Thursday, April 24, 2008

Twisting the truth: Hillary, the popular vote, and Clintonian ethics

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Good for ABC News. Here's Jake Tapper:

In [yesterday]'s edition of "The Note," ABC News' Rick Klein wrote that "By one (rightly disputed) metric -- the popular vote, including Florida and Michigan -- Clinton has pulled ahead of Obama. But without the rogue states, Obama is still up by 500,000 -- and if you can find another objective measurement by which she’s in the lead, let us know."

Including the popular votes from Florida and Michigan -- which were not sanctioned Democratic National Committee primaries, where the candidates did not compete, where Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois was not even on the ballot in Michigan -- is a sketchy notion, and Rick was conveying that with the proper air of skepticism.

Somehow, the Clinton campaign took his report and twisted it into this: "ABC News reported this morning that 'Clinton has pulled ahead of Obama' in the popular vote."

That is a false reflection of what ABC News reported.

Yet it's the Clinton campaign spin-of-the-moment -- and, of course, Hillary supporters like Taylor Marsh have picked up on it.

Look, Clinton and her campaign have been twisting the truth and moving the goalposts throughout the campaign. It's what I like to call "Clintonian ethics" -- basically, when you're losing, change the rules so that you're not losing anymore.

Hillary is losing the popular vote and delegate count (with and without the superdelegates). Since Super Tuesday, Obama has trounced her in terms of superdelegate pick-ups. Hillary won Ohio and Pennsylvania, of course, but Obama has won many more states than she has. So what's the spin? Hillary has won more "big" states. Or, the states Hillary has won collectively have more electoral college votes. Or, caucuses aren't as important as primaries. Or, well, whatever. In this case, it's that she's won more of the popular vote... if you include Florida and Michigan.

But why should Florida and Michigan be included? The decision to strip them of their delegates was the DNC's, not Obama's -- and Hillary went along with it until she was losing and needed those delegates. (She wouldn't be complaining if she were in the lead now.) Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. Nor was Edwards. Oh, Hillary was, but for what purpose? To "win" an uncontested primary? They were all on the ballot in Florida, but they all agreed not to campaign there. Yet Hillary went there to declare "victory" after the "vote". How convenient. Clintonian ethics, you see, is situational ethics -- the situation being, when it helps the Clintons, or whatever helps the Clintons in any given situation.

And now it's this convenient popular vote argument that is being pushed -- with the truth being twisted, as required.

I take nothing away from Hillary's wins in Ohio and Pennsylvania, New York and California, and elsewhere. She is a very strong candidate. I may not like her much anymore, and I may deeply dislike her campaign and surrogates, but what is truly despicable about all this is how she is trying to win. First, by throwing the "kitchen sink" at Obama, by smearing him, including by praising McCain as presidential. Second, by turning herself into a populist (god, guns, and booze) and warmongering ("obliterate" Iran) Republican to win over right-leaning voters in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Third, by trying to change the rules over and over again -- so much so that her shifting of the goalposts compares to Bush's shifting of the goalposts of "victory" in Iraq.

And what now? She may have won Pennsylvania, but the remaining votes may play out to a draw. Indeed, despite her victory yesterday, Obama's lead, though narrowed, is even more insurmountable.

Simply put, barring a dramatic collapse, Obama should win the nomination.

So expect more from the cesspool of Clintonian ethics.


Update: Jon Stewart had a brilliant piece just now (Apr. 23) showing how Hillary's spin has changed over the course of the campaign. If you missed it, go find it.

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  • Another of the many grasping-at-straw rationales the Clintons have offered is that if Obama doesn't win Indiana, it says something because it borders his home state of Illinois. Of course, I guess she forgot that she lost Vermont and Connecticut which border her home state of New York. Then again, those are "small states" that aren't essential for a Democrat to win in November even though both states are among the most solidly blue states in the country. I hope they go back to the "electoral vote" argument so if this thing drags out to Puerto Rico someone can remind them that that Puerto Rico DOESN'T HAVE ANY ELECTORAL VOTES.

    By Blogger Edward Copeland, at 3:42 AM  

  • So she made a mistake about how many popular votes she actually has now. Give her a break. It's easy to make mistakes when you're under heavy sniper fire.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:09 PM  

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