Saturday, May 30, 2015

What's Martin O'Malley's game?

By Richard Barry

Reports are that former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley will launch his presidential candidacy Saturday in what most are politely calling an uphill battle. 

He'll talk about income inequality, helping the middle class, and the need for a new generation of leadership, or "fresh leadership," as he has called it.

He'll talk about how deregulation and tax cuts have helped the rich get richer. He'll talk about the immense power Wall Street has in shaping the economy and politics of the nation and how we really ought to do something about that. As he recently asked an audience in New Hampshire, "Do you want this to be a country where only the rich can get ahead."

In a sense, he'll talk about what all Democrats are talking about these days.

Whatever he says, he better get to work as a new Quinnipiac University Poll of Democrats nationally has O'Malley at 1% support compared to Clinton with 57%, followed by Sanders at 15%, and Biden at  9%.

The same poll found that "80% of Democratic voters said they didn't know enough about O'Malley to have an opinion of him."

So, what's O'Malley's game? Could it be that if the Clinton campaign finds a way to run itself into the ground as it did in 2008, he thinks he could be there to pick up the pieces? That must be it because Hillary Clinton is at least as progressive as O'Malley, and if he thinks he can put any distance between himself and Mrs. Clinton by drawing attention, however obliquely, to her ties to Wall Street, he's delusional. And the new generation of leadership thing might resonate if the race was closer.

As for Bernie Sanders, well, the self-described socialist is likely too much on the fringes of American politics to seriously compete, but if he does well enough in the primaries, and raises enough questions about Mrs. Clinton, O'Malley may hope that voters will instead come to him as the credible anti-Hillary.

All of this is quite ridiculous but for the fact that presidential politics often shifts at a very quick rate of speed and, though it may be too much to say that anything can happen, some unexpected things do happen. 

Unfortunately for Gov. O'Malley I am finding it hard to imagine how a successful run for the Democratic nomination could be one of those things.

Bottom line is that Democrats are so invested in the thought that they can keep the White House if only they more or less enthusiastically get behind Hillary Clinton that nothing will change that view, certainly not Martin O'Malley.

In his defence, however, I will say that Democrats are more loyal to the idea of victory than to Mrs. Clinton, and if she stumbles badly, they will look for another option without breaking a sweat.


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  • I think you are right about what O'Malley is thinking. I also think that he is wrong. If Clinton implodes, other (much more popular) candidates will jump in the race.

    But I don't really think that Democrats are behind Clinton because they think she is the surest way to keeping the White House. I really think that most of the party really didn't like choosing between Obama and Clinton in 2008. In short, I think the party really likes her. And those of us nearer the left are okay with her. (For us, it might be more accurate to say that we consider her our best option to keep the White House.) But I'm the first to admit that this is not my area. This is just the impression I get from afar.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 5:35 PM  

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