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Monday, October 29, 2007

Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama. The Difference.

posted by on October 29 at 17:42 PM

In his post about Obama’s Donnie McClurkin f-up, Eli asks:

“Why should these people [liberal voters] now believe that Obama’s tough enough to successfully take on Clinton? More importantly: Why should they believe he’s any different than Clinton?”

Part of the reason they should now know Obama is different than Clinton is because Obama was disorganized enough to let this whole thing happen. Clinton’s campaign organization is tight, and would have vetted and calibrated this whole thing out before it blew up; and they would have put the kibosh on it before it ever got started. What were Obama’s people even thinking? My guess is: They weren’t.

As I pointed out when Clinton made up for months of limp campaigning in Washington State with one simple, strategic swoop (speaking at the Maggie Awards), the thing that makes Clinton so formidable is her campaign organization—emphasis on organization.

I think part of the answer to the question probably isn’t what Obama supporters want to hear, but it’s this: Obama’s different than Clinton in a bad way. He’s not as competent a campaigner.

This McClurkin mess shouldn’t have gotten this far.

RSS icon Comments


Well said Josh... So now what? I really don't want to vote for either Clinton or Obama. Maybe someone from The Stranger Staff should run? Maybe Ms. Barnett?

Posted by Brandon Dismuke | October 29, 2007 6:03 PM

Here here!

Posted by arduous | October 29, 2007 6:22 PM

Sometimes good decision-makers are bad campaigners. It doesn't mean Obama would be a bad president.

In fact, Clinton could be a great campaigner and a eh president. Who knows?

Posted by la | October 29, 2007 6:25 PM

One big difference: Hillary's spouse signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law. I don't think Michelle Obama is that homophobic.

Posted by true believer | October 29, 2007 6:41 PM

Well, one thing about obama is that he's definitely more ETHICAL as a campaigner than clinton

Posted by Kevin Erickson | October 29, 2007 6:48 PM

Actually, I think you have to entertain the idea that this was not a fuck-up (at least past the first 24 hours) but a deliberate play to pander to conservative religious AA voters while also sending the message that Obama wouldn't buckle on demands to disinvite McClurkin.

Of course, that doesn't disprove that the Obama campaign is also not as disciplined or effective as Clinton's.

Posted by jonathan | October 29, 2007 7:06 PM

true believer-

I submit that you don't know a thing about Michelle Obama's views on gay marriage.

Given that only 30% of *Democrats* are for gay marriage, there's no FUCKING way Obama will ever come out for it. At least in this election cycle.

If you want to dislike Hillary Clinton, fine, but do it where there's actually a gnat's ass difference between the candidates.

Posted by Big Sven | October 29, 2007 8:41 PM

good campaigner does not equal good president (George W Bush, anyone?). The difference between Hillary and Obama is that Clinton has more experience with campaigns. But don't go sounding the death knell for Obama for a few slip-ups. Kerry's campaign was in a shambles at this point in 2003, and he came roaring back.

Posted by grumpypants | October 29, 2007 9:10 PM

@8: a loss.

Posted by yeah | October 29, 2007 9:34 PM

And Dean's campaign was destroyed by a single sound bite.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | October 29, 2007 11:23 PM

@10: Yep.

Posted by Dave Coffman | October 29, 2007 11:33 PM

My question is this...
For months now nobody has made one mention of policy. the discussion has been about, who's a better campaigner, who are these people being seen with on the campaign trail, their video blogs, their ads, but not a single mention at all of policy. What they care about. I guess it really doesn't matter does it?

Posted by apttitle | October 30, 2007 1:23 AM

apttitle, I'm pretty sure I talked about the candidates policies regarding gay marriage waaaaaaay back @7.

Posted by Big Sven | October 30, 2007 1:29 AM

You are smoking too much weed.

The policy abounds and you are simply not listening and then whining.

When Hilary was in Seattle almost her whole speech was policy.

Try the internet and each candidates site for starters. As they say, there it is in black and white.

Obama is so nice, so cool, so lacking in experience. The R's will chew him into bits.

Yes, I am moving to Hillary. She will sweep the early primaries, then it is for real. Ms. Clinton just sent 100 field workers into Iowa. Her campaign is for real.

The mother of political rumbles awaits us all. Take down the theocrats who seek to destroy the world midst their delusions.

And in February if I hear any whining I will become a bitch. Unity.

(And I will work just as hard for Edwards or Obama if they pull it out of the fire, unity)

Posted by Karla | October 30, 2007 2:24 AM

Josh Marshall asks the real question. Why are the Democratic nominees not going after the Republican nominees? Obviously Obama and Clinton need to tussle for the nomination, but they also need to be attacking the very weak GOP side. Obama could really gain some ground and some credibility if he really started attacking Giuliani's track record of consistent insanity, for example.

And a TPM reader also brings up the very good question of why neoconservatives aren't in hiding in this election cycle? They've been so discredited and so absolutely wrong on everything, and yet the Dems aren't attacking, and Giuliani is surrounding himself with Podhoretz, Pipes et. al. What is wrong with the Dem nominees? Lay into them.

Posted by Gabriel | October 30, 2007 2:33 AM


On Ellen today, Obama said he does not support marriage but will work to pass a full civil unions bill which will give all the 1200 rights that marriage accords.

Big time good statement ... just raised the rail a bit.

Posted by George | October 30, 2007 3:36 AM

a close relative of mine with perhaps 70 years of experience with politics and organizing, was recently volunteering for Obama in NH. He found that the Obama campaign was a shambles. This is a major problem. It doesn't matter if the candidate would be a great elected official if they can't campaign effectively and actually get elected. And yes, a good campaigner is more likely to be an effective (regardless of their political affiliation) president. candidates are rarely destroyed by what the opposition does, they are destroyed by their inability to respond to the opposition, and by a weak base.
I personally would prefer a different candidate than Clinton, but I have no problem supporting Clinton rather than another republican victory. At this point a republican victory would likely further tip global warming, the supreme court and civil rights in a direction the world cannot afford.

Posted by MSW | October 30, 2007 5:40 AM


yes, the worst direction is called more war mongering - and nukes

there is far all over the world about the American war machine, and we should be calling that fear by its correct name, home baked fascism

Posted by Karla | October 30, 2007 7:05 AM

I don't see a significant difference between Clinton and Obama on the war. If Obama had really wanted to distinguish himself from Clinton, the war would have been a good area, but instead he's trying to pass her on the RIGHT.

I think this homophobic shit in South Carolina was a deliberate election strategy that the campaign believed they could get away with on a local level or that they believed would have a benefit outweighing its down side. Campaigning on the "faith voters" (wink wink code code) side of gay civil rights is a strategy that progressive politically concious voters have seen as exceptionally hateful and fear mongering.

He's also started talking about Social Security last week for God's sake! Using right wing language and suggesting that there is a significant problem to be solved there. Hell, the right wing isn't even running on Social Security because there is nothing there that needs attention in the next decade.

Here's a link with a recent Obama commercial:

Posted by mirror | October 30, 2007 7:38 AM

Obambi said he is not willing to kneecap Hillary.


Guess he doesn't really want to win, then.

And, he wouldn't be able to attack the Republican smear machine. At best he'd have to take months and months of inner struggling to "decide" it is okay to attack them.

He's another Tsongas type intellectual. We need a fighter, not a brainy intellectual mouthing banalities about hope who takes months to realize he is in a fight and has to actually attack his opponent.

Posted by unPC | October 30, 2007 7:39 AM

I want the nail driven into the coffin of "values voters" (more like racist homophobic voters) and with Clinton and Obama's pandering to that awful segment of the population that ain't gonna happen with either of them. I sincerely hope Edwards pulls ahead.

Posted by Jersey | October 30, 2007 8:07 AM

No Nig-Nogs for me!

Posted by IMAdrgQ | October 30, 2007 9:47 AM

obama might have played this the right way. as i mentioned in a previous thread, and echoed here @6, obama is appealing to the a part of the traditional democratic base this is more conservative.

with his plans outlined @16, he's clearly trying to win both parts. he wants to grant all the rights of marriage to all, but reserve the title for the conservatives.

if it is true that only 30% of dems really support gay marriage, then his strategy is both on the left (of the party -- but not seattle) and may hold popular appeal. perhaps much akin to dontaskdonttell -- in both the good and bad ways.

Posted by infrequent | October 30, 2007 10:06 AM


You all need to give this a rest. What you should be asking is how many hard core activists skipped the Maggies because they don't believe in Hillary. I can tell you first hand that quite a few did. Stop acting like this is your first rodeo.

Posted by midnight rider | October 30, 2007 10:11 AM

OK, OK... Obama's sooooo bad. You've convinced me. To vote for Edwards. Because I like his rhetoric better than Hill's, and as hokey as he sounds, find him more believable. But it matters fuckall, because Hill is who the idiots deciding this thing want. So you'll have you're way. Hope you can feel positive about the consequences.

Posted by christopher | October 30, 2007 10:20 AM

Big Sven: Even if Michelle were not explicitly in favor of gay marriage, she couldn't do the damage that Hillary's spouse Bill did when he signed DOMA into law.

Posted by true believer | October 30, 2007 10:22 AM

Welcome to reality, Josh. I've been here for some time. The water's fine.

Posted by Matthew | October 30, 2007 10:55 AM

okay this is how it breaks down: obama's campaigning is being criticized because he says and does what all the other candidates believe. he's insulting to gays and appears unorganized because he and his staff didn't have the foresight to hide this issue; to not address it.

Posted by infrequent | October 30, 2007 11:34 AM

true believer, and everybody else-

It sucks, but I'll say again, only 30% of *Democrats* support gay marriage:

30% = no support for it. Bill and Barack and John don't want to touch this issue with a 14' Johnny Wad Holmes cock. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

And if you want to attack Hillary by writing Bill off for not defying the prevailing winds on the issue, recognize that you are in the 12% minority of Democrats that don't view Bill's presidency favorably. You can have your opinion, but you're in deep minority among your fellow Democrats (you know, the people Christopher calls "idiots.")

Time is on the side of all of us who support same-sex marriage, but we're not there yet. I have a lot of respect for Kucinich supporters because he really is different, but the bile by Obama and Edwards supporters towards Hillary looks sophomoric and manufactured.

Posted by Big Sven | October 30, 2007 3:18 PM

Whoops. "Hillary and Barack and John." Freudian slip.

Posted by Big Sven | October 30, 2007 3:19 PM

yes! the problem with this all along was not necessarily the mistake of getting this guy on the bandwagon (although that does piss my gay liberal ass off a little bit), but the whole management of the situation. obama is a bad manager. a splendid orator, a good dancer, a decent writer and maybe even a swell philosopher....but a bad manager. you can't trust someone to run a nation from "disaster" to "improvement" if they can't run a tight ship of a campaign.

Posted by kim | October 30, 2007 4:41 PM

i should've read all the comments first....fwiw hillary is also for all equal rights under the title of civil unions. as for "marriage," she wants to leave it where it has been: with the states. whereas obama wants each church group to decide if they recognize it as marriage. another silly policy. and, to be fair, edwards is still on his journey with the whole thing (although his wife is all for it).

Posted by kim | October 30, 2007 4:49 PM

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