Wishing Obama and Clinton a very tight race to the finish Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, January 20, 2008
Paul Starr is nervous. The co-editor of the American Prospect and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University says so in The Washington Post today. He's nervous because it appears that even with the mood of the country showing telling signs of Republican fatigue, Democrats may still blow the presidential election.
He seems to think that's especially true if John McCain is the nominee. I agree, but for different reasons than he has. But let's look at his reasons for concern. Unsurprisingly, they're pretty predictable:
Although each candidate faces deep and abiding obstacles, racism today operates for the most part insidiously, below the surface of politics, while gender stereotypes are on more open display. Even when race rises to the surface in a political campaign, as it did last week, it usually carries with it an uncomfortable sense that the conversation is coded and that anyone bringing up the subject is out to stigmatize a black candidate.
By contrast, women can be belittled and mocked in ways that no one would dare publicly try with African Americans. (Remember the boor who disrupted a Jan. 7 Clinton rally in Salem, N.H., by yelling "Iron my shirt!" at the senator?) And in Clinton's case, much of the acid sprayed at her comes from other women, some of them on the op-ed pages of national newspapers.
Of course the anecdotes metioned all took place at Democratic political campaign events and the race and gender cards have been played by rival Democratic political campaigns. Starr is apparently unaware that the "iron my shirt" incident was a publicity stunt by a pair of radio shock jocks from a Boston area radio station.
There are multiple subtle little implications here. Without ever saying it he implies "if Democrats are doing this to each other, you can imagine how bad it will be when one of these Democrats go head-to-head with a Republican."
But it is interesting isn't it? It isn't the Republican side of the house which has been wondering if Obama is "black enough" is it? Nor have they "ganged up on the girl" as was claimed after one Democratic debate. And it wasn't a Republican primary where, apparently, the "Bradley effect" seemed to take effect was it? And the first candidate to take issue with Clinton's tears? Democratic candidate John Edwards.
Obama has gone from being a "candidate who happens to be black" to a "black candidate" where? In the Democratic primaries, that's where.
I agree with Starr that Democrats should be nervous. Because this primary run by a woman and a black man have done much to expose quite a bit of underlying race and gender problems within that party. And the vote has pretty much split in the race and gender categories.
It has also, at worst neutralized those issues in a general election and at best completely removed them from the arsenal of the Clinton or Obama campaign as something to be used against the Republicans. If they attempt it, very fresh evidence of the Democrat's hypocrisy will be served back to them.
Starr has other issues with the current Democratic race, but that's the primary one and he concludes:
But conversely, the more the debate focuses on race and gender, and the longer the fight between Clinton and Obama drags on, the worse the fallout is likely to be in November.
I think he's exactly right, and I can only hope both Obama and Clinton go the full 9 yards of the primary season. It wouldn't make a McCain presidency any more palatable, but it sure would reveal the Democratic party for what it really is.
A democrat cannot win the whitehouse without strong support from liberals, blacks and labor unions.
Senator Clinton, the candidate who two months ago suggested skipping all these primary/caucus formalities and just nominating her by acclamation, is now in a tough and dirty race with a black opponent.
She took the first shot touting her "experience" and his lack of it. Her smear machine implied he was a drug user (as though she and Bill were lilly white there). Then she had Bill call his opposition to the Iraq War a Fairy tale. She dissed MLK, saying the civil rights laws were the work of LBJ. The backlash has already begun. The 40% uncommitted in Michigan. Clinton surrogates sued to change the Casino venues. Nevada was very close.
When she finally is nominated, there will be so much bad blood between her supporters and Obama’s, black voters may just sit this one out. And, who could blame them?
I’ve always thought that Obama originally entered this race to position himself for a real run in 2012 or 2016 (he’d only be 53 in 2016, I think). All he had to do was run and finish a strong, credible second, refuse the VP slot (he brings nothing to the ticket Hillary wouldn’t get without him, and it would give him nothing he couldn’t get on his own) and bide his time. However, Hillary is really not a very appealing candidate outside of her natural ultra-liberal enclaves. She doesn’t come across as a ’likable’ candidate. Thus, many found it reasonable to provide at least some support to a *very* likable alternative, believing he had no real chance to win. Then Iowa threw a monkey wrench in the works. By winning Iowa, Obama energized a whole bunch of people who aren’t wild about Hillary, PLUS he is very attractive to the very bunch of usual suspects who have pushed Hillary forward until now, like Hollywood liberals and their ilk.
Now he has to make a real try, and that means getting between the Clintons and their goal, and that means it gets serious. I still think Hillary will win, but I’m betting it’ll get messy. A year ago I was hoping that Hillary and AlGore and Kerry would all run because I’d have liked to see them rip each other apart. This may be better because it may force the Democratic party to address a rot in its soul.
I’m hoping for a very close race too. We need to see if Obama can handle a real fight, one which would force him to show substance. We need to see how Clinton handles this being a very different campaign that they thought. McCain has already shown some bounce back given both 2000 and how some wrote him off in mid-2007 when the campaigns were in their ’pre-season’ matches. Romney is being tested, if he can somehow bounce back then he’ll be showing something.
If Obama loses a close race, and Hillary loses because of the fight being so close, then Obama, if he plays his cards right, positions himself well for 2012. If that’s his plan, he’s got an advantage — he can talk straight, say what he thinks, and not panic that if he loses all will fall apart (unlike Hillary). That might actually play to his advantage.
Plus it would be good fun to watch. Two brokered conventions would be really cool.