I’ve spent way too much time the past few days in futile email arguments with Clinton supporters who are certain (1) Obama supporters are not thinking rationally; (2) Obama supporters don’t realize how nasty the GOP will be on him in the general election; (3) Obama supporters aren’t real Democrats.
Let’s take the first one. The phrase “cult of personality” is getting applied to Obama supporters because many are young and enthusiastic. (Jeez, let’s just shoot them now. ) Cora Currier has a good response to this at The Nation. See also Michael Tomasky:
Any time you get millions of young people involved in a project, it takes on the feel of a movement. It becomes a little idealistic. Its defining features do tend to include optimism – even perhaps a somewhat unrealistic optimism – and do not tend to include steely pragmatism.
I would have thought these were good things! Would it be better that young people were once again floating along on the usual currents of dissolution and apathy? Would dark pessimism about the country be a preferable state? And most of all, is it incumbent upon the candidate, having inspired this reaction in people, to tamp it down?
Only Democrats could get themselves overwrought because a Democratic candidate inspires too much enthusiasm.
Jim Sleeper has a lovely essay at TPM Cafe called “Obama, Crowds, and Power” that I urge you to read. It begins:
As a political movement gathers what seems to be irresistible force, it rides currents of anger as well as affirmation. How it balances and channels those currents determines its fate. A movement can be fired up by outraged decency, but it will come to little — or worse — if its participants spend more time and energy venting the outrage than advancing the decency.
I can understand why us lefties might be a bit squeamish about big, loud, boisterous, and enthusiastic mass movements. In recent years all of the mass moving has been coming from the Right, fueled by resentment, hate, and fear. “Movement conservatism” has always seemed nakedly negative and destructive to me. But Sleeper steps back and takes a broader view. He provides examples of big, emotional mass movement that did good — mostly because their leadership kept them focused on creating something positive, not just tearing down what they hate.
As for item #2 — please. Like they’re not going to be nasty to Hillary Clinton?
On to item #3 — Paul Lukasiak argues that Clinton has more primary and caucus votes than Obama. Really? John Cole explains,
Apparently, if you only count votes up to Super Tuesday, discount every state that had a caucus, only go by the exit polling, and eliminate any voters who werenâ€™t registered Democrats, then Hillary Clinton actually has the popular vote lead. In other news, based on exit polling and early voting from 2004 President Kerry will be running for reelection.
Apparently, pledged delegates totals are illegitimate, because some states have open primaries. Consequently, it is the responsibility of the superdelegates to overturn the preferred pledged delegate candidate if another candidate wins the national popular vote among “self-identified Democrats.” When caucuses are excluded, Michigan and Florida included, and overall totals determined by evaluating exit poll data rather than counting votes, Clinton wins!
To say this aloud is to refute it, but it is nevertheless generating excitement at TalkLeft. For good measure, Lukasiak throws in the “but can Barack Obama REALLY win California and New York?” meme. Christ, the stench of desperation is sickening.
I don’t know about California, but New Yorkers will vote to elect a Democratic potted plant before they will vote for a Republican.
This is not what the Democratic Party needs. First, it’s creating charges that will be used against Obama by the Right if he’s the nominee. Second, I am damn tired of politicians who can win campaigns only by telling lies about the other guy.
The Clinton campaign may be in trouble in Texas, which is a must-win for Clinton if she’s going to stay in contention. Matthew Mosk writes at WaPo:
Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest.
When I read this, I dissolved in giggles after the first sentence. It was that part about the Texas delegate selection rules “creating a new obstacle for her” that got me. In what sense are the Texas rules a “new obstacle?” Were they only recently passed? Not as far as I can tell — here, for instance, is a pdf about them from August 2007, which should have given the Clinton campaign ample time to get up to speed. While I was having fun thinking of possible analogies — would I describe the existence of the Pacific Ocean as “creating a new obstacle” for my plan to walk from Baltimore to Beijing? or the fact that five is a prime number as “creating a new obstacle” to my proving that it is a multiple of two? –my co-blogger publius was actually writing the post I might have written, only funnier:
“Good lord, letâ€™s see if I have this right. The Clinton campaign decides to cede every post-Super Tuesday state to Obama under the theory that Texas and Ohio will be strong firewalls. After â€“ after â€“ implementing this Rudy-esque strategy, they â€œdiscoveredâ€ that the archaic Texas rules will almost certainly result in a split delegate count (at best).
While they were busy â€œdiscoveringâ€ the rules, however, the Obama campaign had people on the ground in Texas explaining the system, organizing precincts, and making Powerpoints. I know because I went to one of these meetings a week ago. I should have invited Mark Penn I suppose. (ed. Maybe foresight is an obsolete macrotrend.)”
Note to self: If I ever run for office and base my campaign on the idea that I am ready to lead from day one, I must remember to actually run an effective campaign.
That last part is what gets to me. Hillary Clinton’s primary selling point is that she’d be a better manager of the nation’s business than Barack Obama. But the way the campaigns are being run says otherwise.
Russ Wellen of Scholars and Rogues says that the Clinton campaign is trying to guilt-trip the Obama supports into voting for Clinton.
The questions beg to be asked: Where do Hillaryâ€™s supporters get off trying to foist a candidate on us whose foreign policy sell-by date has expired? And whose strategy seems to be based on calling in markers on her husbandâ€™s administration?
Furthermore, how dare they make women who choose not to vote for her feel like theyâ€™re letting all women down? Shame on you, Hillary supporters, for shaming them.
If Hillary is nominated, Obama supporters will be expected to fall in line behind Hillary just because sheâ€™s a Democrat. But, no doubt, theyâ€™ll still be licking their wounds from the defeat of a candidate whose ambition was leavened by what looks, for all intents and purposes, like genuine idealism.
A defeat borne of strong-arming superdelegates, as well as an after-the-fact certification of the Florida and Michigan primary votes, will leave many Obama supporters in no mood to vote for Hillary. But pressure from not just Hillary supporters, but Democrats at large who are preparing for such an eventuality, has been ongoing.
How dare Democrats desperate to regain the White House at any cost guilt-trip reluctant Obama supporters into voting for Hillary? The onus isnâ€™t on the latter if the Democrats fail to take the White House â€” itâ€™s on the party for driving a lemon of a candidate out of the showroom.
Also, do read Wellen before you leave a comment here telling me how bleeping accomplished Hillary Clinton is and how you can’t understand why I might have doubts about her. He sums it up pretty well. See also Gary Younge, “It’s up to the superdelegates to prove Democrats believe in democracy.”