The Fallout from Hubris: Rise of the Great Fallacy

When the accounts and post-mortems of the 2008 Democratic primary are written - and when historians 100s of years from now analyze it, it is my supreme hope that two themes emerge.  I further hope that such scholars accept that these two themes are neither at odds, nor does one follow the other.   They share a common chronology and a common campaign, but each happened without intervention of the other.

By no means is the 2008 Democratic primary over, but it's becoming increasingly evident that it is winding down.  Barack Obama has shown himself to be precisely what those of us who saw hope in him, back when he was a longshot to win the 2004 Democratic Senate primary, thought he was: An extraordinary politician, a titan of broad, mass communication, and a candidate that could transcend even his own ideology.  Don't mistake me - while I know they exist, his generic electoral appeal and pied piper chops are not why I support Obama.  I support him based on his voting record, his platform, and his history.  I think he will win because of his transcendant appeal across racial, ethnic, gender, and ideological lines.

The first theme that I think we'll recall from 2008 is the extraordinary political chops of Barack Obama.  It is far to early to crown Obama the scion and heir of FDR, JFK, or any number number of forerunners - as I said, we have not yet even seen the end of this primary.  However, it's becoming clear that Hillary Clinton needs an Obama stumble, perhaps one of jaw-dropping proportions, to retake the lead.  Unfortunately, it's also becoming clear that Barack Obama -- however charmed he may be and however much other environmental factors have assisted him - is not the type of politician that commits such awful gaffes.

The second theme that I hope we'll see is at minimum, the admission and exposure of latent sexism that yes, still does exist in our society.  Even better, may 2008 be seen as the year it was not only exposed - but weeded out, attacked, and the packing begun to send it where it belongs; into the dustbin of history.

However - let's not assume the first required the second any more than we assume the second caused the first.

In other words (and again with all provisos about trends holding) - Hillary Clinton did NOT lose the 2008 Democratic nomination, Barack Obama WON the 2008 Democratic nomination.

I don't argue that Clinton was not helped by the caveman oafs populating cable teevee, nor am I supposing that Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, and the rest of the boys were the only exhibitors of 19th cenury thinking.  

Still - let us likewise not assume that Obama has been completely spared by a media that could best be described as a flock of trigger-happy vultures.  We've seen front-page stories devoted to chain e-mails that are little more credible than the ones that promise me a monstrous penis, if only I will CLICK HERE.  We've seen Nedra specials that question the patriotism, complete with wall-to-wall GOP hacks to back it and provide 'sourcing', go out over the wire services and make their way onto the MSNBCs and CNNs of the world.  We've seen it discussed that Obama is a product of an America-hating Madrassah.  

The media seems to love to do one thing - pick at politicians until they develop a flesh wound, then see if they can make it mortal.  They did it to Al Gore.  They did it John Kerry.  They tried to do it to Bill Clinton.  They've tried to do it to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

That both Clinton and Obama are still standing is a testament to their skills.  

Do note also - the objective dumbasssery of the media IS indeed a separate problem from the latent sexism that has been on full display.

However, so too is that latent sexism a separate issue from the painfully obvious missteps of Team Clinton.  From Mark Penn's microtrending fixation to an appalling lack of message discipline to the dumbfounding strategy of writing off 25-35 states, despite the Clinton advantages in name recognition and the plentiful financial resources - the fall of Clinton 2008 cannot be laid solely at the feet of cable news sexism, not by any stretch.

Against a lesser opponent - even against the entire fields of 2000, 2004, and 2008 sans Obama -- the skills, experience, and determination of Hillary Clinton would have been plenty to overcome both the sexism AND the missteps.  

I'll say it again - for all the missteps of Team Clinton and for all the asshattery of cable news, Hillary Clinton did not LOSE the 2008 Democratic nomination.  Barack Obama WON it.

...once again, with all the provisos about votes yet to be cast - that's how this amateur pundit sees it... for whatever little it's worth.

Tags: 2008 election, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (all tags)



Any Diary that Uses the Phrase..

..."asshattery" gets mojo!

by a gunslinger 2008-02-27 09:11AM | 0 recs

Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination.  Who knew?  Has anyone told Hillary?  We're still running around like there's a race going on (but I'm glad Obama supporters are getting a well-deserved rest.)

by Beltway Dem 2008-02-27 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow.

I agree. I guarantee you that there is no one celebrating in Obama's camp prematurely.

It ain't over, though signs are good for Obama.

by Bob Johnson 2008-02-27 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow.

I put all the provisos in all the right places.

My point wasn't to write an elegy for Clinton 2008, it was to point out that the skills and substance of Barack Obama have something to do with the state of the race, too.

That doesn't mean I think it's over, it doesn't mean I'm not phone-banking ---- I'm still working on any number of my Indiana relatives, for examples.

All I'm saying is that I've got a real problem with the emerging meme that somehow Hillary Clinton is losing what is somehow rightfully hers.

I'm saying it's high time that Obama get a little credit for being an extraordinary politician.

No - it's not over.  But when it is, I just don't want to see some great gnashing of teeth and rendering of garments because the primary was somehow "stolen" from her and Obama just happens to be the lucky recipient.

The race could very well turn.  It's NOT over.   While I completely agree with several Obama supporters calling for civility -- and I am in NO WAY trying to "rub anything in", much less something that hasn't even come to pass yet -- I'm just saying it's likewise high time for Obama to get a little credit for how WELL he's run his campaign... to get a little acknowledgment that this cycle has hardly been all rainbows and gumdrops for him either.

by zonk 2008-02-27 09:37AM | 0 recs
I love Office Space too...

I agree with you that had this been any other election, Clinton would have blown them all out of the water.  Obama would have too - the problem is that they collided and Clinton did misstep a few times.  I think things would be closer had she responded to his attacks sooner.

The tragedy of all the whole thing is that I kind of feel this void in the Party now - we sent two superstars against each other and one will continue and one will return to the Senate.  What's the fallout going to look like?  There's certain stigmas that are probably attached to both that hurt them that may not have been there otherwise.

I still hope Clinton wins, but this is the primary season that may actually get more than one line and a footnote in the history books.

by ejintx 2008-02-27 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: I love Office Space too...

To be honest?

No matter which way it ends - and let me make it again clear, since the tone of my diary (even with the provisos) says otherwise - NO, IT'S NOT OVER; I think we'll see this end with yet another example of how truly magnificent these two Democrats are.

The candidate that comes up short will almost certainly show yet another example of class, skill, and poise --- and lead the way in healing the party.

I'm not saying everyone will magically get over everything - hell, it was a lesser deal, and it took ME all summer to get over Dean in 2004 - but I think the overwhelmingly substantial portion of either candidate's support pool will follow the lead of their chosen candidate.

...and I have EVERY confidence in both the candidates.

by zonk 2008-02-27 09:58AM | 0 recs

It's been pretty clear that Obama knocked Hillary off her game late last fall.  She didn't see him coming, the Democratic Party establishment didn't see him coming, heck, most of his supporters admit they didn't really see him coming either.  He of the soaring rhetoric and dewy eyed optimism and she of the staggering competence and knowledge of where the bodies are buried have met at a time when either one of them would have walked away with this in Iowa, were it not for the other.

Barack Obama succeeds, IMHO, because of the unambigously disastrous Bush Administration, along with a healthy dose of disilluisonment brought on by the inaction of the 2006 Congress.  Shrub is has so thoroughly poisoned the waters of the public against its own government, that they clamor for change, any change, I don't care what kind just give me someone/something DIFFERENT!  Kind of similar to the aftermath of the Nixon/Ford era.  Jimmy Carter was swept into office with nothing more than a promise not to lie, and that turned out so well for us, didn't it?  A failed Democratic President (challenged from within for a second term, wasn't that great?), and an enduring, if not permanent, Republican preeminence in America for the next 25 years.

Pray this does not happen this time with Sen. Butterflies and Flowers.  Pray that he has steel hands under the velvet gloves.

I am working my skinny ass off to make sure that Sen. Clinton wins the nomination, but I am quite aware now that this is no longer a given.  If not for Sen. Obama, a once in a generation inspirational figure, she would have really been inevitable.  If not for Sen. Clinton, the most accomplished intellectual of the modern era, he would have been inevitable.  An embarrassment of riches that has now become just an embarrassment.  The two of them almost cancel each other out - they are two sides of the same coin of progressivism.

We just have to figure out how to make peace again after this is over...

by jarhead5536 2008-02-27 10:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Timing

If I could, I'd give you a 5.

by dantes 2008-02-27 10:49AM | 0 recs


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