Obama supporters and Democratic Party members should stop wasting their time being outraged about Hillary Clinton and work on getting their guy to the general
“In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio’s the only place they can win … She is a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything … You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh’,” Power is quoted as telling the newspaper. “But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive.”
— Samantha Power, a foreign policy adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign quoted in remarks she later attempted to retract as saying in The Scotsman newspaper. Power has since left the Obama campaign.
“After a campaign in which many of the questions that voters had in the closing days centered on concerns that they had over his state of preparedness to be commander in chief and steward of the economy, he has chosen instead of addressing those issues to attack. I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president.”
— Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson on Obama’s statement that he plans to be more critical of Clinton’s record.
A lot people have expressed some surprise, alarm and anger even over the Democratic Party’s Hillary Clinton situation. There’s the shock and dismay. How could she say the things or do the things she’s doing with disregard for her friends, supporters and fellow Democrats? It’s all very personal considering many of us defended her when she was routinely attacked by Republicans.
Why would she denigrate Barack Obama by ensuing that she and the Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, are more qualified to run for president? Why is her campaign continuing when the math doesn’t favor her? Why is she attacking Obama’s campaign the same way she would attack a Republican?
The answer is very simple – She wants to win.
Naked ambition is something most Democrats have divorced themselves from. The party is largely dominated with Northern Democrats, who are a genteel bunch and very different from their Populist-leaning, rancorous Southern and Midwestern brethren who defected to the opposing team after Jim Crow was abolished.
The present day Democratic Party, bless their timid hearts, is kind of passive. The Clintons, on the other hand, are into the same rancorous, rough n’ tumble politicking that has typified American campaigns. They had no time for pleasantries. They have no concerns about justifications or fairness. It is about the endgame. She wants to win through, even if it takes super delegate wheeling and dealing, backdoor favors and bargaining, blow-for-blow, attack/counterattack, assassination-style hardball politics.
From The New Republic:
Clinton’s path to the nomination is pretty repulsive. She isn’t going to win at the polls. Barack Obama has a lead of 144 pledged delegates. That may not sound like a lot in a 4,000-delegate race, but it is. Clinton’s Ohio win reduced that total by only nine. She would need 15 more Ohios to pull even with Obama. She isn’t going to do much to dent, let alone eliminate, his lead.
That means, as we all have grown tired of hearing, that she would need to win with superdelegates. But, with most superdelegates already committed, Clinton would need to capture the remaining ones by a margin of better than two to one. And superdelegates are going to be extremely reluctant to overturn an elected delegate lead the size of Obama’s. The only way to lessen that reluctance would be to destroy Obama’s general election viability, so that superdelegates had no choice but to hand the nomination to her. Hence her flurry of attacks, her oddly qualified response as to whether Obama is a Muslim (“not as far as I know”), her repeated suggestions that John McCain is more qualified.
This is not new.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was a political animal who bullied his New Deal through, fought and won against the Republicans and congress and served four-and-a-half terms as president. His relative and former president Teddy Roosevelt was also a fighter with populist leanings. Andrew Jackson, who didn’t he fight? Lyndon Johnson was the most powerful and influential member of congress, giving up that threshold to be Kennedy’s vice president, despite the fact they were bitter rivals.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had the power of the unions behind him and was the man you needed to be in with to win the state of Illinois. Many historians believe the “irregularities” in the vote count in Chicago during the 1960 presidential race won the presidency for John F. Kennedy.
These are people who don’t shy away from a fight. They actually enjoy it. They work to build a network, then position themselves as the conduit people have to go through to advance. They were always in positions of power to advance their own goals and the agendas of their parties.
These are the sort of people where you say, “Gee. I’m glad they’re on our side.” They’re so destructive to the opposition, and it’s fun to watch your lion to rip into someone else.
But it’s not all that enjoyable when your beast mauls you.
Democrats have a habit of eating their own.
This campaign is definitely not an exception. Hillary Clinton, like her husband, is full of boundless ambition and ego. What she lacks is his warm charm and his ability to be all things to everyone without irking the different factions he was promising things to. She’s been running a tin ear campaign based on the fact that she’s been unable to adapt to an unforeseen opponent.
Clinton and her team didn’t conceive the race lasting past Feb. 5. They didn’t conceive of a race where any Democratic candidate would rival her in popularity. She had no “Obama” contingency plan. There is no plan “B.” So she’s doing the only thing she knows how to do, fight. She can justify it or quantify it in any way she pleases. The New Republic repeats the meme that Clinton is doing this to “toughen” Obama up for the general, but let’s be real. We both know it’s not about that.
Clinton’s path to the nomination, then, involves the following steps: kneecap an eloquent, inspiring, reform-minded young leader who happens to be the first serious African American presidential candidate (meanwhile cementing her own reputation for Nixonian ruthlessness) and then win a contested convention by persuading party elites to override the results at the polls. The plan may also involve trying to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations, after having explicitly agreed that the results would not count toward delegate totals. Oh, and her campaign has periodically hinted that some of Obama’s elected delegates might break off and support her. I don’t think she’d be in a position to defeat Hitler’s dog in November, let alone a popular war hero.
It doesn’t matter if the fighting is destructive or hurts people. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like her or not. She only has one goal – to win, no matter the costs. Get the nomination, get the White House and then all wounds will be healed through winning.
Many people are appalled by this. The ambition, the lack of boundaries. They compare it to the tactics of the tormentors of Democrats, the Republican “attack machine.” That chorus of far right talk show hosts, gutless ex-congressmen and commentators, FOX news, the RNC all trying to buffalo. How could she engage in the politics of destruction?
Because the politics of destruction get you in office.
It’s not a perceive tactic, you can’t do it without looking dirty yourself. But most Republicans don’t care whose feelings they hurt to get where they want to go. They normally don’t turn their talons on each other publicly, but they are willing to do anything to win in a general election. When Hillary uses words like she’s “vetted” and “tested” that’s code for her saying, “I’m in tune with the political reality. I know what is coming. I’ve dealt with it before and I survived.”
Not many Democrats can claim they survived a Republican firestorm. The battlefield is littered with Democrats who were shocked, SHOCKED, when members of the opposition were be so brazen in their pursuit of power. That they didn’t have the decency to abide by the rules. How there were no rules. How they were willing attack the service records of war heroes while backing a person who spent Vietnam in the Texas Air National Guard. There is no bar that is too low to stoop to.
As distasteful as this is, this is the political reality. No amount of charisma or charm is going to make up for the fact that the Republicans and their proxies will do anything to win. It doesn’t matter if the attacks are untrue or distortions. They simply don’t care. They know how to make a falsehood become the new reality.
This isn’t a case for Senator Clinton, this rather more of an explanation. You can’t be surprised when a political animal attacks you. What did you think they were going to do? Politely retire to the sidelines? Do you blame a wild animal for acting like one?
That’s why I don’t get so rankled about Hillary. Sure, I wish she’d find a less counterproductive way to make her case, but this is politics, not golf where we’re whispering and marking each others scores down respectfully. She’s acting like a politician who is brash and bold, ready to go to the do most suicidal things to weaken the corrode halo on her opponent’s head.
To think she was gong to genteelly play footsie with Obama on the way to his coronation is simple foolishness. Negativity is all she has to pry voters from Obama. They are running on identical platforms. They are both junior senators. They have similar voting records. They have very few substantive points to fight over. He accuses her of having bad judgment in voting for the provision that lead to war in Iraq. She accuses him of having a healthcare plan that doesn’t cover everyone.
There’s not much to work with here. They’re debates are an agree-a-thon. So with Obama out in front and Hillary close behind she’s trying to balance her attacks by not making them as blunt as the Republicans, while not explicitly debunking lies conservative interlopers fabrications on Obama. She is using the Democratic political machine, trying to work it to her advantage, holding on to super delegates and begging others to come back. Unless Obama decapitates her campaign with a decisive, dream-ending paso doble in the next few states, Clinton will keep coming back like a cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger. Clinton has to be defeated in order to win.
She’s not going to back down out of respect or niceness. She is not interested in our feelings or the dreams of others. She has one goal, and one goal alone, get to the White House, make up with everyone later. Live and fight for today, don’t worry about tomorrow. Damn the party because if she loses at the end of the day she’ll still be the senator from New York. We’re the ones who really have something at stake this election.
If and when Obama gets the nomination he is going to need a Hillary Clinton style attack dog to be the aggressor he can’t be. Obama is running on a platform that presents him as a fresh air alternative and no one wants to see how the sausage gets made.
No one wants to know about the back room deals, attacks and compromises. And Obama doesn’t have the same liberties Bill Clinton had in 1992. Bill could play both “the charmer” and “the hatchet man,” and never promised to be above the fray. He was always in it, moving back and forth between the two without a thought. When Obama shows even a glimmer of frustration he’s labeled as a “whiner” who can’t take the heat of a real campaign.
Obama’s best bet is to continue to be relaxed, but give swift, definitive responses to libelous allegations. And underneath that pristine sheen of hope he needs a junkyard dog, his own personal LBJ, to get things done.
Strangely, Hillary Clinton would actually make a decent junkyard dog if she weren’t so dead set on being top dog. But Obama is going to need an aggressor if he doesn’t want to become another member of the “We Got Cold-Cocked by the Right” club. The ticket can’t afford to look passive in the fall. It has to be a mixture of both new and old politics because old politics is what runs Washington.
He is going to need an insider to inject some spine into Democrats who usually fall to pieces at the first sight of a Republican attack. He’s going to need surrogates who will doggedly demand fair coverage from the press, who will practically bully the opposition into distancing themselves from the bigots they cuddle up to for support. Who will chastise the press into submission, without regard if the press’ allegations w
ere justified or not. Intimidate those who dare to challenge your mission, to not feel pity for those who fight against you.
Yes. It’s dirty, but it works.
Obama can’t be the man to commit the hits, but he needs someone to carry them out. He’s not going to be able to “hope” the Tom Delays and Newt Gingrichs of the world into submission. And people will become pretty disenchanted once the general election starts and they watch RNC operatives twist and convolute every word and stoop to levels you think they won’t go.
Just rhink the worst, multiply it by two and you’ll find that there’s still a level lower than that which they will go. For nearly two decades now there are still rumors circulating that Bill and Hillary Clinton made people “political prisoners” in Arkansas and that she was behind the suicide of Vince Foster. If you’re willing to come up with things this preposterous and peddle them as truths you don’t have a limit.
If Obama’s the nominee it will not vanquish the dark hearts of some Americans who want him to fail. And that is what Hillary is arguing for. She knows their dark hearts. She has studied them. She has adopted their tactics and now uses them at her disposal. You know what you’re getting into with her. You know what to expect. She argues that you don’t know how Obama will hold up against the tactics of the RNC’s proxies.
And the reality is we don’t know. Obama is still trying to find the right way to deal with Hillary’s accusations and hers are mild in comparison to the right wing’s habit of bringing up his middle name “Hussein” all the time. Yes, it seems childish, but it works. On Tuesday CBS interviewed white, blue collar men in Ohio who honestly believed Obama was a Muslim who he didn’t know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance and didn’t stand up for the national anthem.
Obama needs to show he can take care of Hillary with authority. Because if he can’t deal with her, he’s going to have the shock of his life come November. The enemy is coming and unlike Hillary, who’s actually attacking with one-hand behind her back, (hence the maddening inconsistency), the opposition will have two guns in hand, locked and loaded, and a militia of operatives who all have millions of viewers and listeners who will spread their disease of ignorance to everyone they touch.
Hillary knows it. And that’s why she keeps bringing it up. I don’t think her heart is dark, or that she’s a racist. I think she has a huge ego. I think she wants to win. If her heart was dark she’d be calling him by his middle name and screaming “Nation of Islam Muslim Radical!” at the top of her lungs with the conservative chorus. She’s not that destructive. She’s just prickly enough to make charges that he lacks qualifications, would be seen as weak in a general election and can’t win. Anything to give the super delegates pause so that she can possible snag the nomination.
During a rally back in South Carolina when John Edwards was still in the race, in exasperation he yelled at the crowd that it made no sense nominating someone who can’t win. He also made allusions on CNN and MSNBC that the last two Democratic presidents talked like him, implicating that they were southern white males. Hillary’s doing the same thing, only she’s much more high profile than the scrappy but ineffective Edwards.
She represents the last two term Democratic administration and the political establishment. She is trying to remind people that although she’s not a man, she’s the lesser risk. That America is more likely to elect a Democrat with the last name Clinton than a black man named Barack Obama. She’s banking on racism to trump gender.
I don’t know if that would happen. I still think this is a hard glass ceiling to crack for either Obama or Clinton.
It’s sad that it had to get to this point where everyone is walking around with chips on their shoulders accusing each other of being “monsters” and “Ken Starrs.” It’s all very ridiculous, but politics are ridiculous.
I still encourage people to stay motivated and positive. You’re going to need to have some good times to remember before the shit officially hits the fan. But you’re not going to be able to finesse the Clintons of the world out of existence. It’s better to learn from them and find a better way to improve upon their battle tested modus operandi of attack-retreat-counterattack.
Perceived weakness because of an inability to debunk Hillary’s attacks is one attribute Obama cannot afford in the fall. No one wants to hear the cries of, “If you can’t handle Hillary Clinton, how can you handle al Qaeda?”