Friday, May 16, 2008

Electile dysfunction for the mathematically impaired

By Greg Prince

Barack Obama will be the nominee. I said as much two months ago, and nothing has changed since that time. That’s reality. And it’s getting tiring having to endure the nonsense coming from the Hillary partisans.

First off is the meme that Obama isn’t electable, that he can’t put her away. Frankly, that isn’t a compelling argument coming from the candidate who lost. More to the point, primary results have very limited application to the general election. Hillary’s margin of victory in California or Obama’s in Illinois don’t tell us much about their national appeal when running against, gasp, a Republican. Moreover, those states are going to fall into the Democratic column no matter who the nominee is. Either Obama or Hillary would beat McCain this fall. That said, Hillary is more polarizing and provides an easier target for the opposition. Obama has more crossover appeal.

Next is the argument that Obama can’t appeal to “white” voters or “blue collar” voters. Um, sorry folks, but that’s just bullshit. Yes, Obama underperforms in Appalachia. Most of those states lean red, some are in play. They will be no less in play for Obama against McCain than they would be for Hillary. Look it up, and see how Kerry, Gore, Clinton, etc. did in the region. A very good piece looking at the Appalachian region and comparing regional to national support for Hillary vs. Obama can be found here (read the link)..

Some people are just unhinged, looking beyond the mark at the risk of November.

At Talk Left we see Obama being accused of throwing the '60s generation under the bus, prompting John Cole to observe:

I am really trying to be nice to Hillary supporters, because I know how down they feel and I really don’t want to pile on during a tough couple of weeks, but one of the saddest things to happen this primary is to watch Jeralyn Merritt slowly lose her damned mind. Today, Obama spoke about Vietnam veterans in Charleston:

One of the saddest episodes in our history was the degree to which returning vets from Vietnam were shunned, demonized and neglected by some because they served in an unpopular war. Too many of those who opposed the war in Vietnam chose to blame not only the leaders who ordered the mission, but the young men who simply answered their country’s call. Four decades later, the sting of that injustice is a wound that has never fully healed, and one that should never be repeated.

Most of us would agree with that sentiment, and I would argue that even if it was just one person mistreating vets, that is too many.

The Emily’s list kerfuffle as well is an embarrassment not only to the Democratic party and to themselves, but to the state of modern feminism. Obsidian Wings summarized it well:

I honestly do not see how someone like Ellen Malcolm, who founded Emily’s List, is still its President, and knows how politics works, could have written that “the game is too close to call” in good faith. It is not too close to call. Barring catastrophe, or a Rapture in which Obama is called to be with his maker while Hillary Clinton is left behind, Obama will win the race...

I supported Emily’s List for sixteen years. (Maybe seventeen: I can’t recall whether I signed up in 1991 or 1992.) Over the years, I have sent their candidates thousands of dollars. That ended this campaign season, when it became clear to me that the leaders of Emily’s List, and Ellen Malcolm in particular, had lost their intellectual integrity. This column is a perfect illustration of why I reached that conclusion. Luckily, Emily’s List isn’t so necessary anymore. It’s a lot easier to find out about great progressive women candidates nationwide, and to give money to them. And there are a lot of other good political organizations whose presidents don’t find it necessary either to lie to me or to invoke sexism, which I take very seriously, in a purely cynical fashion.

Hillary will drop out because she lost the race, not because she is a woman.


There are other factors as well. John Aravosis considers the effect down-ticket:

One congressional candidate told us that if Hillary is the nominee, it’s a guaranteed 5 point hit they take right from the start (meaning, they start the race 5-points down in the polls). Why? Because too many people hate Hillary. That’s why her negatives are higher than her positives. She will bring out voters who might not have voted otherwise. And the voters she will bring out will be rabid conservatives who will vote against Democrats across the board.

Another congressional candidate told us that it’s even worse than that. Not only will the candidate have to publicly run AGAINST Hillary, should she get the nomination, but she’s already damaging their campaign. First off, fundraising. The money isn’t coming in, first because everyone is focused on the Hillary-Obama race, and not paying attention to congressional races. Another problem, people are pissed off, on all sides. They’re not in the mood to give. And finally, some major donors don’t want to give to any second-tier campaigns (meaning, campaigns that have less of a chance, but still have a chance, of winning) until they see whether Hillary or Obama get the nomination. Why? Because if Hillary gets the nomination, our candidates in red states, or states that are red/blue, will get slaughtered, and thus there’s no reason to fund them.

While I’m sure he’s quoting accurately, he overstates the case. Brand “GOP” is, to borrow the phrase, polling lower than syphilis. The GOP knows it and is freaking out. We shouldn’t become complacent, but the ball is in our court. It’s true that Hillary would be more of a challenge down ticket - simply because she’s polarizing and people don’t trust her. This isn’t an overriding consideration (though it tells us something about supposed electability). It deserves some consideration as we seek to increase our majorities in Congress. Reaching that magic "60" in the senate would merit dancing in the streets.


Meanwhile, who do we think is going to be persuaded by Hillary’s Budweiser/NRA-Lite persona? It’s not compelling against McCain, it’s not authentic, and it’s not fooling anyone. Even Townhall observes:

Senator Clinton no more deserves gun-owner votes than Lord Voldemort deserves the Muggle vote. In the Senate, she has voted in favoring of abusive lawsuits against law-abiding gun manufacturers, for banning cosmetically incorrect guns which are falsely labeled “assault weapons,” and for allowing federal funds to be used to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens after a natural disaster—as was done following Hurricane Katrina.

Her lone pro-Second Amendment vote was for a national bill allowing retired police officers, under stringent licensing conditions, to carry concealed handguns in all fifty states.

Truth be told, I don’t think Hillary should drop out - yet. The primary schedule is what it is, and we know Obama can’t sweep the states even though he cannot be denied the nomination. In terms of momentum, we are better off having two candidates split primaries than having Obama come in second while running unopposed. That too is reality. But the slash and burn, the politics of personal destruction MUST stop.

We don’t need to be helping the Republican’ts tear down our candidate. Moreover, we don’t want to contribute to the demoralizing effect on our own party. Wil Wheaton captures the feelings of many:

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that over the last 10 weeks or so, I’ve gone from respecting to feeling sorry for to actively despising Hillary Clinton.

It’s over. She knows it’s over. It’s been over for almost three months, but she’s been moving the goalposts and cynically and cravenly pandering to voters in a way that’s not only insulting, but is embarrassing. John Cole frequently says that he can’t believe he ever supported Bush, and I can now join him in saying that I can’t believe I ever supported, defended and believed in the Clintons.

The thing about all of this is that, with a Clinton victory in the primary about as likely as jumping off the roof of your house and landing on the moon, it’s become clear that this whole thing isn’t about Democrats or beating McCain (who is inexplicably running for Bush’s third term) or saving our country from the catastrophic failure of the Bush years. No, it’s all about her. It’s about her ego. It’s about refusing to admit that she did her best, but voters (except those encouraged by Rush Limbaugh to cross party lines and fuck with our primary) have pretty clearly said “No thanks. You’re a good senator, but we want something different now.”



Eye on the prize, folks. Don’t forget the big picture. I see letters to the editor like this one in my local paper by Caroline Marx:

I am one of those 50-plus conservative Democratic career women who is an ardent Hillary contributor. I am not working class, black or uneducated. Yes, the odds are against Clinton now, but she is the one who can beat John McCain. Barack Obama will get creamed against McCain — Dukakis revisited.

My vote will go to McCain if Obama is our nominee. McCain is already salivating, using Clinton’s playbook. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, please change your superdelegate vote. Hillary Clinton is electable; Barack Obama is not.

I see comments in blogs like this:

It’s a long shot, to be sure, but I’m always reminded of Al Gore in 2000 and how angry all of us got at him for not fighting it until the bitter end, caving in simply because it was “the right thing to do.”

And it really frustrates me. Focus people! Ms. Marx, aside from being woefully misinformed about Obama’s general electibility, apparently believes a third Bush term would be better for a woman’s right to choose than an Obama administration. And by so doing she makes a profound error. There are some areas in which I prefer Hillary’s policy to Obama’s (the converse is also true), but first and foremost is the matter of controlling judicial nominations. Justice Stevens still has his health, but will be in his 90s by 2012. Ginsberg isn’t young either. Four of the five most political minded justices in history are presently sitting on the court. We simply cannot afford another GOP nomination.


As for Carl’s piece, I appreciate his frustration. But setting aside for a moment the issues with Florida (a big one being Gore got fewer votes), he falls into the trap of confusing primary vs. general elections. The objective is to find a nominee, not to beat the hell out of each other and waste millions of dollars that might be better used supporting other progressive candidates and working toward a November victory. Michigan and Florida, in terms of their illegal January primaries, are simply non starters. Obama is visiting now because it makes sense to do so, to begin moving forward as the nominee.

It used to be Clinton Derangement Syndrome applied to the wingnuts, but there’s a new variety afflicting those who don’t know when to let go.

The time is far spent, there is little remaining… The primary process has been a good experienceand millions of new voters have gotten registered, engaged, and are excited about the process and the election. That’s a good thing. Now is the time to build thereupon with an eye toward November.

Hillary was the early favorite and expected a coronation. That didn’t happen. While she won’t be too old to run again in 2016, the conventional wisdom is “this” is her moment. But it is not a time to get bogged down in internecine warfare. I pray the Clintons recognize this.

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  • she seems to have toned it down - she knows it is over and i would like to believe she knows that if her "friend" mccain gets elected -- her chances in 2012 are really non-existent -- there wont be any country left to govern

    By Blogger Distributorcap, at 6:22 AM  

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