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March 07, 2008

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And there's this:

"Asked the difference between calling someone a "monster" and comparing someone to Starr, Clinton at first said the media had made the Starr reference. Reminded that it was her spokesman who had done so, Clinton said, "One is an ad hominem attack, and one is a historical reference."

I'm convinced (via Katherine at unfogged)

This is clearly a planned rather than an off the cuff thrust, and so blame on this should extend to the people crafting her message as well. Unfortunately, none of them can step back and see that there are just some roads that you don't take. Really pathetic.

she's just horrible.

i hope this is how Republicans feel about having McCain as their standard bearer.

Senator Clinton has disappointed me tremendously throughout her campaign, and some of the comments made by her surrogates were reprehensible. But I always thought they might be people speaking out on their own and not a directed message. This "CinC Threshold" line is a planned attack that the Clinton group has to know will be used against Obama by McCain should (or when) Obama becomes the nominee. Can you imagine it? "Not even your fellow Democrats think you can defend America."

It is absolutely outrageous that she is using this line. This scorched earth policy will only damage the Democratic party by turning away in disgust many of those who are approaching politics for the first time.

Beyond just supporting him if he becomes the nominee...she's actually floating the idea of choosing him as her vice president. Someone should ask her how she can possibly believe that Barack Obama could be the right person to take over the country in a national crises, but not ready to be commander-in-chief now.

This is the sort of stuff that would make it very difficult for me to vote for Clinton if she gets the nomination.

I don't expect politicians to be angels, but she is moving beyond the pale and accelerating.

Liberaltarian: What makes you think she wasn't begging for the Veep job herself?

Liberaltarian: um... are you referring to yourself or Kerry?

Kerry: very, very good point.

Me: I wonder what Sully would do in the event of a Clinton-Obama ticket.

I have consistently voted Democrat my entire adult life, but if Senator Clinton gets the nomination through this sort of assenine, hypocritical tripe, I may find it very difficult getting out of bed early next November.

I honestly don't know what the "crossing the CiC threshold" is supposed to mean - don't get me wrong, I get the rhetorical value of such language, but it doesn't really mean anything. I'm also not sure if "defending the country" is one of the president's most important jobs. If you're talking about things such as port security and other counter-terrorism measures, fine, but I have a hard time coming up with more than a handful of examples where the US military has actually been forced to "defend the country".

see that there are just some roads that you don't take.

Here's what I would like: a Democratic party with people who more interested in winning elections and less prone to attacks of the vapors. With the exception of a certain someone (and Jimmy Carter, who barely eked out an election victory after Watergate), the Democrats have lost EVERY Presidential campaign since 1964. In case anyone missed that last sentence, let me say it again: EVERY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SINCE 1964.

So maybe we should be worried more about the fact that Obama's campaign is handling these attacks not well at all, attacks that wouldn't even make the seismograph on the Republican side burp.

Jesus H. Christ. "Roads that you don't take." ^&%#$^%$!

I can't tell you how much I wish Lyndon Johnson were around right now. Or Harry Truman.

hillary is going to try to win this thing ugly. that involves pulling obama down into the muck with her.

i think he needs to carefully formulate a plan for dealing with this. he has to defuse her rhetoric while not engaging with her directly because she only wants to pull him down.

i am not saying it's right or that she wouldn't be fine president. this is the wisdom of the democratic primary. if she prevents obama from getting a lock on the nomination, she will make the case she deserves it based on whatever looks most convincing.

i think everyone needs to keep a cool head going into this.

I’ll repeat myself. Hillary and Obama will continue this until Denver. Both will be damaged goods and the polling against McCain will reflect it. There will be a geopolitical event, which will scare the American people, changing the landscape and giving McCain an even larger edge.

And that is why Al Gore will be the nominee.

Make your money on Intrade. You are welcome.

Clinton is not saying anything that any one who has been paying attention over the last several decades doesn't already knows:

1) John McCain is a known quantity. He is respected as an expert on the military and considered 'strong' on national defense. I am a liberal and even I know that much about him.

2) Hillary Clinton has served with McCain on the Armed Services committee and has worked hard to polish her national defense credentials over the years she has been in office.

3) Obama gave a speech in 2003. That is, by his own campaign claims, his sole credential on national security.

He has had a chance to do better. But he choose not to. For example he never worked in the Senate on any national security issue of any substance. And when he had a chance to call hearing on a critical area of our national security relevent to todays situation he refused to do so.

I'm not sure of your point , Total, Are you saying that we should go ahead and support Hil if she gets the nom? Or are you saying that Obama needs to find a better strategy for dealing with her Rovian tactics,

For what it's worth I have, over the last months gone from being unenthusiatic about Hillary to acrtively dislikeing her, to deciding that I can't vote for her.

It's the racist ad that tipped the balance for me. Yes, I know what factCheck says. The darkening is standard attack ad [ly to make the target look sinsiter. The racism is "unsubstanciated"

Charges of racism are nearly always unsubstanciated unless the N-word is used. When Republicans darkeded harold Ford's skin to scare away voters it was generally acknowleded by Democrats as a racist tactic. Well, if it was race baiting when they did it, it's race-baiting when Hil did it.

I'm not a purist. I don't require candidates to conform to some narrow set of highfalutin' criteria in my head before I part with my precious vote. I do however expect that the Dem who aspires to be our standard bearer be a person who is respectful of the constituents of the party. I thinkher use of Rove tactics against her fellowDemocrats disqualifies her.

So I won't vote for her in the general. .

Uh, sorry. That Obama speech, the one he is running on today, occurred in 2002, not in 2003.

He has had a chance to do better. But he choose not to. For example he never worked in the Senate on any national security issue of any substance.

This is simply not true. Nuclear nonproliferation is both a national security issue and is of substance.

Try again.

Also, isn't it weird that Hillary questions whether Obama is qualified to be president, and then turns around and says she would consider him to be vice president? Is she saying her vice president doesn't need to be qualified to be president? Or is she lying when she indicates he's not qualified? It has to be one or the other. If the press were doing its job, she could never get away with that kind of thing.

He has had a chance to do better. But he choose not to.

Hillary : AUMF

if her "experience" amounts to being a Bush enabler for 6 years... well, we can vote for McCain if we want that kind of experience.

Hilzoy, Clinton in inviting Obama to make his own case to the American people. She is making hers. She is saying she is just as qualified as is McCain.

You are expecting Clinton to do the heavy lifting for Obama on this. Forget it. She would only lose credibility if she tried to shore up someone with such shallow credentials.

If he can make the case to the American people then ok. I doubt he can do so. And so does Obama. That is why the entire Obama strategy has been to go negative against clinton from the start. He knows he doesn't compare well when resumes and qualifications are compared.

HRC has been suggesting for months that Obama may not be qualified to be CinChief. In the fall debates she was asked about this and her answer was "the voters will have to decide." In the past few days, she has made the point in a more damaging way by throwing McCain into the hopper. This is consistent with the subtext of the Clinton campaign that began after Iowa: She called Obama "naive," and she has made "ready on day one" her mantra. At the same time, in addition to the covert and overt challenges to Obama's readiness, she has also adapted her themes to the toxic smears that circulate, underground, against Obama. Her surrogates in NJ referred to her as a "true American." The implication was that he isn't. Most recently and amazingly, in the 60 minutes interview, she used the carefully chosen "as far as I know" phrase to leave open the possibility that his religion might not really be what he says it is.
Yeats wrote a poem with the words: "After such knowledge, what forgiveness?" Progressives with scruples now ask themselves whether they can, in fact, vote for HRC if she gets the nomination.

I'm not sure of your point , Total, Are you saying that we should go ahead and support Hil if she gets the nom? Or are you saying that Obama needs to find a better strategy for dealing with her Rovian tactics,

I'm saying we can try to win elections, or we can fall back gracefully on our fainting couches, moaning about how unfair people are being.

I'd ask all those people who won't vote for Hillary because she's being mean if they're really willing to accept another eight years of a Republican administration from Mr. John "100 years in Iraq" McCain. Because that's what that means.

On the subject of Clinton using Rove tactics against her fellow Democrats:

AMERICAblog.com

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hillary stafer says states that voted for Obama "sip lattes" and only care about "feelings." That would include Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota...
by John Aravosis (DC) · 3/07/2008 08:19:00 PM ET · Link
Discuss this post here: Comment (0) · reddit · FARK ·· Digg It!


I'm not sure what to make of this. Sounds like a bit of gay-bashing, a bit of yuppie-bashing, and a bit of overall liberal bashing to boot. And of course, it continues Hillary's theme of bashing any state and any constituency that favors Obama (like she did when said that Mississippians have a problem with women):
One Clinton aide yesterday derided Mr Obama’s victories in “boutique” caucus states rather than the hardscrabble terrain of the rustbelt, saying: “Obama has won the small caucus states with the latte-sipping crowd. They don’t need a president, they need a feeling.”
Actually, the Clinton folks are dissing all of Obama's states. Not only are the caucus states "boutique" (wonder what that means), but none of his victories were in the "hardscrabble terrain." I guess that means that Obama never won any manly-man states. So which sissy Obama states are we talking about? Missouri? Illinois? Maryland? Georgia? Alabama? Wisconsin? Virginia? Louisiana? Utah? South Carolina? Nebraska? Alaska? Idaho? Kansas? North Dakota? Iowa? And soon-to-be Texas? Obama has won far more than just caucus states, and the caucus states he won are far from latte-drinking San Franciscans (let's face it, that's what they meant).

Seriously, which of those states does Hillary think are just a bunch of latte-drinking airheads? Wow, that is amazingly dumb. Not to mention, now we can expect an ad from John McCain in the fall telling those states' voters that this is what Democrats think of them. Way to go, Hillary. Now whose staffer needs to be fired?

That is why the entire Obama strategy has been to go negative against clinton from the start.

Says the man who made an outright falsehood a few minutes ago.

You'll need to do better than make assertions that you can't back up.

HRC has been suggesting for months that Obama may not be qualified to be CinChief. In the fall debates she was asked about this and her answer was "the voters will have to decide." In the past few days, she has made the point in a more damaging way by throwing McCain into the hopper. This is consistent with the subtext of the Clinton campaign that began after Iowa: She called Obama "naive," and she has made "ready on day one" her mantra. At the same time, in addition to the covert and overt challenges to Obama's readiness, she has also adapted her themes to the toxic smears that circulate, underground, against Obama. Her surrogates in NJ referred to her as a "true American." The implication was that he isn't. Most recently and amazingly, in the 60 minutes interview, she used the carefully chosen "as far as I know" phrase to leave open the possibility that his religion might not really be what he says it is.
Yeats wrote a poem with the words: "After such knowledge, what forgiveness?" Progressives with scruples now ask themselves whether they can, in fact, vote for HRC if she gets the nomination.

I'm not looking forward to a McCain Presidency either, but that's what we are quite likely to get if we pick Hil whether I vote or not.

What this country really needs is a period of good governance. Tthat' is not going to come from mcCain, of course. Bbut it won't come fro Hillary either. She was at best a mediocre Senator with a propensity for caving when she didn't need to. now she is showing herself to every bit as polarizing, ego-driven and unprincipled as the rightwing always said she was. If she takes that style--that I'm in it for me, me, me styl--to the Presidency she will not be able to govern well.

The Republicans have already discridited themslevs. We don't need the Democrats to do it too.

.

Plame was in in non proliferation. She attacked the President and VP and other government leaders.

Obama has worked closely on community issues that are also global from his Chicago 'worker' and church background. He thinks crack is genetic like alcohol and has done counter terror/drug work in south america for the US. He wants to tax US GDP/GNP and give the money to foreign countries to aid the poor.

It's not like regional marxist and socialists are on the parties.

The CiC problem is that non of them except for McCain really will defend the country. It's what they can do globally with America. The minimum qualifications would not to be give the money away when we need it at home. Homeless people are all over the US.

You are expecting Clinton to do the heavy lifting for Obama on this. Forget it.

I think Hilzoy's question is excellent. Clinton's implication is clear: Obama hasn't crossed some magic line. Call her on it. That's not having Clinton do any heavy lifting. It's only asking her to be clear: "so what you're saying is Obama is not qualified to be CIC."

There hasn't been enough national security debate between HRC and Obama. I'd love to see more.

I'm not looking forward to a McCain Presidency either, but that's what we are quite likely to get if we pick Hil whether I vote or not.

That's a lovely and comforting thought. We can be upstanding and morally pure in our denunciations of HRC because, well, she's going to lose anyway.

"I lost the election, but that's okay, because I didn't really try."

The Republicans have already discridited themslevs. We don't need the Democrats to do it too.

That'll be very comforting when the war in Iraq reaches its 10th anniversary. The Democrats won't be in the White House, but then, they won't have discredited themselves, either.

It is real simple (and somebody else may have made this point already, dinner is ready and all that)...

Obama: "I was right. You were wrong. How does this make you more qualified than I?"

tom

One of the worst things about Hillary's use of Rove tactics is how it tirickles down so that Dems start using those tactics on each other.

It is a Rove tactic to belittle justifiable anger. Remember all the times that Republicans did awful things and then condemned Democrats for being angry? So don't do that to me.

My decsion to not vote for her isn't related to the unliklhood that she will get elected. I'm not using that as cover.

I'm thinking in the long run. It may be better to endure four years of McCain in order to elect a decent Democrat in 2012. I'm thinking about the long term consequences to the party and to the political life of the antion of a bad Deomcrat. I am assuming that it wil be very demoralizing to the nation if both parties are broadly viewded as incompetent.

I think that the whole issue with Senator Obama can be summed up in his bemused response to Senator Clinton's grilling him over not rejecting Minister Farrakhan's support, because he only denounced that support. I think that he doesn't believe that people will fall for this stuff, but they will and he needs to get that in his head now.

Quite frankly, I think that rather than fighting fire with fire, he needs to point out that she's fighting with fire. He should start calling every move she makes a "political" move and not one that matters to the electorate, otherwise, each hit is going to sting a little until they really start to hurt.

In the end, none of the candidates have picked up the phone. At least Senator McCain knows what it's like to actually drop bombs on someone, but he was following orders, he didn't give the orders or create the policy. Senator Obama should point that out in conjunction with his point about his anti-war stance from the beginning, because that helps to level the playing field without slinging mud.

It may be better to endure four years of McCain in order to elect a decent Democrat in 2012

And then in 2012, it will be better to have four more years of McCain in order to avoid another "bad" Democrat (who will it be that time?)

And then in 2016, it will be better to have four years of ? in order to avoid a "bad" Democrat...

And then in 2020...

Negative campaigning helps win elections. Deal with it.

God. Damn. It.

We Californians eat more quiche and sip more lattes than any other state in the goddamn union. We are probably at worst seventh in the WORLD, matching our standing in the GDP rankings.

OK, it's partly our size, but we remain the undisputed capital (in the US at least) of latte drinking.

What's more, we drive Volvos. And does anyone recall where Hollywood is?

And the guys who took California (goddam it) are trying to take this away from us and razzing Obama's states with the old stupid asshole redneck yahoo shit about quiche-eating fairies??

The Clintonistas really are desperate, you know.

"strong on national defense"
=
willingness to occasionally kill a bunch of brown people in far away countries


Never mind that it's ridiculously easy for anyone so inclined to sneak a bomb through US ports, blow up a chemical factory or acquire WMD precursors.

We only have a chance to change things for the better if we stop buying into their language game and dismantle their metaphors in order to show that the emperor has no clothes.

It is absolutely outrageous that she is using this line. This scorched earth policy will only damage the Democratic party by turning away in disgust many of those who are approaching politics for the first time.

Not only that - she's sabotaging her own chance to win the general election, even if she manages to wrangle the nomination. Firstly, sliming the shining hope of the latte Democrats is the one surefire way of making Ralph Nader a relevant spoiler again. Secondly, framing the general election as a referendum on who's toughest, most experienced on foreign policy, and readiest to answer the red phone and lead in a crisis strikes me as a near-suicidal strategy when your general election opponent is John McCain.

Obama's got to paint her as either self-interested or cowardly owing to her war vote. Either she was bullied, or she didn't care enough to put her political bum on the line if the war was successful. He needs to be take this toughness issue and own it. The Democrats have seemed like wimps to everyone for ages, and frankly Hillary's "I'm a fighter (for myself)". He needs to take this "I'm a fighter" and turn it against her. When it came to the Iraq vote, she sure wasn't a fighter. She rolled over. She does fight. She fights for people named Clinton.

she's sabotaging her own chance to win the general election, even if she manages to wrangle the nomination

Yeah, I noticed how that crippled George W. Bush's general election campaign in 2000, when he slimed McCain in South Carolina. I think President Gore's second term is going very well.

One of the most important jobs a President has is to defend the country.

See, here's part of the problem: This isn't even remotely correct.

The McCain sliming in South Carolina was very under the radar. It was done with push-polls, not with speeches out in the open and jumped on by the press.

The McCain sliming in South Carolina was very under the radar.

No, it wasn't. The Times, among other newspapers, was reporting it at the time.

I meant bad Democrat in the sense of someone who will govern badly. It will be very harmful to the country in general and the party if we elect someone who governs badly. That's a separate kind of badness than being a lousy human being who attacks her own party. If we elect a Democrat who rides into office on a wave of repudiation of the Republicans and that Democrat fucks up the job of being President...well. that's a scenario that I really don't want to contemplate.

This is kind of a tangent, but it's come up a couple of times in the other comments and it really irks me.

Since when did being the kind of person who believes "Ask not what your country can do for you..." make me a latte sipping liberal from San Francisco who doesn't need a president?

i know HRC couldn't give a shit less, but if she's the nominee, i'm not voting Democrat for the first time in my life.

i can almost perversely admire McCain, because he comes from a set of beliefs that i think are (mostly/sometimes) genuine, i just don't share them.

but i'm firmly convinced Hillary is a lying snake, and will say or do anything to win, and i just can't reward that behavior with my vote.

i hate to think of the Iraq continuing under a McCain presidency, or the (*shudder*) judges he'd appoint, but the thought of Hillary being president makes my stomach turn.

never, no way, ever.

If we elect a Democrat who rides into office on a wave of repudiation of the Republicans and that Democrat fucks up the job of being President...well. that's a scenario that I really don't want to contemplate.

Oh mother of God. How about if we elect the Democrat first, and only then have our existential angst? How about if we elect the Democrat first, and only then have the fainting spell? How about if we elect the Democrat first, and only then sit in a dark room contemplating if we are worthy? How about if we beat the Republicans' brains in first, and only then contemplate our lack of self-esteem? How about if we stop the torture, the surveillance, the destruction of the Constitution, the trashing of the American position in the world, and only then stare moodily into space?

How about that?

Not only that - she's sabotaging her own chance to win the general election, even if she manages to wrangle the nomination.

Xeynon, that matches what I'm hearing. Based on informal around the water-cooler talk, this episode is hurting HRC much more than it is hurting Obama.

There are roughly a dozen or so folks in my face-to-face world who talk politics with me on a sufficiently regular basis to constitute a sort of informal tracking poll. They span a range of ideology and party identification, including committed partisan Dems, DINOs, Indys, and RINOs (no committed partisan Reps unfortunately). This group is probably representative in a very loose way of something like 2/3rds of the electorate in my area.

Back in mid-February, I was guessing that this group was leaning towards Obama, with about 9 in favor of Obama vs. 3 for McCain, and tied with about a 6-6 split between Hillary and McCain.

Now I would guess that has shifted to about 7 for Obama vs. 5 for McCain. That's the good news. The bad news is this group in now near unanimously in favor of McCain over Hillary. I think she would do well to get 2 out of this group, and it could go to zero for her. It is that bad.

Why has this happened? The GOP has been pushing a meme for years now that Hillary is utterly ruthless, driven by a boundless lust for power, and willing to stop at nothing to get what she wants, and that she cannot be trusted.

The Indys and some of the RINOs I know have been willing (at least in public) to treat this "Ruthless-Hillary" meme as an unproven hypothesis up to this point, while the DINOs and partisan dems have scorned it as an obvious GOP noise machine smear. Unfortunately for Hillary, her recent campaign tactics and especially these speeches denouncing Obama while praising McCain have shifted opinions on this meme dramatically. Most of that shift has occurred just in the last week. The RINOs are saying "I told you so!" loudly and often, the Indys are confessing that this confirms what they've suspected all along but were reluctant to say out loud, the DINOs are largely in agreement, and the partisan Dems are in full retreat. Nobody is standing up for Hillary.

This "Ruthless-Hillary" meme has legs and it is going places. It is for Hillary what the secret-Muslim smear is for Obama, except that in the view of most of the folks I know it is being publicly confirmed by the actions of the candidate. I seriously doubt there is any way to get the toothpaste back into the tube on this one.

Hillary is angling for the Stupid Vote.

That's smart: the electorate comprises both halves of the bell curve, and you need some votes from the lower half to win the Presidency. That's because some very smart people vote Republican. For instance, the people who contributed $160 million to Dubya's campaign in 2000, and got a 1,000,000% return on their investment in the form of $1.6 trillion in tax cuts. No Democrat is ever going to be that generous to smart rich people, so any Democrat has to get some votes from dumb poor people. Specifically, dumb poor people who live in rural Missouri and have a better chance of winning the lottery than being killed by terrorists. It's THOSE people at whom the "commander-in-chief threshhold" bullshit is directed.

New York (the city, if not the state) will vote for the Democrat come November, even if it is Barack The Unready, coddler of terrorists. That's because New Yorkers are not cowards, like salt-of-the-earth heartland types are. They have been hit by terrorism, they have every reason to believe they will be hit again, and yet they are smart enough to know that their best defense is NOT to send the sons of poor dumb heartlanders to "fight them over there". They understand that John W. McCain, a less successful warrior than Randy "Duke" Cunningham was, is more likely to get New Yorkers killed than a less-bloodthirsty Commander in Chief would be. They understand that "24" is TV show, and "Dr. Strangelove" was a movie. (So was "Fail Safe", incidentally.) New Yorkers are NOT Hillary's target audience.

What Hillary needs to worry about at this point is that her courtship of the Stupid Vote may end up costing her support from not-stupid people. Not-stupid people are still willing to believe that Hillary is merely a hypocrite -- but just barely believe it. A little more of her pandering to the Stupid Vote, and they may start to suspect she really buys the crap she's selling.

-- TP

"You are expecting Clinton to do the heavy lifting for Obama on this."

No. I am expecting her not to do the heavy lifting for McCain. That's all.

And it's not true that Obama hasn't tackled any foreign policy issue of any substance. Loose nukes. Avian flu. There are a bunch of them.

Yeah, I noticed how that crippled George W. Bush's general election campaign in 2000, when he slimed McCain in South Carolina. I think President Gore's second term is going very well.

Total,

If you admire the electoral results obtained by GWB so much that you can excuse his campaign tactics, then why aren't you a Republican? You sound a lot more like the Republicans I know than you do like any Democrat. The Democrats I know think that winning dirty is something to criticize the other party for, not emulate.

Do you really not get that ends-justify-the-means arguments are perilous? Or that ruthless politics lead very naturally and easily to ruthless policies, and the trip from there to bad government and disgrace is a very short ride? That is exactly what Bush and Rove have practiced the last 7 years. If you want to repudiate Bush's work, why are you so eager to copy his methods?

And what empirical evidence do you have that Obama's approach is a liability in the general election, compared with Hillary's? Can you cite any polls showing Hillary with a larger lead over McCain (or a smaller deficit) compared with Obama? If so, please share.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned much, that I have seen, is how this plays with Democratic machine support -- after all, Hillary Clinton does have most of the establishment D support in many, many places, such as Pennsylvania. Isn't all but endorsing your R opponent going to rankle some of these? And then I think about another class of her core supporters, which is, women and especially feminist women (unfortunately, including my mom). These women are not really driven to vote for HRC because she would make a good CiC; mostly they are swayed by the desire to see a woman succeed, but apart from that, they also care about core feminist issues, including abortion. What does it say that Hillary Clinton would actually side with McCain in complete disregard with how he stands on these other, significant issues?

I realize that the larger game is to get the nomination, but for the love of mike, I can't see how this particular gambit makes anything but the most short term strategic sense. Did she get a poll or something that showed that her weakness on Iraq is hurting her and this was a way to turn it around back at Obama? Or does she think that because some negativity worked so well in Ohio that any and all negativity would work even better everywhere else no matter who is alienated?

This is how I see the choice before us in the Dem. primaries:

We have an opportunity in this next election to deliver a stinging rebuke to George W. Bush. I see this as an urgent task because if we do not do this now we take the risk that GWB's legacies will harden into precedents and continue to haunt us in future administrations beyond just 2009-2012.

GWB's is leaving behind 2 legacies, not just one: his policies, and his politics. By the latter, I mean the manner in which W and Karl Rove went about winning the 2002 and 2004 elections (and failing to win the 2006 election) in a divisive manner using smear-and-fear tactics, splitting the country apart into bitterly opposed camps as a natural consequence.

If we can only repudiate one of these legacies, that would be better than none, but Obama is running his campaign, and winning votes, in a way that promises the opportunity to repudiate both of GWB's legacies, not just one of them. Hillary is not doing this - her campaign is more conventional than Obama's, and she is doing a poor job of avoiding negative or divisive tactics.

If there were solid proof that Hillary would have a significantly better chance of winning in November than Obama, then this would present us with a dilemma. If Hillary's supporters feel she is more likely to win in November, then let them present their evidence. Simply calling Obama or his supporters snotty names isn't evidence, it is an attempt to evade the question.

Absent compelling proof that we are weakening our chances in November with Obama, the right choice seems clear to me.

Obama's best retort about experience would be to say:
"Hillary has experienced the Iraq war for 6 years and still has not figured out that she was mistaken in voting for it. By her own admission, her experience was not adequate to realize that the Bush Administration was lying when selling the war. Whatever experience she has is of no benefit to us, since she does not learn from it."

I haven't posted on this blog in awhile, mainly b/c I spent the last 3 weeks working 14 hours/day doing field ops in Fort Bend, TX (most pro-Obama county in all of Texas! Huzzah!), and I have to say I did miss it.

I do find the following situation amusing:

Posters here are noting that Hillary's negative tactics are turning them off to the point where she's effectively losing their votes. Other posters are "coming to her defense" so to speak by basically berating those of us who are disgusted by her behavior, by noting that, well, negative campaigning wins elections! Duh!

Except, winning elections requires, you know, earning votes. Tactics that lose you votes don't seem necessarily your best bet towards winning, no? Well
, you might say, this will win her more votes than it loses her. To which I answer: I doubt it. This isn't a general election. It's a primary. She's not trashing John McCain; she's trashing someone, rather unfairly and dishonestly I might add, who enjoys enormous popularity among both Democrats and Independents, the two main voting blocs Clinton will have to court in the general. Alienating your own base =/= smart election strategy. And the comments here are an illustration of that fact.

So, no, this is not a tactic that wins elections; the opposite is true. Should Clinton implausibly manage to leverage her bile into the Dem nomination, it would undoubtedly leave her so handicapped with the A-A vote, youth vote, and Indie vote that she'd lose badly in the general anyway.

This went exactly like I imagined it would, save 1 difference: she won TX by 3 points instead of losing it by that margin. Unfortunate. B/c the math is still the same; she can't win, at least not without destroying Obama personally. And the idea of one Democrat trying to literally crush another like that is so disgusting that I would change my party registration to Indie the day it happened.

The party is playing with fire by letting this play out. Should Obama win Wyoming and Mississippi by the large margins I expect him to, Dean, Gore, Edwards, et al would have a golden opportunity to sit Hillary down and say: "Look, you're no closer now than you were March 3rd. You're not gonna catch him. Now is the time to bow out gracefully"

I don't see why we should be indulging her power-lust any longer. And I used to reject the right-wing attacks on her about her ambition and willingness to put her own fortune over that of the country, but now...not so much.

Clinton's Mississippi strategy: Faced with your earlier remarks criticizing Iowans for being like those yahoos in Mississippi, explain that what you really meant was that Mississippians are a bunch of sexists unless they prove they're not by voting for you.

Give her credit. She did step over a threshold.

Should have checked her shoes beforehand though. Seems to have stepped in something rotten.
Is this how she behaves at parties with her friends? It kind of ruins my image of how the elite conducts itself with dignity...
She’s certainly shown her skill as a mudslinger. But electoral politics as a kindergarten playground? Methinks I smell a piquant contempt for the electorate.
Top down indeed. Descent accelerating.

I’m getting this picture...A little Bush devil whispering in her left ear, a little Lucifer angel whispering in her right.

A little refining fire, please, Mr. Obama?

You've got to be kidding. I have two obvious comments:

1. Obama is a big boy, isn't he?

Why not focus on Obama's argument for having "crossed the threshold?" Why do bloggers all over the net respond to Obama's lack of assertiveness with attacks on Clinton? If Obama were doing his job - that is, showing the political savvy and spine necessary to run this country - we wouldn't need to have a discussion on whether Clinton was being mean. Obama would have specifically responded to this comment and diffused it. Clinton is always shadow boxing with the Obama bloggers. It's surreal.

2. The criticism is completely off the mark. Let's say that McCain, Obama and Clinton are high school students competing to get into college, instead of old men and ladies competing for the Presidency. Clinton says "McCain and I have taken Advanced English courses, and have passed the threshold of demonstrating that we are capable of doing college level work, but that Obama has taken only lower level English classes." This statement doesn't mean that Obama is incapable of doing college level work - it just means he hasn't done it yet. Obama would have to pass the threshold in some other way, like high SATs. Or, he could dipute the whole concept of a threshold, and note that someone like Bill Clinton did fine with zero foreign policy experience. He is completely capable of speaking up and showing how his potential in some other way, rather than relying on someone on the sidelines shouting that Clinton's a meanie.

The Obamasphere gets stupider by the day. Every day Obama's blog trolls do the job Obama should be doing, I dislike Obama more.


So, no, this is not a tactic that wins elections; the opposite is true. Should Clinton implausibly manage to leverage her bile into the Dem nomination, it would undoubtedly leave her so handicapped with the A-A vote, youth vote, and Indie vote that she'd lose badly in the general anyway.

Michael,

I think part of the problem is that when you combine the truly amazing levels of awfulness that the GOP has descended to under Bush with a binary attitude that says "You have to vote for me as the Democratic nominee no matter what because the Republicans are worse," the net result is that there is not much of a floor in place to prevent a race to the bottom from occurring. To Obama's credit, he has done a pretty good job of not rising to take the bait thus far. I hope that the voters continue to reward his restraint, rather than choosing to punish it.

In other words, Hillary is taking advantage of the really bad state of the GOP by daring us not to vote for her. It is a form of political blackmail - "that sure is a nice country you have there - it would be a pity if something bad were to happen to it. Heh, heh. Better do things my way, or else, well, after all, accidents do happen...". This is the same siren song as "the Democrats are always worse" which the GOP followed to the ruination of their beloved conservative principles under Bush.

Well, guess what - I'm not playing that game any more. I've reached the point where I simply will not vote for Hillary in the general election. Period, end of story.

This wasn't an easy decision, because "the Republican's are worse" logic is very powerful. My reason for rejecting it is that if I allow this binary logic to dictate my voting decisions, then every election devolves into a Prisoner's Dilemma, with the payoff matrix always pushing in the direction of dirty tactics rather than cleaner ones. If we don't do something to adjust this payoff matrix so as to punish dirty campaigns and reward clean ones, then we can't complain when nothing ever gets better.

"Dirty politics always wins" is a self-fulfilling prophesy, but it only works if you allow your vote to be dictated by "the other party is worse" logic. That logic is as much our enemy as is the guy from the other party who may be worse, because the guy from the other party will only ruin this election cycle, but the bad logic never retires - it will ruin every election if you let it.

I agree, this statement crossed a threshold for me. What took me so long, etc.

Someone's probably said this already, but Obama has a countermove -- maybe only one. It's similar to what hilzoy suggests a reporter should ask, but it's a much bigger deal: to formally, decisively rule out an Obama/Clinton ticket. People here may think that was always clear, I don't know, but I think there would be value to Obama saying it himself.

That would simply be taking Clinton at her word that she thinks he isn't qualified (how would she defend him as her VP? how would she answer what changed if she were his VP?); it costs little because it arguably wasn't going to happen anyway. But some people may have been kidding themselves that a Hillary vote didn't really rule out Obama -- i.e., they weren't fully factoring in the full cost of that vote. Now they'd have to. While that might push some fence-sitters towards Hillary, I think it would push more to Obama.

It's a shame -- I'd kind of hoped they'd patch things up and run together. But that was a fantasy, and this is where we are after this Hillary statement.

McCain, Obama and Clinton are high school students competing to get into college

Kanzeon,

Do you understand the concept of political parties, which represent an affiliation of people with common ideological viewpoints and shared policy preferences? Your analogy makes no sense at all, unless you view the Presidency not as a platform for directing policy and influencing legislation (in which case a Democrat should prefer that the other Democrat win the race as a 2nd best outcome if they can't win themselves), but as simply a prize to be seized for the personal glory and benefit of the winner. Which would explain a lot, actually.

The Obamasphere gets stupider by the day. Every day Obama's blog trolls do the job Obama should be doing.

It is Obama's job to post comments on ObsidianWings? Wow! I had no idea this place was so important! If that is the case, then why isn't Hillary posting here too? Or is this one of those places that "doesn't count". Can we get a list from Mark Penn of which blogs count and which don't, so we'll know how to judge whether Hillary is getting the job done.

I know three *very* intelligence and very dyed-in-blue diapers Democrats that are thinking of voting McCain over Hillary as a consequence not of her tactics, but of her entire approach and response to this.

Frankly, she's demonstrating all kinds of traits that would make her an atrocious President. Would *you* want her as a boss, let alone as President?

Ara: Frankly, she's demonstrating all kinds of traits that would make her an atrocious President.

I'd reserve "atrocious President" for someone like George W. Bush. (Even John McCain, while I think he's unlikely to pursue investigation of any of the Bush administration criminals, probably wouldn't be atrocious.)

Hillary Clinton's showed extremely bad judgment in approving this electioneering tactic, but no: I wouldn't say it was "atrocious".

Atrocious is like Rove putting forward rumors that the opposition candidate for nomination has an illegitimate mixed-race daughter when you know he has an adopted daughter whose ethnic origin will make this rumor extremely damaging both for McCain and for his daughter. That's atrocious. The Swift Boat Veterans were atrocious.

This is just... kinda stupid.

I think that at the center of the Clinton (and I guess the Obama) campaign, it's very easy to think that McCain doesn't stand a chance anyway and the opposition right now is the other front-runner candidate for Democratic nomination. That's what leads to comments like this.

More on her experience claims:

Hillary Clinton had no direct role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland and is a "wee bit silly" for exaggerating the part she played, according to Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province.

Ouch!

Yeah, American politicians and their boasting about what they did for other countries are annoying to the people who actually live there and did the real work. I gather Ronald Reagan even made claims for being responsible for bringing down the Iron Curtain and the fall of the Soviet Union, which was real grandiose boasting about what he "accomplished" for happening to be President at the time.

I hope the Chicago Tribune story gets the ball rolling such that other reporters start investigating whether the Empress has any clothes.

This still strikes me as insane. Does she really believe serving as first lady counts as foreign policy experience? This seems to border on the delusional.

Not too long ago Obama said that the best qualification he had when it came to his foriegn policy experience was the time he spend overseas as a child from age six through ten. Joe Biden said that was about right.

Nothing has changed since then.

And if she twists things that are on the record, how can she be given credibility about anything else?
How can she hope for any respect, any expectation that she would act responsibly as President? Because she is behaving in a recklessly irresponsible manner.
Gutter politics does not make for distinguished, much less great leadership.
Nasty and childish.
Integrity?
No.

A modest proposal: Hillary as McCain’s VP.

If you admire the electoral results obtained by GWB so much that you can excuse his campaign tactics, then why aren't you a Republican?

Because I think the Republican policies are ludicrous and appalling, that's why. What I notice, however, is that they've managed to figure out how to win elections. What I would like to do is for us Democrats is also figure out how to win elections. We can be pure and happy and the Republicans will run the country, or we can win elections. Having seen the last eight years, I'd prefer the latter.

For example, LBJ ran one of the all time meanest campaign ads in 1964, the small child/flowers/nuclear explosion to suggest that Barry Goldwater would get them into nuclear war. He won that election, and managed to pass Civil Rights legislation, put together the Great Society, and a host of other things that we, as Democrats look on fondly (he also got us deeper into Vietnam, which obviously wasn't good). Well, guess what, if he doesn't win the election, none of that happens.

As for Democrats not being mean to other Democrats, go look at LBJ's run against Coke Stevenson in 1948 for the Senate nomination in Texas. That was deeply vicious and personal.

(By the way, HRC's calculation about how this will affect her in the general election is likely that, if she doesn't win the primary, she's got NO chance of winning the general. So...)

(Second by the way: political parties are NOT just (or even mostly) collections of like-minded people. They've become more so lately, but historically political parties have been coalitions of decidedly UN-like-minded people who do agree that they'd like to win elections. The Democratic Party pre-1960s mixed African-Americans, Southern Jim Crow Dixiecrats, northern urban workers, and elite liberals. Those groups didn't agree on much at all, but they won a lot of elections.)

Here's what cracks me up about the American electorate:

Both sides of the political spectrum whine about their requirements that someone new emerge, that we need an outsider to drain the swamp, that we need fresh perspective, that we must do away with the entrenched interests, that dammit, anyone can do this job, that a substantial resume is a sign of elitism .....

..... and then the electorate demands experience.

Humpf!

Further, we desire that our interests be represented, but we can't handle a candidate who puts aside his or her "sincerity" and "principles" and tells us what we want to hear (that they will represent OUR interests).

In fact, we'll vote for someone who is diametrically opposed to every position we hold, because they drip sincerity.

(By the way, HRC's calculation about how this will affect her in the general election is likely that, if she doesn't win the primary, she's got NO chance of winning the general. So...)

I agree. The problem is that the line of thought continues. For her, if she doesn't win the general, then it doesn't matter who wins the general (or worse, it's better for McCain to win the general so that she can run in 2012).

At this point Clinton cannot get the nomination unless Obama suffers a complete meltdown. If she were just biding her time waiting for the off chance of that happening, that would be one thing (though it'd be a bit silly), but of course she's instead actively trying to destroy the likely Democratic nominee.

Thomas, I think you're right about the need for Obama to rule out being Clinton's VP. She's repeatedly talking about voting for her and maybe getting both of them, and some people are falling for it. He's got to put a stop to that.

I'm not impressed with that statement. What's with the repeated comment about it being "premature" to think about that question? If it's premature, then he can't be making a definitive statement, right?

For her, if she doesn't win the general, then it doesn't matter who wins the general

That's your evaluation, not necessarily hers.

Total, of course I can't read Clinton's mind, but I have to evaluate her on the basis of her behavior, and that behavior is making it less likely that the Democrat will win in November. She's an intelligent woman, so she's aware of that. I conclude that she doesn't care (either that, or she wants McCain to win if she isn't the nominee).

Even setting aside what this does to the Dems chances in the GE, if she does manage to become the president, this is how she will govern -- by raising the volume and trying to call people out and overstating the strength of her position. As soon as anyone calls her bluff she will slink away, placing the blame totally on others for not having been willing to do things her way. It's what she did with healthcare: does anybody remember her infamous response of "woulda coulda shoulda," when asked whether she might have gotten a better result with a different strategy?

This shows, basically, that she hasn't really changed.

I'm trying to figure out why all this hurts so much. I guess it's the abuse of trust. You'd think it's hard to think of anything worse than a murder, but a murder committed by a family member of the victim is just that much worse. That's what this is like. I have to continually suppress the Clinton hatred I feel building up inside me, resist the urge to go over to Sullivan and bathe in the Clinton hate. And it's hard. The more I hear from the Clinton campaign, the less I can feel anything but contempt.

If Obama is being damaged by Clinton's dirty campaigning, then he's going to be absolutely destroyed once the Republicans start campaigning against him. Better that Clinton stay in and make him appear to be a viable candidate a little longer.

I wish she'd fight dirtier though. If she was twice as nasty as she can be, she'd be almost half as bad as the Republicans will be and would then be good practice for what the race will look like without her.

I'd be willing to bet that none of the people who are upset at her tactics have ever voted for a Democratic presidential candidate who won with a majority of the popular vote, and never will. Your votes were never really on offer for the Democrats so we wouldn't really be losing anything if you take your ball and go home.

Isn't Starbucks making a bijillion dollars a year by selling lattes to every damn American under the age of seventy?

Frank wants Clinton to fight dirtier. To damage Obama permanently with the kind of attacks in which McCain can say "Look, even democrats say Obama's not ready to be CinC!". I'm thinking you're probably not a democrat, or else that was the weirdest comment if you are.

Actually I think these attacks of Clinton's are worse. It's coming from within the party. People expect it from your opponents, but when a "friend" attacks a friend, people start to think, hmmm... maybe there's something to it. And then the attacks get more credibility than they deserve.

and that behavior is making it less likely that the Democrat will win in November.

That's not the same thing as saying that she thinks "it doesn't matter who wins the general."

As soon as anyone calls her bluff she will slink away, placing the blame totally on others for not having been willing to do things her way.

Because she's relentlessly attacking Obama, she's going to slink away? That's a leap, not of logic, but off the cliff.

You'd think it's hard to think of anything worse than a murder, but a murder committed by a family member of the victim is just that much worse. That's what this is like

Well, the thread just jumped the shark with that one. Comparing it to murder? All we need now is someone to mention the Nazis, and we can invoke Godwin's Law.

Jason- If Obama is as fragile as you think he is, maybe politics wasn't such a good career choice for him.

Sure people who believe swiftboat smears are really good at considering the source. I forgot about all the pictures out there of Hillary and Obama hugging and kissing. Not to mention what a popular singing duo they were in the 80's. I forgot about the "where are they now?" on VH1.

"Well, the thread just jumped the shark with that one. Comparing it to murder? All we need now is someone to mention the Nazis, and we can invoke Godwin's Law."

Obviously the comparison was about the betrayal, not the act itself. Perhaps another example would have been more appropriate.

All we need now is someone to mention the Nazis, and we can invoke Godwin's Law.

"Godwin's Law" is not something you "invoke," it's a statement of probability; and in fact, by bringing up Nazis, you fulfilled that probability.

Mike Godwin in his original post laying out the law, approvingly cited an example in which the law was "invoked":

http://www.eff.org/Net_culture/Folklore/Humor/godwins.law

Thanks very much for playing, please try again.

in fact, by bringing up Nazis, you fulfilled that probability.

P.S., since Godwin's Law specifically requires a _comparison_ to the Nazis--"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one"--my mention of them did not, in fact, invoke Godwin's Law.

Each player is limited to three tries at the game, so you have one left.

I don't think Obama is that fragile and I do think that Clinton is saying things that will hurt more coming from a Democrat than they would from a Republican. The crypto-racist Jesse Jackson comment for example: from a Republican it just sounds like race baiting, but echoed from a Democrat it could be raising serious concerns. (I tend to think it was just straight-up race baiting but there you are). Sure McCain could have said "Obama isn't ready" but NOW he can say "Even high profile Democrats realize that Obama isn't ready".

That is a huge difference.

For example, LBJ ran one of the all time meanest campaign ads in 1964, the small child/flowers/nuclear explosion to suggest that Barry Goldwater would get them into nuclear war. He won that election, and managed to pass Civil Rights legislation, put together the Great Society, and a host of other things that we, as Democrats look on fondly (he also got us deeper into Vietnam, which obviously wasn't good).

Well, thanks for mentioning LBJ, what a wonderful analogy, it contains everything that is wrong with the "any Democrat by any means" people.

I'm not impressed with that statement. What's with the repeated comment about it being "premature" to think about that question? If it's premature, then he can't be making a definitive statement, right?

I don't have a vote in an American election but FWIW his statement looks very clear to me. He says he will not be her VP (or anyone's) but he's not (yet) ruling out her being his VP. The question was: "Could you ever see yourself on the same ticket as Senator Clinton?" The answer was: "You won’t see me as a vice presidential candidate -- you know, I’m running for president."

There's no ambiguity there that I can see.

"Secondly, framing the general election as a referendum on who's toughest, most experienced on foreign policy, and readiest to answer the red phone and lead in a crisis strikes me as a near-suicidal strategy when your general election opponent is John McCain."

I agree. We need someone who can run as smarther than McCain, because he's going to win on experience against either Dem.

Obama's national lead is gone.

because he's going to win on experience

again, the thing about his experience, especially his recent experience, is that he's been wrong about the things that really matter. as has Clinton. their experience is a record of mistakes. whether anyone will make this point, is a different story, of course.

you don't get credit for sitting in a seat of power if you don't use that power wisely - or at least, you shouldn't. i know ideals don't equal reality.

Well, thanks for mentioning LBJ, what a wonderful analogy, it contains everything that is wrong with the "any Democrat by any means" people

Yeah, you're right. That awful Civil Rights Act! That terrible Medicare legislation! That disgusting Medicaid law! That insane Voting Rights Law! The nastiness of the Public Broadcasting System and Head Start! It was just horrible, horrible!

LBJ certainly mishandled Vietnam in a massive way, but that you can write that comment suggests you have no idea about what you're talking.

For example, LBJ ran one of the all time meanest campaign ads in 1964, the small child/flowers/nuclear explosion to suggest that Barry Goldwater would get them into nuclear war.

What was so mean about that? Goldwater advocated the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam. Was it really such a low blow to suggest that a man capable of making that suggestion might be a risky choice?

Total,

It is really very simple. You and I have different values. You embrace an ends-justify-the-means approach to politics, and I do not.

We really do not have anything intelligent left to say to each other. The chasm between our value systems is too broad to be bridged. My remarks below are not really addressed to you, but to anyone else reading who hasn't yet decided where they sit.

I emphatically reject your value system - I think your way of thinking is what has done in the Republicans, both in the sense of producing bad policy, and in terms of driving their popularity down to the low level it is at now. The GOP was not always dominated by crazy people, and if some Democrats think it can't happen to us, then they are sadly deluded. Some introspection regarding our own vulnerability to the temptations which led the GOP down their dark path are in order here.

I think that people like you are doing exactly what is required to turn the Democratic party into a mirror image of the GOP. The fundamental reason for this is that I think bad policy is a natural and inevitable result of dishonest and dirty politics. If you get your feet muddy in the yard, then it is impossible not to track dirt into the house when you come inside. I see policy and political style as dependent variables and reject your implied hypothetical that the Democrats could have won more elections in the past by campaigning more like the GOP, while still holding the same set of policy values unchanged.

I am confident that based on both the language and the content of your statements posted here that you hold my value system in equal contempt. Fine. Bring it on. Our choices have been made, and the only thing left is to count up all the votes and see who is in the majority here. I am confident that this time is different, that the ugly machine politics which people like you have been advocating for (and which has consistently won) year after year has finally burnt itself out. Good riddance.

Why? Look at the turnout figures this cycle. The cynical style of politics which you advocate has always had the effect in the past of depressing overall turnout, not elevating it. This time turnout records are being smashed. People who have never previously turned out in large numbers - especially the young and the politically disengaged - are actually showing up this time, because for once in a lifetime they have a candidate to turn to who is actually winning.

Every conversation I've had for years now with exactly these kind of voters indicates that the thing which they hate the most, at a deep visceral level, is your slash and burn approach to politics, and these voters are a plurality of the electorate. If the people who hate standard politics were an organized party, they would be almost as large as the Democrats and the Republicans combined.

In the past these voters have not been organized, and the divisions between the 2 major parties have divided this group and effectively disenfranchised them. They have never been able to coalesce as a majority within either party, and the sort of nontraditional candidates who they gravitate towards have always been underfunded and poorly organized, or have run 3rd party campaigns like Perot in 1992 which were doomed to failure because of the structural advantages enjoyed by the established parties.

This year is different because after 7 years of GWB these voters are royally pissed off like never before. They sense the urgency of the moment, they have been fed bullshit for so long that they've learned how to recognize the taste and smell of it and are not being fooled by it any more, and they finally have a well organized and well funded candidate to back, who actually has a realistic chance of winning.

So please sit back and enjoy your short and exciting ride to the ash-heap of history. You've earned it.

Total, Hillary has a few issues in which she had major influence, an health care reform is the most important. That's her track record, and it's pretty awful. It's much easier to tear something down than to build something up. Hillary Clinton thought that coming out gangbusters to criticize and attack the health care system (for lack of any better word) was the modus operandi to reforming it, and then shrank away when it turned out to require a lot more than that. I tend to think no one could really have done it then, so I am not saying it was all her fault. But it's hard to imagine how it could have been handled worse. Her attacks on Obama just look to me like a repeat of the same pattern: it's so much easier to go out and criticize your opponent without subtlety or nuance. It's so much harder to make the case for your own superiority. I see this as a preview to how she would handle complex and difficult issues in her own hypothetical administration, and I don't like it. Plus, this whole pattern of only pulling herself together when she's on the ropes -- I'd like to have a president who stays off the ropes and isn't continually required to expend energy to dig themselves out of a hole. Have you ever noticed that about the Clintons? I don't know why it is, but it's pretty darn striking.

Here's the much shorter version:

I'm a moderate Democrat. The people I know who are moderate Democrats, independents, or moderate Republicans make up a super-majority of the electorate, but have allowed ourselves to be divided and manipulated for years by the politics which Total is an advocate for. Not any more. This year is different, because the people in the middle have finally figured out who the real enemy is. Old style partisans had better adjust to these changes, or they are going to get hurt.

Every conversation I've had for years now with exactly these kind of voters indicates that the thing which they hate the most, at a deep visceral level, is your slash and burn approach to politics, and these voters are a plurality of the electorate

They say they do. And yet, year after year, decade after decade, negative campaigning works extremely well in politics.

This year is different, because the people in the middle have finally figured out who the real enemy is

Brave words. Wouldn't it be lovely if they were true?

Another observation:

Because of the very high interest level being generated by this primary season, I'm having an unusually large number of face-to-face conversations with friends, coworkers and other acquaintances that are either directly about politics or skirting it.

During these conversations I've noticed something, which is that people are really angry right now. You may not be hearing as much about it as you should, in part because of the very optimistic tone used by the Obama campaign thus far (and the media focus which this has attracted), but there is a very slow, deep and powerful undercurrent of anger building up in this country, which has not yet found a focus and an outlet. Not yet. It feels like a thunderstorm before the lightning strikes.

But I can see the beginnings of a consensus emerging recently, which is that extreme partisans of both parties are to blame for our current state of national peril. Republicans in particular are offering up this gambit as a way to deflect responsibility for the current state of affairs from their party and their own actions in supporting that party recently.

What is noticeable and different is that virtually all independents and many Democrats are accepting this interpretation rather than dispute it, perhaps because half a loaf is better than none, and throwing some partisan Democrats under the bus seems like a small price to pay for riding ourselves of the toxic waste wing of the GOP.

The other thing that I notice is that these discussions of "who is to blame" are starting to take on a very nationalistic coloring, in the sense that whoever is to blame for our problems is starting to be described not just as foolish or greedy, but as unpatriotic. The perception of inverted loyalties and treasonable intent is starting to attach itself to this narrative.

The long and the short of it is, there is a search for a national scapegoat going on right now, and extreme partisans are looking like they are going to be the ones picked, whether fairly or not, and it could get really, really ugly before this is over.

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