seen in the past couple of weeks - if Sen. Clinton pushes too hard, she can damage the party's chances at winning; yet if she doesn't push hard enough, she damages her own chances to maintain her political influence.
And all a politician really has is their influence.

Posted by: Doug on May 25, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy,

I have admired you for years and greatly respect your writing. But this post is jarringly inconsistent with your usual insight and erudition. In fact, it's petty and small.

Regardless of your opinion of Clinton, making armchair psychological diagnoses isn't up to your standards. Leave that sort of things to Maureen Dowd.

It's depressing that so many impressive people seem to have lost their bearings in all this. This isn't a death match. It's just a primary campaign. Either candidate will make a better president than McCain. There no necessity for this constant presumption of bad faith on either one of the candidates.

Posted by: Maud Adams on May 25, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

renate: The democratic establishment had decided very early in the game that Obama will be the nominee.

How do you figure that? "Very early in the game" she held a commanding lead in superdelegates and a significant lead in fundraising. That came primarily from the "democratic establishment"--the people who weighed in before the primaries.

Posted by: on May 25, 2008 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

sorry, that was me above at 7:19PM

Posted by: has407 on May 25, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, what a mindlessly biased post.

Look, does it not even occur to you that there exist exactly symmetric arguments with respect to the "unfairness" of a nominee being selected when they lost the popular vote, rather than losing the pledged delegate count?

It's not 100% clear whether Hillary will win the popular vote in the end -- PR has yet to weigh in, and can affect the outcome of the popular vote question. If, as many suspect, PR goes toward Hillary in a major way, Hillary will almost certainly win the popular vote on virtually every reasonable way of counting it -- without, for example, including MI into the mix in any fashion.

In that case, isn't it obvious that many Hillary supporters will feel, quite reasonably, that she wins the "moral argument" for being selected nominee? And even if you don't credit that point of view, I don't see how anyone can simply dismiss the polling that shows that the people at large pretty massively favor the popular vote -- and dismiss the pledged delegate count -- as the best metric superdelegates might adhere to in choosing the nominee.

Poll 1

Poll 2

In general, whatever problems might exist in how the popular vote is counted pale by comparison to the public's perception that the pledged delegate count is inherently defective as a metric.

Now, I should think that "legitimacy" is mostly in the eyes of the public. I should think that these polls make it pretty clear that the popular vote is, in their eyes, a vastly better metric than the pledged delegate count. (I mean, Obama lost the popular vote both in NV and TX, and yet wins more delegates? Could you have a more obvious demonstration of how arbitrary and irrational the pledged delegate count is?)

But in any case, what's pretty obvious is that acting as if there is not a quite good case to be made by Hillary supporters that they have been "robbed" if Hillary loses the nomination while winning the popular vote -- not to mention having a vastly better argument for electability than Obama -- is hardly the work of someone who might have a right to claim anything like objectivity in their thinking.

I have no doubt that AAs will be angry if Obama is denied the nomination, and there will be electoral fallout if that happens. But there is at least an equal case to be made that there will be similar fallout if Hillary is denied the nomination, while winning the popular vote by any reasonable interpretation of how it should be counted. Acting as though there won't be fallout over that issue is mindless.

And the real problem for Obama's electability as opposed to Hillary's is that the groups he will lose in the general go well beyond those who are simply angry that he was selected even though he, as I am assuming, lost the popular vote. He will be losing in massive numbers the "Reagan Democrats", who won't be refusing to vote for him because they feel they have been cheated. They will do so for the reasons that they have voted in many previous elections for Republicans: because they simply don't like what the Democratic candidate stands for, and regard him as out of touch with their concerns and values. And when a Reagan Democrat votes for a Republican, it's far worse than someone sitting out an election -- by far the most likely alternative for AAs if Hillary wins the nom -- because they will vote for McCain instead, giving their vote twice the potency of a vote that simply is not cast.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 25, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Commenter Marc contributes some amusement value:

Apparently, I run a 24/7 hate site! Silly boy... I can't stay awake for a whole 24 hours!

And I'm glad -- honored, in fact -- that our Marc feels I used to be an "incisive commenter" at Kos; unfortunately, I and many other [not Obama] supporters were purged, with the cooperation of the sysadmins, when what used to be a community to support Democrats was turned into The Obama 527 Formerly Known As Daily Kos.

But hey! It's Memorial Day Weekend! Why not join in me in a relaxing round of Obama Golf? It's fun for the whole family, and any number can play!

Posted by: Lambert Strether, Philadelphia, PA on May 25, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy, you've made the right points as you so often do. It's good in principle for her to continue, but it all depends on "good behavior" - authentically, not sexist way to mean it. I worry about the latter, more from her comparing not counting FL primary voters to the recount fiasco of 2000 than anything else. Any real patriot and good Democrat would put not damaging the potential Democratic candidate first.

Posted by: Neil B. on May 25, 2008 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, I cannot speak for African-American voters, but I imagine a number of them might wonder whether it's possible for an African-American candidate to win at all; and that a larger number probably feel that if a black candidate were to win, that candidate would have to surmount challenges that no white candidate has to face.

Something I've read elsewhere, since I'm not African-American but the narrative would likely be 'the first viable black candidate wins the most elected delegates by playing by the rules, and gets the nomination taken from him by a bunch of mostly-white higher-ups, who say "sorry, playing by the rules is for suckers".'

That would be devastating.

If, as many suspect, PR goes toward Hillary in a major way, Hillary will almost certainly win the popular vote on virtually every reasonable way of counting it -- without, for example, including MI into the mix in any fashion.

Indeed. I could make the obvious point about how many electoral votes Puerto Rico has -- even Democrats Abroad is a more significant constituency, given that its members are entitled to vote in their last state of residence, or their parents' last state of residence in the case of those citizens who've never set foot in the US. I could ask about the vote totals from caucus states, particularly those like the sainted Iowa that don't report individual caucus votes.

But let's put all that to one side, and ask if you'll support an NBA Finals where, at 3-2, the losing team asserts that offensive rebounds should be the deciding statistic.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc on May 25, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

The most offensive in the whole mess is the early demand for Clinton to step aside. Just to make room for Obama, she is just a b...h for not doing it.

Where they afraid Obama would not win if it went to the finish? Even now, while winning they still go on bashing her. Why not finish the primaries and take it from there when you are winning?

By the way, it must have crossed Hillary's mind that she too could be assassinated. All the hate out there. They do have secret service I would think.

Posted by: renate on May 25, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

pseudonymous,

So your way of getting around the potential impact of PR on the popular vote is that it doesn't count in the general election?

So you're just another Obama supporter finding just another way to marginalize just another group of voters. What a surprise.

But, look, the little problem you've got is that PR is included by the DNC as a contributor to the pledged delegate count -- aren't you just as well arguing that the pledged delegate count is also completely hokey, if it includes PR? How is that a problem peculiar to the popular vote total?

And if you're only interested in those states that contribute to the electoral vote, because that's how it's done in the GE, why not do the count just as it's done in the GE, and add up the electoral votes of states won based on the popular votes in the primaries? Oops -- by that reckoning, Hillary wins, and massively.

So what do you have left?

Why, nothing but your rants. Which is also pretty much what you started with.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 25, 2008 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh BTW, has anyone noticed how many Obama supporters nowadays are finding any excuse they can to marginalize any voters who refuse to vote for Obama? How many different ways have they managed to come up with to trash white working class voters? And does anyone remember the moral outrage many of these same supporters would express when, once upon a time, the Clinton campaign tended to diminish the importance of smaller states and red states, because of how it marginalized those voters (even though the Clinton campaign was really only making the argument that they don't contribute much, if at all, to the electoral college vote)?

Once upon a time, it was "Oh the Humanity" when voters were marginalized. Now, not so much.

Hypocrisy is as hypocrisy does.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 25, 2008 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

franly0 -- You make some good points, but I think they're a day late and a dollar short.

Jeebuz, I just wish this Clinton vs. Obama "we've been disenfranchised" noise machine would just STFU. The rules were made long ago. The candidates understood the rules. Campaigns were run by those rules. The candidates agreed to abide by those rules.

If the rules had been different, the outcome may very well have been different. If the popular vote was the metric, would Obama have kept his name on the ballot in MI? Undoubtedly. Would he have run harder in WV, KY, etc.? Undoubtedly. Would he have tried a little harder to influence FL? Undoubtedly. He certainly had the money to do so.

Would it have made a significant difference? Who knows. But this retrospective/revisionist analysis is little more than mental masturbation. By the rules, Obama is arguably on the way to winning. Clinton started with an enormous early advantage, and she got outsmarted and outmaneuvered. Anyone who has a problem with that should take it up with her campaign strategists.

Posted by: has407 on May 25, 2008 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

has407,

The thing is, it's simply a fabrication that there's anythin in the rules that suggests that the superdelegates have to adhere to the pledged delegate count in the first place. That is nothing more than a "moral" requirement imposed by highly interested parties -- i.e., Obama partisans -- on the set of rules as they exist. Obviously, the entire point of superdelegates as a class -- the reason for which they were even introduced -- was so that they could supersede the pledged delegate count in certain circumstances.

My point is, if you're going to make a "moral" argument for superdelegates to go for a candidate, popular vote is a far better metric than pledged delegates, as even the public apparently accepts.

And while Obama might have done things differently if the popular vote were the real criteria accepted by the Democratic Party, that can likewise be said of Hillary, who most certainly has recognized from early on the fundamental importance of getting as many pledged delegates as possible (because it is the total number of delegates pledged and super- that counts, and she'd sure like to have more of either kind), but simply has been less successful at doing so.

But let's not beat around the bush here about why Obama is well ahead in pledged delegates: because of his greater success in the undemocratic caucuses -- indeed, they are demonstrably and embarrassingly undemocratic, as shown in side by side results when the same states hold both caucuses and primaries. It is simply beyond Hillary's control to make her constituencies, who for various reasons refuse mostly to show up to caucuses, to come out in numbers proportionate to their real size in reality.

Should these voters be punished, and their will denied, because they don't like caucuses?

And how and why is it OK to deny them their voice even in this election? If the popular vote, whatever its defects in this election, is still a far superior metric of the popular will than is the pledged delegate count, on what moral grounds can we say it should be ignored?

Because we can do a better job in the next election is no excuse whatever for not doing the job as best we can in this election. The argument otherwise, you might remember, was Bush's argument when he and his team simply and conveniently didn't want to deal with all those chads and the ambiguities they might create.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 25, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's time for the young'uns to see an actual floor fight at the DNC. How many of you actually remember seeing those in 1968 or 1972, anyone?

We need this.

Posted by: nene on May 25, 2008 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

There are two issues. Would Clinton winning the nomination cause damage to the party. Certainly, but the same is true if Obama wins with Clinton leading in the popular vote. The second issue is how this plays out in the general election.

Of course Clinton would take a hit among African-American voters. Of course these stalwarts of the party would be upset and the damage would need to be repaired. Would she receive fewer votes from AA in the general than Kerry. Probably.

African-American voters were 11% of the total of general election voters in 2004 and were concentrated in the South. Clinton could win the general receiving far fewer votes from African Americans that John Kerry did. Clinton try to make up the loses with Latinos (8%, growing, and a large voting bloc in several key swing states) and women (54% of the 2004 electorate)

Whichever candidate wins the nomination, parts of the other candidates coalition will be upset and the party will need to take steps to "heal". The damage to the party may be greater if Obama loses.
If you want to deal with electability however Obama losing parts of Clinton's coalition in the general is more damaging to his electoral prospects than Clinton losing parts of Obama's coalition is to her general election prospects.

Posted by: numb3rs on May 25, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 -- Agree that the outcome given a different set of rules may have equally benefited Clinton as Obama. However, given Clinton's incompetent ground campaign, I don't think it would have mattered much; by the time she realized its importance--which she obviously did when it came to PA, WV and KY--it was too late. Again, hard to tell, but if Obama really wanted to contest those states, I think her margin would have significantly smaller--Obama was capable of mounting a much better ground campaign, and had more money to spend.

In any case, I have to disagree with your assertion that those "undemocratic caucuses" are in any way "undemocratic", or somehow disadvantage Obama. Any precinct captain would give their right arm for every one of those people--those willing to go out and pound the pavement, and to go door-to-door to support and defend their candidate. Those people are worth their weight in gold. That Obama has managed to mobilize and energize those people far better than Clinton should be a clue.

Posted by: has407 on May 25, 2008 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well now we know where Keith Olberman spends his free time. Posting his pompous anti-Hillary vitriol here when he is not on the air talking about Obama as if it is the "second coming."

Maybe he (and others) should save the Hillary as the Anti-Christ segments for Fox News.

A fractured Democratic party benefits who exactly?

Posted by: MLuther on May 25, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

This year I had a faint hope that a woman might be treated with respect. Instead she has been expected to be a nice lady and move aside so some one else can have their dream. If she flubs a line she is unfit to lead; if she doesn't she is a robot. All the people who talk about "dynasties" should be aware that nepotism rules have been being abandoned because they disproportionately harm women.

Posted by: Bostonian in Brooklyn on May 25, 2008 at 5:11 PM

Like it or not, favorably or unfavorably, Hillary Clinton is going to be judged in a Bill Clinton context -- and there were, and are, many elements of the Democratic party who have never warmed to him.

I don't believe she meant any malice towards Obama by her remark in South Dakota the other day, but at the same time she should have been aware of the ramifications of even bringing it up, particularly in the black community.

And I can understand where many women feel upset that the first legitimate presidential candidate of their gender isn't going to win the nomination. However, women obviously don't have the one-sided bloc for Hillary that blacks do for Obama; if they did, she almost certainly would have had the nomination wrapped up some time ago. She can only blame her own institutional arrogance, and a clumsy campaign strategy, for blowing what was seemingly a sure thing for her some six months ago.

Posted by: Vincent on May 25, 2008 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

nene: How many of you actually remember seeing [floor fights] in 1968 or 1972, anyone? ... We need this.

I do, and in In principle I agree with you but it has to be asked: How did those elections turn out?

In general, I'm saddened by the spectacle of the Democratic party turning into the Limboids' caricature of itself, a hodgepodge of identity politics and self-proclaimed victims. In my opinion, either Clinton or Obama would make a perfectly good president, either of them much better than McSame. What we've learned, though, is that in spite of our good intentions we are not yet mature enough, as a nation, to hold a national campaign in which a racial minority and/or a woman are candidates, and keep the discussion on the issues. And that's just f*cking sad, isn't it? Shame on all of us.

Posted by: thersites on May 25, 2008 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Again, I cannot speak for African-American voters, but I cannot imagine how Hillary Clinton could be nominated at this point, after Obama won a majority of pledged delegates, without taking a very big hit to her ability to motivate and mobilize African-American voters."

I'm not black, but I think I know how they feel. I'm an intellectual, and I see Obama as the first openly intellectual candidate. I know how I would feel if I thought I had been unfairly robbed of my chance.

That said, since Hillary has stayed in this long, it does make sense for her to wait until the last primary is over. That way the few remaining primary voters have the satisfaction of having their votes mean something. I hope for the future of herself, and of her party, that Hillary realizes that she is a very long shot at this point, and that magnanimity would serve both interests best. If the math is then as hopeless for her as most now expect, that would be a logical time to concede, but the process of healing of hurt feelings between the supporters of both camps should begin as soon as possible.

Posted by: bigTom on May 25, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

I will say this, and I will say it again.

My issue is not with the idea of letting a primary go all the way to the convention. Under practice, Clinton has every right to do so until Obama either clinches it, or until the convention finally comes to pass.

My problem is that, with every moment she keeps her campaign going, she does damage not only to Obama (who by all rights at this point is the likely Democratic candidate unless something drastic happens), but to her campaign and her legacy, as well as the Democratic party.

It's not the fact that she's still in that's doing the damage, it's what she's doing to stay in. With every moment, she seems to be couching herself in more and more right-wing frames and belligerency. Her insistences that she and McCain passed the 'Commander-in-Chief' test were Obama hadn't as well as other instances of praise for McCain in order to tarnish Obama, as well as insistences that 'If we were playing by Republican rules, I'd be winning '(which would be wrong anyways) help no one but McCain.

Her insistences at drawing this out only seem to be bringing out the worst in people, and as mendacious and insipid as the media is, it doesn't help either when they flat out admit that as long as the primary is going, they're going to treat McCain with even MORE kid gloves than usual.

Posted by: Kryptik on May 26, 2008 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove must be laughing his ass off. The Dems have managed to, once again, screw up a sure thing. They have taken a page from his splinter strategy play book and used it on themselves.

What a pathetic cluster fuck.

Posted by: Ex - Republican Yankee on May 26, 2008 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Lambert Strether - concern troll or complete spoiled brat? I think the midgetly corrente building needs new air exchangers. I have never used the "b" word against Sen. Clinton, not asked her to iron anything, I dislike her because she didn't kick that philandering, lying husband out on his ass & more importantly, she voted to authorize Bu$hCo's vanity war. Blood on her hands, indeed. But to Lambert Strether, this is Sen. Clinton hate. What a tool.

Posted by: coldH2Owi on May 26, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Once again Clinton fans are attempting to devise new measures of electoral success to mask the fact that their candidate has lost by the stated, agreed upon criterion.

Delegates won, not popular votes, or support in big states, or swing states, or any other exotic criterion, is the yardstick by which success in the primary campaign is measured. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and every other candidate who sought the Democratic nomination was well aware of this.

George Will compared the Clinton argument to the result of the 1960 World Series, when the New York Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates 55-27, but the Pirates won the Series by 4 games to 3. No Yankee was foolish enough to argue that New York "ought" to have won the Series because they outscored Pittsburgh by a margin of 2 to 1. This, however, is the logic that Clinton and her supporters such as frankly0 have embraced.

I would also note in passing that Clinton is ahead in the popular vote total only if we include Michigan, where Obama was not on the ballot, and exclude four primary states that did not report total votes for each candidate.

All the evidence suggests that superdelegates are not impressed by the Clinton line of argument - any more than the baseball establishment would have been if the Yankees had tried to make an analogous claim after the 1960 Series. I can only conclude that the main goals of this claim are to undermine the legitimacy of Obama's nomination and to feed the anger, self-pitying and entitlement mentality of Clinton supporters.

Posted by: Thrasymachus on May 26, 2008 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Why would you think you would need to be an African-American to be pissed off if Hillary stole the nomination with a super-dedgate coup? Why would I have to be defined as part of a disenfranchised group to be offended by her dishonest campaign tactics?
This "Washington" mind-set of seeing the world in little digestable statisical packages is fodder for farm animals, and it's lazy thinking, too.

Posted by: andhakari on May 26, 2008 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Note to Barry's Boyz...you poisoned the water, dummies. Didn't you realize you were going to get thirsty?

Posted by: Steve-O on May 26, 2008 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy, thank you very much for talking about the Democratic primary. It's a topic that has been conspicuously and disappointingly absent from this blog for a very long time (at least when it comes to thoughtful discussion of the candidates).

Thank you. I've bookmarked your blog!

Posted by: Augustus on May 26, 2008 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Democrats spewing the same vitriol the Republicans did when Bill was president. "

I agree with this sentiment. After 40 years as a Yellow Dog, I am seeing the party turn into frat boy mode. God a'mighty. Have fun jerking yourselves off, boyz.

Posted by: Pat on May 26, 2008 at 5:32 AM | PERMALINK

In Franklyo we have an example of the highly partisan HRC supporter...so decide for yourselves the utility of trying to communicate.

I'll take a small shot: the nominee is the person that gets the most delegates. Them's the rules. You don't like it? Work for changes the next election. In this election delegates and nothing else counts. HRC is raising false issuees. There is only one benefit to her in her raising of false issues: to give her supporters a sense of being cheated so that just enough of them won't vote for Obama so she can present herslef as the savior in 2012. There is no other benefit for point to her lies about getting the most votes or being the first choice of DINOS in Kentucky, etc. There is no other point to herr staying in.

Posted by: wonkie on May 26, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

GOD, I'm sick and tired of reading the crap written about what people THINK Hillary means/meant about every damn thing she says. Yes, like the stupidity about her comment illustrating that there have been at least two times when the nomination was unsettled in June...most thinking people got that! And, you make it sound as if all she has to do is TELL WHY she'd be a better candidate...WELL, she's been doing that since this primary season began and it's all been dissected and spun and misstated from the get go...yes, you are hearing from an older, white, educated woman who is pissed as Hell about the OLD BOY'S CLUB of locker room idiots that have been as nasty as possible and as gleeful as allowed time after time while all the while pushing forward a man that MIGHT have become the strongest of possible candidates if given the seasoning he continues to require! We'll ultimately be in yet another LOSE/LOSE situation and I, for one, will not be putting the blame on Hillary!!!

Posted by: Dancer on May 26, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

to alawyn:
re: "...Hillary's rabid supporters" ! Who are you kidding ? Have you even bothered to notice the level of invective being directed against Hillary Clinton ? Talk about rabid. The commentary of a great number of Obama supporters is festering with hate.

Posted by: rbe1 on May 26, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, rbe1. That's because the white leftist ideologues supporting Obama are within reach of having something they haven't had since 1972--control of the Democratic Party. (For some reason, this matters to them.)

Since they think in ideological terms, Hillary is the evil one. Therefore, she must be destroyed. (Character assassination is not the unique province of the right.)

It doesn't seem to bother a certain number of Obama ideologues that they're dooming their chances to actually win the danged election.

Posted by: John Petty on May 26, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly Frankly(), it is too bad that you have not had the profound experience of sitting in a room with neighbors, both known and not, discussing how to best put forth the concerns of your little patch of the Democratic party.

We talked about family, jobs and even pets as we waited for the official start of the caucus. In groups both big and small, we discussed what we thought was was best for ourselves, our area and our country.

We voted on proposals to send to the state party on issues such as health care, the right to organize and environmental issues.

We got down to choosing who we would send to the district convention. I made sure I voted for this 18 y.o. Obama supporter, who was just so damned enthused about the primary race and about being able to play a part in history.

I feel sorry for those souls who live in states who just want them to just leave a mark and to quickly and quietly move on.

It was a great night.

Posted by: keith g on May 26, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

The argument that Obama deserves the nomination because he is an African American and because of our nation's fraught racial history would be stronger if, as a candidate, he had spoken out forcefully against the outrageous sexism displayed by too many of his supporters; in the Democratic party, the blogosphere and the political and mainstream media. Doing so would not have been a defense of Hillary Clinton, but, rather a defense of the right to equal political participation and decent treatment and respect in the public arena not only of women, but of every American regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. It is hard to concede Obama's right to the nomination based on the principle of equality that has been historically denied members of his race, when he has shown no inclination to honor or fight to defend that principle as it applies to others. (And, in fact, has been happy to benefit from ugly displays of prejudice and hatred.) Obama, his campaign and his supporters have also weakened this argument by seeking to exploit racial distrust, class divisions and elite class prejudice by labeling the Clintons as racial "bamboozlers" and their working class supporters as racist.

All of the above strategies and tactics have been extremely divisive and harmful to the Democratic party. And, extremely disappointing because, frankly, they do come from an African American candidate -- who we would expect to be unusually mindful of, and unwilling to exploit, society's ugliest prejudices and fears. A candidate who probably would have securely put the nomination away long ago if he had respectfully applied his original message of "unity" to the diverse members of the Democratic coalition, rather than depending on ostracizing some members of that coalition in order to attract and play to the prejudices of younger, more affluent independents, libertarians and moderate Republicans.

Posted by: on May 26, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

GOD, I'm sick and tired of reading the crap written about what people THINK Hillary means/meant about every damn thing she says.

So Dancer, I assume you were/are equally tired about "Bittergate", the flag pin issue, the Rev Wright issue, Islamic non-faith, the Black Panthers, Louis Farakan, and etc?

Just wondering.

Posted by: keith g on May 26, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Thrasymachus noted: George Will compared the Clinton argument to the result of the 1960 World Series, when the New York Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates 55-27, but the Pirates won the Series by 4 games to 3. No Yankee was foolish enough to argue that New York "ought" to have won the Series because they outscored Pittsburgh by a margin of 2 to 1. This, however, is the logic that Clinton and her supporters such as frankly0 have embraced.

Great point! Love the analogy. Thanks for noting it!

Disclaimer: I was a Pirate fan during the 60 series!

Posted by: pencarrow on May 26, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Like Augustus, I appreciate Hilzoy's post on the Dem primary.

Unlike Dancer @ 10:27 (although we appear to share a demographic), I see no Old Boys Club (and no idiots) at work in Obama's ascendancy. Rather, I see a superior and timely message (Change), a better campaign staff, and a once-in-a-generation candidate, Obama, seizing the moment. This is not swooning but fact.

Clinton entered the race with seemingly insuperable strengths: name recognition, big money donors, inevitability, crack staff, etc.

In the end, however, under the pressures of a looong campaign, Clinton's underlying strategic errors and characterological weaknesses not related to gender combined with spectacular misjudgments (including most notoriously her vote for the war) to create her present pickle.

To implicate gender, misogyny, and all the other Clintonian boogeymen of 2008 is to deny the obvious. The Clintons were outcampaigned by a superior candidate. The rest is whining.

Posted by: paxr55 on May 26, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Looking back here, there's another thing that I've noticed between the campaigns and such.

A lot of the over the top rhetoric that comes from the Obama side of things, the sexism, the tarring of the Clintons and their legacy, all that, that comes from unfortunately overzealous supporters. I've not seen many instances where the Obama campaign itself has encouraged these lines.

However, on the Clinton side, arguments of somehow dividing the party by winning, entitlement due to her sex, Obama not 'passing the Commander in Chief test', the 'popular vote' argument, etc., they, for the most part, have come DIRECTLY from the Clinton campaign, and where they haven't, they've at least been encouraged directly by the campaign.

That's where I find myself becoming more and more disenfranchised with a woman who I once respected and a campaign I would have supported (and would still support even with a lump in my throat) if it was winning rather than Obama. It's a scorched earth policy that does no one but McCain any favors.

And I'm really, really, REALLY interested to see where Obama has somehow actively tried to disenfranchise voters like I've seen many who boast about withholding their vote come Nov. are saying.

Posted by: Kryptik on May 26, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

But let's not beat around the bush here about why Obama is well ahead in pledged delegates: because of his greater success in the undemocratic caucuses -- indeed, they are demonstrably and embarrassingly undemocratic, as shown in side by side results when the same states hold both caucuses and primaries.

The absence of logic here is simply breathtaking. How does the caucus process favor Obama any more than it does Clinton? Are the rules written any differently for him than they are for her? Better still, how does it disenfranchise Clinton's supporters, specifically? Are they the only ones who work during the hours when caucusing goes on? Were Clinton's supporters denied entry to these caucuses? Is there somebody at the door admitting 2 Obama supporters to every 1 Clinton supporter? The only thing that could possibly make the process of caucusing undemocratic would be if the rules favored one candidate over the other, and they don't.

It is simply beyond Hillary's control to make her constituencies, who for various reasons refuse mostly to show up to caucuses, to come out in numbers proportionate to their real size in reality.

Should these voters be punished, and their will denied, because they don't like caucuses?

In a word, yes -- though your characterization is melodramatic. The process is what the process is, and if one candidate is unable to motivate his or her supporters -- for whatever reasons -- then that will be reflected in that candidate's results, be they caucus results or ballot box results. Both candidates knew the procedures going into these state contests, and if the Clinton team assumed that they would win the caucuses simply because they won the primary, well, that's a mistake of the first order. The Clinton team got out the vote for the primaries in NV & TX much better than did the Obama team, but it would be ridiculous for the Obama team to say, look, our internal polling clearly shows that we have much greater support here than the results indicate. Should we really be punished, and have our will denied, because our voters simply couldn't get to the polls on voting day? That, though, is the argument you're presenting.

There's definitely an argument to be made that caucuses & proportional representation in the Democratic primary aren't particularly useful, as the general election doesn't using either one of those electoral standards. But nobody from the Clinton campaign was making the case against either of those processes until it became apparent that they were unsuccessful at caucusing. Funny, that.

Posted by: junebug on May 26, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Can we for god's sake please stop tearing each other apart and concentrate on who our real opponents are? What the real stakes are? What really matters?

And if you don't know what I'm talking about look at Kevin's post of The War Prayer and then, if you want to, you can come back here and resume your little fucking high school food fights.

This election is ours to lose. Let's work real hard at losing it, shall we, children?

Posted by: thersites on May 26, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

From my point of view it's pretty simple. Take a generic candidate - a Midwestern or Northeastern white male Democratic politician, John Whitebread. John voted for the war on Iraq and has made it clear that he remains committed to it being a good idea. He's pushed for a constitutional ban on flag burning. He says he's opposed to torture but doesn't show any enthusiasm for laws that would actually hinder its use in any real way. And he's taken to cozying up with the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife, the guy who first drove one of the Clinton's best friends, already suffering from depression, to suicide, and then had the gall to accuse Hillary Clinton of arranging his murder! It's not just that he spoke to Scaife in some public place without punching out the rotten SOB, he actually posed smiling with the man. Oh, and his campaign is run by a notoriously inept advisor whose PR firm is actively supporting union-busting efforts.

How far can you see that candidate getting, this year?

Posted by: Bruce Baugh on May 26, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I can't for the life of me, thersites, see any deplorable "tearing apart" upthread and no high school food fights. Just honest disagreement for the most part reasonably argued. Why so overwrought and censorious of all-in-good-fun primary fisticuffs among primary opponents?

Yes, the election is ours to lose. But, sheesh, a little Memorial Day squabble on PA is hardly the sure path to GE defeat for the Dems--not against a candidate like McSame.

Posted by: paxr55 on May 26, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Some of the Clintonistas posting here are showing signs of transference. If there is one thing that can be said about the Obama campaign, it is not running--and succeeding--on any basis of entitlement because Obama is black.

Hilary started the nominating season with every conceivable advantage (except high negatives based on perceptions of the her role in the Clinton presidency). She had money, a self-proclaimed top-notch organization, media exposure, prominent Democrats of all ethnic groups supporting her.

She then proceeded to piss it all away. Her early campaign was complacent, conveyed a powerful sense of entitlement, spent like crazy, and gave the impression that there had been no planning for anything past February. Based on that alone, she has more than earned the defeat she is getting.

Those who are moaning about the caucuses: take it up with Hilary, not with Obama. She is the one who decided not to organize for them. This blaming of Obama for Hilary's mistakes is among the most unsavory aspects of this campaign.

Posted by: Tom S on May 26, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

paxr55,

I honestly hope that you're right, and that I'm overreacting. I've been told that before. But it seems to me that the bitter rhetoric just goes on and on.

Posted by: thersites on May 26, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton, Obama And The Media Play The Blame Game

http://blogs.dw-world.de/acrossthepond/

Posted by: Michael on May 26, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton keeps making the argument that she would be the better candidate in the fall. So far, Barack Obama has been the better candidate in the Winter and Spring.

The reality is that the more people get to know Barack Obama, the better he does. Hillary Clinton is the bigger name candidate who started out with much more political capital than Barack Obama. She led in the polls for months. With a well run campaign, Hillary Clinton should have won. But she has failed to take advantage of her enormous political capital to secure the nomination beyond any doubt. It's as if her argument now is okay, I made some mistakes but I'm still the better candidate. There's no question that Clinton is a very capable and knowledgeable person who would make a good president, but purely in terms of campaign strategies and tactics, without any discussion of negatives, she has made a long series of mistakes. Her first mistake was taking her nomination for granted. Any number of Democrats in the past have made that mistake and lost. Her second biggest mistake was not having a strategy beyond Feb. 5; that, above everything else, is the mistake that is costing her the nomination. Other mistakes include a campaign manager who should have been fired back in the fall. And reliance on Republican pollster Mark Penn has also been a huge mistake. I can list other purely strategic and tactical mistakes that Hillary has made that resemble mistakes that have cost frontrunners in past primary seasons.

The reality is that Barack Obama, despite being the underdog, played by the rules, ran a smart campaign and he's winning. Hillary Clinton can only take the nomination at this point by asking everyone to overlook her mistakes. I have no objection to her continued campaign but she has to avoid distorting the process.

Posted by: Craig on May 26, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, thersites. But what's a little bitter rhetoric among friends? We're just sharpening our pocket knives at base camp.

Posted by: paxr55 on May 26, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

You know, there is something perversely empowering about the idea that while Barack Obama most definitely needs my vote to succeed, I certainly do not need his sorry patronizing ass in my life, nor must I tolerate the bahavior of his foul-mouthed tribe of online camp followers.

It is incumbent upon Obama as nominee to reach out to me as a member of the alienated Democratic opposition. Given the abusive behavior of his national coterie of internet twits, I no longer necessarily feel obligated at this point to enter into his orbit once Hillary suspends her campaign.

So keep going down this flaming path of irrational Hillary-hate, Obamatrons. Keep your pedal to the metal until you reach that point of no return, when you will have alienated just enough of us Clinton supporters that we'll turn our back upon both you and your beloved Precious One for the duration -- and thus consign both you and your favorite presidential candidate to a richly deserved rendezvous with imminent electoral disaster and subsequent political oblivion.

Remember, you kid only yourselves if you think people like me are bluffing. Even if only 10-15% of us follow through on the threat, it'll still be more than enough to sink your ship of fools.

Posted by: Sittin' on the Sidelines on May 26, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Pitch-perfect satire of the self-absorbed and hateful Clinton supporter there "Sittin". Well-played! Why *of course* when people are spitting at you and calling you names you want to grovel before them! *Of course* the losing campaign always gets to insult the winning campaign and make "demands". Because it's all about you, isn't it?

Posted by: Marc on May 26, 2008 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

You know, there is something perversely empowering about the idea that while Barack Obama most definitely needs my vote to succeed, I certainly do not need his sorry patronizing ass in my life, nor must I tolerate the bahavior of his foul-mouthed tribe of online camp followers.

Great satire.....right?

Posted by: keith g on May 27, 2008 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

It's interesting how all of a sudden Hillary's supporters project her as the "love child" of the American public. Before the election all polls showed her with the highest negatives, few in the electorate loved her, but many wanted to give her a chance as the first woman.

She failed to put together an impressive campaign,spoke out of sorts about the base of the Democratic party that helped tremendously in getting her husband elected in '92 and '96. My prediction: wherever her name ends up as Veep or top of the ticket,the Democrats will lose. Because we are seeing them both for what they truly are. 'Power hungry twins' to whom the presidency should be handed with a smile.

Hating her is useless, at this stage its pure indiffernce. The Democrat party needs to take a look at themselves, its a display worthy of bastards!!

Posted by: Jada on May 27, 2008 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

But for the prospect of WWIII, I'd welcome 4 more years of McBush, by the end of which we can hopefully bury the stinking corpses of the GOP and the DLC, then drive the frozen corpuscle of the Libertarian party through the heart of both, for extra deadness.

Posted by: anon on May 27, 2008 at 5:08 AM | PERMALINK

Dear paxr55: Concerning the following quotation:

"It is incumbent upon Obama as nominee to reach out to me as a member of the alienated Democratic opposition. Given the abusive behavior of his national coterie of internet twits, I no longer necessarily feel obligated at this point to enter into his orbit once Hillary suspends her campaign.

So keep going down this flaming path of irrational Hillary-hate, Obamatrons."

Did anyone tell you it takes two to make a fight? Look at your words: "abusive behavior of his national coterie of internet twits" and "Obamatrons." You seem to be right there on hate speech. But if you go back to reality, you may remember that it was Hillary who said she had been "vetted" which I think meant she had been attacked and had the thick skin necessary to be the candidate. Your post and last week's "sexism" outburst of Hillary's surrogates seems very thin skinned. Now the argument is the "popular vote" that grants Obama -0- votes in Michigan, excludes caucus states and treat the low turnout Mich and Fla primaries as democracy's highest expression. Quit the ugly talk and insults or you will actually be the sore loser you seem to be.

Posted by: TK in Texas on May 27, 2008 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Hi, TK,

Someone calling herself (himself?) "Sittin' on the Sidelines"--a name new to me here--was the author of the language you rightly objected to. I wrote the post above that one.

Posted by: paxr55 on May 27, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

It just gets worse every day. Like putting matter and anti-matter together, the Democratic party will annihilate itself.

At this point, I can not see voting for either. What is the point?

Everybody seems to have drank the Koolaid for their candidate and left reason behind. You just sound like a bunch of children.

Posted by: Ex - Republican Yankee on May 27, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK
She can continue to make her case in a constructive and positive way

How can she continue to do something she hasn't started to do yet?

Posted by: cmdicely on May 27, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for that, Ex-RY,

I do hate to be a scold, about verb tenses and all, when so many other issues press. But on this language-conscious blog, you would bolster your sorry-ass fatalistic case ("why bother voting for either Dem?") by asking instead: "Everybody seems have drunk . . ."

Posted by: paxr55 on May 27, 2008 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

I do hate to be a scold, about verb tenses and all, when so many other issues press. But on this language-conscious blog, you would bolster your sorry-ass fatalistic case ("why bother voting for either Dem?") by asking instead: "Everybody seems have drunk . . ."

That's the best you've got? Want to match Phd's or Mensa membership? Maybe you should pay more attention to ideas and less to grammar. I pay people to proof my work. Are you applying for a job?


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