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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What He Said

posted by on March 25 at 8:24 AM

I think Clinton’s political interests clearly militate toward a harsh campaign against Obama. Her only chance of winning is to disqualify him as a general election candidate, giving the superdelegates no chance but to contravene the elected delegates, which they are otherwise reluctant to do. This also serves her interests because if Obama loses, she would be the front-runner in 2012…

Now, is Clinton actively thinking along these lines? Like I said, you can’t know. Even if she’s thinking in selfless terms, I’m not certain she would regard a John McCain victory over Obama as a total disaster. Senators tend to be very clubby and place enormous weight on paying dues. Clinton is said to consider Obama unworthy of the presidency, and indeed has said that McCain is ready to be commander-in-chief and he is not. She may not think a McCain presidency would be much worse for the country than an Obama presidency. I definitely suspect her chief strategist, Mark Penn, would prefer a McCain presidency. Penn is right-of-center on foreign policy and economics. His loyalty to liberalism is extremely tenuous.

But this is speculation. An easier question to answer is, How much does Clinton value her own interests versus those of the Democratic Party? And here the answer is very clear: Clinton is acting as if she doesn’t care about the Democratic Party’s interests at all, except insofar as they coincide with her own. Her continued campaign is significantly damaging Obama’s general election prospects, and this would perhaps be defensible if she had a strong chance at the nomination, but she doesn’t.

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The result might be that, even if she is successful in her efforts, she will lose in the general as many Dems will be less than enthusiastic about voting for her. I know that while I will probably, though reluctantly, vote for her in that case, I will not give any money, nor volunteer.

Posted by Giffy | March 25, 2008 8:45 AM

Where is the evidence that Clinton doesn't want to use the superdelegate vote to trump the elected delegates' vote? I thought that's been her plan for some time.

Posted by Trevor | March 25, 2008 8:55 AM

I think that at this stage of the game, her only plan is to stay in in the hopes that Obama is taken out by a KKK whack-job, or hit by a bus.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 25, 2008 8:58 AM

It's interesting as this continues how much more to the right of the democratic party, and to the right of me, the Clintons are. I never really knew. Now though, I am seeing that the Clintons are willing to sacrifice what I thought were their values, progressive values, for their own personal gain. It's really disheartening. Do they really think another 4 to 8 years of war and conservative judge appointments and economic hell worth it? Why are they doing this?

Posted by truth hurts | March 25, 2008 9:00 AM

Yet another post that demonstrates: 1) women cannot demonstrate power without being characterized as evil and 2) Obama supporters are just as desperate as Clinton's.

Posted by Angus | March 25, 2008 9:01 AM

You should cite the source of this article. It was written by Jonathan Chait at the New Republic:

Posted by Glenn | March 25, 2008 9:03 AM

Yay Angus....

and furthermore the post demonstrates that blogs thrive on this psuedo battle between O and C just as much as the media does.

Keep it active. Make it contentious. Dramatize it beyond belief. Hysteria rules!! Turn our democracy into a never ending episode of The Survivor - reality democracy. It's just like real life.

Posted by patrick | March 25, 2008 9:06 AM

Hey ECB? What do you think of Hillary these days?

Posted by ZWBush | March 25, 2008 9:07 AM

Listening to Bill speak this morning, it sounds a little like he is trying to set up a McCain/ Hilary bill. Since McCain will likely be a one term President, that may be Hil's best and only chance to the White House.

Posted by Meinert | March 25, 2008 9:07 AM

usually when one lifts a post wholesale, it's a courtesy to at least link to the source.

Posted by internet police | March 25, 2008 9:12 AM

@6, an ass is an ass whether its near a cock or a cunt.

Posted by Giffy | March 25, 2008 9:16 AM

The super delegates will decide this one way or the other. Neither Obama or Hillary will get the 2025 from voted on pledged delegates.

If the situation was reversed I very much doubt that the Obama supporters would heed the call from the Hillary camp to give up.

The polling is turning back for Obama but the last hit he took on Wright dropped him about 7% in key states like MA, WI, and MN and even more in the redder states. Will there be another round of Trinity-gate or will there be something out of the Rezko trial or something else before PA and NC - who knows?

Posted by McG | March 25, 2008 9:17 AM

@13 and others who say if the situation were reversed blah blah blah,

There's no way to know how things would be if the situation were reversed, but *I* would certainly be an Obama supporter who would encourage him to concede (not "give up" as you have phrased it, intentionally no doubt, to justify your continued support of her destructive policy). I don't think that said encouragement would be necessary, because Obama would have already done so. He would have done so once it became mathematically improbable to win. This is the main reason I want the man as president -- he is driven by rational decisions based on facts, not the gut-based ideological decision-making that Bush and, apparently, Clinton use. Unfortunately this country's 3-decade failure to teach people math and science is showing in all the Clinton supporters who wail and cry over how she still has a perfectly rational chance at winning.

Posted by conjecture | March 25, 2008 9:26 AM

Did you know that pledged delegates can change their vote? Well, Hillary wants you to. Or wants to believe it, anyway.

When your strategy for victory in an election depends on overriding the will reflected by the actual votes, I'd think a candidate with integrity would acknowledge the message this sends and step down. It's not as if we suddenly discovered Obama kicks puppies for fun.

Posted by tsm | March 25, 2008 9:29 AM

Also, what @14 said. If Obama was in a position where he clearly couldn't win, I'd want him to step down and let the candidate who the primary voters actually wanted take it from here. And I certainly wouldn't want him performing a kamikaze attack on Clinton.

Posted by tsm | March 25, 2008 9:32 AM

@7 and 11.

I did link, right in the blockquote. And I titled the post "What He Said."

Perhaps I'm giving some of the Slog readership too much credit for intelligence and literacy skills.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | March 25, 2008 9:34 AM

Right, because he's entitled to the nomination even though he can't win it without the superdelegates. Plus he basically shut down revotes in Florida and Michigan, pissing off a bunch of Democrats and damaging our chances in November. Was that in the interest of the party or in his interest?

And @15, wasn't that exactly what somebody on Slog was doing for Obama yesterday? If it's in the rules, it's fair; if it's not, it's not.

Spending 5 months calling the other candidate pure selfish evil is not the way to unite to beat McCain.

Posted by chicagogaydude | March 25, 2008 9:56 AM

That's another funny argument that Clinton supporters trot out: as soon as you disagree with them, they say that you're not unifying the party because you disagree. that's some fantastic Bush-thinking at work there folks.

Posted by Another funny argument | March 25, 2008 10:07 AM
Right, because he's entitled to the nomination even though he can't win it without the superdelegates.

No, it's that if the superdelegates are going to go against the will reflected by the pledged delegates and effectively give the Democratic-voting public the finger, you'd think they should have a pretty damn good reason for it - something beyond a simple "We like her more."

Obama is not some fringe freak who magically found his way to the top. He got there through honest campaigining and wide support. The candidates are pretty close in polling against McCain, so there's not much evidence that Obama is significantly less electable in any way. There might be some very severe dirt on him somewhere, but they've been scouring for a year and that seems increasingly doubtful. (No, Wright is not severe dirt - no worse than what they'll have on Clinton.)

So where's the strong argument to be made that supes should ignore the candidate that the people want? Keep in mind that the decision, and the message it sends, will have consequences beyond the nomination.

Posted by tsm | March 25, 2008 10:15 AM

@19 There's a way to disagree about the issues without calling the other person a monster.

Posted by chicagogaydude | March 25, 2008 10:16 AM

@20 So Obama is all concerned about the will of the people but screw Michigan and Florida? This superdelegate vs the will of the people argument is about changing the rules.

Posted by chicagogaydude | March 25, 2008 10:20 AM

obama is just as undeserving of the presidency as hillary's husband was in 1992.

which is to say, he's going to be fine.

Posted by max solomon | March 25, 2008 10:20 AM

@22 - First off, every single Democratic candidate signed a pledge to effectively throw MI and FL under the bus; Clinton changed her mind only after the fact, when it became advantageous. You're going to need to find a better argument than that.

Second, the question is not whether the superdelegates are obligated to reflect the will of the people. It's whether they want to accept the consequences, in the short and long term, of telling actual Democratic voters that their choice doesn't mean squat. If they're wise, they won't take that lightly.

Posted by tsm | March 25, 2008 10:27 AM

@24 So Obama's gonna accept the consequences of pissing off Michigan and Florida?

Posted by chicagogaydude | March 25, 2008 10:30 AM


Let the bogus Florida and Michigan argument go. You're embarrassing yourself.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 25, 2008 10:31 AM

@25 - If there any, then yes, apparently he is. I think it was a bad idea to throw out MI/FL, but he's absolutely no less complicit in it than every other candidate was. A revote is looking increasingly infeasible in the time frame. If Clinton was so concerned about the will of the people, perhaps she should've said something about it a couple months earlier, before agreeing to shun them.

Posted by tsm | March 25, 2008 10:39 AM

@18 -

You cannot blame Obama for MI/FL. Those states superceded the rules of the DNC, knowing what the outcome would be. The officials of those states put them in the situation they are in, not any of the candidates.

Posted by ZWBush | March 25, 2008 11:03 AM

I love the overwrought moralism of progressive rhetoric. One doesn't just prefer Obama, one believes that other candidates have a moral obligation to concede, for the good of the greater collective.

Posted by David Wright | March 25, 2008 11:16 AM

@22 "This superdelegate vs the will of the people argument is about changing the rules."

Crossposted from because I'm lazy...

Cite the rule being changed re: superdelegates, please. The only "rule" I know is that superdelegates get to vote however they want to, and anyone is free to convince them how they should vote. If you can't tell the difference between actual party rules, and things that you decide are "rules" for the purposes of making up a double standard, I don't even know why I'm replying to this.

Posted by w7ngman | March 25, 2008 11:22 AM

HRC has made the decision to tear into Obama and attempt to reignite the Pastor Wright controversy. She's calling it "hate speech" and implying that Obama is complicit by not leaving his church.

This crosses a pretty damn serious line.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 25, 2008 12:05 PM

TNR is mostly filled with lame writers - I should know, I used to subscribe to them.

That said, with the Clintons, it's all about them and not about America or the Party. Always.

Very sad comment, tho.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 25, 2008 12:23 PM

For the record:

It was the leaders of the STATE Democratic Parties of Michigan and Florida who saw fit to rebel againt the party Primary/Caucus calendar, not the candidates and not the unfortunate voters of the states.

If you have a problem with that decision, take it up with those deciders and don't blame the victims, and don't penalize the National Party for trying to set a calendar and rules, and then enforcing it.

If you also have a problem with a candidate making a pledge to honor the same rules, and then changing mid-election, take it up with that candidate and supporters.

If you find it honorable that another candidate followed the rules, perhaps to that candidate's detriment, and stayed loyal to the party, reward that candidate with your support.

Posted by Andy Niable | March 25, 2008 1:47 PM

chicagogaydude needs to get a life. Seriously, he has issues.

Posted by McCain/Crist '08! | March 25, 2008 2:14 PM

It should be painfully self-evident, but I guess I have to say it: all politicians act in their own self-interest. All of them.

I just can't stand how so many of the Obama supporters think their candidate is *not* a traditional politician, despite the mountains of evidence that he is. You people are never going to convince a single Clinton supporter from way, way up there on your high horse.

I don't know what's funnier, the dozens of Obama recycled campaign meme posts that Eli and company make every day nowadays, or the sad "ECB? What do you think?" bleating from the Obama fans, eager for a villain to fulfill their persecution fantasy.

Posted by Big Sven | March 25, 2008 4:54 PM

I nominate McCain/Crist'08 for Least Effective Obamaton Troll. Dude, nobody believes you're a Republican. Give up.

Posted by Big Sven | March 25, 2008 4:56 PM

Big Sven--

Against my better judgment, I wanted to respond directly to you. You've been a coherent, ardent and intelligent supporter of Hillary; that I can respect.

I think months ago--say during the ten contests, including Washington State, that she ignored--it was a good thing to have Hillary running and running hard for the nomination. Nor do I think people who prefer or preferred Hillary are fools. But at this point, when it is pretty much impossible for her to get more pledged delegates than Obama, it's time for her to be graceful and do what's right for the things she believes in. If she really wants a health care plan, some liberal judicial appointees, some end to the occupation of Iraq and so on, she needs to recognize that Obama has effectively won the nomination.

This battle plan--to make Obama so damaged that either the superdelegates decide against him, or he loses in November and she has an opening in 2012--will at best delay if not outright deny the implementation of many of the policies she clearly holds dear. If her actions, if Mark Penn's actions, deny the Democrats the presidency in '08, it will be unforgivable.

As I've written on Slog in the past, I think HRC is impressive and a far better leader than her husband. I maintain that the best place to apply her talents, to achieve what she and us want to achieve, (particularly at this point in the contest) would be for her to be senate majority leader.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | March 25, 2008 7:34 PM


Long comment, mea culpa in advance.

I agree that Clinton will not arrive at the convention with a plurality of pledged delegates, especially given that her nakedly partisan effort to redo MI and FL was overruled by Obama's nakedly partisan effort to not redo MI and FL.

And I agree that her plan is to convince the supes to "overturn" the will of the pledged delegates. And I agree that if her plan succeeds, it will leave a very bitter and contentious Democratic party in its wake.

But you make a couple of suppositions in your analysis with which I do not agree:

* I do not for a second believe that she or anyone on her team has a plan to force Obama to lose in 2008 to give her an opening in 2012. I think as this race has heated up Obama supporters have built more and more detailed and scathing critiques of Clinton's campaign tactics, but I see no evidence that she is trying to do anything more "severe" than make herself look like a more electable candidate this time around. And quite franklly I think the argument is absurd on the face of it; there's no way in god's green earth that defeating a sitting incumbent president is predictably easier than defeating him or her when they are first running. An argument can be made that *perhaps* Reagan was biding his time with Carter, but even the Gipper required the totally unforseen Iran Hostage Crisis, and the resulting failure of Desert One, to defeat Carter. And of course WJC was a non-player when GHWB first ran in 1988.

* Most centrally, I do not believe that this process has hurt Obama or Clinton's chances in the fall. I realize that this is not how you see it, but I think this is the crux of the difference between our assessments. *If* Clinton had anything to do with making the Wright and Ayers issues public knowledge, and if (as, I will admit, is likely) Obama gets the nomination, it will have been in his BEST INTEREST to get these issues aired now, with a full eight months to go before the general election. This issue will be resolved by June; there will be five months, a political life time, to contest the general election.

I continue to be believe that the central misread of the Obama camp is that he will somehow be able to propel the political debate above traditional partisanship. I think this is inherent in the idea that Clinton has somehow "played dirty"- that all this stuff would stay buried but for op research on the part of the Clintons.

The Republicans will be just as vicious to Obama as they were to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and I guarantee you that anything Clinton has done thus far will seem like cub scout civics badge material after the general election gets going in earnest. If Obama has ever fucked a white woman- ever- that will come out. If he ever burned a flag, if he ever bought some coke after a hard round of finals- allllll that will come out. Remember Harold Ford, Jr. The Republicans will air any and all dirty laundry, and this vetting process- of which Rezko, Wright, and Ayers are an INEVITABLE part- is best done as soon as possible.

* I think your argument carries an assumption that attempting to get the supes to "overturn" the pledged delegate count is wrong or unethical. I believe it is nothing of the sort. The supes get 1/5 of the vote for nomination, and pledged delegates get 4/5. Those are the rules, and the individuals who run the party and hold elected office in its name have a reasonable expectation to having an independent voice in the nomination process. Otherwise, they are just a rubber stamp. IT IS A MEASURE OF HOW CLOSELY DIVIDED THE CONTEST IS THAT 1/5 OF THE CONVENTION VOTE CAN DECIDE THE ISSUE.

I realize it pains Obama supporters (many of whom are my best friends in the real world) to hear this, but there are some of us who think Obama is not well qualified to be President of the United States. We just don't. I won't rehash the arguments, because no amount of arguing on the SLOG is going to convince us that he is, and no amount of arguing is going to convince you that he's not. I've got no vested interest in Clinton winning- unlike when I lived in MN, I'm not active in state party politics, and it will make no difference to my professional life which of these two candidates gets the nomination. I just want to end the Republican hold of the White House.

Of course I will support Obama in the general if he is the nominee, but I honestly think the party will be committing a mistake if they endorse him. It is every bit my right to politically engage superdelegates to try to get them to see things the way I do, and to try to get them to use their legitimate, independent vote to change the party's nomination.

Posted by Big Sven | March 25, 2008 11:50 PM

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