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January 26, 2008

Comments

That low rumbling in the distance I hear is the Clinton Spin Machine firing up. Bill will say that the media is reading into his words a meaning he never intended, he'll blow up and blame the media for stoking the racial fires, etc.

How the mighty continue to fall.

Oprah left? She was supposed to VP. How do you think Oprah and Obama fans vote?

Of course Oprah likes little girls, little African girls, so much she opened a school for them in Africa and vacations there..........

Seems pretty clear to me -- Clinton is implying that Obama won because he's black, just like Jackson did. And, his larger implication is that this victory doesn't matter for that reason.

Namedropping Jesse Jackson is a dogwhistle. The Big Dog is deliberatly trying to nudge Obama out of the unified "post-racial" bubble by tying him to a "divisive" boogeyman who is pure squick to many white people (especially independents and moderate Republicans).

Clinton is implying that Obama won because he's black, just like Jackson is.

The new Southern Strategy continues.

This is nice. From TPM:
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/064877.php

"Clinton campaign strategists denied any intentional effort to stir the racial debate. But they said they believe the fallout has had the effect of branding Obama as "the black candidate," a tag that could hurt him outside the South."

LOL

Yes, Marshall does capture it about as well as anyone has--by stumbling around the subject for a while and finally admitting that, although there is no precedent whatsoever for how an ex-President whose wife is running for President should behave, and although the idea of a man not campaigning actively for his own wife is beyond ridiculous, Marshall just doesn't feel good about it.

It's just another one of those let's-invent-new-political-rules-to-help-Obama moments. Like the new rule that you can't spin your opponent's words or the whole world will jump on you as a shameless liar, no matter what your past service to the party consists of, how tirelessly you have worked for how many others in the Party, and how consistently you've refrained from character attacks in all your primary campaigning throughout your career.

Small wonder that Clinton finally cracked a tiny bit under the pressure and said something inappropriate, i.e., what he said in that clip. He should not have said that, particularly in response to that question. There's no good excuse, I hope he apologizes, and based on what I know of him, I expect he will.

Beyond that statement, I really haven't seen anything Bill Clinton has said that is the slightest bit objectionable. "Fairy tale?" Pshaw. Obama hasn't lived up to his 2002 anti-Iraq speech? Absolutely true and needed to be said.

Well now, wait a second.

Just for the sake of argument, if Obama wins the nomination and chooses Clinton to share the ticket, who is going to object if his strategist goes on Russert and explains his strategy of appealing to the older white women demographic?

That said, I wish Bill would shut up.

That said, I just came over from Balloon Juice where one of the recent posts links to the infamous Republican Roger Stone's new organization, Citizens United Not Timid to explain to the American people what Hillary Clinton really is.

Quite the acronym.

Just when I'd decided to back Obama 100%, my testy nature wants to see Mrs. Clinton get the nomination to see how much lower than that the Republican Party can go, and its only January.

The Clintons need to cut it out, but I guarantee the Republican party will run ads against Obama in various states alongside footage of Jesse Jackson yelling out rhyming couplets.

Which is no excuse for Bill.

Obama's hide is thickening for the Fall onslaught. At least the Clintons are good for something.

I'm starting a new country.

I agree that's what Clinton is saying. What I don't entirely understand is why it's such an awful thing to say. The exit polls say Obama won something like 90% of the black vote, and only around 25% of the white male vote. Blacks turned out in record numbers. Not crazy, nor insulting, to respond to these facts by wondering whether getting out the black vote will be enough in most states, especially in the general election.

To digress for a moment into the merits of that question, it will help a LOT if blacks elsewhere come out to the polls this much, maybe as much as the heroic turnout in evangelical voters helped the other side the last few times. But not enough all by itself to win, so the question is whether Obama -- unlike Jackson -- really does have the widespread crossover appeal that polls suggest he has. Given his meager results among white Democrats in South Carolina, that's not a crazy question, at least with respect to the primaries. My guess is, any state where he loses a lot of Democrats because of his color, the Republicans were going to win anyway because of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so it won't matter in the general election.

The flurry about this remark strikes me as very like the reaction to Obama's gaffe that for quite a while, Republicans really were the party of ideas -- in both cases, a professional made a matter of fact comment about the reality of his business and outsiders were shocked and offended. In both cases, I say, get over it, it's simply true.

Obama just gave a very good speech to celebrate his victory. It had, as usual, soaring rhetoric about the future and changing the status quo.

This time, however, there was a hard edge to it. He eviserated Bill and Hillary Clinton. This guy may be more of a fighter than he's been given credit for.

trilobite, consider this: 25% isn't "only" in context. Obama got 25% of the white vote versus Clinton's 27%. He would have won the state even if only 20% of the voters were black.

He did very well across all demographics. He did very well with whites in all the other primaries and caucuses so far, too.

Jackson got only 7% of the white vote in the 80s. There is no sensible, fair comparison to be made at all.

Obama's victory was huge. Still, if the Clintons wants to talk black and white, they need to remember that Clinton lost to Edwards for the white vote.

Yes, Bill Clinton's remarks about Jesse Jackson were not a good comparison under the circumstances, and the more gracious thing would've been simply to compliment Senator Obama on the extent of his victory.

But if you think that was racial dog-whistle politicking, then check out this incisive MyDD diary by Seymour Glass.

I'm not going to quote extensively from it because I want you all to hit the linky and read it yourself, but believe me, it is well worth reading. It turns out that Obama's speeches yesterday were laced with the hookline phrase "Don't be hoodwinked, don't be bamboozled" from Denzel Washington's big speech in Spike Lee's Malcolm X which was about, get this, white politicians coming in from out of state to lie to the black folk.

The MLK speech was more my style, but it's lovely in its own way to see him get up there and say *exactly* what he needs to say tonight.

Trickster, yes, that is true dogwhistling, in the sense of "impossible for human ears to hear." I mean, *I* was in junior high when the movie came out & don't remember that phrase at all, but all my hip young imaginary black friends in South Carolina told me they had it memorized.

Yes, Marshall does capture it about as well as anyone has--by stumbling around the subject for a while and finally admitting [...] Marshall just doesn't feel good about it.

It's just another one of those let's-invent-new-political-rules-to-help-Obama moments. [...]

Wow, that's not how I read Marshall at all. In fact, my impression has been that he's been taking pains to stay neutral and that he was actually leaning Clinton up until the last month of nastiness.

I think that Josh's dancing around the subject is, now and in the last month, about trying to wave off the Clintons for their own good -- there's a definte "oh crap, what are they thinking?" vibe underneath his posts that take positions critical of Clinton.

That is, his subtext is generally about perceptions, and I think he's been pretty spot-on so far; when he's said "um, you know, this isn't going to play well," he's usually right. If Mark Penn read TPM a little more often, I think the Clinton campaign would be a lot better off.

C'mon, katherine, all black people know every word to Malcolm X. They learn it at black summer camp.

Katherine, I think you are saying that the lines weren't in the movie? Is that right? If so, please go to the link. There is a link to a clip of the speech. Here's what Washington said in the movie:

Malcolm X: I must emphasize at the out start that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is not a politician. So I'm not here this afternoon as a Republican, nor as a Democrat; not as a Mason, nor as an Elk; not as a Protestant, nor a Catholic; not as a Christian, nor a Jew; not as a Baptist, nor a Methodist; in fact, not even as an American, because if I was an American, the problem that confronts our people today wouldn't even exist.

So I have to stand here today as what I was when I was born: A black man.

Before there was any such thing as a Republican or a Democrat, we were black.

Before there was any such thing as a Mason or an Elk, we were black.

Before there was any such thing as a Jew or a Christian, we were black people!

In fact, before there was any such place as America, we were black!

And after America has long passed from the scene, there will still be black people.

I'm gonna tell you like it really is. Every election year these politicians are sent up here to pacify us! They're sent here and setup here by the White Man!

This is what they do!

They send drugs in Harlem down here to pacify us!

They send alcohol down here to pacify us!

They send prostitution down here to pacify us!

Why you can't even get drugs in Harlem without the White Man's permission!

You can't get prostitution in Harlem without the White Man's permission!

You can't get gambling in Harlem without the White Man's permission!

Every time you break the seal on that liquor bottle, that's a Government seal you're breaking!

Oh, I say and I say it again, ya been had!

Ya been took!

Ya been hoodwinked!

Bamboozled!

Led astray!

Run amok!

This is what He does....

No, I am saying your interpretation is ludicrous, & if it were deliberate it wouldn't work because most black voters in South Carolina haven't actually memorized 16 year old Spike Lee movies.

Ooh, Malcolm X, maybe he's secretly appealing to Muslim voters too!

... Um, I hate to break it to you, Trickster, but I think that MyDD diary is either satirical, mostly tongue-in-cheek, and/or just childish. I mean... seriously, two words from a Spike Lee movie that Malcolm X never actually said? Obama's a former activist -- I'm pretty sure he could reference the real thing if he wanted to.

For example:

Why can't they be more like Barack, abide by the pledge (wink, wink!), and just quote from their favorite movies when they speak! Like 'Birth of the Nation' or something...
As you may be aware, Birth of a Nation was a silent movie. Pretty sure that's the joke.

Just saying. (Or not saying, as the case may be.)

(not that Obama didn't deliberately appeal to black voters in South Carolina, by the way. Just load up one of the clips of Michelle Obama speaking there. His speech tonight also contained some direct appeals to Latino voters. Amazing! Diabolical! That post, though, is right up there with the "stories" about how was subliminally calling Hillary Clinton a b*tch with the hip hop music at the victory party in Iowa.)

Adam, if Marshall actually is reading the public correctly, then it could only be because the media is driving that reaction. I mean, can you tell me with a straight face that any regular person would ever decide on their own that it's "not OK" for a guy to campaign for his own wife? Give me a break. For most people, that would not even a choice that's really possible to make and stay in your marriage. You support your spouse in his/her professional career, and that's generally not something that gets negotiated. It just is.

The Obama victory speech was great. HRC is unwittingly giving him a scratching post to make his points against. All the talk about divisiveness might have seemed theoretical, until the Clintons stepped up and actually did it.

I find the Clinton quote to be slimy, and a helluva way to repay a community that has given him so much political support over the years. It would be a sick piece of racial opportunism regardless of that support, but adding betrayal to the fault does make it that much worse.

We gonna find any HRC supporters here to defend that quote as yet more hardknuckle politics? There is a point at which hardknuckle politics become wrong even if it is just preparation for Republicans, and that's when it becomes harmful to the community.

One of the funny things coming out of this is that many (not all or necessarily most) of the Clinton defenders on this issue are the same people who refuse to take Republicans at their word when they do the exact same thing.

Jackson got only 7% of the white vote in the 80s. There is no sensible, fair comparison to be made at all.

Exactly. Nor is saying that Obama is the "Black" candidate and uncalculated observation, particularly since you can read the same polls and conclude that Clinton only attracts votes from white woman.

I'm a McCain guy. Have been for a long time (since '00). And I am not a deranged Clinton-hater by any stretch. (I care more about sound fiscal policy and NAFTA than his dalliances, and I approved of the intervention in Bosnia.) But, for the love of God, y'all Democrats cannot nominate Clinton. Yes, I think that McCain's chances improve against her -- but McCain may not be the candidate. And McCain may not win.

Obama has something you don't see very often. But too many aren't seeing it. Too many Democrats are looking the left-wing version of Reagan in the eye, and saying: hmm, this "morning in America" BS sounds a little lightweight to me. And isn't Reagan an actor? Maybe we should go with old Dick Nixon. He's a fighter.

I don't want a fighter as my president -- from either party. You don't either. Fighters don't know how to turn it off. And that's crucial flaw, because you can't fight and lead at the same time. If you spend all your time on your enemies list -- you don't think Clinton has one? -- you can't see the big picture.*

I want a leader. Someone with character. If I can't have my preferred leader, I'll take the best from the other side.

Will you please wake up, Democrats?

von

*Granted that Nixon went to China and did other worthy things once in office.

Adam, if Marshall actually is reading the public correctly, then it could only be because the media is driving that reaction.
Begging the question. Your assertion that the media must be at fault for a public perception that you disagree with, or even that that public perception is, in fact, the rationale in question, is baseless.

In any event, it's irrelevant whether Josh Marshall is reading "genuine" public perceptions or media-created public perceptions, assuming that distinction is even meaningful -- your previous claim was that Josh was merely advancing an opinion and that he was wrong, viz., "Marshall just doesn't feel good about it."

Pick a position and stick to it. If you don't like the position or you disagree with it, just say so. Your original, poorly-argued objection was that Josh Marshall was just advancing his own opinion under the veneer of a political argument -- likewise, presenting your personal opinion as an obvious truth that's being obscured by the big bad mainstream media doesn't make it any more significant or correct, and in fact doesn't even have anything to do with Josh Marshall at this point.

If you're going to be that disingenuous, do it a bit more gracefully. Or, just say what you think and don't try to make it more than it is. No one's going to hold it against you.

So you think the words "hoodwinked" and "bamboozled" are so common in the English language that they just happen to come together in this speech by coincidence, and also happen to be, again, the hookline, the punch line, the crux of the delivery, of a big speech about white folk coming in from the outside to lie to and oppress blacks in an iconic civil rights movie.

Truly, the connotation Seymour Glass and I espouse is not so rare. In fact, you might say it has become part of the language, as evidence by the 15,200 hits I got for this Google search: "hoodwinked bamboozled led-astray OR run-amuck OR run-amok OR malcolm-x OR spike-lee OR denzel-washington".

Coincidence, eh. OK, I hear that you think that. . . .

Well I actually voted for Jesse Jackson in '88. I thought he was great.

But can there be any doubt in any rational persons mind that the black vote in SC was at swayed heavily by the fact that Obama was black?

Is there among blacks a bias for a black candidate? Of course there is.

Remember Lieberman? Wasn't he put on the ticket with Gore because there would be a bias for Jews to vote for him? I think it was.

This is not earthshaking news. Nor is it anything to get upset about.

Adam, that was kind of harsh, wasn't it? Especially since you didn't really respond to what I said.

Yes, I made an assertion. No, I don't think there's proof of it. But I did supply a rationale, which seems really strong to me but you didn't mention it. Let me repeat it: I don't see how average people could come up on their own with the idea that a man should not campaign for his own wife. That is so counter to ordinary human existence and family life that I just can't see it.

We're kind of passing in the night here. If you want to engage me, go ahead. Trading pot-shots I'm not so interested in.

Trickster, it might help if you could show that the speech itself is memorable to folks, particularly if they're black.

I mean, if I mention "god of warriors, writers and prostitutes", I know what I'm talking about, but nobody else outside of the 415 people working in a specialized segment of theatre would know that.

Thanks, gwangung. I took a shot at that with my google search. Did you see that?

Wow, von. With the exception of the McCain love, those are exactly the words I have been looking for.

And for what it is worth, I would have supported him in 2000. However, the lesson he seemed to have learned from that experience was "be crazier and be dirtier."

Trickster:

I see your point. Very interesting. I've seen your name at Yglesias, or was it Ezra's? Anyway, I followed up the link.

I didn't read it all rigorously, but my impression is that yes, of course, there is the strong potential for racial coding going on here. I don't really believe that Obama is using race like Clinton. Why?

I'm uncomfortable, but I'll shoot you straight: because I don't believe it. It doesn't seem to fit with his words and persona. Obama may be using the word bamboozle, but we have to be real careful here - he is referencing a movie, but that doesn't mean he agrees with the movie's thrust, and certainly doesn't mean he adheres to some god-awful semiotic reading in an academic's book.

My takeaway from your post is that you make a solid point - that Obama is using language that at the very least is relying upon language that has a specific racial taint to it, it's the argot of resistance.

I guess I would say that my own read is that Obama, based upon he prior speeches, demeanor, etc - is taking this element of Lee - he is taking the language of suspicion and mistrust toward the Clinton machine not because they're white, but because they're the Clinton machine.

True - Lee uses it for WHITE politicians. Such incredibly coarse race-baiting doesn't mesh at all with Obama's style thus far, from what I've seen. But the mere fact that I am giving Obama the benefit of the doubt and am angry at Bill for his Jesse Jackson comment is, I thinky, YOUR POINT. Am I right?

I could ramble on, but I'll stop for the moment, right here. See if you respond. Maybe I've just pissed you off.

I think your point is the bias towards Obama and the inability at this point of people to see that Hillary is Bad and Obama is Good and they are ignoring in true ideological fashion, what both sides are doing equally.

No, Smythe, you're not missing my point, you're not pissing me off or anything. And yes, I have posted a few times at Yglesias.

I was a semi-regular in this community back in the day, but I usually only get blog-active around elections, so I've been gone for a while. Don't know if this stop is a hit-and-run or not, but I used to like the converations here, generally relatively civil even if across ideological lines.

I think it's fair to accept the thesis that the words are in there intentionally and doubt that there's a race-baiting intent. I disagree with you, based on some other racial undertones that the Obama campaign has given off, but I don't disagree strongly because I'm certainly not convinced that I'm right.

In a different context I would love it that Obama is channeling fictional Malcolm X, but in this context I find it quite disturbing and suspicious.

Like the new rule that you can't spin your opponent's words or the whole world will jump on you as a shameless liar, no matter what your past service to the party consists of, how tirelessly you have worked for how many others in the Party...

This quote is classic, trickster.

"You can't distort and mislead or people will call you a liar! For shame! We should all remember they are lying for us and thus forgive them. They are our dirty fighter and, thus, are rendered virtuous!"

As for the bit after what I quoted, I am just going to say that I fail to suspend disbelief about her past virtuous actions, given that she has been slinging the muck all over the place in this primary.

Thanks, gwangung. I took a shot at that with my google search. Did you see that?

Yes, but you know how the web biases towards the academic and analytical. Many people might know the allusion, but if they're not in the audience you're talking to, I'm not sure how effective it is.

And on a separate axis, there's the case of how common the words are in the audience you're talking to. There are regional variations in word usage, and my impression were the words weren't that uncommon in that part of the country (though I may be mistaken about that).

IMO, Josh Marshall was struggling, in the one post, to admit that he's pissed at Bill Clinton.

Funny, I read it a while ago, and started skimming. I could tell the cognitive dissonance was starting to kick in for him and he was wrestling with it. But I too found it a tedious, meandering piece and skipped to the end.

But yeah, Bill is pissing people off. I find myself angry at him. Sullivan links to Chait tonight, about the rubicon many liberals are finding themselves at. And also, that the 08 election is becoming a referendum on the Clintons, when it should be about the Republicans.

I can see why you'd assert that McCain is "crazier" this time around -- although, of course, I disagree: He's always been this crazy. But dirtier? I haven't seen that at all.

No need to respond -- don't want to threadjack.

Back on point: after her South Carolina shenanigans, I will not cross the line for Clinton under any circumstances. I don't want another four years of this crap. But I'd seriously consider Obama, if McCain isn't nominee.

Kind of ironic for a man who likes to pretend he was the "first black president."

Also, do not forget that the white vote in South Carolina is the white vote that keeps that disgusting flag flying at the State House.

Ah, my home state.

You know, socratic_me--every winning politician spins. Obama spins like a champ.

I admit that Bill and Hillary Clinton spin. I certainly wouldn't consider supporting them if they did not, or any other politician for that matter. Going in front of the cameras and honestly and openly trying to communicate subtle truths is a great way to get your political career stuffed into a manhole.

If you want to get specific, then name some actual lie that Bill or Hillary Clinton said--and give me the words, don't just describe what was said--as opposed to the ordinary vagueish blanket Clinton-slamming, and then we can compare candidate inaccuracies. As is, your claim of the high ground is just a claim, and not one that I buy.

As it sits right now, I'd vote for Obama over McCain (explanations to follow at a later date). Clinton. Not a chance.

Trickster, you may have missed it, but we had a fairly involved discussion of Clinton lies just recently here

Thanks for that link, Sebastian. Sorry I missed that one. That's as good a stab at specificity as I've seen pretty much anywhere.

When I kind of offered to "take on all comers," I wasn't really thinking about a lengthily-researched front page piece, and to tell the truth here late Saturday night I'm just not going to try to deal with the entirety of that, and in fact it's not worth getting up and dealing with Sunday morning either because it's going to sit here in the comment section and get ignored.

Now if someone with front-page posting privileges will promise me to take a look at what I write and, if my piece is worthwhile, they will front-page it, then yes indeedy, I will get up in the morning and analyze every word of that.

"When I kind of offered to "take on all comers," I wasn't really thinking about a lengthily-researched front page piece, and to tell the truth here late Saturday night I'm just not going to try to deal with the entirety of that, and in fact it's not worth getting up and dealing with Sunday morning either because it's going to sit here in the comment section and get ignored."

Don't wimp out now! It is a much faster and better response than you could have hoped for with five specific untruths.

Comments here rarely get ignored Trickster. (Sometimes we wish they would be). I for one promise to respond, and I'll try to recruit Gary.

OK, you got me, but not tonight. I'll try to get it up by mid-day or so Pacific time. I should put together the work anyway. I'm pretty distressed about where the media is going with this, and I want to do what I can to get the counter-nattative extant.

Hilzoy will be thrilled to find that she's "the media". I think...

"Now if someone with front-page posting privileges will promise me to take a look at what I write and, if my piece is worthwhile, they will front-page it, then yes indeedy, I will get up in the morning and analyze every word of that."

Gee, could I get a deal like that?

I've been writing here since early 2004, and I've never gotten something I've written put on the front page here. If that's a deal on offer, I'd certainly like to put in my interest in a most favored nation arrangement.

Heck, I'd like to just get the someone with "front-page posting privileges will promise me to take a look at what I write" deal. That would be outstanding.

OK, Gary, I don't think that deal is on offer, but the original post beyond doubt took several hours to put together and it would beyond doubt take me several hours to put together a worthy rebuttal effort, so I don't think it's out of line for me to decline to do that just for the tag-end comment in a comment string that will probably die out overnight.

Perhaps I shouldn't have said anything about what could incentivize me to do the work, but what the heck, I took a stab in the dark. I didn't intend to offend anyone.

"Perhaps I shouldn't have said anything about what could incentivize me to do the work, but what the heck, I took a stab in the dark. I didn't intend to offend anyone."

I wasn't offended. I admire chutzpah, up to a point.

"Hilzoy will be thrilled to find that she's "the media". I think..."

Definitely. And not just one, like oil or pastel or charcoal, but all the media, all wrapped up in me... :)

Completely OT: When I learned that Obama won, I was very surprised to find that I wasn't happy; I was all apprehensive and clenched up and strange. This was very odd: this odd apprehension didn't feel unrelated to his victory, and yet, of course, I wanted him to win without qualification. Nor am I given to things like premonitions, so it couldn't be anything like that. I was all confused.

And, being all confused, I decided to go grocery shopping tonight rather than tomorrow. I hadn't been out for a while, and when I opened the door, there were three packages there. I wasn't expecting any packages. Huh? I thought, and started to take them inside.

They were packages I sent to Andy. (Good cocoa -- he had just gotten a cocoa machine, which he loved, but was using Swiss Miss in it. Industrial strength sunscreen. When I said I'd get that, he asked whether I could throw in some Tinactin too. What will I do with Tinactin, I wonder? Stuff like that.)

And it hit me: the last time Obama won, in Iowa, I was happy, but I was also worried, since Andy had said he'd be around in the evening his time (mid-afternoon mine), but wasn't. Not in the morning (my evening) either. I was trying hard to convince myself that the internet had just gone down, which did happen periodically. But I had read a news story about two soldiers being killed in Diyala during the afternoon, which spooked me in the worst way, so I had definitely had to try not to worry.

Which, I think, is why I got this horrible ominous feeling this time.

Ack.

Oh, golly, Hilzoy. Sympathy and best wishes from here, and hugs from a well-wisher.

Oh, no, I certainly didn't mean to imply that Hilzoy is "the media." What I meant (but kind of didn't get around to saying) was that if I can take on Hilzoy's piece, then dismantling the actual media narrative will be child's play. Hilzoy said something substantive with detail and cites; the media, on the other hand, never bother with explanations and specifics when it comes to the Clintons. Compared to Hilzoy's piece, the establishment media is basically a troop of feces-throwing monkeys. I'd call that distinction.

I don't see how average people could come up on their own with the idea that a man should not campaign for his own wife. That is so counter to ordinary human existence and family life that I just can't see it.

So the public are unaware of the concept of nepotism? That particular concept goes back to when Ug told the tribe he wanted Ug Jr to be their next chief.

Now sometime, as is the case now, Ug Jr (or Mrs Ug) will make a great chief. But in a lot of human experience, Ug Jr's getting the job because Ug's got the big club. And often Ug Jr couldn't find his own loincloth with both hands and an illustrative cave painting.

For crying out loud, America threw out the monarchies, and you don't understand why people might be suspicious of family dynasties?

Oh - and my sympathies to Hilzoy. Best Wishes.

von: We won't wake up. We are stupid, stupid people.

I dare any Democrat who reads today's Corner thread at NRO to come out of it actually believing that HRC is the more likely candidate to win the general.

"I dare any Democrat who reads today's Corner thread at NRO to come out of it actually believing that HRC is the more likely candidate to win the general."

This is somewhat unhelpful, absent a link, given that "today's Corner thread" tends to encompass about 200 posts or so, as a rule. More helpful would be a direct clue, like a link.

"OK, Gary, I don't think that deal is on offer, but the original post beyond doubt took several hours to put together and it would beyond doubt take me several hours to put together a worthy rebuttal effort, so I don't think it's out of line for me to decline to do that just for the tag-end comment in a comment string that will probably die out overnight."

I think you won't be able to rebut them, at least three of them are pretty clear. But as far as dying overnight, most of the more active threads here last a number of days. And if this particular one doesn't, I suspect there will be another appropriate one for to cut and paste into.

Wait... hold on... could hurt him OUTSIDE the South?

So... being black is now an asset in the South and a liability elsewhere?

Night is day? Up is down?

Black is white?

The exit polls say Obama won something like 90% of the black vote, and only around 25% of the white male vote.

The CNN exit polls say Obama got 78% of blacks and 27% of white men. Clinton got 19% of blacks and 28% of white men, so I'm not sure what your point is (also not sure why we're leaving out white women). The numbers for Edwards are 2% and 45%.

A 16 year old Spike Lee movie? Give me a break. Obama is clearly targeting a younger generation and referring to this.

For what it is worth, trickster, I will be checking this thread and others to see if your response ever shows up. I am certainly interested in someone who owns up to the fact that hilzoy researched a piece well and won't post back immediately because they want their research to be of similar quality.

Personally, I'm still regretting not getting to be the media. :) On reflection, watercolor would have been my favorite.

BJC/HRC Inc.: "We're not racists. We just play them on TV."

I find it funny that a) the DLC is so popular now or perhaps the Clinton defenders actually think they're a couple of liberals and b) that they are clearly so invested in gaining power by any means necessary that people aren't questioning whether or not they'll abuse that power. Or is it OK to have a power hungry person (people) in the WH as long as they're democrats?

KCinDC: also not sure why we're leaving out white women

It seems to be assumed that white women are voting their gender, and black people are voting their race.

(That men might be voting their gender, and white people might be voting their race, doesn't seem to be discussable.)

My guess is that a clear majority of white women voted for Clinton, but this was assumed to be gender-based and taken as a given, and so not relevant in figuring out which of them was voting against Obama and anyway, not worth mentioning.

Ooh, a lovely responsefrom Obama:

"His frame of reference was the Jesse Jackson races. That's when, you know, he was active and involved and watching what was going to take place in South Carolina. I think that a lot of South Carolinians looked at it through a different lens ..."

Heh.

My guess is that a clear majority of white women voted for Clinton...

Actually the CNN exit polls say Clinton got 42% of white women, Edwards got 36%, and Obama got 22%. So no, she didn't get a majority.

Actually, if we accept for the sake of argument an entirely race-based analysis, the numbers work out that Obama would have beat Clinton and Edwards (though not their combined total, as he did here) even if the African-American share of the vote had been as low as 18%.

More interestingness:

"The elder Kennedy's decision came after weeks of mounting frustration with the Clintons over campaign tactics, particularly comments that seemed to carry racial overtones. Kennedy expressed those frustrations directly to former president Clinton, but to no apparent avail. Yesterday afternoon, as Obama was racking up a South Carolina rout, the former president compared his wife's chief opponent to Rev. Jesse Jackson, who won South Carolina twice, in 1984 and 1988, when it was a caucus state.

Kennedy came to his decision to endorse Obama over the past week, people familiar with the endorsement said, although he has been seriously considering it since Iowa. Sources also said Kennedy told Obama of his decision on Thursday, in the heat of the Obama-Clinton rhetorical battle."

Kathleen Sebelius to endorse Obama on Tuesday...

Adam, that was kind of harsh, wasn't it? Especially since you didn't really respond to what I said.
Yeah, perhaps, but you didn't really respond to what I said either, so I was feeling a bit snippy. Smythe said it better than I did anyway, so maybe I just wasn't being clear the first time. Anyway, the tone reads differently to me now than I intended it to, so I apologize if it seemed over-the-top. Nothing personal; no offense intended.

[Cross-posted as a diary at a few other sites]

Hilzoy, the excellent front-page writer at Obsidian Wings, recently wrote http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/01/lies-and-democr.html>a piece called “Lies and Democracy.” “Lies and Democracy” purports to be a piece about how folks are forced to become experts in order to deal with lying politicians, but the bulk of it is focused on the “lies” of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

I don’t think the Clintons are “liars.” I do think they are “spinners.” I also think that every other successful politician is a “spinner,” and that most politicians do not stick to the truth so well as do the Clintons. To take a stab at showing that, I want to take Hilzoy’s piece, which is the very best and most detailed piece I have run across in either the blogosphere or the MSM, discuss the “lies” that Hilzoy writes about, and show that in each instance the same kind of statements, and worse, come from Obama and his camp.

I choose Obama for mostly obvious reasons. First, if as I posit, all successful politicians take similar liberties with the truth, then it is meaningless in and of itself to show that any particular politician spins/lies, and the only thing that matters is whether politician X spins/lies more/worse than his/her opponent. In other words, the spin of either Clinton and Obama is most usefully looked at as a comparison to the other, as opposed to as an absolute.

Second, Obama invites this comparison with his “new politics” rhetoric, and he has in fact http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/01/26/politics/fromtheroad/entry3755529.shtml>made the very point this week that his “new politics” is above all this diviseness and misleading politics that the Clintons espouse.

Third, it simply has to be another major candidate, or else there’s just not enough media scrutiny to google up. Even here, I don’t think the google playing field is quite fair, because it is to some extent a reflection of how deeply in Obama’s bag the MSM has been throughout most of this campaign. (That, by the way, is not a point I’m trying to prove here. I hope you’ll take it as a given, because it has been pretty obvious, but if you disagree with me then please just disagree and move on; my thesis doesn’t depend on this point.)

Finally, I choose Hilzoy’s piece because it is the most detailed and analytical description of Clinton “lies” that I have found in either the MSM or the blogosphere. In 99% of what I have read, there seems to be a base underlying assumption that the Clintons are inveterate sleezeball liars who can and frequently do say anything that will serve as a useful club against their opponents, and that there is no need to sully the truth of this assumption by actually stating any fact going to show it, when instead all can compete for the prize of using the most extreme rhetoric to describe it. Hilzoy, on the other hand, makes specific charges, backed by analysis and citations, and her piece is worthy of analysis and contrast.

In this analysis, I’m going to start with five assertions:

(1) All politicians spin.
(2) In the real world, if you try to spin your spouse, and s/he figures it out, you can’t bag out of trouble by claiming what you said was a spin, not a lie. The rules are different in politics. To accuse your opponent of “lying” is a grave charge in politics, and in fact it is a charge that is almost never made in Democratic primary politics (despite the fact that all successful Democratic politicians spin). In politics, spin is not a lie. That’s just the way the game is played.
(3) In judging a politician’s degree of guilt in regard to a particular spin/lie, context is important. It is fairest to hold the politician to a stricter standard for prepared speeches, written materials, and paid campaign advertisements than for responses to questions and off-the-cuff remarks. Politicians are human, and humans tend to make lots of mistakes in off-the-cuff remarks.
(4) Similarly, it is fairest to hold the politician to a stricter standard for things s/he said personally than for things that underlings said, and stricter for things that high campaign officials said than that junior campaign officials/unpaid helpers said. A caveat: if your campaign said/did something that gets a lot of publicity, candidate silence can at least to some extent be fairly inferred as tacit approval.
(5) The Clintons never get cut any slack. None.

I can’t really prove any of these assertions, although this piece itself is to some extent an effort to support (1). I think history provides very strong support for (2), but showing that history is not the point of this piece. Disagree if you will, because I haven’t done the work of proving (2), but if you disagree I think you’re wrong. (3) and (4) are unproveable, but I think they are generally held views. If you disagree about them, feel free to chime in. (5) is where this is all at.

Now the actual analysis:

(1) The Reagan Quote

This is an easy one, because Senator Obama himself has made more deceptive descriptions of the quote in question than did either Clinton. (Please see Hilzoy’s speech for Obama’s original language and for the exact Bill and Hillary Clinton quotes.)

First, let me say something about an aspect of “spin,” which is what the Clintons did to this quote. One of the accepted ways to “spin” something is to draw inferences from what someone said, and then describe that quote by using your own inferences as opposed to the speaker’s actual words. It’s a spin technique of hoary vintage. The focus is on the words themselves, not what the original speaker intended the words to mean, and it’s right-down-the-middle spin if the spinner’s interpretation is something that can be fairly inferred from the original words.

And that is so of what the Clintons said about Obama’s Reagan quotes, but less so of what Obama himself has said.

(1) Hillary said “he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years.” If your opponent describes something in glowing tones, it’s fair to infer that he likes it. And since every politician who has ever run for office from caveman times on forward has said that he is the “candidate of ideas” who “challenges conventional wisdom,” (http://www.barackobama.com/2007/08/20/barack_obama_exudes_confidence.php>Example: Barack Obama: “I've been trying to challenge some conventional wisdom. And the purveyors of conventional wisdom have gotten uncomfortable.”) I think it’s fair to say that Obama was describing Republican ideas in glowing terms. This is absolutely spin and not a lie.

Notice that Hillary said this in response to a debate question. I actually believe she flubbed her wording a little bit, because this attack could’ve been worded in a way closer to Obama’s actual quote while still getting the gist of her attack, e.g., “Senator Obama actually complimented the Republican’s twisted way of thinking over the last 10-15 years when he said that the Republicans have been the `party of ideas’ over that period.”

(2) Bill Clinton was giving a speech when accused Obama of saying that “the Republicans have had all the good ideas,” so he doesn’t get the lee-way Hillary got. But this is still fair spin. Obama didn’t say that the Republicans were “more of a party of ideas than the Democrats,” he said they were “the party of ideas,” and it is elementary-school English that his use of the definite pronoun implies that there is not another party of ideas, or in other words, that the Republicans had all the good ideas. If you are going to start picking on politicians for word changes of this stripe, you’ve engaged a rather large task for yourself.

(3) Here’s what http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0801/21/se.01.html>Obama said in the debate Monday night:

What I said -- and I will provide you with a quote -- what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to.

Here, Hilzoy I think fell into the same confusion Obama was in Monday night, when he responded to Senator Clinton’s words about “the party of ideas” quote by defending his “Reagan” quote. Here’s what Obama said about Reagan:

I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980s was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

I don’t see anything in that quote that supports the interpretation that Obama was saying that Reagan “was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests.” Not even slightly. Nor do I see anything in that quote that even slightly supports the idea that the Reagan agenda was “an agenda I objected to.” If any among these three statements is a “lie,” this is the one, although I sure wouldn’t espouse a fellow Democrat jumping on this statement to call Obama a “liar,” nor have the Clintons done so.

Note that, while Obama did say these words in a debate context, and thus gets considerable format-based leeway, he has unfortunately made similar, and other, misstatements on the same subject in set speeches. For example, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/21/us/politics/21web-seelye.html?ref=politics>last Sunday, in South Carolina:

What I said was that Ronald Reagan, back in 1980, was able to tap into the discontent of the American people and he was able to get Democrats to vote Republican — they were called Reagan Democrats. Remember that? So what I said was, we as Democrats right now should tap into the discontent of Republicans. I want some Obama Republicans!

Sorry, Senator. That's not what you said. Not even close.

(2) Iraq

I have to say, I don’t quite understand Hilzoy’s point here. What is it that Bill Clinton said that is alleged to have been a lie? He doesn’t deny that Obama came out against the war in 2002—although he doesn’t acknowledge it in the quotes she prints, he has done so elsewhere—and I think everything he is saying is true, isn’t it? All I can figure is that Hilzoy seems to think Clinton is obliged to explain the context behind Obama’s own words in a way that takes some of the edge off the words. But that ain’t politics; in politics, you say it, you own it, context be damned, at least unless the cows in the field know what the context was.

The gist of Clinton’s comments, I think, were that Obama and Hillary have the same Iraq record in the Senate. From http://facts.hillaryhub.com/archive/?id=5519>ABC News, 5/17/07:

In fact, Obama's Senate voting record on Iraq is nearly identical to Clinton's. Over the two years Obama has been in the Senate, the only Iraq-related vote on which they differed was the confirmation earlier this year of General George Casey to be Chief of Staff of the Army, which Obama voted for and Clinton voted against.

(By the way, Obama advisor Susan Rice was on MSNBC this morning, http://facts.hillaryhub.com/archive/?id=5519”>falsely claiming that Obama’s and Clinton’s Iraq voting records “are quite, quite different.”

[NOTE: these two cites are from "The Fact Hub" on Hillary Clinton's website. I tried to find them elsewhere on the web, but I think that for straight quotations of news sources (as opposed to anything opinionated), "The Fact Hub" is reliable enough.]

So if Bill Clinton took Obama’s remarks out of context, has Obama taken remarks by Bill or Hillary Clinton out of context? Well, yes, and I’ll give you a written example, from http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Sen.+Barack+Obama%3A+Five+years+after+Iraq+war+vote%2C+we're+still+foolishly+rattling+our+sabers&articleId=a41d44e5-0c56-4353-b9f6-5eda09c81236>an editorial written by Senator Obama discussing Lieberman Kyle:

Above all, it must be done through tough and direct diplomacy with Iran, which I have supported, and which Sen. Clinton has called "naive and irresponsible."

This rather badly misrepresents http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/07/25/clinton.obama/index.html>Senator Clinton’s statements at the CNN YouTube debate where she and Obama clashed on this subject (italicization added):

Clinton, who on the campaign trail has blasted the Bush administration for not engaging Iran and Syria directly, responded to the question by promising "vigorous diplomacy," including using high level envoys. But she said she would not meet with such leaders in her first year before knowing what their intentions would be. "We're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro [of Cuba] and Hugo Chavez [of Venezuela] and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be," Clinton said. "I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes." Both campaigns issued memorandums the next day highlighting talking points on the exchange and criticizing the other. That was followed by dueling interviews with Iowa's Quad-City Times. "I thought that was very irresponsible and frankly naive to say you would commit to meeting with Chavez and Castro or others within the first year," Clinton told the paper.

(3) The Present Votes

Unlike the first two of Hilzoy’s points, I think there actually is a there there on this one.

Maybe.

But it is worthy of note, that not all of Illinois’ NOW sisterhood feel the same way as those interviewed in the piece. In fact, Illinois NOW has endorsed Clinton, and the organization’s website has this to say:

During Senator Obama’s 2004 senate campaign, the Illinois NOW PAC did not recommend the endorsement of Obama for U.S. Senate because he refused to stand up for a woman’s right to choose and repeatedly voted ‘present’ on important legislation.

As a State Senator, Barack Obama voted ‘present’ on seven abortion bills, including a ban on 'partial birth abortion,' two parental notification laws and three 'born alive' bills. In each case, the right vote was clear, but Senator Obama chose political cover over standing and fighting for his convictions.

“When we needed someone to take a stand, Senator Obama took a pass,” said [Illinois NOW President Bonnie] Grabenhofer. “He wasn’t there for us then and we don’t expect him to be now.”


It’s also worthy of note that the Obama camp’s rationale, that his “present” votes were part of a strategy, is not a fact of indubitable accuracy, as Hilzoy herself commendably and honestly notes in her piece:

The Tribune last year found few lawmakers remembered such a strategy and many of those who joined with Obama to vote present were, like him, in politically safe districts.

The strategy, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tracy-fischman/a-vote-for-obama-is-a-vot_b_82842.html”>as described by an Obama proponent Hilzoy links to, doesn’t really make all that much sense to me:

At the time, Republicans were trying to force Democrats from conservative districts to register politically controversial no votes. Senator Obama initially resisted the strategy, as he wanted to vote against the anti-abortion measures, but decided to work with our strategy to help defeat these anti-choice bills. It is important to note that a present vote on a bad bill is essentially the same as a "no" vote, as the bill needs "yes" votes to pass. However, it is difficult for Republicans to use "present" votes in their campaign literature against Democrats from moderate and conservative districts.

OK, I understand why they would ask folks in swing districts to vote “present” to keep the Republicans from targeting their seats. But Obama wasn’t from a swing district. Why would he need to vote present, as opposed to sending a clear signal by voting “no?” And if the answer is supposed to be that it would “provide cover” to lawmakers in swing districts, how so? What on earth difference would it make to their campaigns how he voted? If anything, it seems to me that they would be tarred by association with the black liberal who voted as they did.

You know, I’m not an Illinois lawmaker or women’s right activist. But there are clearly differing views on this from those who are. If the Clinton campaign put together a mailer echoing language from the current President of Illinois NOW, which is pretty much what they did, did they have an obligation to canvass the Illinois legislature and women’s rights movements to see whether there were opposing views? Scarcely. Time and money is short in campaigns; you go with what you’ve got and then defend it if it’s attacked.

The fact that certain interest and advocacy groups have a different interpretation is a mighty thin basis for an accusation of “lying” when there is a believable basis for the statement(s) that constituted the so-called “lie. So let’s characterize this “lie” as buying into the beliefs of one group and publicizing them when there is in fact another group that believes differently. As an example of that coming from the Obama camp, I will merely give you Obama’s and his campaign’s frequent assertions that the Clintons are big liars, including last week’s South Carolina radio ad claiming that Hillary would “say anything” to get elected. That’s buying in the 90s right-wing framework of the Clintons, and ignoring an immense amount of evidence to the contrary.

(4) The Teachers’ Union Lawsuits

Here, Hilzoy works the math! And tells us that President Clinton’s claim that strip workers’ votes would be represented five-fold is false.
So what should I do? I’ll correct Hilzoy’s math!

http://acepilots.com/mt/2008/01/19/nevada-democratic-caucus-results/”>The at-large precincts elected 492 state delegates of the state’s http://www.nvdems08.com/”>5407 total, approximately 9.1% of the total delegates. http://www.nvdemscaucus.com”>117,599 Democrats voted in the caucus total, but http://www.ascribe.org/cgi-bin/behold.pl?ascribeid=20080123.120942&time=13%2032%20PST&year=2008&public=1”>only about 2600 of them voted at the strip sites, about 2.2% of the total voters.

(By the way, where Hilzoy went wrong was in relying on the Los Vegas Sun piece that predicted 10,000 strip participants vice the actual 2600 who wound up voting there.)

So Clinton was wrong: those voters didn’t get 5X representation. They only got a little over 4X representation (i.e., 9.1% of the delegates from 2.2% of the voters)! Is this slightly-off prediction a “lie”? I don’t think so.

I’ll have to admit that I don’t know of any slightly-off predictions by Obama. So I’ll just let this one ride without a counterpoint.

(5) Social Security

Hilzoy’s #5 is about a Clinton mailer claiming that Obama’s proposal to abolish or amend the cap on Social Security represents “a trillion dollar tax increase on America's hard working families.” Here, I’m not really going to ride to Hillary’s rescue. The mailer is rank demagoguery that goes against ingrained Democratic ideals and verges on outright falsehood. But I am playing an advocacy role here, so, having spasmodically interjected that bit of open-handedness, I will make a few points in favor of Clinton and the flyer.

(1) The most important point is that we have no idea from Hilzoy’s piece, or from what else I have read about this flier on the internet, who exactly put this piece out. Yes, it’s from the Clinton campaign, but that covers a very wide range, and I don’t really hold the candidate responsible for what local volunteers do (e.g., I don’t hold Senator Obama responsible for the reprehensible http://correntewire.com/bush_latte_obama_democrat_for_a_day_scheme_in_florida_not_only_in_nevada “>“Democrat for a Day” fliers his campaign put out in Nevada and Florida). But this ad has gotten a fair bit of publicity and Clinton has not so far as I know made any effort to disclaim it or walk back from it (as Obama has made no effort I’m aware of to disown the “Democrat for a Day” ads). Think through those implications on your own.

(2) In assuming that Obama would only tax those earning $200,000 or more, Hilzoy ignored the part of this Obama quote that I am italicizing:

There might be some exemptions, but once people are making over $200,000 to $250,000, they can afford to pay a little more in payroll tax.

(3) I agree with Hilzoy that the attack would be more honest if “over the next ten years” were included, but OTOH that’s a very common Washingtonian shorthand. “Over the next ten years” is often excluded from tax cost statements, because that is the standard period over which such costs are spoken about among lawmakers.

So have there been any demagogic Obama campaign ads? Ya, I think so. Let’s take one that got my dander up, http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/01/17/unite_here_to_air_radio_ads_fo.html”>the Spanish-language ad targeted to Spanish-speaking Nevadans, that said “Hillary Clinton does not respect our people. . . . Hillary Clinton is shameless.” That ad run by outside group UNITE HERE got immense publicity in the run-up to the Nevada caucuses, but the Obama camp made no effort whatsoever to denounce it or walk back from it.

As the Edwards campaign put it:

He loudly and repeatedly attacked independent ads by unions in Iowa as the product of special interests. But when a different outside group starts running ads on his behalf in Nevada, there's not a peep from him or his campaign. It must be because he's burning up the phone lines calling the head of UNITE HERE personally to demand he pulls the ads down right away.

Conclusion

Conclusion is that this was a lot of work and I just don’t have some literarily grand bang-up finish left in me. But I think I’ve at least made a good start on my point that the slippery, slimy, odious, reptilian Clintons are no worse than any other politicians and that Saint Barack is no better than they, if not my real point that they are actually a bit cleaner than he is.

Thanks to Hilzoy for apparently being the only political writer on the planet who bothered to give me something meaty to tie into on the subject of the Clinton’s so-called lies. But boos to all the other political writers, who start with their conclusion and completely leave out the evidence that would prove it.

And to those of you still reading, if I can at least get you to start looking at the evidence instead of just always believing the worst about the Clintons, then I will have succeeded with this piece beyond my wildest imaginings.

OK, I posted my answer but "TypePad's antispam filter has flagged it as potential comment spam. It has been held for review by the blog's author."

In the meanwhile, if you're curious, I just cross-posted it as a diary at MyDD, and will be moving it onto DailyKos, OpenLeft, theForvm, and maybe some others.

Thank you, Adam. So I guess we can leave it that we're two ships passing in the night, but at least we're not lobbing 5" shells at each other. :)

I pushed it through the spam filter but have not as yet read it.

Thank you, Adam. So I guess we can leave it that we're two ships passing in the night, but at least we're not lobbing 5" shells at each other. :)

The first thing I thought upon reading that was, "Are 5-inch shells really effective as ship-to-ship ordnance?" even though I know nothing about the topic.

Man, I really miss LGM's Battleship blogs.

Now I've read it.

My comments are as follows

1) You don't rebut the lie. You have to take it to a high level abstraction to make it defensible. And the justification about it being a debate answer doesn't fly because Bill Clinton repeated the lie a number of times after the debate. Obama didn't say he liked Republican ideas, he said that Reagan changed the whole frame of the debate. That isn't even a remotely controversial statement. And in fact, Bill Clinton said so during his 1992 campaign.

This wasn't spin. Both Clintons attributed to Obama statements which he did not say, and which were not substantially similar in meaning to what he did say.

That is lying.

2) As much as you say you don't understand hilzoy's point, I don't understand yours. For the year leading up to and the year after the beginning of the Iraq war, Obama and Clinton were very vocally on opposite sides. It is rather surprising to see you arguing that Obama should have been voting against supporting the troops with equipment and funds after the war started since the Democratic line (including Clinton's more recent position) is that you have to fund them even if you oppose the war.

But Clinton didn't oppose the war. Obama did. Clinton trying to reduce it to the post-war authorizations is completely mischaracterizing the issue in very substantial terms.

This is the classic case where your thesis that "In politics, spin is not a lie." is wrong. Hilzoy's thesis that the Clinton's lie in such a way that you have to be a political junkie to catch them (and so boring doing so) is much more reflective of these facts.

3) Your analysis here is rather thin. You are basing your quote on the already-endorsed-Clinton Political Action Committees but you seem to ignore the cited cases of NOW administrators who flipped to Obama when they saw how mendaciously the information was twisted.

And the basic Clinton charge is rather funny in light of her Iraq vote. She would be in a much better position if she had stuck to present in Iraq.

4) Ah, so he just *exaggerated*, he didn't lie. Oh and the delegates everywhere are determined by the size of the districts, so he was misleading insofar as he was suggesting that the districts in the lawsuit were operating significantly differently in that respect from the rest of the country.

5) Here you really have trouble.

The Social Security statement was a lie. And unlike the "Democrat for a Day" flier you cite on the Obama side (which he did in fact distance himself from), Clinton has not distanced herself from it. (Also the Democrat for a Day was factually true, so you have to include it on some other campaign tactics concept).

Your subpart (2) is losing me. The sentence is clearly talking about people making more than $200,000 per year and the exemptions that might apply to them. How does that help your case about middle class Americans?

The fact that you have to compare in-house Clinton ads with outside pro-Obama ads says good things about the Obama campaign. And as far as demagogic ads goes, you are proving hilzoys point there. Clinton makes false *factual* claims which are likely to be detected only by political junkies. The pro-Obama ad you cite makes completely subjective opinion statements that you personally disagree with.

Those are not similar tactics at all. Analyzing similar tactics would be impressionistically comparing Clinton's attack on the "fairy tale" to the "Hillary does not respect our people". Those are in the realm of legitimate 'spin'. Making false factual claims that are material to concepts at issue in the campaign is not.

The fact that you have to compare Obama supporter's opinion statements to direct Clinton campaign false factual statements is telling about the difference between the two campaigns.

"But I think I’ve at least made a good start on my point that the slippery, slimy, odious, reptilian Clintons are no worse than any other politicians and that Saint Barack is no better than they, if not my real point that they are actually a bit cleaner than he is."

I don't think you've made that point very well at all. And certainly not that Clinton is cleaner. You didn't come up with any Obama example which is comparable to the 5 Hilzoy came up with.


1) You don't rebut the lie. You have to take it to a high level abstraction to make it defensible.

I don't know what this means, but "spin" is kind of a complex rhetorical subject. You can't describe it with "see Spot run" type sentences. But to deny that "spin" is omnipresent in national American politics is not, I don't think, a viable position.

I'm trying to differentiate spin from lies and say which is which.

And the justification about it being a debate answer doesn't fly because Bill Clinton repeated the lie a number of times after the debate.

(1) It was Hillary's debate answer, not Bill's.
(2) Cites? I'm unaware of the facts of which you speak.
(3) This is a minor point, anyway, and not the main thrust of the section.

Obama didn't say he liked Republican ideas, he said that Reagan changed the whole frame of the debate. That isn't even a remotely controversial statement. And in fact, Bill Clinton said so during his 1992 campaign.

Yes, but he implied that he liked them, as I pointed out at some length and you ignore. Saying that people said things that they implied is not an altogether dishonest rhetorical strategy, and it is, as I have noted, a very standard political-spin strategy.

This wasn't spin. Both Clintons attributed to Obama statements which he did not say, and which were not substantially similar in meaning to what he did say. That is lying.

Sez you, without explaining why. I explained why they are similar, and I'll stand by my explanations.

OTOH, you haven't mentioned my point that what Obama later said about his words really wasn't substantially similar to what he had said. Not only that, but his explanation changed as time went along. If somebody actually lied here, . . .

2) As much as you say you don't understand hilzoy's point, I don't understand yours. For the year leading up to and the year after the beginning of the Iraq war, Obama and Clinton were very vocally on opposite sides.

(1) You're right about the year leading upto, but I don't know of any reason to believe you're right about "the year after the beginning" of the war. After all, it's true, isn't it, as the Clintons claim and hasn't been denied, that Obama removed the anti-war speech from his website in 2003?
(2) Neither Clinton has ever denied that Obama was against the war in 2002. In fact, they have both praised him for it, as he deserves.

It is rather surprising to see you arguing that Obama should have been voting against supporting the troops with equipment and funds after the war started since the Democratic line (including Clinton's more recent position) is that you have to fund them even if you oppose the war.

Must be real surprising, since I didn't argue that at all. All I'm saying is that they voted the same when they were in the Senate. Nothing 'bout right or wrong.

But Clinton didn't oppose the war. Obama did. Clinton trying to reduce it to the post-war authorizations is completely mischaracterizing the issue in very substantial terms.

That's a fair argument that you and Senator Obama can make. It still doesn't make anything that the clintons said a lie.

This is the classic case where your thesis that "In politics, spin is not a lie." is wrong. Hilzoy's thesis that the Clinton's lie in such a way that you have to be a political junkie to catch them (and so boring doing so) is much more reflective of these facts.

If every politician who quotes facts selectively is a liar, then every politician is a liar. Including Saint Barack.

Again, you're not rising to defend Obama's egregious mischaracterization of what Clinton said about diplomacy with Iran in the YouTube debate. His statement that Clinton called direct diplomacy with Iran "naive and irresponsible" is outright false. Clinton has consistently supported direct diplomacy with Iran, but called Obama's pre-promise of non-conditioned first-year-in-office diplomacy "naive and irresponsible". (By the way, you haven't heard Obama repeating that recommendation much lately, have you?)

3) Your analysis here is rather thin.

Thicker than yours. . . .

You are basing your quote on the already-endorsed-Clinton Political Action Committees but you seem to ignore the cited cases of NOW administrators who flipped to Obama when they saw how mendaciously the information was twisted.

Now you're spinning on me, Sebastian. I didn't ignore flip-diddly. My thesis, which I demonstrated at some length, is that there are two sides to the argument, both in the Illinois legislature and among Illinois womens' right activisits, and that Clinton had solid support to rely on for the mailer in question.

And the basic Clinton charge is rather funny in light of her Iraq vote. She would be in a much better position if she had stuck to present in Iraq.

Well, yeah, Clinton blew it on that vote, but that's not what we're talking about here.

4) Ah, so he just *exaggerated*, he didn't lie.

So you think rounding off is a "lie," eh?

Oh and the delegates everywhere are determined by the size of the districts, so he was misleading insofar as he was suggesting that the districts in the lawsuit were operating significantly differently in that respect from the rest of the country.

Oh yeah? OH YEAH? You're saying it's not significant if your vote counts for over four votes while my vote counts for the regular one?

Obviously, the point of what I was saying is that Clinton was RIGHT ON about the fact that the strip voters were going to be badly over-represented proportionately, even if he was off by a fraction in the number he quoted.

5) Here you really have trouble.

Ummm, I said up-front I thought the ad was awful demagoguery, so I don't think you can impute this all to me. It wasn't as bad as the nasty "our people" ad in Nevada, though.

The Social Security statement was a lie.

Not as sure about that. Not as sure where the income cap will lie. Not as sure about the $1 trillion total.

And unlike the "Democrat for a Day" flier you cite on the Obama side (which he did in fact distance himself from), Clinton has not distanced herself from it.

I wish she would.

(Also the Democrat for a Day was factually true, so you have to include it on some other campaign tactics concept).

True, but it was heinous nonetheless, so I don't mind attacking it whenever I get a chance. If you'll notice, it was just a throw-in to my argument, not part of the structure.

Your subpart (2) is losing me. The sentence is clearly talking about people making more than $200,000 per year and the exemptions that might apply to them. How does that help your case about middle class Americans?

No, it's really not that clear. You may be right, and you may be wrong. Do you have any other cite about what Obama's position is on exemptions in regard to cap-lifting?

The fact that you have to compare in-house Clinton ads with outside pro-Obama ads says good things about the Obama campaign.

Not really. Hillary hasn't put out anything nearly as heinous as Obama's "Hillary will say anything" radio ad widely played in South Carolina and clearly coming from the very tope of the campaign.

And as far as demagogic ads goes, you are proving hilzoys point there. Clinton makes false *factual* claims which are likely to be detected only by political junkies. The pro-Obama ad you cite makes completely subjective opinion statements that you personally disagree with.

Those are not similar tactics at all. Analyzing similar tactics would be impressionistically comparing Clinton's attack on the "fairy tale" to the "Hillary does not respect our people". Those are in the realm of legitimate 'spin'. Making false factual claims that are material to concepts at issue in the campaign is not.

The fact that you have to compare Obama supporter's opinion statements to direct Clinton campaign false factual statements is telling about the difference between the two campaigns.

OK, stick in the "Hillary will say anything" ad in its place, then.


"But I think I’ve at least made a good start on my point that the slippery, slimy, odious, reptilian Clintons are no worse than any other politicians and that Saint Barack is no better than they, if not my real point that they are actually a bit cleaner than he is."

I don't think you've made that point very well at all. And certainly not that Clinton is cleaner. You didn't come up with any Obama example which is comparable to the 5 Hilzoy came up with.

Que? I have a counter-example to each point, except for point 4 which, I think, is based on a newspaper's math error and therefore doesn't require refutation. If you ask me, the counter-examples are a lot worse than the original examples.

Cross-posted as a diary at a few other sites ...

You need to get out more.

"Oh yeah? OH YEAH? You're saying it's not significant if your vote counts for over four votes while my vote counts for the regular one?"

You need to look into the caucus process a bit more before you go this route. Larger population districts get more delegates, that is how it works. That is not a feature unique to the Nevada caucus.

1) You don't rebut the lie. You have to take it to a high level abstraction to make it defensible.

I don't know what this means, but "spin" is kind of a complex rhetorical subject. You can't describe it with "see Spot run" type sentences. But to deny that "spin" is omnipresent in national American politics is not, I don't think, a viable position.

I'm trying to differentiate spin from lies and say which is which.

You've completely lost me here. You apparently have spun the idea of 'spin' to include lies. You're free to do so, but we aren't required to agree with you.

First, you are abstracting "The facts are that he has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote." to "implied" which Clinton doesn't do. Second you haven't provided any example quote of "really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years" which DOES NOT INCLUDE THE REAGAN YEARS. She transformed a quote that said neutral/warmish things about Reagan into Obama really loving Reagan AND Obama supporting the CURRENT Republican ideas.

And the justification about it being a debate answer doesn't fly because Bill Clinton repeated the lie a number of times after the debate.

(1) It was Hillary's debate answer, not Bill's.
(2) Cites? I'm unaware of the facts of which you speak.
(3) This is a minor point, anyway, and not the main thrust of the section.

I'm beginning to think that you aren't taking this seriously (and am thus very glad I didn't put it a main post).

Hillary's answer doesn't say what you say it does.

Bill's answer is linked to in hilzoy's original post. It says "Bill Clinton" and has both a quote and a hyperlink. Furthermore there are two additional non-debate settings where the Clinton campaign used the lie. Both are also linked.

In the first of those links we find that before the debate Hillary Clinton said "I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years. That's not the way I remember the last ten to fifteen years."

This suggests that your theory on wording in the debate is wrong. She rehearsed it.

I don't see how you can call the debate wording issue 'minor'. It is what lets you go to a level of abstraction that you think can get her off the hook.

2) "Must be real surprising, since I didn't argue that at all. All I'm saying is that they voted the same when they were in the Senate. Nothing 'bout right or wrong."

If you think you can nail Obama on loving Reagan with the quotes you have, I'm rather surprised you aren't willing to notice what Clinton is 'implying' with this 'fact'. You need to pick one level of abstraction for both candidates.

You haven't added anything on (3). The fact that two sides say something different doesn't mean an untruth has 'solid support'. The strategy of present voting came from Planned Parenthood. Hillary states (she doesn't even 'imply') that the present votes call into question Obama's commitment to the pro-choice cause. When you are following Planned Parenthood's strategy you are almost by definition following a commitment to the pro-choice cause.

And I say that as a pro-lifer who wishes Obama really weren't committed to the pro-choice cause.

I already hit 4. If you don't like the caucus procedure, fine, attack the whole procedure. Pretending that the Nevada caucus was different was exactly the kind of lie that hilzoy is talking about--one that only a political junkie will detect. This is illustrated by the fact that you are still fooled even after it has been pointed out.

5. "No, it's really not that clear. You may be right, and you may be wrong. Do you have any other cite about what Obama's position is on exemptions in regard to cap-lifting?"

It is clear from the quote YOU provide. Asserting that it isn't clear isn't helping your case, but I'll just leave it to the other readers to judge rather than getting into a "Yes it is, No it isn't" war.

"Hillary hasn't put out anything nearly as heinous as Obama's "Hillary will say anything" radio ad widely played in South Carolina and clearly coming from the very tope of the campaign."

That is an interesting opinion. If you would like to analyze the ad and share why you think it is so 'heinous' I would be happy to engage on the topic. As it stands it looks more like you just don't want to engage my point about "The fact that you have to compare Obama supporter's opinion statements to direct Clinton campaign false factual statements is telling about the difference between the two campaigns."

I replied to Trickster here. Short me:

(1) "ideas" does not equal "good ideas"

(2) lies: no substantial difference in record between the two; 2004 Obama quote somehow shows change of heart on Iraq.

(3) If you do X because some unequivocally pro-choice group comes up with a pro-choice strategy and your doing X is part of it, your doing so does not show that you are weak on choice.

(4) Clinton only had access to predictions when he made his comment. He had no basis for saying what he did.

(5) Saying that one might try to collect SS taxes on income above the cap, though probably only on income over $200,000-250,000/year, just plain is not having "a plan with a trillion dollar tax increase on America's hard working families." There is no plan; it only raises a trillion dollars if all income is taxed, not just income above 20-250K/yr; and it's over ten years anyways. That statement is just not accurate.

Additional answer to (1):

Surely the ideas Obama likes could be best determined by looking at his proposed policies, most of which are documented in detail, or alternatively reading his book, rather than arguing over what Obama implied in a single sentence of a speech.

I'd just like to point out that Obama was certainly not referencing Malcom X in that speech. Much more likely he's referencing this (follow the link in the right-hand corner of the page labeled "see the commercial")

By the bye: I don't know whether anyone saw the claim that the Jesse Jackson quote was doctored in some way -- cutting out a question that came right before, which made Clinton's invocation of Jackson lots more appropriate. Apparently, it's false.

Transcript here. (Silly ABC doesn't let me cut and paste.)

First of off, thanks again for replying, and I am a fan of your writing. Even when I don’t agree with you, you write judiciously and with wit.

But fan or not, and despite the fact that my piece was written in response to your own writing, you may not be part of my audience. I say this partially because you spent a fairly minimal amount of space on the first several hundred words of my diary, which I had intended to set the parameters of the discussion, but to a greater extent because you didn’t address the bad acts of which I accused Obama and his campaign.

Listen. I’m not here to argue that the Clintons are paragons of perfect honesty. They aren’t, so if we're only going to argue that point, well I'm just really not that interested. My argument is that they are as honest as other politicians, and more honest than most, and my specific analytic framework is to compare their honesty, bounded by your piece, to Obama’s honesty, bounded by a search for examples of the particular types of dishonesty you accuse the Clintons of.

So unless you want to truly engage my argument by comparing Clinton dishonesty to Obama dishonesty—or to the dishonesty of some other politician or politicians who are relevant for whatever reason—well, I still thank you for stopping by, but we don’t have much to talk about. For now, though, let’s assume we do have things to talk about.

To start that talk, let me say that even though it’s important to my original thesis, we could get badly bogged down in trying to define “spin” vs a “lie,” and for purposes of comparing the general levels of dishonesty of Obama vs Clintons, I don’t think that conversation is important. For comparative purposes, we can just forget about spin and whether it exists and talk about levels of dishonesty.

Before getting into the comparison itself, though, let me make a basic point about calling something “spin” versus calling it a “lie,” and that point is that, while all politicians are dishonest to some extent, accusations that your opponent “lies” are strong accusations in political terms and accusations that are not frequently made, even in general election contests. In primary elections, such accusations are only extremely rarely made by Democrats about other Democrats, and I would suggest that you need to cross a high hurdle of dishonesty before such an accusation becomes justified in a Democratic primary.

The reasoning there is pretty simple. If you get to accuse your opponent of being a liar based on any dishonesty, then everybody is going to be accusing everybody else of being liars and the Republican candidate’s fall commercials are going to consist of tapes of other Democrats calling the nominee a liar. That’s the highway to perpetual defeat.

To the comparison:

(1) Personally, when I first read and saw what Obama had said about Reagan, my jaw dropped. I really don't want to hear about "the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s" leading to unaccountable government and how Reagan came in and replaced all that with dynamic, optimistic entrepreneurialism. You can parse that paragraph out for a million years and you will never convince me that it isn't criticizing things I love in favor of putting a positive gloss on Reagan.

Obama didn’t just say that Reagan was a transformational figure. Heck, Reagan obviously was a transformational figure, and yes, he was a transformational figure in a way Clinton wasn't. But if you want to make that statement in a Democratic primary, you need to do it in a way that brings in a bit of the feeling that most Democrats have for Reagan. Not only did Obama fail to do that, but he actually dressed up the statements in a way that made it sound as if Reagan was coming in to rescue us from the false hippy worldview of the 60s and 70s, or to re-word that, from the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the women's movement, the environmental movement, and sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, among other things. And like I said, I really don't want to hear that from a Democratic candidate.

So when I hear the Clintons, or anybody, saying that Obama praised Reagan, well you know, that’s how I heard it, too. From my perspective, the Clintons may have missed a couple of the lyrics, but they damn sure nailed the melody.

Same deal for the “party of ideas” who “challenged conventional wisdom.” Please don’t try to tell me that those words aren’t sending a positive message. It would be easy as pie to get across the idea of Republican intellectual activity 1992-2007 without using the buzzwords that political candidates always run on, and that Obama himself is running on.

So the fact that a couple of words were changed in describing it just doesn’t move me much. The Clintons spoke for me and it was important to me personally that they did so. I would far, far rather have them out there saying what they said and garbling a couple of words than having nobody at all speak to the potential Democratic standard-bearer’s enlistment in the army of Reagan hagiographers.

And yes, what they said was not perfectly accurate. But I’ll repeat myself: its boatloads more accurate than how Obama described the same words. And he had the gall to stand up there on the stage with Hillary and call her a liar to her face while in practically the very same breath he said that “what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests.” Lord have mercy.

(2) Context: remarks to a reporter, not a speech with a text. So a little leeway here is fair. I hear you’re a professor. Ever missed a word in answering a student’s question?

Rightfully you started with context. You said “And if you look at the context of Bill Clinton's remark, there's nothing in it that suggests that `record’ means `record after Obama came to the Senate’, or `voting record’, or anything” (italicization added) and provided a link to Clinton’s remarks to a CNN reporter.

I can go you one better. Here’s what he said to the CNN reporter: “The only thing I pointed out was that there was substantially no difference in her record and his on Iraq . . . .” What does that mean, “[t]he only thing I pointed out?” What had Clinton previously pointed out about Obama and his record on Iraq, something that had become extremely famous, so famous that when he said “the only thing I pointed out” most people would know what he was talking about? It was, of course, the “fairy tale” remarks that Clinton was referencing when he said “[t]he only thing I pointed out.” So let’s go to the tale of the tape. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18106281”>Here is the “fairy tale” statement in all its glory or lack thereof:

You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war, and you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. There's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since. Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.

So there you have it: context. And the context is that Clinton clearly was talking about Obama’s voting record and merely left out that word in off-the-cuff remarks to a reporter.

Not a lie. And not in the league of Obama saying that Hillary Clinton had called direct diplomacy with Iran “naïve and irresponsible.”

(3) My point is simple. The words of the ad are practically verbatim the words of the Illinois director of NOW which she stands by today and are on the Illinois NOW website at this minute (or at least they were last night). That’s fair game as background support for a political ad, no matter whether there is some controversy over whether what she says is a fair representation of the facts. So far as I can tell from diving into that story pretty good, nobody really knows whether the ad was true or not and there is a legitimate dispute over whether there actually was a concerted strategy of voting present that Obama participated in.

Compare the support for Clinton’s ad to the support for Obama’s pointed personal attack on Hillary Clinton in the SC “she’ll say anything” ad.

(4) You kind of disappoint me here, Hillzoy. You relied on the wrong math. Clinton was right. You have no idea what kind of information he had about expected turnout at this caucuses. All that either of us know is that the outcome was quite close to what he predicted, and that he was right on the money with the impact of his charge, which was that the strip voters were going to be disproportionately represented.

I can think of no reason under the sun to think that Bill Clinton wasn’t honestly explaining the math of it as he understood it at the time. The outcome supports him. If you’re going to call Clinton a liar for this, then obviously you don’t buy even one cent on the dollar into my framework that you have to cross a high hurdle to accuse a primary opponent of lying. ( I hope you’ll believe me when I assert right now that this is not a principle that I just made up. I always judge Democratic primary candidates to a significant extent on how fairly and positively they treat their opponents.)

(5) I’m not going to do much more than cry uncle on this one. As I said to start with, this ad is rank demagoguery. I would need more information about the math of taxes than I have, and probably from multiple sources, before I’d lower the “lying” charge, but I will lower the “buys into grotesque Republican talking points” charge.

I really hope that this came from somewhere low in the campaign, and truly, I’d like to know about it if it didn’t. I have a very high regard for both Clintons, but I don’t want my regard to be based on delusion.

Thanks much for playing.

Personally, when I first read and saw what Obama had said about Reagan, my jaw dropped. I really don't want to hear about "the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s" leading to unaccountable government and how Reagan came in and replaced all that with dynamic, optimistic entrepreneurialism.

Can I bracket this one bit? I remember that when I first read the transcript of the interview, I thought the "excesses" phrase sounded odd, but when I watched it, it was pretty clear that the phrase was used to modify the next clause in the sentence, which was that there was a perception in the country that there was an excess of government spending and a lack of accountability -- which is just true.

That perception was there, on both sides of the aisle. The Sunshine Act was passed in 1976, and the Inspector General Act, the Ethics in Government Act, and the Presidential Records Act were all passed in 1978, the year before the election. I don't think it's controversial to claim that the mentality Obama was discussing was very real.

I really don't understand how that connects to "hippies" and I'm genuinely curious how you're drawing that connection. A lot of people parsed the transcript as "cultural excesses," which I thought was clearly incorrect. Am I just misreading you here? Do you think that Obama was talking about "cultural excesses," or that he was making a link to "economic excesses," or what? Either way seems a bit tenuous to me.

One more time.

It would be helpful to not have double standards here.

Adam, when I hear "excesses of the 1960s," serious alarm bells go off in my head. I've been fighting those battles for a long time.

I don't know how old you are, but excess government spending was not a major political issue in the 1970s. It was Reagan that made that into a populist issue, not that issue that made Reagan.

Your reading ignores the fierce culture wars over the '60s that burned brightly then and is still going on now. It's also not gramatically correct.

Gary, a couple of responses:

(1) We're not talking about whether Obama was justified in praising Reagan. We're talking about whether Clinton lied about what Obama said. Since we're trying to dig down kind of deep into that, let's stick with the subject.

(2) Nevertheless, I'll give you a quicky response, which is that I don't believe either Bill or Hillary has said anything at all critical about Obama's praise of Reagan. If you can point me to a quote, I'll withdraw this remark if appropriate, but I'll be surprised.

My other quicky response was that I hated it that Bill said that in '91, but it was understandable in that context. We're in a different context now, and we have an opportunity to push back against the Ministry of History version that the Republicans have set up, not start parroting it.

And I will also say, to Clinton's credit, that he didn't, at least in that passage, praise Reagan's cultural or economic views, only his military/foreign policy views, and he did so at a time when he (Clinton) was not yet a foreign/military policy specialist. As it turned out, Clinton wound up rolling back much of the Reagan military buildup during his two terms.

Trickster, let me attempt to jump over dueling quotes and dueling interpretations: is it your claim that Barack Obama is somehow an untrustworthy Democrat, a crypto-Republican, crypto-Reagan admirer, who can't be trusted to stick to Democratic principles?

Because it seems to me that that's the claim you need to be making, for anyone to care about the convoluted attempts to use his statements about Reagan to imply that.

And I have to say that if you believe that's a credible charge, well, okay, but I'm going to need a lot more evidence to persuade me that Barack Obama's entire life history and record, which contradicts that, is somehow irrelevant.

But if you want to make that case, please go for it.

Explain why Obama is an untrustworthy Democrat. Be straightforward. Make the case.

And then show up again here in October.

Adam, when I hear "excesses of the 1960s," serious alarm bells go off in my head. I've been fighting those battles for a long time.

Sounds like a personal problem. My understanding is that Obama's been fighting those battles for a long time, too. Sounds to me like you're projecting your past experience onto his word choice.

I don't know how old you are, but excess government spending was not a major political issue in the 1970s.

What? Are you crazy? Reagan's platform was based on cutting social welfare, cutting taxes, and reducing the size of the government as a percentage of GNP. Maybe you're making some kind of semantic distinction about "the 1970s" or political issues that were "major" for you, but those were most certainly issues in the 1980 campaign.

You're also ignoring the accountability question, which was also the more salient point. Are you going to address that?

It was Reagan that made that into a populist issue, not that issue that made Reagan.

... that was precisely Obama's point.

Your reading ignores the fierce culture wars over the '60s that burned brightly then and is still going on now.

Yeah, I'm ignoring it because it wasn't relevant to what Obama said. That's my entire point. Your reading, on the other hand, introduces the culture wars into a statement that didn't concern them, so I guess that makes us even, except that you're making an accusation based on a personal point of sensitivity rather than what was actually said.

It's also not gramatically correct.

You really didn't watch the interview, did you? It's not grammatically correct in the transcript, because Obama was speaking out loud, not writing an essay -- but it's achingly clear if you actually watch the video.

Also, "grammatically" has two 'm's.

Gary, thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking question. I will give it an attempt at a good answer, even though it's still well off the subject--i.e., what I think about what Obama said has nothing to do with whether the Clintons lie or about whether Obama lies.

What Obama said inspired a couple of negative reactions in me.

The first, and I think the most powerful, is that I thought it was politically a stupid thing to say in the thickest, heatedest, middle part of a Democratic primary, and I still think that, and I think that if Obama somehow survives having said it, it will be because the media (comparatively) strews rose-petals before him. Coming from a guy who hasn't, so far as I know, been involved in a competitive political race since his first unsuccessful run for Congress, that did not give me comfort.

Secondly, while I'm not an expert on Obama's biography, I know that he did some good liberal political organizing and was in the left part of the Illinois statehouse. I absolutely do not ignore that, but I don't bring it all the way home to make me feel certain about who he is and where he comes from, either. Community organizing is great, but I know quite a few folks his age who were pretty liberal coming out of college or professional school and not so much so today. Being a lefty in the Illinois legislature is good, too, but he was running in a lefty district so the interpretation that he was just running down the road that would get him elected can't be initially ruled out.

And I'll tell you what I do know about him is that I have watched him in debates and interviews on TV a lot and he does not particularly come across to me as a spokesman for progressive causes, but rather as a dispenser of measured, inoffensive, and poll-tested pablum. And yes, I know he has a specific platform laid out on his web site, but he doesn't talk about that much. Really, in fact, to the extent he has differentiated himself from the other candidates thematically it has been this kinder, gentler, new politics stuff that reaches across the aisle. In theory, I like that and would like to practice it, but not right now when Democrats face the most corrupt, immoral, and irresponsible major political party that our nation has seen for a long, long time and are in a position right now to hurt that party bad.

Yeah, I wanta sing and hold hands in the long run, but before we get around to that I'd like to stand in the ashes of the Republican camp and hear the lamentations of their women.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that yes, while not ignoring Obama's background, I was indeed a little bit primed already to hear
him talking that reach-out-to-the-GOP stuff in ways I didn't want to hear. This guy hasn't been around in my vision for long enough for me to know firsthand who he is, and I like to learn politicians by watching them and listening to them and not so much by reading about them. I really don't feel like I've got a grip on where this guy comes from yet; he hides it.

"I will give it an attempt at a good answer, even though it's still well off the subject--i.e., what I think about what Obama said has nothing to do with whether the Clintons lie or about whether Obama lies."

I don't think it's off the subject, since the essential subject is whether someone should vote for Senator Clinto or Senator Obama. That's really the only relevant point, is it not?

I thank you for the rest of your thoughts and descriptions. I simply urge you to keep looking further into Senator Obama's background and record and writings. I have the utmost faith that that's all it will take for us to become mindless creatures who agree for no reason, due to alien mind control.

Oh, wait, that's not quite what I meant.

But I do tend to think that there are good grounds for us to agree about Senator Obama, if you keep reading and viewing and researching.

Adam,

Thanks for the spelling tip.

More substantively, I think I was wrong about the gramarrrr as well as the spelling, because I just went back to re-check the quote and found that my memory of the sentence structure wasn't quite right. The quote is, in fact, susceptible of your interpretation, and I was wrong when I said the grammar was off for your reading.

I still don't buy it, though. "Excesses of the 60s" is a buzz-phrase that makes an impact on Google, and that stuff about dynamic optimistic and entrepreneurial is just a big passle of political value words that buff up the ole Reagan image. Like I said before, you're really going to have to pack a lunch to get me not to see that as preferring Reaganism over 60s-ism, and I just find it abhorrent.

And yes, I know that reducing government spending was in Reagan's platform; that's why I said that Reagan turned the size of "gubmint" into a populist issue. But pre-Reagan the whole idea of "getting gubmint off your back" just was not a political idea that resonated in a major way. Of course there were plenty of business types and some academics decrying regulation, and tax-cutting was a populist idea, as it always has been, but for the great majority of folks, whether the government was too big, too small, or just right was just not something that came up. Reagan made "getting gubmint off your back" into a big political idea by repeating it every chance he got for 8 years.

And on this point:

"It was Reagan that made that into a populist issue, not that issue that made Reagan.

"... that was precisely Obama's point."

I'm not following you. I thought you were claiming that Obama was saying that people were reacting to excessive government by electing Reagan but here you're saying that Reagan made that into an issue, aren't you? What have I missed?

Trickster: I suspect I'd be just going over old ground were I to try to answer your points: I'd just say: but saying they had ideas just is not saying those ideas are good; Bill Clinton had to make his predictions before the primary, not afterwards, and they were pretty implausible then; etc.

I think it really is worth looking at his record as a whole, though. It's not just that he was liberal coming out of college. He tried to get a community organizing job, couldn't find one, took a well-paying job in NYC, kept looking, finally found a community organizing job, quit his NYC job and moved to Chicago to try to organize some godforsaken neighborhoods there.

Then he went to Harvard Law and became President of the Law Review. I don't know whether you're a lawyer or not, and if not, whether you do or don't know what this means, and I don't mean to assume that you don't, but: it means, basically, that you can write your own ticket. The world of law jobs is your oyster. Supreme Court clerkships or really really high-powered jobs lie at your feet. At that point, Obama went back to Chicago, because he had promised he would, and ran very successful voter registration drives, and became a civil rights lawyer.

Honestly: that's not just being liberal when you come out of college. That's turning down a universe of high-paying, high-prestige, and also high-interest jobs to do community organizing. It's serious.

He also really does have a pretty serious track record in the Senate. I have been researching his and Clinton's legislative records, and while I don't know a lot about freshman Senators in the minority party as a whole, I'd be surprised if his didn't stack up with the best of them. It certainly stacks up against Clinton's (comparing in the same sessions), and she had all that extra experience I keep hearing about. He did very, very good work on ethics reform and voting rights, on nuclear non-proliferation, on veterans' issues, on avian flu, according to the thingo I posted on above he went to the mattresses for habeas corpus, and on a bunch of very good issues.

Plus -- fun fact -- if you exclude bills naming post offices and one instructing some building to accept a bust of Rosa Parks, and ask what bills Clinton and Obama sponsored and got passed in the 109th Congress (Obama's first two years, Clinton's 5th and 6th), it turns out that the answer is: Clinton none, Obama one. And what was Obama's on? The ongoing nightmarish bloodbath in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that practically no one else is paying any attention to at all.

I really like the fact that he bothered about the Congo.

Thanks for the spelling tip.

It's hard not to be snarky when someone misspells something while pointing out another person's spelling/grammar error. I tried to resist. Sorry.

"Excesses of the 60s" is a buzz-phrase that makes an impact on Google, and that stuff about dynamic optimistic and entrepreneurial is just a big passle of political value words that buff up the ole Reagan image.

I agree about "excesses" being a loaded word, so probably a bad choice on Obama's part, but at the same time I have the impression that your response to the word is also largely based on your visceral reaction, and it's a pretty fuzzy judgment as to where your perception ends and Obama's intent begins.

As to the rest, my reading was that Obama was talking about a desire on the part of the American people that Reagan tapped into and manipulated to his own ends, which is pretty conventional poli-sci wisdom, and exactly what Obama said when asked about it during the subsequent debate. This is also the response to your question:

I'm not following you. I thought you were claiming that Obama was saying that people were reacting to excessive government by electing Reagan but here you're saying that Reagan made that into an issue, aren't you? What have I missed?

What I heard Obama say, in the interview and the debate, is that Reagan saw a desire and sold his policies as the answer to that desire, to great effect and horrible consequences. In other words, he tapped into a feeling and molded it around his policies, to the point where you couldn't have a rational discussion about politics without falling into the trap of "small government" versus "big government," and where the solution to all economic ills was "tax cuts!" (A problem that Obama critiqued very adeptly in the following two paragraphs of that interview, incidentally.)

The short answer is that I understand your visceral reaction to Reagan, and share it, but at the same time, he was effective in way that Democrats haven't been for a very long time, and that's a puzzle we desperately need to solve -- Bill Clinton was saying it back in his 92 campaign, as Gary points out, and I don't see what Obama said as any different. I do think he's got a better grasp on the solution, though.

That's a good point about Obama's post-law-school choices that I hadn't thought about, and it moves me along the spectrum of confidence a bit, which is nice. (And yes, I am a lawyer; I went to Berkeley, got waitlisted at Harvard, and have a pretty good idea of the position he was in coming out of school.) It still doesn't replace seeing it myself on the teevee, but like I said, it moves me down the continuum a tetch.

HOWEVER; let me add that I left something that bothers me about Obama out in my response to Gary, and that is how savagely and personally Obama has attacked the Clintons. You just don't see Democrats calling other Democrats liars in the primary, and particularly since I don't notice Mr. Obama differentiating himself from the Clintons on that score, at least in a positive way, I can't attribute that to high-mindedness.

You see, the things he has already said about Hillary Clinton would make devastating ads against her in the fall. That breaks the Golden Rule of primary politics, and it's pretty close to a mortal sin.

This is the bloodiest Democratic primary since at least 1980, hands down--and it's the first one Obama has been involved in. Coincidence? I truly do not see it that way. If he is one of those "progressives" that doesn't care about the Democratic Party because it's too much in the sack with corporations or whatever, well I can respect his thinking but he's not my political ally. I'm a Democrat, and until such time as either the parties re-align themselves significantly or a truly viable third-party emerges, neither of which I expect in my lifetime, I'll fight those who fight Democrats.

So, Trickster, I find it hard to ignore that you didn't answer this, so I'd appreciate an answer to this: Trickster, let me attempt to jump over dueling quotes and dueling interpretations: is it your claim that Barack Obama is somehow an untrustworthy Democrat, a crypto-Republican, crypto-Reagan admirer, who can't be trusted to stick to Democratic principles?

"[a]n attempt at a good answer" that doesn't completely ignore and totally fail to engage would be nice.

Thanks.

Adam, I see your point, and I'll give your interpretation an increasing amount of props--but I just can't forget about all the value words in that paragraph. They're loaded the wrong way, and that's two clever by half for me.

I'm 52; I've been semi-interested in politics since watching William Scranton speak--on the teevee-at the '64 Republican Convention, but it was Reagan who made me a political junky. I'm also very very pro-60s and am willing to pick up a weapon and jump into that culture war at the drop of a buzz-phrase. So the Reagan good, 60s bad vibe I pick up from that para kind of does me bad.

And yeah, Clinton has said things not that dissimilar, but (1) I hated those things, too; (2) he didn't make me question his sanity by saying them in the middle of a Democratic primary; and (3) I don't think he ever said anything that quite hit my buzzers the way that para does.

So that's my reaction, and I think it's a legimate reaction founded in the words and in history.

By the way: this whole topic is a little bit off the lies of the Clintons, although it's certainly a nearby path. As I said to Gary above, I don't think either of the Clintons have made any critical remarks in response to Obama's Reagan comments. If I'm wrong about that, someone correct me.

Gary,

Eeeek. I thought my whole long-winded answer was kind of about that. So let me try to boil it down.

OK. On one hand, no, I don't "think" he is one of those things. However, I am not devoid of fear that he might be. We haven't seen the true stealth candidate in American politics yet, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. And like I said, I don't really get a sense about Obama the person from watching him on TV, and I've usually got a strong sense of a pol by watching about 1/10 as much as I've watched BO.

"I'm 52"

I was pretty sure you weren't the longtime poster here known as Trickster, who was, last I looked, an Asian woman.

I don't know why people use non-specifically identifiable names. I just don't.

I'm sure it's not intentionally dishonest, but I don't understand how it isn't stupid to not use an identifier that isn't unique.

Only a moron wouldn't think they were the only "jeff" or "ken" or "trickster" or any other simple noun or common name or non-unique identifier in the world.

So what the heck is up with people showing up using the same name as longtime contributors and internet users, absent any research, or interest in whether they're using a unique identifier?

Ignorance, arrogance, both, or more?

Gary: I figured it wasn't the other Trickster; different styles, etc. However, if this trickster is new, s/he might not know you. So be gentle.

I don't want to use my real name because Republicans scare me. Simple as that. The first time I ever registered on a blog I had been playing a cool computer game called "King of Dragon Pass" that contained a number of intriguing references to the "trickster" god/spirit/whatever thingy, so I called myself that and have just stuck with it.

Even though it really isn't the best political moniker because it has a connotation of well, tricks, deception. And I realized that a long time ago.

But what the heck, I'm stubborn. I've been using Trickster and Trickster alone for political postings ever since I was a regular at MediaWhoresOnline.com back in the day. I used to be a front-pager at Tacitus under this name, and in fact I recently declined to register at digg because somebody else had claimed "Trickster."

Oh, and I have never been an Asian woman to the best of my knowledge.

"You see, the things he has already said about Hillary Clinton would make devastating ads against her in the fall. That breaks the Golden Rule of primary politics, and it's pretty close to a mortal sin."

And are we then ignoring the racist drug dealer comments and 'shuck and jive'? Those didn't happen by accident did they?

And this is a different Trickster? I'm surprised because s/he said s/he was posting on DD and Forvm which are both regular hangouts. I'm so confused. Couldn't you go by Loki instead? ;)

Whoops crossposted. I thought you were the Tacitus Trickster, so I guess I was right.

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