The Stink of a Loser Posted by: Dale Franks
on Monday, January 07, 2008
Hillary Clinton is slowly unveiling her new strategy against Barack Obama. She's going back to an old playbook from 1984.
Hillary Clinton's campaign, anticipating probable defeat here in New Hampshire on January 8, is gearing up for an extended trench-warfare battle against Barack Obama.
The former First Lady is planning to fight Obama in South Carolina on January 26, and in the gargantuan nationwide primary on Tuesday, February 5 — with contests in 19 states, including New York, California, New Jersey, Georgia, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Colorado. If she remains competitive, Clinton's plan is to continue to compete in Louisiana on February 9, in Virginia and Maryland on February 12, in Wisconsin on February 19, in Ohio on March 4 — and beyond, if necessary.
In an approach redolent of Walter Mondale's 1984 "Where's the Beef?" tactic against Gary Hart, Clinton has adopted the less memorable slogan "Rhetoric vs. Results, Talk vs. Action."
The Clinton campaign is sparing no effort to pressure the media to lean on Obama's perceived vulnerabilities. Looking to leverage Obama's slender resume, a Clinton operative argued to HuffPost that the campaign will be able to demonstrate that "Obama is just not a plausible person in this environment of international peril," and that the longer the primary campaign can be extended, the better chance Clinton will have to prove that "there is not even a second level to Obama, there is no depth."
...Like Mondale in 1984, Clinton is configuring her campaign to win in states where independents cannot vote. "Clinton got killed among independents and those few Republicans who crossed over," an Iowa operative noted about last Thursday's caucuses. After this Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, where independents can cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican contest, "We are just going to go to the big Democratic states with closed primaries" says a member of the Clinton inner circle.
That strategy carries with it more than a whiff of desperation. Yes, Walter Mondale did beat Gary Hart, but that had much more to do with the fact that Gary Hart's 1984 campaign hardly had two dimes to rub together, and was so badly run that they probably couldn't have organized a successful panty raid on a girl's dormitory.
Although, clearly, Mr. Hart would've done his best. Indeed, he did make a fairly successful panty raid a few years later, which is essentially what sunk his 1988 campaign.
The key in 1984, however, was that Gary Hart didn't have the staying power, in terms of money or organization, that would allow him to defeat Mondale in the end. Yes, he won in New Hampshire, but he simply didn't have the organizational strength to prevail in the long run. Mondale's campaign did have that strength. Plus, they also began to reveal that Gary Hart was...well...kind of a flake. So, Hart's 1984 campaign spluttered and died.
Trying that strategy against Obama is not as likely to work as well. First, he's far better funded and organized than Hart was. Second, Mondale wasn't, in 1984, generally considered a shoo-in for the nomination. He was carrying around the baggage of being the vice president of what was generally considered a disappointing administration. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, wa supposed to be the more-or-less inevitable nominee. She's been the "nominee in waiting", in fact, since her election to the Senate in 2000.
The dynamic that made Mondale's 1984 strategy viable doesn't really exist in this election, which makes the success of that strategy more problematic. It can work, but she's really got to convice Democrats that, however charming and personable Obama might be, he's a lightweight who doesn't have the experience needed to be president.
And, frankly, Obama is a lightweight. But does that matter?
Because what goes to the heart of the matter here is something that a lot of people are not keen to talk about: Obama's race.
I think there are a lot of Democrats who really like the idea of having a black nominee, even if they wouldn't put it in those terms. I think that among liberal voters, there is a subtext that says, "Nominating a black man would be a partial payment of a debt that is owed to black America." And I think that subtext works for Obama in a way that it did not—and could not—work for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, in that Obama is not running explicitly as a black man. He's running as simply a candidate. And, oh, yeah, he just happens to be black.
Sure, his race shouldn't matter, and in a truly color-blind society, it wouldn't. But in America, in 2008, it does. There's a giddy moral vanity among the left—and, dare I say, liberal guilt—that makes Obama a far more attractive choice than Hillary Clinton.
On top of that, Obama is more attractive than Clinton ideologically to progressives. He more closely embodies the progressive political viewpoint than Clinton does. That may not be a plus come September, in the general election, but among primary voters for the Democrats, it does have positive effect.
Finally, and this shouldn't be important—but it is—Barack Obama is just a far more likeable guy than Hillary Clinton is. I think, politically, he's one step removed from a Bolshie kommissar, and I'd still love to have dinner with him. I get the sense that we'd have a cordial, wide-ranging disagreement on all sorts of stuff. When I think about dinner with Hillary Clinton, I just imagine a never-ending evening where she just drones on and on at me, treating any disagreement as an unwelcome interruption from a small, dull child.
Ms. Clinton's last hope, then, is that her reprise of "Where's the beef?" and holding on for her machine to work its magic in the closed state primaries overcomes Mr. Obama's likeability, charisma, and ideological affinity with the democratic base, along with the temptation that exists to pick a nominee who'd be "historic".
I think that's going to be an uphill climb if Obama wins New Hampshire, North Carolina, and, if Intrade is to be trusted, Florida and Nevada. Indeed, Intrade now has Obama ahead in California, as well.
The way things look right now, Obama smells like a winner, and Ms. Clinton doesn't. Of course, Gary Hart smelled like a winner in 1998, and what killed his campaign was a picture of him with a hot blonde on his lap, in front of a big charter boat.
I suspect the Clinton team is scouring the country right now for blondes and boats.
Funny, but I always thought there are a lot of Republicans who really wouldn’t like the idea of having a black nominee, even if they wouldn’t put it in those terms.
Actually, I think a lot of Republicans would vote for Obama also because he is black. (The fact that he is very charismatic helps a lot, too.) If the GOP candidate doesn’t float the boat for many GOPers expect defections to Obama.
In fact, I suspect that unless foreign policy returns as a huge issue in 2008 where his inexperience will produce doubts, or he makes major errors, I predict a landslide for Obama with lots of crossovers.
Keep in mind that people who vote not only just get their vote counted, but get psychological rewards from voting. I think I’d feel pretty good if Obama did win, just because it would show America could elect a black president. Sure, Colin Powell doing the same as a Republican in 2000 might have been more ideal, but I would still feel pretty happy. I also think if he proves to be the candidate, he won’t suffer from low turn-out as a lot of people want to be "part of history" and claim they helped elect the first black president.
You could say the same thing about Hillary - but her negatives are just so high and she’s linked to Bill. That’s something in Obama’s favor, actually, that he has little experience, so he hasn’t pissed any people off yet.
Isn’t it odd that the one major candidate who clearly and early took the position that invading Iraq was a bad idea has now got all the momentum. And he’s the candidate the GOP fears most.
Fear? that was good for a chuckle.
Many Democrats were critical of the War but when it came time to vote for it, they supported it in the end. Obama only has the virtue of not being in office when the vote was made.
And his position only helped him get exposure from the ’04 Democratic Convention because his ’innocence’ helped make him able to criticize Bush without looking like a hypocrite. An asset for the ’04 Kerry campaign.
Drawdown and re-orientation in Iraq is inevitable anyway, and it would happen even if, hypothetically, the Bush admin had a 3rd term.
Obama’s race is a plus for me because I do want America to become a society where race and color are inconsequential. A mixed-race black President would go a long way towards derailing the folks who’ve made divisive race politics a self-interested, profitable American industry. I like that Obama is non-white, and better, multicultural and cosmopolitan, relatively young, which is to say, he’s post-Baby Boom, Civil Rights campaign and Vietnam War. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a fellow Columbian, either.
It’d be cool if he was a Chinese-American Army veteran, too, but hey, I guess I’ll have to wait a little longer before I can identify that much with an American President.
I’ve yet to see how electing someone with a race-based value system helps make race inconsequential. If Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson start fund-raising for Obama’s opponents throughout the primaries and continue through the general election; then I’ll believe that he could be bad for racists. Powell may have had that effect because people supported him because they felt he had demonstrated the capability to do the job. Much of Obama’s support comes from people that think they would feel good if they voted for Obama. Any time race becomes a significant factor in why people support or oppose a candidate, it reinforces the idea that race is consequential.
I suspect the Clinton team is scouring the country right now for blondes
They already were. For Bill...
Isn’t it odd that the one major candidate who clearly and early took the position that invading Iraq was a bad idea has now got all the momentum.
What a shock! The most anti-war candidate winning the DEMOCRAT primaries? NO WAY DUDE!!!!
A mixed-race black President would go a long way towards derailing the folks who’ve made divisive race politics a self-interested, profitable American industry. I like that Obama is non-white, and better, multicultural and cosmopolitan, relatively young
He has the advantage of a being black, but doesn’t alienate whites the way a Jesse Jackson would. He is a cleanskin in the sewer of Washington politics. So very little mud to deal with. He seems like a decent guy - so no sudden discoveries of wild nights with hookers, gay escorts, bonked interns.
Oh and no chinese guys with bags of laundered money...
If I was a Dem strategist I would be praying for Obama as the 2008 candidate.
Who’d vote for him ?
Democrat voters - they’re in the bag. Besides being the Dem guy, he’s black, charismatic and wants to heal the divisions in country.
Independents voters. For three reasons (a) he’s black, (b) he’s charismatic (c) he’s not Hillary Clinton.
Some republican voters may cross over since (a) he’s not Hillary Clinton (b) he’s black (c) he’s charismatic.
So if you want a candidate that could actually appeal to a wide range of voters - Barack’s your man.
Policywise - I don’t know that any of the Dems has got much in the way of credentials. I’m hopeful that Obama is less of a hardliner than Hillary or Edwards. But then again does anybody (including Obama) understand his policies? Other than being really nice and smiling a lot. He did say something about what his foreign policy would be if Pakistan got uppity - he’d nuke somebody (China? Cuba?). Or maybe he’d just talk to them sternly. I never did figure out what that was about.
Anyway, if Obama did become president, he would immediately protect America. He would protect America from all the America haters. They would be immediately rendered impotent. That is because of the well known left-liberal blindspot for non-whites and non-Europeans. (See for examples the extensive UN/European and Democrat criticism of 3rd world dictators, Islamic extremists, terrorists and other sundry scumbags). The only way he could lose that protection would be to announce that he had converted to Judaism and was now a supporter of Israel...
And Obama would deserve the thanks of a grateful nation. After all, it’s not every day that you can save an entire nation from the threat of a disaster as horrific as a Hillary presidency....
It’s a once off effect. Once we have had one black president, then the issue has been "settled." It’s like breaking the 4 minute mile. Now people are down to 3:40 or whatever, but no one cares.
Yes, its symbolic. Yes, its actually stupid if you believe in a meritocracy - we’re supposed to be color blind. (But, its not like he is completely unacceptable: he’s just charismatic enough that he is considered a serious contender.)
Just check out any right wing website that is less "ideological" (I mean that in a good way-ideology is not always bad) and you’ll see people saying "If its Huckabee and Obama, I choose Obama." Seriously, if Obama was white I don’t think that would be happening. I think its people saying, "If I am going to end up with a liberal-leaning president, I’ll choose the symbolism of electing a black man."
This is not even considering societal, media, and peer pressure. I think those will help propel him as well. I know its lame, but when your friends are seemingly 90% democrat, its easy to imagine that voting for Obama would be a good idea. It has not been a fun 8 years listening to Bush bashing. It was not fun when Reagan was president - he may be beloved now, but he was bashed mercilessly then. Wouldn’t it be easier to vote for Obama now, announce it to your approving friends, and then see what happens? I bet a lot of GOP voters would do that with a secret assumption that Obama will not be very successful and end up reminding voters that voting for the Dems has its drawbacks.
I’m not saying I plan to vote for Obama or agree with any of the above reasons, but I have this feeling about this election.
Rick, if he does poorly, he’ll be a one-termer and people will have learned a lesson...its not about the color of your skin, but your character.
I think Obama will be a left-leaning president, but he does show some signs of understanding that things have trade-offs. He shut down Bill Richardson when he claimed a cap and trade system would not have costs passed onto consumers. Jesus, its sad when I have to praise someone for knowing that taxes and costs are often passed on to consumers, but there you have it.
GMF’s point is also why I worry about Obama’s plan to open presidential talks with Iran. Not only is that dumb, but if he becomes a world political rock star it might work.
Finally, and this shouldn’t be important—but it is—Barack Obama is just a far more likeable guy than Hillary Clinton is. I think, politically, he’s one step removed from a Bolshie kommissar, and I’d still love to have dinner with him.
1. Barack Obama is a likeable guy today. Ted Bundy was a likeable guy before he got caught murdering women. Who knows what tomorrow brings?
2. I would have no interest, at all, in having dinner with any of them, certainly not Hillary, Obama, or Edwards, but none of the Republicans either, not even Ron Paul, who could at least give free medical advice. If you forced me to choose a dinner engagement from the whole bunch, it would be Fred, who also strikes me as the one who would make the best president.
On the other hand, George Bush is someone I find fascinating. If only he drank, I think we’d have a good time at dinner. Ronald Reagan was said to be hilarious at private dinners, especially if you could get him to do his Truman Capote impersonation.
I’m curious about when voters and the media will take a closer look at Obama’s church, the Trinity United Church of Christ, which in its website proclaims it is a black liberation, Afrocentric church. TUCC puts being black in front of being Christian with a commitment to blacks and Africa in its vision statement.
TUCC frames America as a captor state which forces blacks into "concentration camps" or "foster[s] a social system that encourages them to kill off one another." See here for a summary and links to back to TUCC’s materials.
This is wild, sick stuff, out in Louis Farrakhan and David Duke territory. Obama’s embrace of this racist, quasi-Christian church ought to sink his candidacy but for white guilt, black anger, and the general animus towards Bush and Republicans.
I do think most Americans would be shocked if they took a serious look at TUCC. I can’t imagine that any white presidential candidate could survive association with a white race Christian church.
I’ve yet to see how electing someone with a race-based value system helps make race inconsequential.
Exactly. Aside from having the thinnest resume for a serious presidential candidate I can think of, Obama via his church literally subscribes to something they call "The Black Value System". It’s an astonishing mixture of Marxism, black victimization, and race politics, with only a passing nod to God and Christ.
I recommend all Americans examine this document that reads like it was written by Angela Davis after deciding a black church would be a good vehicle for her radical politics:
Disavowal of the Pursuit of "Middleclassness"
Classic methodology on control of captives teaches that captors must keep the captive ignorant educationally, but trained sufficiently well to serve the system. Also, the captors must be able to identify the "talented tenth" of those subjugated, especially those who show promise of providing the kind of leadership that might threaten the captor’s control.
Those so identified as separated from the rest of the people by: Killing them off directly, and/or fostering a social system that encourages them to kill off one another.
Placing them in concentration camps, and/or structuring an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons.
Seducing them into a socioeconomic class system which while training them to earn more dollars, hypnotizes them into believing they are better than others and teaches them to think in terms of "we" and "they" instead of "us".