Ain’t No Party Like a Clinton Party
(HillBuzz can post videos like this all day)
The beginning of the end for the Obama campaign
By John Carlson
Everything in politics has an arc — a beginning, a high point and an end. The art of campaigning is to hit the high end of that arc as close to Election Day as possible.
That happened in 1980 when Ronald Reagan, after stumbling for two weeks following the Republican convention in Detroit, regained his footing, restored his momentum and won 41 states on Election Day. In 1988, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis ran 17 points ahead of Vice President George Bush — in July. From then on, everything ran downhill and Dukakis won just 10 states. On the evening before Election Day 2000, Dick Cheney told me a network poll had George W. Bush up 6 points. But the momentum had been moving toward Al Gore. Had the election lasted 24 hours longer, Gore probably would have peaked at just the right time.
Barack Obama has generated more excitement this year than any presidential contender in at least a generation. Having seen nothing like him in their lives, young people have signed up in droves. Older Democrats say the last candidate who connected with them this way was Bobby Kennedy in ’68. Women faint at his rallies. That wouldn’t happen at a John McCain or Hillary Clinton event unless it was held in 110-degree heat.
But excitement is closely tied to momentum and the Obama campaign is losing both. The affection for him is genuine, but it’s less a long-term romance than a crush. And everyone knows that crushes either crash or fade. Ask an Obama supporter about the senator’s greatest political accomplishment and the reaction is often the same: a crinkled eyebrow, an awkward acknowledgment that they can’t think of anything, but he still inspires them because he represents “change” and “hope.”
OK. But soaring, uplifting sermons promising “hope” and “change” eventually run dry unless they’re connected to clear ideas and a coherent agenda. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech was about ending segregation in the pursuit of racial equality in every aspect of life. He was speaking truth to power for a clear purpose.
But, Obama’s words aren’t a bridge to ideas and opinions, they’re substitutes for them. He calls for common ground, but the senator actually has a more liberal voting record than Hillary Clinton and is much more ideological and partisan in the Senate than McCain.
Obama’s losses in both Texas and Ohio underscore why time is not on his side. These were the first primaries that didn’t follow on the heels of another with another contest immediately following. Instead voters were able to sit back for three full weeks, listen to the debates, watch how the candidates and their spouses talked to different audiences in different parts of the state, hear their advertising and take their time digesting this information and discussing it with others at home, work and the barber shop.
When they did that, Obama began to fade. Like a hit record that’s been on the charts for a while, they still smile when it plays but they’re getting used to hearing it. In Ohio, a must-win state for the Democrats in November, people began to tire of it. Isn’t there a “B” side?
Most Americans like Obama but they don’t know him, and liking and trusting aren’t quite the same thing. A TV spot asking whom voters would rather have picking up the phone at the White House during an overseas crisis at 3 a.m. simply asked what any reasonable voter would consider before pulling the lever in November. That’s hardly a low blow or an act of “desperation” by the Clinton people. (If the McCain campaign is smart, it’ll rerun that ad in the fall, with McCain picking up the line.)
And Michelle Obama didn’t help with her comment about finally, in her 40s, “being proud of my country for the first time,” and suggesting to a young audience in a working-class Ohio town that they should sidestep “corporate America” and instead seek out more rewarding, lower-paying jobs in teaching and social work. Whom did she think she was talking to, the senior class at Vassar?
There is much to like and admire about the first post-’60s candidate for president. But his constant incantations of “change” aren’t enough — especially when your Democratic opponent and Republican challenger already offer a clear change from the status quo.
The senator has built up a huge wave of momentum and he is still the odds-on favorite to get the nomination. But even as he surfs, the wave is beginning to crest.
Both Obama and his wife are mentioned in the Antoin “Big Tony” Rezko trial, involving the purchase of the Obama Mansion near the University of Chicago.
The McLaughlin Group talked about this recently: Patrick Fitzgerald will convict Rezko, and per his MO, will then pressure Rezko to give Fitzgerald information on both Obama and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevic.
There is a strong possibility Obama himself will be called to testify in the “Big Tony” Rezko case — his personal friend is under indictment, and Rezko did help Obama buy the spacious Obama Mansion, after all.
Chicago politics: talk about change you can believe in!
Every couple of days it hits us here at HillBuzz: a woman is running for President. How amazing is that? Sometimes, I think we all spend far too much time buried in polls and strategy to appreciate the enormity of all this. A woman is running for President — AND she’s come farther than any woman has ever come before in a presidential race. Like Eleanor Roosevelt before her, even Hillary Clinton’s biggest detractors have to admit she’s an amazing woman. An amazing PERSON. There are a lot of little girls out there who are going to grow up in a world where they honestly believe they can be anything, they can do anything. I give some of that credit to Hillary, for waking up each morning in the eye of this political hurricane, never knowing what’s going to be thrown at her. Could you do this? Could you blaze a trail like this?
And just imagine what it would be like to be 101 years old, having seen everything you’ve seen. What Hillary’s accomplished already ranks up there with landing on the moon. When she’s in the White House, it will be like landing on Mars!
“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.” -Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001
* If it weren’t for the scorched Earth and global shame he leaves behind, HillBuzz would almost miss this man when he’s out of office next year: or rather, we’d miss gems like the one above, so full of hope and inspiration.
Hey, wait a minute, who else does that sound like? It just underscores the fact that the person you want to drink beer and hangout with is not necessarily the man who should be running the country.
Though, having a beer with the woman running the country would be a pretty great night indeed.
* There’s just something about this guy that reminds HillBuzz of all the Greek myths we used to read in school as kids. Someone blessed and talented, fawned over, who comes to believe he is the greatest at this or that in the whole world. He becomes boastful and, to use one of Obama’s own phrases to describe himself, “boneheaded”. And then, the Fates conspire and stars align to bring him down a notch, or four. That happened on March 4th, when Obama lost Ohio and, in effect, lost the nomination. Without Ohio and big states like it, Obama cannot win the nomination, despite his caucus-fueled delegate lead of the moment. And, if in fact HillBuzz is wrong and he would find a way to snag the nomination (by winning Pennsylvania, which is the only way he will win the nomination), his hubris would run smack dab into the Straight Talk Express. We’d bet on the freight train, and it looks like we’re not alone in that:
Regardless of Clinton’s motives for offering Obama the vice-presidency, it expressed a reality that Obama has yet to face: Neither candidate can win in November without the supporters of the other. Obama’s response was not only childish and arrogant, it was stupid. Yes, he’s ahead by a few votes. But to translate that tiny lead into: “I’m number one and I don’t need anyone” makes him sound like a Republican. If he thinks he can win in November without Clinton’s supporters he’s already let his popularity blow his ego into Bush-bubble proportions.
All he needed to do to field Clinton’s offer and still look mature was to make the counter-offer. Offer the vice-presidency to her, instead of puffing himself up and huffing about his little lead. The truth is, he’s hardly any closer to winning than she is, and the longer they battle it out, the easier it will be for McCain in November.
Obama needs to remember that while the Republican party believes in a majoritarian kind of pseudo-democracy, in which winning 50.001% of the vote entitles you to act like a dictator and ignore the 49.999% of the populace that didn’t vote for you, the Democratic party has always embraced a more genuine consensual model–trying to represent the nation. This is reflected in their different primary approaches–Republicans: winner-take-all; Democrats: proportional representation.
It’s the height of hypocrisy for Obama to talk incessantly about ‘change’ and ‘hope’, while engaging in the same sort of macho, I’m-number-one-I’m-the-decider silliness that has brought our nation to its present state of decline.
We expect more of him.
By Mona Charen
Barack Obama’s words are often attractive but oddly concealing. His speeches are all balm and mood. It’s all very well to seek, as Obama claims, to transcend old categories, to reject the “old politics.” But then what? This graceful rhetorician leaves you wondering: Who is he really? What does he want for himself and for his country?
In search of answers that go deeper than the Congressional Record, I read his first book, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.” Once you get past the happy surprise of finding a politician who can actually write, the book contains some disquieting elements.
Obama is the product of a union between a white Kansan and a black Kenyan who met in Hawaii. I had assumed, before reading his memoir, that Obama viewed himself as a natural bridge between the races and that his message of unity sprang in part from his biology. That was wrong. From his earliest years, Obama engaged in a preoccupying internal struggle to make himself a fully authentic black man.
Young Barack hardly knew his father because the elder Obama left when he was 2. One meeting when Barack was 10 and a few letters were all he had. Only much later would Obama discover that his father had many wives and many children — all of whom wound up disappointed in him. Barack’s mother, Ann, went on to marry another non-American, an Indonesian named Lolo, and took the young Barack to live in Jakarta. Perhaps she was hoping to live some sort of Third World idyll. Obama never reveals her political views nor her feelings about America. But we get one glimpse in this passage:
“Looking back, I’m not sure Lolo ever fully understood what my mother was going through … why the things he was working so hard to provide for her seemed only to increase the distance between them … He landed a job in the government relations department of an American oil company. … Sometimes I would overhear him and my mother arguing in their bedroom, usually about her refusal to attend his company dinner parties, where American businessmen from Texas and Louisiana would slap Lolo’s back and boast about the palms they had greased to obtain the new offshore drilling rights, while their wives complained to my mother about the quality of Indonesian help. He would ask her how it would look for him to go alone, and remind her that these were her own people, and my mother’s voice would rise to almost a shout.
‘They are not my people.'”
Grasping, insensitive Americans? Businesspeople? Or just Americans? Whom did she reject?
Whom does he reject — or what? Left-wing ideas are not so much articulated in this memoir as presumed. Obama has claimed that his experience living abroad gives him a valuable perspective for a chief executive. Yet his reflections on the effect Western capitalism has had on Jakarta and Chicago’s south side sound like warmed over Herbert Marcuse. “How could we go about stitching a culture back together after it was torn? How long might it take in this land of dollars? … The very existence of the factories, the timber interests, the plastics manufacturer, will have rendered their [Indonesian] culture obsolete; the values of hard work and individual initiative turn out to have depended on a system of belief that’s been scrambled by migration and urbanization and imported TV reruns.”
Obama’s self-portrait in this book is that of a searching, nonjudgmental young man attempting to find his rightful place after a confusing start in life. But he is attracted by the harshly ideological Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose church he joins. Wright peddles racial grievance religion. Following 9/11, he said, “[W]hite America got a wake-up call … White America and the Western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”
Obama says he doesn’t agree with Wright about everything. Fine. And maybe he doesn’t agree with his wife when she (twice) said that she’d never been proud of her country until its people began to support her husband. But then, what did he mean when he said on March 4 that making a little girl proud to say she is an American is the “change we are calling for”?
One suspects that beneath the soothing talk, there is bitterness in the man that we’d best learn more about before voting.
While Debbie Stabenow’s endorsement isn’t new, she explains why she is supporting Hillary’s bid for the nomination. What’s always interesting is that so many of Hillary’s endorsements are from people whom have labored beside her and seen her in action.
Here’s the an excerpt of the piece:
…As colleagues in the U.S. Senate, I continue to be amazed by her commitment to the issues that matter most to middle-class Americans. She co-chairs the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, and understands the issues facing businesses and workers today who are struggling to compete in the global economy. Every day, Democrats in the Senate are fighting to protect our middle-class way of life in this country, and I am honored to have Hillary leading the charge.
She understands that health care is a right, not a privilege. In the greatest country in the world, something is wrong when hard-working families cannot afford health care for their children. Hillary understands the complex problems our health care system faces, and she has real solutions. When she’s President, I’m looking forward to working with her to pass universal health care.
I’ve watched Hillary on the Senate Armed Services Committee question Administration officials and hold them accountable. I know that on day one, she will be ready to serve as Commander-in-Chief.
And, as a fellow Great Lakes Senator, Hillary and I work closely together to protect the Great Lakes and our environment. We’ve worked together to ban oil and gas drilling in the Lakes, to stop the spread of invasive species, and to continue efforts to clean up pollution. She understands the importance of protecting our priceless natural resources for generations to come.
Pennsylvania isn’t a lock for HRC — yet
By: David Paul Kuhn
Mar 11, 2008 07:03 PM EST
Whether married or single, Clinton has an edge with white women voters.
With the support of the state’s political establishment and favorable demographic terrain, Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary is widely viewed as Hillary Clinton’s to lose.
But it’s hardly a lock, especially if Barack Obama can make inroads with a few key constituencies outside of his reliable base of affluent whites, liberals, African-Americans and the youth vote.
Here are the four blocs he’ll need to gain traction with if he expects to win Pennsylvania.
So far, senior citizens have been unwavering in their support for Hillary Clinton, usually delivering 3-to-1 and 2-to-1 margins for the former First Lady.
Obama must narrow that gap because Pennsylvania is especially senior—there are 2.2 million residents aged 62 or older, and its percentage of seniors is higher than the national average.
In the last three big primary contests —Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin—those 60 and older constituted between 22 and 29 percent of voters. By comparison, the youth vote— 29 and under—constituted just 16 percent of voters in the three states. Most recently, in winning Texas and Ohio, Clinton was able to win older voters by a larger margin than Obama was able to win young people.
When Obama runs more competitively among seniors — as in Wisconsin, where he kept his margin of defeat to around 10 percentage points — his strength among other groups is usually enough to power him to victory. His best bet will be among older men since older white women remain Clinton’s most ardent supporters.
Whether married or single, Clinton has an edge with white women voters. They have been the bedrock of her candidacy and proved critical to both her comebacks in New Hampshire and Ohio.
Most important, white women constitute the largest bloc of Democratic voters.
Obama will almost certainly not split this bloc. But in strategic terms, a good outcome would be to simply narrow Clinton’s advantage among white women. Under that scenario, due to the small Hispanic population in the state—another strong Clinton constituency—Obama could then surge to victory with the support of black voters and white men, provided he can win the latter.
Winning black voters will be the easy part for Obama. Judging from prior contests, at least 8 in 10 African Americans are likely to support Obama. They will be at least half the voters in Philadelphia, by far the state’s most populous city.
Should Clinton win these women by a 2-to-1 ratio, as she did in Ohio, Obama will almost certainly lose. But if he can accomplish what he did in Wisconsin, that is, narrow her lead to single digits and win the other key demographic groups, Obama will have a path to victory. At the moment, however, Quinnipiac shows Clinton holding a 2-to-1 advantage.
Obama’s best chance of making gains with white women is by appealing to younger women. His challenge is to frame himself as the candidate of change, and one concerned with pocket book issues, while respecting the symbolism of Clinton’s candidacy.
These are the culturally conservative Pennsylvania Democrats named for Robert Casey, the former governor who died in 2000. They are Pennsylvania’s species of Reagan Democrats, marked by their blue-collar backgrounds and a willingness to crossover for Republican candidates.
In 2006, these voters helped elect Bob Casey, the late governor’s son, to the Senate. Like his father, Casey is an opponent of abortion rights and gun control and strongly pro-labor.
Distributed across the state, though largely in the western half and in the northeast, they figure to be Clinton voters based on her past performance among similarly situated groups.
Clinton holds a double-digit lead among Pennsylvania voters without college degrees—generally a marker of the working class—while, according to the most recent Quinnipiac University poll of the state, Obama holds that same lead among voters with a college degree.
The problem for Obama is that those without college degrees are a larger share of the population in Pennsylvania, as they were in Wisconsin and Ohio. In Ohio, Clinton won these voters by about 20 percentage points. In Wisconsin, Obama won them by slightly more than double digits.
Many “Casey Democrats” are also white men and seniors. But white men, in particular, have been the swing vote in the 2008 Democratic primary race since Clinton has won Hispanics and white women in nearly every contest while Obama has never lost black voters.
To date, both Clinton and Obama have carried white males about a dozen times.
Clinton has depended on at least splitting the white male vote in Democratic primaries. When the white male vote splits between the two candidates, it tends to vault her to victory, as it did last week in Ohio.
In Pennsylvania, Obama will need to win white men by a double-digit margin to take the state—as he did in Wisconsin, where he won white men 63 percent to 37 percent.
For now, Quinnipiac shows this bloc splitting between the two – an ideal scenario for Clinton.
Obama’s burden in the state is especially difficult because Pennsylvania is a closed primary state.
That presents a problem for him since white men are overrepresented among independents. Those white male independents who have participated in prior open Democratic primary contests are right in Obama’s wheelhouse. But he is without them here.
Fire former Democratic VP candidate and Hillary Clinton advisor Geraldine Ferraro? She ought to get a merit badge pinned on her for having the guts to tell the truth. Ferraro got it right on both counts when she said that race has made a difference with Barack Obama. He has gotten a virtual free ride from much of the media. His paper thin voting record, lack of experience, zig zag stances on foreign policy issues, Republican lite positions on health care and the sub prime housing crisis, repeated subtle going negative against Hillary Clinton while giving himself a plausible deniability out and insuring that Clinton gets dumped on when she hits back has been blatantly obvious. The media and much of the public have kept hands off him in part out of sheer terror of being branded racist and in part out of hatred for Clinton. And that’s the other thing that Ferraro got right. She flatly called the media sexist and said that many Americans, she really said America, has a huge problem with a woman running for president.