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Archive for May 28th, 2008

No Clear Path for Clinton’s Political Future

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:41 am by HL

No Clear Path for Clinton’s Political Future
The Washington Post looks at Sen. Hillary Clinton’s future and notes many Democrats “are now pointing to the Sen. Edward M. Kennedy model as a path for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to reshape her own political career, assuming she is unable to wrest the nomination from Sen. Barack Obama.”

“When Kennedy returned to Capitol Hill before the 1980 election, the Massachusetts Democrat was in a similar fix. Like Clinton, he was the heir to a powerful political legacy. But the climate was volatile, and voters were in the mood for change. Kennedy was rejected by many of his Senate colleagues, despite Carter’s sagging popularity, and he won just 10 primary states. But like Clinton, he hung on until the bitter end.”

The New York Times also examines Clinton’s likely return to the Senate.  “At a minimum, Mrs. Clinton would face an adjustment in exiting the high-energy, applause-filled, rapid-fire atmosphere of a presidential race and re-entering the meandering Senate, where power, status and legislative accomplishments take years or even decades to attain.”

First Read argues that by staying in the presidential race so long, Clinton is hurting her political future. “Given the thud with which Clinton’s RFK flub was received, it’s starting to become clear that perhaps she erred in deciding to stay in the race this long. Imagine had she suspended her campaign and still won primaries. Wouldn’t that have put her in an even stronger position than now? Obama hasn’t run a campaign against her for the last few weeks and, in turn, it’s helped Clinton prop up her personal standing. But wouldn’t she be winning over the support of some in ObamaNation if she were sort of returning the favor by getting out and suspending the campaign? And that’s the rub: At some point for her political future, she has to win back the support of Obama’s supporters. And they don’t seem to be very forgiving of her right now.”


Will Pro-Choice Women Vote For McCain?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:40 am by HL

Will Pro-Choice Women Vote For McCain?
Abortion, I’m sad to say — as someone who will never pull the lever for an anti-choice candidate of any stripe — is just not going to be that meaningful a metric in 2008. Good on Arianna for getting the message out about McCain, because the Planned Parenthood poll indicates that when people are aware of what a pig he is on choice, it starts to chip away at their willingness to support him But for those looking to a position on choice to keep women in the Democratic tent, there just isn’t a compelling argument that this issue alone will keep women from defecting to McCain.

Blue America candidate Martin Heinrich is over at Crooks & Liars chatting.  Stop by and say “hi” — jh

Following up on my post from yesterday on John McCain’s bid for Hillary Clinton’s female voters, I see my good friend Arianna Huffington has finally joined the ranks of pro-choice bloggers and writes about a promising poll by Planned Parenthood. The poll concludes that many of McCain’s supporters in swing states are pro-choice, and don’t realize what a reactionary barbarian he is when it comes to a woman’s right to control her own body.

People in our comments thread were also quick to note that no woman who really cares about choice could vote for a President who might put another Alito on the bench. Well, people such as myself who are die-hard pro-choice voters might wish that were true, but there really isn’t any statistical proof to back up the conclusion that John McCain’s Neanderthal position on choice is going to hurt him significantly in November.

A recent nation wide Gallup poll indicates that only 13% of those polled say that a candidate “must share your views” with regard to abortion; 49% said it was “just one of many important factors,” while 37% said it was “not a major issue” and 2% had “no opinion.”

Here’s Newsweek:

McCain aides say his hard line on abortion isn’t necessarily a disadvantage among many women. Though about 60 percent agree in general with Roe, that doesn’t mean they vote based on a candidate’s position on abortion. The McCain camp believes Hillary backers—working-class white women and independents, in particular—could migrate to McCain rather than to Obama. A Planned Parenthood poll of women voters in 16 battleground states earlier this year showed 49 percent of McCain’s supporters called themselves pro-choice and said they support Roe.

What do women care about? Well, that is the eternal question, isn’t it. From a May 14 Quinnipiac poll:

Which of the following will be the single most important issue in your vote in the election for President this year?

Issue Women
Terrorism 5%
War in Iraq 22%
The economy 46%
Illegal immigration 6%
Health care 14%
Something else (Vol) 4%
DK/NA 2%

“A woman’s right to choose” doesn’t even chart.

McCain’s big vulnerability among women is the economy. The Quinipiac poll also states that 77% of women disapprove of Bush’s handling of the economy, and Progressive Media demonstrates that in 2008 John McCain voted with Bush 100% of the time. In 2007, he voted with him 95% of the time. If Obama can articulate a meaningful vision of how he’ll handle the economy, it’s going to be a lot more persuasive to female voters at this point in time.

Choice is — or should be — a core Democratic value. It’s critical for party leaders to be vocal in their support of it, because the people who really care about it really care about it and they’re the activists who get stuff done. And good on Arianna for getting the message out about McCain, because the Planned Parenthood poll indicates that when people are aware of what a pig he is on choice, it starts to chip away at their willingness to support him. But for those looking to a position on choice to keep women in the Democratic tent, there just isn’t a compelling argument that this issue alone will prevent women from defecting to McCain.

All this is by way of reinforcing my central thesis, which I still stick by — Hillary Clinton’s exit from the stage needs to be carefully managed, and a bum’s rush may have undesirable consequences. Those looking to see her burned at the stake may be firmly convinced of their righteousness, but it’s questionable whether this is in the best interest of a November victory for Obama.


The Moral Imperative For Super Delegates: The Will Of the People

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:39 am by HL

The Moral Imperative For Super Delegates: The Will Of the People

It is my expectation that at the end of this process, Barack Obama will have had more voters go to primaries and caucuses expressing support for him than Hillary Clinton. In short, I believe Barack Obama will win the popular vote and thus his likely nomination will reflect the will of the people.

I imagine the above paragraph will be viewed as a strange opening graf to defend Hillary Clinton’s right, indeed, duty, to fight to see that all the votes are counted. But there it is. I believe the Democratic nominee should be the choice of the People (as defined by the Democratic Party, the electorate eligible to vote for our Democratic nominee in the nominating contests). As Jeralyn’s post below conclusively demonstrates, there is virtually no moral imperative in terms of the Will of The People attached to the pledged delegate count. Not only is it fundamentally flawed and undemocratic, the pledged delegate count has no rules based mandate either. So when Barack Obama trumpets his so called winning of a majority of the pledged delegates (excluding Florida and Michigan), it is an entirely trumped up metric, as Jeff Toobin of CNN pointed out. As for the popular vote, even opponents of Hillary Clinton, as Greg Sargent points out, like Hendrik Hertzberg are forced to concede the moral weight of the popular vote:

[T]he popular vote, however juridically meaningless, carries immense moral and political weight with Democrats, for whom the 2000 travesty is a station of the cross and vote-counting a kind of sacrament. The superdelegates understand this. That’s why it has been clear all along that if one of the candidates is able to claim an indisputable majority of actual flesh-and-blood Democrats it will be difficult to deny him—or her—the nomination.

I agree with Hertzberg on that. But of course, Hillary can not be allowed to escape unscathed, even when she has a point. Thus Hertzberg, sadly, feels compelled to treat a fight to COUNT the votes as an evil act:

In an eerie echo of the “Brooks Brothers riot” depicted in the HBO movie, when shouting Bush operatives and Republican congressional staffers who had been dispatched to Florida managed to shut down the Miami-Dade County recount, CNN reported on Thursday that Clinton supporters “are planning to swarm the capital in a little over a week to pressure Democratic Party leaders as they gather to decide the fate of the Florida and Michigan delegations.” In 2000, the candidate most willing to deploy principles and trash them, according to the tactical needs of the moment, was awarded the prize. In 2008, maybe not.

Hertzberg equates a protest to COUNT the vote with a Republican operation to STOP THE COUNT of votes. But this is the landscape we occupy now. Up is down. Paul Krugman is evil and deranged. Andrew Sullivan is wise and progressive. Counting votes is bad. Not counting them is good.

Of course, Hertzberg’s article is an attempt to deflate a point that he knows is powerful – count the votes. The value of the popular vote. And in order to do this, he seems intent on delegitimizing Clinton’s perfectly honorable efforts to have the votes counted. And by delegitimizing the popular vote total in this contest, Hertzberg is implicitly arguing that the moral imperative for super delegates is to follow the pledged delegate leader, even though it is, in Hertzberg’s words, “juridically meaningless.” And we also know it is morally meaningless as well because the pledged delegate selection process is fundamentally flawed and undemocratic. It does not provide the imprimatur of the Will of the People.

Indeed, these glaring flaws have been, sadly, studiously avoided by the Media and major blogging figures. None have examined the pledged delegate system and how it is Obama came to hold a lead under that system. A look at the system leads to the inexorable conclusion that it is utterly undemocratic and flawed.

Both in ways intentional and unintentional, votes are diluted and over represented. And in many cases in contradictory ways. In Nevada and Iowa, rural voters are given extra weight, in Texas, urban voters given extra weight.

And just by awarding delegates by Congressional district, the DNC has chosen to dilute votes – 2-2 districts versus 3-2 districts is the most obvious example. A candidate can win 61% of the vote in a 2-2 district and get a split of the delegates while another candidate could get 50.1% of the vote in a 3-2 district and get a 3-2 split of the vote.

Consider also the absurdity of Texas’ dual primary and caucus system which proved just how disenfranchising the pledged delegate selection system is. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 100,000 votes. Then a second contest was organized, from a smaller subset of the larger electorate which voted in the primary, to participate in a caucus. Obama won the undemocratic, voter excluding contest. Clinton won the democratic, voter inclusive one. Obama lost Texas according to the will of the People but got the most delegates. Thus, the DNC sanctioned voter dilution. There is not other word for it. If this system were submitted to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, it would be laughed at and thrown out on its ear. And yet this is not worthy of even a mention from Hendrick Hertzberg, or indeed, anyone at all in the Media.

Leaving all that aside, the question is what should the Super Delegates do if there is not clear expression of the Will of The People? In my view, vote their conscience. Consider whatever legitimate factors they deem relevant. Including, electability in November.

And it goes to this final point. while it is my belief that the Super Delegates will now go for Barack Obama no matter what, in fact Obama has NOT clinched the nomination. By any rules based metric. He has not achieved 2026 delegates nor 2210.

But Hillary Clinton is treated as delusional, evil even, for staying in the race and making her case. To me that is the ultimate grotesqueness of all of this. That someone who is playing by the rules and fighting for her supporters and views is treated as a scourge. All because they want the votes counted.

Yes there was an earlier episode when something like this occurred. In 2000. And the person who suffered this type of abuse was named Al Gore. History repeats itself.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only.

Comments now closed.


2.5% Rejection

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

2.5% Rejection
This really is quite astounding. An investment bank had a contract with a mortgage lender which dictated that they couldn’t reject more than 2.5% of their loan apps.

Bored Now
It seems the Villagers have gotten bored of this little primary contest.


New Hillary Ad: “Some People Say Primary In South Dakota Doesn’t Matter”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:34 am by HL

New Hillary Ad: “Some People Say Primary In South Dakota Doesn’t Matter”
Hillary’s up with two new ads in South Dakota — positive spots, suggesting she continues to be more or less committed to an ad strategy that will end this on a gentle note. There’s this spot on the economy… The…


Big Trouble?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:33 am by HL

Big Trouble?
Below I noted MSNBC’s story tonight about how fmr. Sen. Phil Gramm (McCain’s economics advisor) was advising him on his subprime mortgage bailout policy while Gramm was also a registered lobbyist for the Swiss bank UBS. Now, it’s clear from…


Institute gives $600m for med. research

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:32 am by HL

Institute gives $600m for med. research
One of the world’s largest private philanthropies will announce today a $600 million initiative to fund risky but potentially lifesaving medical research by 56 of America’s top scientists…


Perino: Even Bush ?doesn?t wish for a third term? of Bush.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:31 am by HL

Perino: Even Bush ?doesn?t wish for a third term? of Bush.
When asked today about the attempts of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to distance himself from President Bush, White House Press Secretary inadvertently admitted that even the President sees the value in moving away from the policies of the past seven years. He’s been involved in this for a long time and you can’t wish for […]

When asked today about the attempts of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to distance himself from President Bush, White House Press Secretary inadvertently admitted that even the President sees the value in moving away from the policies of the past seven years.

He’s been involved in this for a long time and you can’t wish for something that’s not going to happen — he doesn’t wish for a third term. He thinks it’s good that we have a two-term limit in the United States. It’s good for the country to have that smooth, peaceful transition of power every four or eight years; one where you get new energy and new ideas across the board — from the President on down, throughout the administration.

President Bush has acknowledged, however, that he and McCain have the same foreign policy goals. “He’s not going to change when it comes to taking on the enemy,” Bush said of McCain in March.


MSNBC, Leaning Left And Getting Flak From Both Sides

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:30 am by HL

MSNBC, Leaning Left And Getting Flak From Both Sides
MSNBC, which bills itself as “the place for politics,” is being pummeled by political practitioners.


Peering Behind Clinton’s Gaffe

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 28th, 2008 4:28 am by HL

Peering Behind Clinton’s Gaffe
History repeats itself, someone once said, because people don’t hear it right the first time. The problem with Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Robert F. Kennedy gaffe is her failure to recall correctly the history that she has helped to make. She was wrong on the facts, wrong in her argument, and wrong in her recollection of the deep, gut-wrenching fear and loathing that the second assassination of a Kennedy inflicted on Americans — across party lines. Grasping at historical straws to explain why she is still campaigning instead of putting her campaign on hold, at least, the New York senator unleashed an argument that not only sounded breathtakingly tacky but also happens to be wrong on its facts.

Republicans Are in Denial
Senator Tom Coburn, Wall Street Journal