Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yes She Did

I thought the speech was mostly pretty good. She sounded genuine and not overly self-absorbed to my hearing. There were also some welcome and surprisingly good lines affirming gay rights (where the hell has this been all campaign??), and some nice allusions to civil rights and those on the margins of American society.

But in terms of how difficult all this is so supposed to be for her and her supporters, it seems to me there's one very easy was of dealing with that--try ripping the Republicans a few new ones. She claims to be a fighter. Whether she gets the VP nod or not--and I'm feeling more charitable today than I was earlier this week--let her turn some of her supposed fighting-ness against John McBush and the Republicrat Party that would turn back the causes of African Americans, women, and others relegated to the fringes of American society.

She made some contributions to this end today, but in much milder forms than I hope she can generate later, the sooner the better. If she or her supporters want her to be the VP, she and they can get an early start doing what VP candidates typically do. Don't wait for an invitation.

I also thought she could have done more towards addressing the racial healing this campaign--and her campaign in particular--has generated the need for. While there were a few allusions to Obama's similarly historical campaign and the civil rights struggles of yesteryear, there's still another big elephant or bull left standing in the china shop in addition to the War--race. Regular, white, hard working white Americans and all that. The speech crowd was overwhelmingly White. If she wants to go further, in this year or some future year, she has some damage to repair in this area.

Meanwhile, one of the oddities of this campaign, and HRC's in particular, is what seems to me to have been a shocking deficit of attention being paid to so-called women's issues, like abortion, access to birth control, equal pay, paid leave, etc. Hillary has stuck mostly to generic, middle class pabulum. Her references today to labor rights, the need for greater unionization, gay rights, and civil rights are a welcome change from what has been a dirth of attention paid to these issues so far.

Maybe there's an understandable, if still not a good reason, for this; these issues tend to be controversial. But as she is supposed to be a fighter and all, she will go a long way to making me feel all warm and fuzzy about her in the future if she, you know, actually does fight for something and on behalf of those issues and people most in need of it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Politics of Banality

One of the things that struck me about Hillary's non-concession speech was, beyond its seeming spitefulness and intractability, the essential banality of its content. As in past speeches there were multiple examples of people she met and how her campaign was all about them and how she was all about fighting for them, for their health care, for their jobs, for their education, etc, all things that the federal government has little control over. What's particularly weird about our politics is how contentious it is over what is basically nothing. There wasn't anything meaningful in Hillary's speech. She complained, as Democratic candidates are wont to do, about the individuals who don't have health insurance and can't get it; but in the case of Hillary--wasn't your husband President for eight years? And haven't you been in the U.S. Senate for eight years? If there are still people who don't have health insurance, aren't you and your vaunted experience part of the problem, or at least not the solution?

Of course this political banality isn't restricted to Hillary. She pretty much copied--xeroxed if you will--her campaign material and slogans from her husband's campaigns a decade and a half ago (although, thankfully, she didn't promise to build any bridges to the next century or generation or whatever). John Edwards ran much the same kind of campaign and Obama has taken, or been pushed by the media, to adopt much of the same vague platitudes and laments about American life with the equally dubious promises to solve them all.

Today, fresh off his elevation to presumptive nominee, Obama goes before the Likud super-cult, AIPAC. Here's hoping he takes the opportunity to engage in some much-needed "straight talk". But I'm not optimistic. Candidates' prostrating themselves before the god AIPAC is becoming a deeply regrettable campaign must-do. With all the banalities and propaganda that entails.

Chris Matthews Attributes Hillary's Loss to Her War Vote


MSNBC just ran yet another "What Clinton Did Wrong" piece which... didn't mention the war.

Arguably there were two major substantive policy differences between Clinton and Obama. The first one is their health plans, and the second one is Iraq. Perhaps absent more differences it's inevitable that the horse race/identity politics/silly season/"gaffe" stuff gets elevated even more than it usually is, but at the very least they could mention the real, if small, differences in their policy positions.

And it is Iraq. No Iraq, no way to challenge Clinton.


I was watching MSNBC during most of the coverage last night and I do recall Chris Matthews, of all people, at one point quite explicitly point out that a key distinction between Obama and Clinton was the latter's vote to authorize the Iraq war and that that decision was the key cause of Obama's ultimate victory. Matthews referred to Obama's opposition to the war as "surendipitous".

I did, however, find all the banter about Hillary as VP a bit much to deal with. Both CNN and MSNBC were playing up this angle all night.

I even watched all of Hillary's speech, with one towards the little clock in the bottom left hand corner of the screen indicating when the Montana polls would close, hoping that the land of Big Sky would give Obama a symbolic victory to paper over the disappointment of losing South Dakota by double digits.

Despite the thousands filling the arena in St. Paul, it certainly feels like Obama limped across the finish line. Maybe stumbled is the right word.

So in some ways I'm not surprised by the mostly defiant tone Hillary struck last night. But her egging on her supporters to log onto her website and offer suggestions as to what she should do now was pretty weird.

Meanwhile, I got a kick out of the reception to John McCain's 8:30 address. Jeffrey Toobin on CNN ridiculed it, causing the normally congenial David Gergen to shift uneasily in his seat next to him.

From Pandagon commenter Incertus:

Man, Toobin just kicked McCain in the junk for that speech.

Monday, June 02, 2008

2012 and Beyond

If, heaven forbid, the Democrats lose in '08, or face a quasi-open primary in '16, we might do well to remember crap like this--

You guys have seen the latest Clinton craziness, right? The freaking out over the "four delegates" that were supposedly wrenched from their hands by the DNC's RBC committee this past Saturday. To hear them say it, Obama is evvvviiiilllll because he denied Clinton four delegates she "won" in Michigan's potemkin one-candidate "primary". Why couldn't have Obama been magnanimous and just given Clinton those extra four delegates? He's going to win anyway, right? Would the four delegates have made a difference?

Of course, the issue isn't the four delegates. The Clinton campaign made clear a long time ago that they don't view this as a delegate fight. Not since she lost the lead in delegates. Now, they view it as a popular vote fight.

Had the DNC handed out delegates based on January's sham vote, it would've ratified the election as a legitimate one (as ended up happening with Florida, by the way). Hillary and her acolytes would've then had a greater claim to her Michigan "victory" of 328,309 votes to zero for Obama. As is, at the Michigan Democratic Party's insistence, the DNC threw out the election and invented a new split out of thin air. Obama had the vote for a 50-50 split, but threw Clinton a few extra delegates to try and ease bruised feelings.

But again, Clinton doesn't give a damn about those extra delegates. She wanted to ratify the Michigan election and claim that 328,309-vote advantage for her tally.

So when you see Clinton surrogates in a rage about those "four delegates", understand that their rage has nothing to do with four delegates. It has to do with the blow it dealt to their propaganda efforts.

And crap like this.

If the Clintons think they can bleed Obama to death between now and November and expect to show up in '12 or '16 and cash in their presidency-entitlement ticket (like they tried to do this year), they shouldn't act surprised if their reception is a little less than gracious. (h/t Andrew Sullivan).

Jesse Taylor Back At Pandagon

And boy is he laying the smacketh down:

All I want is a nominee who’ll pick smart fights. Clinton hasn’t shown herself to be that candidate...

Experience is only worth something if you learn from it. From what I’ve been able to tell, the main lesson Clinton’s learned thus far is that you always hold the line, no matter how ridiculously out of touch with reality it may be...

Of all the bad decisions the Clinton campaign made, deciding that Obama was more The Enemy than John McCain was likely the worst...

For all the snide talk of “Obamabots” and the alleged cult-like behavior of Obama supporters (which was almost entirely overplayed), the increasing legitimacy of the Bible of Clinton (with the Gospels of Michigan and Florida and the Acts of the Superdelegates I and II) is far more disturbing than any reports of fainting at rallies or the overexuberance of young supporters...

Hillary Clinton is going to lose. She will likely lose Wednesday. Everything that I’ve talked about, everything that has happened during this race, makes me very wary about her ability to bring her supporters back into the fold - a responsibility, incidentally, that does fall largely on her. And if they do wander away, if they do vote for John McCain over Barack Obama, it will be her greatest failure as a candidate and as a leader...

Damn, that's some good shit.

Fair and Balanced

While I won't do the dis-service of linking to them, I will point out that the Washington Post graced us with TWO snarling, anti-Scott McClellan op-eds this morning, plus a Howie Kurtz column in Style that basically adopts Karl Rove's talking points on McClellan's book.

Your liberal media at work.

What Will Krugman Say?

I wonder what Paul Krugman, who's been dishing it out to Obama supporters this primary season, will say about this? And this? And this? And this?