Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (although I wish I could)

Trying to do my small part to help begin to unify the Democratic Party, I had promised myself that I would halt criticism of Clinton in print and on the Web. There is, after all, so much to be said about McCain and Co. But this evening I find myself unable to carry through on this pledge. There are two significant reasons.

First, I have grown increasingly concerned that Senator Clinton's continual references to the so-called popular vote may end up damaging Senator Obama's candidacy. It has the potential to do so by delegitimizing his victory, that is, by making it appear that he didn't win the nomination cleanly because more people voted for Hillary. Certainly Clinton is entitled to remain in the race through all of the caucuses and primaries, and if she must, until the convention. However, even though it is clear that Obama's (increasing) delegate lead will give him the nomination, the Clintons have continued to appeal to the notion that she is entitled to it because she has won more votes. It's of course not evident that she has won more votes, except according to the most contrived mathematical formulas (e.g., leaving Obama without any votes in Michigan). But on a more basic level, the national popular vote is a myth, or I should say, a mythical beast. It is a chimera. You cannot generate a national popular vote from contests that have included caucuses (which cannot produce nearly as many votes as primaries), contests that have permitted independents to vote, as well as states that have permitted Republican crossovers, etc. It isn't necessary for the Clintons to make the popular vote argument to see the election through to the end, which is one of Hillary's proclaimed reasons for staying in the race. The argument is shortsighted if you care about a Democratic victory in November. One can only speculate as to why the Clintons have chosen this course, but it isn't for the good of the Party.

The second reason can be called the anti-mensch factor. Instead of stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for her comments regarding RFK's assassination, Hillary has come up with two lame strategies and one despicable one for explaining them away. The lame strategies involve trying to justify her comments by saying that 1) Teddy Kennedy had been on her mind, and 2) all she had meant to do was suggest a time line for long campaigns. I won't comment on the first, except to say that her comments were a strange way to reveal caring and concern. Regarding the second, the time line argument simply doesn't hold up. There is absolutely no reason why Bobby Kennedy's assassination needed to be invoked as a marker. There are many other ways to talk about extended nominating contests. And if for some reason she had wanted to mention Bobby, all she had to do was say that he won the California primary in June. (This is not to say that she wasn't thinking about a time line. The issue is about the role of the marker, RFK's assassination, that she chose to use.)

But now I come to the despicable reason. Zachary A. Goldfarb reported on May 25th, in The Washington Post, the following. "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign accused Sen. Barack Obama's campaign of fanning a controversy over her describing the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy late in the 1968 Democratic primary as one reason she is continuing to run for the presidency. `The Obama campaign ... tried to take these words out of context,' Clinton campaign chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said on `Fox News Sunday.' `She was making a point merely about the time line.'"http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-talk/ 2008/05/clinton_camp_stokes_rfk_flap_b.h tml?nav=rss_email/components

As noted, the time line argument doesn't work. And it is virtually inconceivable that some very bright Clinton people do not understand the flaw in their own argument. It's just too obvious. So it is disingenuous for Clinton to claim that Obama took her words out of context if her own claim about `the context' is justifiably suspect. Further, the reaction to Hillary's words were viral. They were all over the web within hours if not minutes. In addition, you had papers like The Daily News and The New York Post running banner headlines about Hillary's "killer gaffe." McAuliffe's words were meant to suggest that the Obama people were somehow responsible for the "attacks" on Hillary. It is inconceivable that the Obama organization, even if it had wanted to fan the flames, could have been so successful. There was genuine outrage. I can tell you as someone who lived through the assassinations of the sixties, the outrage was totally comprehensible. It didn't need any "fanning" from the Obama organization.

But there is more.

According to Goldfarb, "Asked if Clinton has personally called Obama to apologize for the reference, McAuliffe said she has not, `nor should she.' He added, `Let's be clear. This had nothing to with Senator Obama or his campaign.'"

Obama, the first African-American candidate with a real chance of winning the White House, has had to receive secret service protection since last May, long before the other candidates (excepting Hillary as the spouse of a former President). This protection is necessary due to a very real concern, namely, that someone might try to shoot and kill him. As a black American he is uniquely vulnerable. And the Clinton campaign can't see a reason for a phone call. Why? Because of how they read the politics: if we apologize, then we admit that she may have done or said something wrong. Political calculation trumps basic decency. (The irony, of course, is that they have the politics wrong. How they are handling this will cost them support, especially among Boomers who lived through the sixties.)

As a final note, I watched HBO's new movie, "Recount," this evening. I have heard that Hillary has already noted that the movie supports her claims about Florida and Michigan. Nonsense on stilts. The situations are totally different, and a slogan such as, "count all the votes," had a totally different meaning in Florida in 2000 than it does in Michigan and Florida in 2008. But right now I am just hoping that I don't feel compelled to write something more about Hillary Clinton.

For more on the campaigns, http://msa4.wordpress.com/

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June 4, 2008: a simple proposal

In the not too distant future, all the primary elections will be concluded.  

In the not too distant future, all the results will be known.  

By then, the May meeting of the rules committee will have taken place, and we are likely to have a sufficient number of superdelegates (even counting Michigan and Florida) to have pledged their support to an established nominee who must then focus on defeating McCain.

So this is my pledge:

I will support the nominee and oppose McCain, no matter who it is.  

Though I may post suggestions and ideas as to who would make the best running mate, I will not base my support for the nominee on which running mate is chosen.

I will support the nominee and let go of whatever anger and frustration I had that that nominee was not my first (or, in my case, even my second) choice.

I will post no diaries attacking the nominee, though I may, as I've done all along, post diaries criticizing certain stances or positions.

I will post no diaries attacking one not nominated, though I may, as I've done all along, post diaries criticizing certain stances or positions.

I will not mock the supporters of the losing side (though I reserve the right to mock those whom I perceive as right-wing trolls, or anyone who will sit this election out or vote for McCain).

If I think that the nominee has a weakness among certain demographics, I will try to find ways to bridge the gap with those demographics instead of moan about how badly we're going to do among them.

I will not recommend any diaries which violate the above pledge.

Who's with me?

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It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Presidential or VP Candidate (and Boomers will make sure

Most of you reading this commentary will have heard what Hillary Clinton said this afternoon, May 23rd, to the editorial board of South Dakota's Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, in response to a question about staying in the race.  

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?" she said. "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California." The New York Times, May 24, 2008, Katharine Q Seelye reporting. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/24/us/pol itics/24clinton.html?_r=1&hp&ore f=slogin

And you May have heard Clinton's "apology," also reported by Seelye in the Times.

" `The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy,' referring to the recent diagnosis of Senator Edward M. Kennedy's brain tumor. She added, `And I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive.'"

Hillary's most consistent supporters have been folks over 50, especially women over 50.  With her statement about assassination, and her bizarre "apologetic" explanation (namely, I was thinking about Teddy and so I mentioned Bobby's assassination), she just lost a substantial number of these supporters.  I will not say all.  I will not say those closest to her.  But I will say, a very significant number. Most importantly, in terms of the race, many superdelegates in this age cohort, who may have been leaning her way, will be looking around for the nearest Exit sign.  Ditto for those who were in favor of placing her in the VP slot.  

Members of the Democratic Party who experienced the trauma of the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King will understand that Clinton crossed a line today.  Many will agree with Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, an uncommitted superdelegate.  Seelye reports that Clyburn "said through a spokeswoman that the comments were `beyond the pale.' " For those who remember Bobby lying in a pool of blood the night that he won the June California primary, little explanation is needed as to why prominent figures shouldn't mention the assassinations of presidential candidates.      

To say that Hillary was simply using RFK's assassination as a time marker doesn't cut it.  There are simply too many other ways that Hillary could have talked about extended nominating contests. For example, she could have simply said, RFK won the California primary in June.  "Oh, but Hillary would never wish the death of another candidate," a supporter might reply.  But it is not a question of her wishes, whether benighted or angelic. I leave it to the psychologists to analyze her motivations.  What I do know is that someone who lived through the sixties as an adolescent or adult should understand the dangers of invoking the assassination of a presidential candidate during a campaign, especially one in which the front-runner is an African-American.  And Clinton not only invoked an assassination, she invoked the assassination of the brother of a Senator who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. How disturbing is this?  Just ask yourself, could you have imagined this story before it happened?

Please don't tell me that her words can be explained away because of Hillary fatigue.  First, because she was quite lucid when she was speaking, and, second, because she has raised the issue of assassination before, without using the term.

"NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli notes that Clinton said something similar the day after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. `Sometimes you gotta calm people down a little bit. But if you look at successful presidential campaigns, my husband did not get the nomination until June of 1992,' she said. `I remember tragically when Senator Kennedy won California near the end of that process.' "http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2 008/05/23/1058940.aspx

Perhaps most tellingly, her "apology" showed little understanding of the seriousness of her "gaffe." Yes, she should have apologized to the Kennedys, but she should also have taken responsibility for her remarks and made a sincere apology to the American people.  She is going to lose support among influential boomers, support that she can't afford to lose at this point.

This is the end of Hillary's quest.  Her judgment can no longer be trusted. Democrats will not take a chance on running her for president or VP.  It is just awful that it had to end like this.

(As a side note, Hillary has been misleading audiences when she has claimed that Bill's race ran into June.  Technically it did because California hadn't voted. But he had the nomination sewed up before California's primary in June. The situation is not analogous to the current race.)

See also,  "The President, The Senator, and the Candidate"http://msa4.wordpress.com/

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Snapshot Polls, Popular Vote, and Intrade

I have grown increasingly frustrated as the day has worn on. I keep seeing supporters, especially of Senator Clinton, referring to recent polls as evidence that she is more electable.  The fact is that we don't know who is more electable right now because there are simply too many variables, including what the months ahead have in store.  One thing is fairly certain, given the mixed and changing results in snapshot state and national polls, the Democrats would be foolish to select a candidate based on them.  

Further, in spite of what we hear from the Clinton people, there is no such thing as a national popular vote. http://msa4.wordpress.com/  Too many apples and oranges. There are caucus and non-caucus states.  There are states that have included independents and those that haven't. Some have allowed party cross-overs and some have not.  These election results can't be combined into one figure, and especially not into a figure that will satisfy everyone. Bottom Line: if the Democrats back off from using the delegate count in nominating their candidate, and try to substitute a bogus national popular vote, they will be courting calamity.  (Few believe that such a substitution will actually take place. But as long as people keep talking about a popular vote, it pushes closure off into the horizon.)

If you really must have some numbers at this time, the odds are that the results from Intrade are probably more accurate than any one set of polls.  Of course Intrade isn't always accurate and its traders change their minds.  But it has a pretty good record. Interestingly, in the face of all of the current polls, as of 12:00 AM, May 23rd, the traders think Obama is going to beat McCain. http://www.intrade.com/jsp/intrade/contr actSearch/
Notice that there have been hundreds of thousands of trades, that is, "bets." 

The figures in order refer to:
Contract      Bid    Ask    Last     Vol       Chge

        2008.PRES.OBAMA
Barack Obama to win 2008 US Presidential Election    M     Trade        57.3    57.4    57.3    157381    +0.9
    2008.PRES.McCAIN
John McCain to win 2008 US Presidential Election    M     Trade        38.1    38.3    38.2    202761    -1.8
    2008.PRES.CLINTON(H)
Hillary Clinton to win 2008 US Presidential Election    M     Trade        5.8    6.7    6.8    294285    +1.0

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"A Dozen Reasons Why McCain Won't Win: Money-Back Guarantee"

Here are a dozen, guaranteed, money back reasons why John McCain won't be the next president. (I can only offer a limited-time, money-back guarantee, since unfortunately I can't control world events.)

1. The McBush factor. McCain's support of the Iraq War will make it impossible for him to break from Bush, the most unpopular president in living memory. The photo of McCain hugging and being kissed by Bush will become increasingly embedded in the collective consciousness of the American people as the months roll on.

2. The Republican factor. Yes, McCain is a Republican. He will not be able to deny this fact. Currently, this is not the best party to have behind you in a push to the White House. Witness the recent loss of three traditionally Republican congressional seats and the declining number of Americans willing to identify themselves as Republicans. And then there are the comments of Congressman Tom Davis. "The political atmosphere facing House Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than it was in 2006" (NY Times, May 15th, 2008).

3. The Last War Syndrome. McCain and the operatives running his campaign are like generals fighting the last war. They are still convinced that negative advertising will be as successful against Obama as it was against Kerry. However, "The Times They are A-Changin." And this leads to the next factor.

4. The Change Factor: Hillary tried experience, but this race is about change and the future. McCain appears to be operating a time machine that has only a reverse gear.

5. The Money Factor: Obama can raise a lot more, and a lot more quickly.....enough said.

6. The Age Factor: McCain's age will hurt him. (I am not claiming that this is fair, but seems to be a fact. Older voters are especially concerned about McCain's age.)

7. The Not So Straight-talk Factor: McCain has built his reputation on being a man of principle. This has two features: he believes in something and he sticks with what he believes in. McCain has recently begun to backpedal on principles and commitments. He is vulnerable to being viewed as a flip-flopper, if not dishonest, which will undermine his hitherto greatest strength.

8. The Organizational Factor: The evidence thus far suggests that Obama has a far better campaign organization. There will be a volunteer gap, that is, Obama will have a lot more of them and they will be more enthusiastic than McCain's campaign workers.

9. The Skeleton Factor: The Keating Five and lobbyists, need I say more.

10. The Anger Problem: It's real.

11. The Crass and Crude Comment Problem: A corollary to the anger problem. He has made outrageous, crude, sometimes vile remarks, and most Americans don't know about them, yet. For examples, see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/4/8/1 7456/91972/887/492360

12. And last, but not least, The Lack of Background in Economics Factor. McCain has acknowledged that he needs to read up on economics. Not great for building confidence in a candidate in the midst of a recession.

Okay, that's twelve. But let's make it a baker's dozen.

13. The "My Friends" Factor. I don't believe that Americans will be prepared to live with four or eight years of being addressed by John McCain as, "My Friends," especially when it is followed by that rather strange little grin.

http://msa4.wordpress.com/

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