Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gore issues non-endorsement; Thompson backs McCain; Clinton eyes Ohio and Texas; and more on the whole electability thing

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A few quick items from the campaign trail:

1) It's not official yet, but it doesn't look like Gore will endorse either Obama or Clinton. So say "two sources close to Al Gore" to CNN. A Gore endorsement of either candidate would mean a great deal, of course, but I think this is the right move. Gore isn't like Bill Clinton or John Kerry. Much of the work he does on the climate crisis is political, but, in a sense, he has moved beyond politics -- or at least above it. He'll need to work closely with the next president on what matters most to him (and to many of us), and it would be unwise of him to take sides.


2) Yes, Thompson has endorsed McCain... What? You hadn't heard? David Kurtz: "Don't worry. No one else heard either." Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz................


3) Well, Super Tuesday was supposed to be her big day, but that didn't work out so well, and, well, Obama has been crushing her since, and it may not be any better for her today, nor next week, and so Clinton is now facing a must-win situation on March 4, specifically in Ohio and Texas. She has basically ignored her recent defeats, in an immaturely dismissive way, and, with the campaign looking bleaker than ever, and with superdelegates rethinking their positions, her attention is now on those two key states.

It is, of course, far too early to count Clinton out -- one should never count the Clintons out. I have been writing extensively about Obama's positive prospects, but it's not like he has the race won. He has the momentum, and today should be another good day for him, but Clinton is more or less even with Obama in the national polls and could very well take both Ohio and Texas on March 4, as well as Wisconsin next Tuesday.

Still, as Steve Benen put it today, Clinton is looking like Giuliani with her eggs-in-one-basket "Texas and Ohio" strategy. She is a much stronger candidate than Giuliani ever was, of course, but Obama -- a movement as much as a candidate -- is much stronger than Giuliani's GOP rivals, and, with Obama racking up win after win, and by decisive margins, she is fast running out of time to reverse the direction the race seems to be taking.


4) Surprise, surprise -- Clinton flack Mark Penn thinks his candidate is far better positioned than Obama to beat McCain in November, as Cillizza reported yesterday. Why? Because she can stand up to the Republican "attack machine," has national name recognition, and has solid foreign policy credentials.

I think Cillizza's conclusion -- needless to say, a far more nuanced one than Penn's -- is on the mark: "Either choice represents a risk for Democrats. Obama is less well known and less tested on the national stage but has shown a capacity to reach independents and Republicans that Clinton won't likely be able to match. Clinton is the more polarizing figure of the two, but what else bad could be said about her that voters haven't already heard?"

I would just add that Obama's toughness is being overlooked. He is proving to be incredibly commanding, and I have no doubt that he would be able to stand firm against the Republicans. Similarly, I think the experience card is being overplayed. Clinton has been playing it repeatedly throughout the campaign, and the media have picked up on it, but how exactly does she have so much foreign policy experience? It's not like she's been in the Senate for decades. What, did she acquire all that alleged experience while first lady? And, further, beyond the requisite minimum (which Bush didn't have), what good is experience? Need I remind everyone that there was a crapload of experience in the Bush Administration, what with Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz? Look where that got the country.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


  • On whether Obama is "tested" or not, let's not overlook the fact that Chicago politics is not exactly child's play.

    There was a report in the Chicago Tribue a while back about the ruthlessness and perhaps underhanded (though not illegal) tactics by which Obama worked to have potential rivals disqualified from the primary when he first ran for office.

    I will leave it for others to decide whether these are marks in his favor, or against him.

    On March 4, by all objective indicators Texas and Ohio should be strong Clinton states. And I do not really buy the "momentum" story that would have these interim contests undermining her advantages there. While I thought Maine would also play to her advantages, a key difference is that Obama has been stronger in caucuses everywhere. He will not have the advantage of small and activist turnout in Ohio and Texas that he had in Maine (and some other contests in recent days).

    Texas has an open primary (helps Obama) but has a huge Latino voter base (helps Clinton). And Ohio's primary is closed and attracts the old labor base of the party more than most states (huge Clinton advantages).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:27 PM  

  • If there is one character defect common to the Bush and Clinton camps, it is the use of linguistic revisionism to change the political landscape or disguise a hidden political agenda. Experience, as you point out, does not necessarily mean 8 years as First Spouse.

    Of course, Bush had loads of foreign policy experience, i.e. a crash course in Diplomacy for Dummies taught by Prince Bandar at a local country club. Impressive!!

    Clinton's experience included a course in "How NOT to reform National Health Care Policy." The result was equally impressive.

    Maybe this is the year voters finally get tired of the political jingoism, having learned a painful lesson or two.

    By Blogger Swampcracker, at 1:49 PM  

  • Correction to my comment above: Ohio's primary is, in fact, open.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home