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January 20, 2008

Comments

hilzoy, I think you're as on-target as always, but I think that perhaps we're all suffering from a bit of the circular-firing-squad syndrome right now.

I don't say that as a way of assigning blame or judging anybody's arguments -- just that I don't think it's the quality or content of your point that's at issue so much as the fact that everybody seems to be seeing red right now, for some reason that I don't think I fully understand. In normal circumstances, I can't imagine people fairly characterizing you as "advocating inoffensiveness" with a straight face. I wouldn't take it too personally.

I did go on to say that I thought that a further problem with nominating Hillary Clinton is that we tend to respond defensively and angrily to attacks on her.

This is the frequently unrecognized flipside of Republican Clinton hatred - that Democrats are often irrational in their attempts to defend the Clintons, even when they don't deserve to be defended.

Speaking as an independent, this is part of what makes Hillary so unappealing to me.

Adam: I know what it is with me -- something, who knows what?, has shifted my existing anger over the war, and votes in favor of authorizing it, into overdrive. I don't suppose that the particular concern that drives me affects the blogosphere as a whole, though. I don't know what it is. I do know that there are some people who seem to me to be acting atypically.

Hilzoy, I think it's the immediacy of your own experience sharpening the distinction more. I also think there's a bunch of just plain bozo posting right at the moment. Obama is simply not the candidate I wish for, and I'm frustrated that I likely won't get a shot at a vote for one I'd favor more, and in the midst of that it's hard sometimes to properly weight his merits. I bet that's a common reaction, and some folks aren't being as self-skeptical about it.

For myself, I've twice deleted at the last minute posts here which would assuredly have gotten me banned (and deservedly so), this last week, and trashed several more that would at the least have gotten me stern warnings. All of them were war-related, and on the general theme of "was this worth it" revisited. It's not just you, that is to say.

hilzoy: "I do know that there are some people who seem to me to be acting atypically."

Xeynon: "This is the frequently unrecognized flipside of Republican Clinton hatred - that Democrats are often irrational in their attempts to defend the Clintons, even when they don't deserve to be defended."

These two comments together do drive a few things home for me. Speaking as a Democrat -- and as an Obama supporter who's very, very unhappy with the conduct of the Clinton campaign -- I do have a lot of sympathy for those who are defensive about attacks on the Clintons. I don't know that it's "rational," but it's certainly understandable, I think -- the way that the media has treated the Clintons for the last 15 years has been disgraceful, and in addition to that, there's a very good argument to be made that our leadership has been abysmal at responding to attacks in kind.

I can understand how many Democrats have developed an almost instinctual aversion to anything that they perceive as appeasement, and why Obama might be unpalatable to them on those terms. Personally, I disagree -- and I think that the distinction between the way that Clinton 'appeased' Bush on Iraq and the way that Obama 'appeased' Lugar and Coburn is telling. That is, I buy hilzoy's distinction between the good kind of bipartisanship and the bad kind. Frankly, I'm baffled by the characterization of Obama as a Republican shill, but I realize that rational minds can differ on this point -- and what do I know? I supported Gore in 2000, and Dean and Edwards in 2004, and we all know how that turned out.

I could very well turn out to be wrong -- it might be that I'm misjudging Obama's political skill in responding to the Clinton attacks (e.g., I thought the way he threaded the needle on the race issue was deft, to say the least -- I was terrified that neither campaign was going to pull us out of that little death spiral). I see the mien of the Clinton campaign's approach as heavy-handed at best, but maybe that's a plus, as some people certainly do believe. And perhaps the "she's already been attacked as much as she can be" argument is true, though I'm reluctant to ever sell the GOP attack machine short.

At the moment, I'm thinking that a lot of the positions being taken on the Dem Primaries are very deeply personal -- for hilzoy, it's about the war, and I that appears to crystallize for her many of the other issues; it shows Obama exercising judgment when it counted, and Hillary rolling over as a matter of political expediency. For me, it was his interview with the Gazette that contained that wildly-misquoted Reagan blurb; in that format, he was just so in-his-element, so in-control -- I'm perfectly willing to posit Obama as a real CEO President.

I've been COO to a number of CEOs, and Obama has "it". GWB doesn't. Obama will be a buried-in-the-policy-analysis President, a Pragmatist, and Hell -- he's from Inner Chicago. If he can get bill requiring full taped confessions of all violent crimals passed unanumously over the strong objections of the police union, then he shows me he knows how to get results when it happens.

You don't get your on the ground political training on the precincts of Chicago -- them's the school of hard knocks.

The real travesty of having Clinton in this campaign is that it's being turned into a referendum on the the Clintons and his Presidency, to the point where we don't even get to talk about the horrors that continue to face us trying to repair the damage that's been wrought two Bush years.

Hilzoy, the only thing I can guess at is that people paid no attention to the actual argument and just kind of confused you for Pelosi/Reid and the Congressional tactics of being concessionary and even defeatist rather than being confrontational.

So for a moment there, you became the butt of these people's angry desire for more combativeness in Democratic politics. A lot of Democrats these days want to start fighting and start winning. They feel a little humiliated being in the party that happily hangs its head in loss, a party that let itself be swiftboated, a party that seemed to let Republican operatives disrupt a ballot count in Florida, a party that had the majority of votes but still would not force the opposition into a humiliating filibuster.

I think this is part of the psychological toll of so many years of perceiving that your side has lost without a fight (not to mention that Republicans call into question the courage and patriotism and loyalty of Democrats all the time and have stayed for themselves this role of being the macho party).

I think that some Democrats, may be even subconsciously want to stick it to the Republicans as much as they want actually get things done.

I really think some of this is behind Hillary's support. The Clintons are nothing if not confrontational. And they make Republicans pull their hair out and seethe anger and throw temper tantrums like small children for God-knows-what-reason.

Alright, let me make an argument about HRC. I've thought this for awhile, but I haven't really mentioned it anywhere. Here's what I think:

(1) When Americans withdraw from Iraq, whenever that is, there will not be an unambiguous and widely held sense of victory.

A Democrat who withdraws is simply going to be blamed for withdrawing prematurely, for not giving our troops a chance to win the war, and for all the usual smears people concoct. This blame will stick with that Democrat and with the party for a long time, and will be used time and time again as evidence that Democrats are bad on national security issues, on toughness, on combating enemies, etc. The Republicans will simply seek every opportunity to try to shift blame for the war on the Democrats.

Now, I think Hillary has internalized this. And I've always thought this about the Clintons' political style:

(2) They will do what is best for themselves politically, regardless of its toll on others.

For this reason, I sincerely believe that Hillary is the least likely among the major candidates to withdraw. I think there's a fair chance that the other Democratic candidates might take the hit and do it. But I am almost certain Hillary would not do it in her first term. I think it will likely take a Republican to have the political cover to withdraw without being pilloried for it.

the way that the media has treated the Clintons for the last 15 years has been disgraceful

The media is hard on all politicians. They were hard on Gore. They were hard on Kerry. They're hard on Obama (witness the mindless parroting of the "he has no substance" charge). They're hard on Republicans too. Romney has been hammered for his flip-flopping. Bush was/is hammered for his youthful drug use, National Guard service, etc. I agree that the conduct of the media is often disgraceful, but from the middle of the political spectrum it doesn't look to me like their conduct toward particular candidates is disproportionately disgraceful. I don't think Hillary makes things any easier for herself with her paranoia and press-baiting either.

I think that the distinction between the way that Clinton 'appeased' Bush on Iraq and the way that Obama 'appeased' Lugar and Coburn is telling.

Is it even fair to compare those two things? The Iraq War vote was opposed by a lot of progressives, and certainly contra the party's traditionally dovish and diplomacy-oriented approach to foreign policy. Obama got a couple of Republicans to co-sponsor legislation that accomplished progressive goals. The first is either a principled break or an act of cowardly political appeasement, depending on your position on the war - but the second is just creative, productive lawmaking (i.e. the way things get done in any democracy). The charge of caving in to Republican positions on the issues is a lot more true of Clinton than it is of Obama. Obama says nice things about Republicans, but I don't see any evidence whatsoever that he has ever or will ever sell out his principles to them. I can't help but find it ironic that so many in the lefty blogosphere like to trumpet how they're "reality based", more about substance than style, see through flimsy political rhetoric, etc. yet are incapable of seeing through either Obama's purely rhetorical bipartisan appeals or the Clinton campaigns' evidence-free charges that he's a crypto-conservative.

I think that some Democrats, may be even subconsciously want to stick it to the Republicans as much as they want actually get things done.

I can't tell you how depressing I find this. Outside the committed left, I don't think anybody really wants this - most people are just looking for good, pragmatic, competent government. For what it's worth, I also think it's counterproductive to achieving progressive goals, if that's what you care about.

For this reason, I sincerely believe that Hillary is the least likely among the major candidates to withdraw.

I also wonder whether the fact that she's a woman may make her even more worried about being perceived as in any way soft on our enemies. She obviously sees her candidacy in historic terms, and I suspect she'd be more inclined to hawkishness just to discredit sexism of the "women aren't tough enough to be President" variety.

While I agree with this excellent analysis (and linked to your previous post) I have to say, I don't think that most Democratic voters are thinking nearly as long or as hard as those of us in the blogosphere are.

Democratic primary voters are a pretty traditional bunch, and they vote for the most traditional, establishment Dem on the ballot. They value experience, which they perceive Hillary to have, over anything else. There are always a few new primary voters, who come out in droves for a progressive candidate, but those droves just aren't big enough to win, usually. (The exceptions are when there are two establishment Dems in a race, and they beat each other up, as happened in Feingold's race in Wisconsin and in Obama's senate race.)

So while I love to read all this excellent analysis, the real way to convince anyone not to vote for Hillary is to knock her experience cred. The Obama campaign really needs to start looking at that, and ignore those on the "left" who think he's trying to emulate Reagan. Or else all those things you predict with a Hillary presidency will come true.

They're hard on Republicans too. Romney has been hammered for his flip-flopping. Bush was/is hammered for his youthful drug use, National Guard service, etc.

If I were to take a poll of, say, 100,000 people, how many do you think, based on how the media has treated these people, would believe each of the following statements?

1.) Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet.
1-A.) Al Gore made some statements about his role in advancing the development of the Internet in the US that were spun as a claim that he "invented" it.

2.) George W. Bush uncontroversially completed his National Guard service and was the victim of a scurrilous attack by Dan Rather, who was fired for his action.
2-A.) There are some major gaps in George W. Bush's record of NG service which are unexplained and which he appears to have publicly lied about.

3.) John Kerry faked some injuries to get a Purple Heart or three, and may have self-inflicted some of his wounds.
3-A.) John Kerry served in combat with distinction in Vietnam and was decorated several times, including with the Purple Heart.

So while I love to read all this excellent analysis, the real way to convince anyone not to vote for Hillary is to knock her experience cred.

Of course *if* she wins the primaries it will be very hard to convince people that they have to vote for her as president. Which is why 'she is good but he is better' is a better approach imho.

Nice one Phil. I was going to mention Bush's drug use when he was younger. I don't recall hearing nearly as much about Bush's probable cocaine use than I did about Clinton and his "didn't inhale" business.

Personally, I could care less about either case, but I was amazed that the Bush thing just went away quietly. Maybe I shouldn't have.

Republican attack politics

No doubt they are to come, but so far most of the nastiness I’ve seen has been blue on blue. So have all the claims of voting irregularities. I do admit to enjoying a bit of schadefreunde hearing Bill whine about unions pushing workers to vote for Obama.

I do however agree with your analysis here and in the previous post. And those who believe that HRC is the stronger candidate because Republicans have been demonizing her for years and there is nothing new are wrong IMO. For instance, some interesting things concerning her health plan are starting to trickle out via FIA requests.

What a lot of folks are not recognizing is that many Republicans really want HRC to be the Democratic candidate. You want a Republican in the WH for four more years? Go ahead and make HRC the Democratic candidate…

Once again, what I wanted to say, but better.

Thanks.

Now can we print this out and hand it out outside of the polling places?

I think that Bush's drug use was an issue, in that I wanted someone from our "liberal" media to ask him, "Governor Bush, you used illegal drugs when you were younger, and you came through that and got your life back on track. Do you think you would be better off today if you had spent some time in prison, which is the 'solution' you support for other drug users?"

I think Al probably would have gotten a great deal less flack if he'd said "I took the initiative in funding the development of the Internet", but the reality is the flack would have been delivered on other topics.

I actually watched that interview, and my first thought was "holy crap, Al just said he invented the Internet". Having been a frequent user since before Al became a senator (DARPANET days), it made me throw up in my mouth just a little. Not because he'd said that, but because it borrowed the halo from the people who actually made it work.

And, sure, you can argue that Al meant something different. The nice thing about non-political life is that you have plenty of time to go back and edit your resume, before sending it out.

The only explanation I can think of for the "reasoning" of the virulent anti-Obamas is that they are actually Republicans. I mean, what the heck do they think is going to be the logical outcome of their carping? Edwards isn't going to get the nomination. In part because they are joining forces with the HRC campaign and spreading HRC slams on Obama, the logical outcome of their Obama Derangement Syndrome is Hillary for our candidate.

And she is the one Democrat who stands a reasonable chance of losing.

They are helping to steer us toward the loser.

So Avedon Carol, some of the TalkLefties, taylor Marsh, etc, must secretly be Republicans.

Slartibartfast, link me to that interview.

I believe you're making that one up.

Here ya go.

"Who can forget this delightful statement from a few months ago?"

Anyone who was actually paying attention, and read the full, widely-discussed quote in the liberal blogosphere? Or anyone who, coming upon the quote later, looks at the source and has the minimally sophisticated blogging skills to wonder whether the WaPo reporter might be a hack and check?

More to the story.

Google is a wonderful thing. This is the first hit for "gore internet interview". The second hit is the CNN transcript.

That interview seems pretty vague to me. I did like this bit from the second page, though:

"Let me tell you where I stand on Social Security, and maybe that will explain where I stand on all the particulars," she said. "First of all, I reject the conventional wisdom and the Republican talking points that Social Security is in a crisis. I do not agree with that."

She said she would follow President Ronald Reagan's example by appointing a bipartisan commission to study the issue and avoid making her own recommendations until it reports back.

"I'm not advocating any of it as a presidential candidate or as a president," she said. "But I am strongly advocating a bipartisan process, similar to what we had in '83, and when that gets set up, as I hope it will be when I'm president, then I'm going to see what the bipartisan members are going to come up with."

So -- Reagan bad; using a Reagan-based approach to Social Security good. Got it.

Thank you, ral, that was a great article.

** That was in response to rilkefan's suggestion that the Clinton torture quote was out of context; I certainly don't see it, but I'd like to know more. I did think that part of the article was worth highlighting, though.

Also, I don't think that the point is really whether Al Gore did, in fact, invent the Internet -- I think that, for present purposes, it's that many Dems feel that it was unfair in the way it was presented and that they didn't hit back hard enough on it. At least, that's how I think it ties in to the current fracas.

Yes, that is a cool article. I hadn't read it in several years.

Hmm: TypePad thinks I'm spam. (And: yes, Gary, I know.) So, splitting y comment into two:

rilkefan: I read the bits Greg Sargent posted, if that's what you are referring to, and share Mark Kleiman's reaction.

Of course, it might have affected that reaction that I knew that HRC had not taken an unequivocal stance against torture in the past, though there is some question about whether or not she changed her mind. See, e.g., here and text (with actual audio!)

Sorry about my blogging skills. I will try to do better.

My 2 cents. It's not you. You're on target. BTD & Talk Left in general seem irrationally devoted to the DLC/HRC Inc. campaign.

garyb50, my pleasure.

OCSteve: What a lot of folks are not recognizing is that many Republicans really want HRC to be the Democratic candidate.

What a lot of Republicans are not recognising is that most people who never supported Bush don't care about what purports to be the electoral judgement of the folks who supported a loser in 2000 and 2004.

Any of the three frontrunners would make a good President. And, given a fair and free election, one of them will be. It's pointless trying to discuss which one would please Republicans: Republicans have demonstrated that they'll vote for a ham sandwich in a flight suit if it's marked (R) and comes with a big enough codpiece.

As a Hillary supporter, I am amazed how anti-Hillary left bloggers seem to be. Maybe you are convinced HIllary would lose because you tend to talk among yourselves and not to older people, women, Hispanics, poor people, union members, high school graduates. Bloggers come from the young, well-educated demographic group that Obama appeals to.

Given how pro-Obama OW seems to be, I hope you can reassure me about something. If HRC wins the nomination, will liberal bloggers be able to support the Democratic nominee sufficiently well to help her get elected?

I am disheartened by Obama's claims that he really won Nevada. After all his accusations of voting abuses, that seems disingenuous.

I am convinced that Obama might lose because he tends to shoot himself in the foot, e.g, Reagan, Repubicans, the party of ideas, etc. He doesn't yet get American presidential politics. Emphasis on his appeal to independents and Republicans clouds the fact that he isn't necessarily the Democratic favorite in the primaries.

Redstocking: of course. I supported John Kerry, of whom I thought a lot less. Likewise, Michael Dukakis. (*shudders*)

I mean, I used to work in the MA StateHouse when Dukakis was governor. I didn't know *him* -- I was a lowly intern, etc. -- but I saw him in action a lot. I thought he was smart, but had about as much political skills and vision and insight as my toaster. I had watched him shoot himself in the foot repeatedly, until he found John Sasso, who was his dark twin, doing the things Dukakis would never even think of doing himself; but Sasso had been forced out shortly before Dukakis won the nomination (it seems so quaint, in retrospect, that he was forced out b/c of the horrid scandal caused by the fact that he had passed out true info about another candidate to reporters.) So Dukakis was on his own. I had seen Dukakis in action in the pre-Sasso years. I was therefore wholly unsurprised by the various utterly ham-handed moments that followed.

Still, I supported him completely. The alternative (GHWB) was much worse, I thought.

Sure, Redstocking, but I think you are mistaking passion for X as animus against Y. And, when one runs on an inevitability platform, you are not going to fire up the people who are most hungry for change, which I think would define bloggers as a group.

Probably worth saying: right now, we are choosing a nominee. I believe -- and I know people here differ; I'm just reporting my own view -- that we are about to repeat the mistake we made when we nominated John Kerry. I very much want us not to.

If HRC is nominated, then I'll look at the GOP nominees, and -- well, there isn't a one of them who isn't, in my book, hugely worse than HRC. I mean, I think McCain is one of the better GOP candidates, but think about that quote about stimulus. Not to mention his "hundred year in Iraq" moments. How could I possibly not support Clinton, given that choice? And how could I possibly not just support her, but work hard to help her win?

I'm quite used to supporting candidates I think are non-optimal. I have been doing it my whole life. But that doesn't mean I won't also try to explain why I think we should choose a different nominee. Because I'd much rather support someone better.

Late to the discussion, but I have to point out that Clinton is quite a bit more progressive than Obama, that the importance of her vote on Iraq (yes, a mistake) has been grossly exaggerated, and that IMO the RW noise machine will shred Obama into little pieces but will not be able to do much to Clinton.

But the main point is that Clinton is more progressive in her policies than Obama, whose tendency to regurgitate the GOP concern-troll "bipartisan" garbage demonstrates poor judgment and poor leadership skills. The last thing we need is more centrism and walking on RW eggshells. Obama has fallen into this trap that has been proven such a disaster for the current Dem leadership. What we need is principled leadership and Clinton has that decisively over Obama, and, most importantly, has the pedigree to prove it. Obama would make a great VP though - he just needs some more chops. If you were hiring a lawyer to sue your HMO, would you hire someone with a few years' experience of practice, or a senior partner who has had 15 or 20 years of litigation experience?

We need a fighter - with demonstrated success in going up against the worst of the worst. Obama is alot of great things, but not that.

For the record I am currently an Edwards supporter.

Late to the discussion, but I have to point out that Clinton is quite a bit more progressive than Obama, that the importance of her vote on Iraq (yes, a mistake) has been grossly exaggerated, and that IMO the RW noise machine will shred Obama into little pieces but will not be able to do much to Clinton.

But the main point is that Clinton is more progressive in her policies than Obama, whose tendency to regurgitate the GOP concern-troll "bipartisan" garbage demonstrates poor judgment and poor leadership skills. The last thing we need is more centrism and walking on RW eggshells. Obama has fallen into this trap that has been proven such a disaster for the current Dem leadership. What we need is principled leadership and Clinton has that decisively over Obama, and, most importantly, has the pedigree to prove it. Obama would make a great VP though - he just needs some more chops. If you were hiring a lawyer to sue your HMO, would you hire someone with a few years' experience of practice, or a senior partner who has had 15 or 20 years of litigation experience?

We need a fighter - with demonstrated success in going up against the worst of the worst. Obama is alot of great things, but not that.

For the record I am currently an Edwards supporter.

I first voted in a presidential election in 1968, when I was 23. Remember I couldn't vote until I was 21. Of course I had hoped to vote for Bobby Kennedy. I believe I have been supporting nonoptimal candidates in the general election all my life. Actually, I would be more enthusiastic about either HRC or Obama than I usually am about the Democratic nominee and willing to work harder for either of them..

Liberal japonicus, I might very well be mistaking passion for Obama as animus against Hllary. I differ from many of you, not so much in your criticisms of Hillary, but in your enthusiam about Obama as the candidate of change. I would like them both on the ticket; their strengths complement each other. Whatever you think about Bill Clinton, he did utilize his vice president much more than presidents usually do.

Redstocking, I think you're following an inaccurate stereotype about the age of bloggers and the blogosphere. We're not generally a bunch of 20-somethings (and some of the most most anti-Obama folks in the blogosphere are the ones who are younger). A MyDD survey in 2006 showed a median age of 46 for Democratic blog activists.

Hilzoy may be younger than you are, but she's hardly a kid, and it would be a strange demographic analysis that would classify her (or me) as "young".

"As a Hillary supporter, I am amazed how anti-Hillary left bloggers seem to be."

hilzoy, didn't you once comment on this blog that you were pleased to see an anti-Clinton argument, because you were looking for reasons to vote against her? It's in that context that I wonder why you're knowingly quoting in emphasis the deceptive analysis of some hack reporter and not, "I think we have to draw a bright line and say ‘No torture – abide by the Geneva conventions, abide by the laws we have passed,' and then try to make sure we implement that." Which makes "delightful" seem pretty sad to me. As to Kleiman's "I get to read as uncharitably as I want when it concerns HRC" update, I have to assume he was busy that day and couldn't be bothered to read that article about the WWII interrogators HRC cites.

[JFTR I stopped reading Kleiman when he posted some private criticism I made of one of his posts (which on the basis of an anecdotal opinion made sweeping generalizations) without permission and without context.]

I think rather than age (since bloggers overall aren't young), the explanation for the lower level of support for Clinton is that the average Democratic blogger or commenter is more liberal than the average Democratic voter.

I think the Clinton supporters really are defensive of the Democratic brand after years of slime politics directed at the Clintons and the party that only Bill Clinton has represented in the Oval Office for the past 27 years. So they are angry, determined and eager to show how to beat the Republicans at their own game.

Trouble is, they are practicing that low sort of politics on another fine Democrat. That behavior is not exactly 'principled leadership' of the sort that attracts folks to the Democractic party.

"What a lot of Republicans are not recognising...."

"It's pointless trying to discuss which one would please Republicans...."

The problem with this sort of analysis is that it -- again -- treats Republicans as if they were all homogenous clones, of identical mind, rather than individuals of different minds, on a spectrum.

It treats people like OCSteve, Ron Paul, John Boehner, and Lincoln Chafee, as if they all think identically, hold the same positions, and are equally reasonable to deal with on all subjects.

The problem with this analysis is that it has little to do with reality.

It therefore tends to lack usefulness in this reality.

"Republicans have demonstrated that they'll vote for a ham sandwich in a flight suit if it's marked (R) and comes with a big enough codpiece."

Some Republicans have demonstrated that.

The difference between "some" and "all" is large.

"Bloggers come from the young, well-educated demographic group that Obama appeals to."

I'm 49, and Hilzoy is around my age. Generalizations, especially inaccurate generalizations, aren't terribly useful unless they're applicable.

Similarly, a claim that "left bloggers" are "anti-Hillary"... well, cite, please, to your source to support that claim? What poll are you pointing to, to support such a claim of fact?

I assume you have a cite, because an unsupportable opinion about a question of fact isn't useful to productive discussion. If it's not supportable, it merely muddies the discussion with something that isn't demonstrable true. Facts are useful to discuss, and it's important to be able to distinguish them from feelings and impressions and opinions we pull from... places we can't cite.

"I am disheartened by Obama's claims that he really won Nevada."

"Won" is meaningless absent definition. Obama won the most delegates (at this round, apparently); Clinton had the largest number of overall voters at the end. These seem to be facts; "really" won is a meaningless term, undefined. Debating "what does 'really' mean?" doesn't strike me as a good use of time, but that's me.

"...clouds the fact that he isn't necessarily the Democratic favorite in the primaries."

I'm as interested in the caucuses. But who the favorite is is, last I looked, the point of the contest.

And Democrats don't exist as platonic ideals. Democrats are people who vote for a Democrat in an election. Whomever they vote for is the Democratic favorite.

Attempting to claim that some people aren't sufficiently Democratic or aren't "real" Democrats would require defining "real" Democrts, and establishing a test to distinguish them from non-"real" Democrats, non-platonic Democrats.

This is, I think, a highly destructive and insupportable view of American politics.

I stand corrected on the age of bloggers. Older women are almost certainly underrepresented. I have taught about the Internet and computers for the last 15 years as a librarian, and older women need the most coaxing to actually sit down at the computer. It always astonishes me how many people over 40 fear the library online catalog (not that most of them are sterling examples of user-friendly software).

KCinDC, you are probably right about the average Democratic voter. At the very least, they would be more likely to disown the liberal label.

"the explanation for the lower level of support for Clinton is that the average Democratic blogger or commenter is more liberal than the average Democratic voter."

More liberal, more of a political junkie & thus are evaluating her entire Senate career instead of her talent for copying John Edwards' policy proposals when it's politically convenient to do so, & more bitter about Iraq.

that said, while bloggers are not a bunch of 20somethings, they are younger on average than the Democratic primary electorate. Clinton's advantage with people over 65 is about as pronounced as Obama's advantage with people under 30, & over-65 is definitely underrepresented online.

KathyF: "the real way to convince anyone not to vote for Hillary is to knock her experience cred."

Yeah, right - knock Hillary's 'experience cred' - which means knocking the previous Clinton administration's accomplishments (one of the main selling points to reelect another Democratic administration) and thereby undermine Democratic chances in the upcoming presidential elections.

Or doesn't the term 'shooting yourself in the foot' ring a bell?

If O'Bama wants to do what's best for the country, he should remove his skinny little rump from the race, and wait his turn another eight years, during which time he can season his own meager record with some 'real voting cred' instead of undermining our chances to evict the Neo-Nitwit Republicans from the executive office for the next 16 years.

OCSteve: "You want a Republican in the WH for four more years? Go ahead and make HRC the Democratic candidate…"

You want a Republican in the WH for four more years? Go ahead and let Obama whittle away and antagonize the Black vote against the Clintons in the upcoming election.

And BTW- the Democratic candidate isn't HRC - it's HBC (Hill-Bill Clinton) - another reason to vote Democratic: because you get a two-fer-one presidency.

Shredder, I think you're misunderstanding Obama's bi-partisanship. As Hilzoy said, he's bi-partisan in a good way. That is, without compromising on his ideas and policies, but working successfully across the board on a particular issue to get things done. Heck, just read the link to another of her posts half way down this post

And Hillary doesn't have the huge amount of experience she always prides herself on. Can someone tell me where that is coming from?

There is no "bright line", Clinton is deliberately vague on torture:

Clinton was similarly vague about how she would handle special interrogation methods used by the CIA. She said that while she does not condone torture, so much has been kept secret that she would not know unless selected what other extreme measures interrogators are using, and therefore could not say whether she would change or continue existing policies.

Compare and contrast with Obama:

White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Thursday condemned the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation techniques and said the Bush administration’s reported authorization of such methods “is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security.” (...) "torture is not a part of the answer — it is a fundamental part of the problem with this administration's approach" (...) [it is] "time to stop telling the American people one thing in public while doing something else in the shadows."

If you're against torture, you're backing the wrong candidate.

Jes: It's pointless trying to discuss which one would please Republicans…

It’s please as in some folks feel that it would be easy for the Republican candidate, whoever that turns out to be, to beat HRC. I think its NRO where I have seen them salivating at the prospect of her winning the nomination. HRC probably represents the Republican’s last best hope at retaining the WH and possibly winning back control of Congress. I think that Obama scares the daylights out of these folks.

And Jay Jerome, it's Obama not O'Bama. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think he's Irish. (Hell he may be, he seems to have a little bit of everything :-) )

No, you see, the newest slur is that Obama is a closet Irishman.

"And Jay Jerome, it's Obama not O'Bama. Correct me if I'm wrong,"

Thy will be done. (See addendum.)

OCSteve: It’s please as in some folks feel that it would be easy for the Republican candidate, whoever that turns out to be, to beat HRC.

My impression is, given the relative turnouts for the D and R primaries, and given how the present Republican administration has disgraced itself and how none of the Republican candidates have made the slightest attempt to put any distance between themselves and the Bush administration: that it wouldn't be easy for any Republican candidate to win this year. Presuming a free and fair election. In the 2004, if you recall, the exit polls showed a Kerry victory by about 5%: it appeared that even the worst the Bush/Cheney campaign could do to slime him couldn't make a majority of those who voted prefer Bush to Kerry. Only vote-rigging could achieve a Republican victory in 2004. and I think the best odds are that only vote-rigging can achieve a Republican victory in 2008.

This should not be taken as an endorsement for Clinton or for either of the other two candidates: I'm rather strenuously trying not to do that.

Gary, that was a laughing out loud moment for me. Thanks =)

I propose that for this election, we don't bother with the vote-counting, and have the winner of the exit poll take all. Who's with me?

Ten seconds of googling yields:

'Lee Feinstein, national security director for Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign, said the New York Democrat's position is unchanged: "She believes that waterboarding is torture, it's wrong and it's unlawful."'

To quote the post, we know about waterboarding.

Jay Jerome: "If O'Bama wants to do what's best for the country, he should remove his skinny little rump from the race, and wait his turn another eight years, during which time he can season his own meager record with some 'real voting cred' instead of undermining our chances to evict the Neo-Nitwit Republicans from the executive office for the next 16 years."

Possibly some actual arguments about, for instance, how his record stacks up against his opponents' would be more productive than comments about various bodily parts. At least, assuming you do not think that the skinniness of those parts is actually a disqualification for office.

Katherine, I think 's HRC's appeal to older women starts around 35-40, not 65. I would think women who have children, are beginning to anticipate the children/aging parents crunch might be more inclined to support a mother for president. Exit polls don't bother to ask how many voters are mothers.

By the time women are 40, they have learned how many battles feminism have yet to win.

We know about waterboarding. We don't know about black sites themselves, sensory deprivation, or rendition. There's a lot of tea leaf reading going on on the torture issue among the candidates but I have paid close attention for quite a while & I trust him much, much, much more.

"he should remove his skinny little rump from the race"

I guess this doesn't violate the posting rules - I'm going to assume there isn't some racist overtone - but it's not welcome here in my unprivileged view.

not good enough

I was referring to Clinton on torture

“Democratic Values.”

“Playing to Win.”

From what I’ve observed, modern “Democratic Values” basically boil down to throwing out the Founding Fathers’ vision of a Republic governed by landowner-elected representatives, and replacing it with a one-man, one-vote democracy.

Those promoting “Democratic Values” have been successful and have moved our little experiment to the point where a sliver of the electorate pays the great majority of the taxes, and over half of the population is now on some sort of government assistance. It’s a real good deal for the downtrodden, who trip over themselves trying to get into the Country and onto assistance (life can suck here in Central America, wages are $3/day when you can find work).

It’s a winning hand for the Democratic Party, for sure. From here on out.

Now what’s that that Moodys was saying about downgrading the US credit rating to AA? They couldn’t just do it outright or history might have assigned them some of the blame. And nobody want’s to be blamed. Had to warn the government to tighten the belt a couple of notches. You know, or else.

Obama in 2008, because I’m for change too.

rilkefan: "didn't you once comment on this blog that you were pleased to see an anti-Clinton argument, because you were looking for reasons to vote against her?"

Um, I don't recall doing so, and offhand it seems out of character, but given how many things I have said on this blog, one way or another, it's certainly possible.

Bill wrote, Those promoting “Democratic Values” have been successful and have moved our little experiment to the point where a sliver of the electorate pays the great majority of the taxes,...

Really? The great majority of all taxes? Including payroll, state, and local?

Cite, please.

...and over half of the population is now on some sort of government assistance.

LOL!

The biggest beneficiaries of government are now, just as they were centuries ago, landowners, because government gives them title to income arising from land, income they didn't do anything to earn in their role as landowners.

When you factor in other government-enforced rent-collection opportunities, like mineral collection on federal lands, use of electromagnetic spectrum for less than it's worth, government-granted and -enforced copyrights and patents, it's pretty clear that government these days distributes income up the wealth ladder, not down.

The thing that's confusing me most, I think, is how people seem so willing to talk theory between the elections, but as soon as they have actual candidates in front of them, instantly revert to form.

I mean, for the last 8 years, I've thought about little else besides the importance of, e.g.: reframing the political vocabulary from the Goldwater/Reagan "big/small government" dichotomy; crossover appeal in rural areas, in particular because the Electoral College over-represents rural voters; crossover appeal to independents; electing someone who'll be a public face to the party, since as far as actual governance, it's the appointments that matter and those will tend to be similar under any Democratic President; problems with bringing new voters into the party; inability to connect with blue-collar voters, particularly in the Midwest; weakening African-American support because they're continually seen as taken-for-granted; etc.

To my mind, Obama comes out ahead on all of the above, in some cases quite quantifiably (e.g. rural voters and crossover appeal).

In other cases, it seems to me that all of the previous discussions go out the window whenever they could be applied to reality (e.g., the reframing-Reagan move that Obama made was, I thought, exactly the right note that we've long been aiming for, but he was quickly lambasted for it, though he carefully avoided mentioning specific policies and even spun it into a critique of trickle-down economics and connected it to JFK's similar reframing).

Now, maybe I'm wrong about Obama being the best candidate in these regards, but in any event the disturbing thing is that these discussions seem to be taking place in a mirror world where the last 8 years never happened. The election is somehow a referendum on the Clintons, rather than George W. Bush. (It's also disturbing that Bush fell off the radar so quickly amidst this infighting.)

I've always felt that it was publius who either introduced me to or best explained many of the above concepts back at Legal Fiction, and so here at ObWi I often find myself absentmindedly wondering why none of us are trying to make these connections explicitly anymore.

Everyone on the left is acting... strange. There's no other way for me to put it, because I can't pin it down. I feel like all of us need to go back and read what we wrote or read in the Bush years and try to honestly evaluate how well the current candidates stack up when evaluated outside the current environment of intra-party rancor. People took sides on all this way faster than I'd ever imagined they would.

novakant: "not good enough"

All I've seen is that she used to have a non-perfect public stance on the sophomore-dorm-room hypo of a ticking h-bomb and that she's running for election. But

NewsMax, 2005:
'2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is complaining about Vice President Dick Cheney's defense of U.S. interrogations tactics used on terrorist suspects, saying they amount to "torture."

In her latest fundraising letter, Clinton declares, "When Republicans strengthened control of the White House and Congress last year, we knew it would be bad - we just didn't know it would be this bad, this fast."'

"Who knew Vice President Cheney would start lobbying for the right to torture?" she adds.'

HRC last June:

"I voted against the Military Commissions Act because I believe we have to stand for the rule of law before the world, especially when we are under threat. Democrats and Republicans alike believe that terrorists have to be caught, captured, sentenced, punished, killed. I believe there should be no mercy for those who perpetrated 9-11 and other crimes against humanity. But in the process of accomplishing what is essential for our security we must hold onto our values and set an example we can point to with pride and not shame.

The bill allowed the admission into evidence of statements derived from cruel, inhumane, and degrading interrogations. Will our enemies be less likely to surrender? Will informants be less likely to come forward? Will our soldiers be more likely face torture themselves if captured? Will the information we obtain be less reliable? As Lieutenant [General] John F. Kimmons, the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence has said, "No good intelligence is going to come from abusive interrogation practices." Allowing coercive treatment and torturous actions toward prisoners violates the rule of law, fails in intelligence gathering, and promotes radicalization."


Above Katherine says Obama is better on this issue and I won't presume to dispute her: but I think HRC is in fact good enough.

re: Obama's skinny rump:

hilzoy: "At least, assuming you do not think that the skinniness of those parts is actually a disqualification for office."

Not a disqualification, but in recent times an impediment to be elected:

2004: Bush (fatter rump) vrs Kerry (skinnier rump): skinny rump lost the race.
2000: Bush (skinnier rump) vrs Gore (fatter rump). Again, the fatter butt (Gore) won the popular vote, but lost in the courts. Ralph Nader (3rd Party skinniest rump) came in last.
1996: Dole (chuck-steak rump) vrs Clinton (chunkier pot-roast rump): and Clinton won by a lard-slide.
1992: Clinton (ibid) vrs Bush-1 (stringy bbq rump): and Clinton won the high cholesterol voter count.

This of course augers well in the 2008 elections for the Clintons: Hillary on her own out-buttocks any of the likely Republican candidates; and if you add Bill into the voting mix, Democrats will be unbeatable. ie: the more corpulent the candidate(s), the higher the vote count.

Therefore Obama should do us all a favor and withdraw from the race, and spend the next 8 years eating double-cheeseburgers at McDonald's or Wendy's or -- more appropriately In-And-Out Burger--

No, she's really not good enough. Neither she nor Obama is good enough about accountability for past abuses; I think he probably is good enough going forward, but she isn't.

Having said that, the reason I fundamentally trust him so much more than her--even more than reading their remarks on torture & following their advisors, though I've done that plenty--is: Obama is willing to trust the electorate enough to make moral arguments to them & is very good at doing so persuasively. I don't think she is, & God knows her husband isn't.


By the way, it will come as no surprise that when you invite Obama to Ebeneezer Baptist church on the day before MLK day, he will give a lovely speech. Nevertheless: this is a lovely speech. Much better than his Iowa victory speech, which I found overrated.

"NewsMax, 2005:"

It's nice that Senator Clinton got a piece of a fund-raising letter (two whole sentences) out of the torture issue, but I have to say that I regard the vote against the MCA as a touch more of a blow for freedom and justice.

On a non-political note, I'd like to tell Senator Clinton, in response to "Democrats and Republicans alike believe that terrorists have to be caught, captured," that I agree, am agreeable, and find myself in agreement.

Let us go forward, in advancement, in a forward direction, in agreeable agreement, as we agree, together, all of us, at the same place and the same time, joined in togetherness, altogether, united, not just one at a time, but as we, the people, each and everyone of us, neither alone or without others.

For example, publius and Kevin Drum are objectively pro-Reagan.

because government gives them title to income arising from land, income they didn't do anything to earn in their role as landowners

I'm wondering what you're referring to, here. Explain, please.

Your point about Obama and Social Security is ass-backwards. Both candidates agree there is maybe a SS problem (future deficit in the program). A tax increase on the top six percent of wage-earners -- Obama's proposal -- is one way to fix the problem, such as it is. If like Clinton you rule out tax increases, THERE IS NO OTHER "FIX" EXCEPT CUTTING BENEFITS. The fact that it would come from a "bipartisan commission" is irrelevant. The fact that HRC doesn't own up to it is just another proof of her mendacity.

Obama is the progressive on SS, relatively speaking.

It's only mostly dead, Max.

" 'because government gives them title to income arising from land, income they didn't do anything to earn in their role as landowners'


I'm wondering what you're referring to, here. Explain, please."

Sounds like geolibertarianism, Henry George, the land tax, etc...

Here's one link

I, for instance, wouldn't scream too loudly if the tax cap were removed, and the benefits kept as if the cap were still in place. I don't know how such a thing could work, though.

Granted, I'm affected much less by such a policy than some other folks, but I am affected nonetheless.

I propose that for this election, we don't bother with the vote-counting, and have the winner of the exit poll take all. Who's with me?

What was the SF short story where one American, chosen as the typical average citizen, got to pick the entire government? I vote we go with that.

"What was the SF short story where one American, chosen as the typical average citizen, got to pick the entire government?"

Isaac Asimov's "Franchise."

Katherine's non-existent link above is here I think.

Asimov satirically extrapolated from the use of Univac to "predict" Eisenhower's victory in 1952 (not exactly a dramatic demonstration, given the margin of victory -- a successful prediction of the sort of cliffhangers 1948 or 1960 were would have been better conditions, but I digress), and the growth of polling to predict outcomes of elections, to draw his picture of a future where a single citizen is sufficient to deduce with absolute certainty how the populace would have voted overall, and thus making the actual election unnecessary (hi, Slart!).

But since the story was written in 1954, the genius super-computer Multivac still communicates via punch cards.

"the 2004, if you recall, the exit polls showed a Kerry victory by about 5%: it appeared that even the worst the Bush/Cheney campaign could do to slime him couldn't make a majority of those who voted prefer Bush to Kerry. Only vote-rigging could achieve a Republican victory in 2004."

I don't recall that.

I'm just taking a pretty wild guess here, Sebastian, but my guess is that since it only makes sense to speak of individual state results in our elections, that Jesurgislac is specifically referring to Ohio in the 2004 election.

It's a more credible claim than referring to national exit poll results, at any rate.

Those promoting “Democratic Values” have been successful and have moved our little experiment to the point where a sliver of the electorate pays the great majority of the taxes,has more wealth than the rest of the electorate combined . . .

Fixed.

Bill Clinton's position on this matter is actually more extreme than Alan Dershowitz'.

Is Hillary willing to publicly contradict him and shut him out of her campaign unless he changes his mind?

Bill Clinton's position on this matter is actually more extreme than Alan Dershowitz'.

Is Hillary willing to publicly contradict him and shut him out of her campaign unless he changes his mind?

Wow. I can't believe I'd never seen that before. That is just... eew. Eeew. Not cool at all. Wow. I need to go process that.

novakant, HRC publicly disagreed with that stance (which as described in your link is directed at the Bush admin claim that such actions are likely/necessary - see ""But I think if you go around passing laws that legitimize a violation of the Geneva Convention and institutionalize what happened at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, we're gonna be in real trouble") in hilzoy's linkage above:

'Should there be a presidential exception to allow torture in that kind of situation?" moderator Tim Russert of NBC asked during the debate held at Dartmouth College.

"As a matter of policy it cannot be American policy, period," Clinton responded.'

Perhaps Obama should avoid social security insolvency and parallels to transformative change, in comparing himself and the present moment to Ronald Reagan and his moment, since some people fear buzz-words, if I understand punditry at all. Perhaps he should resort to the Clintonian and Rovian rhetoric of division and pie-in-the-sky fantasy, but then he would not be who Obama clearly is: A Bold Leader.

If change is to come about, it will not be replacing twiddle dee with twiddle dum, GWB with Hilary. Despite the improbable win, should it happen, guarantees four more years of the same. The "talking head" will wear pant suits instead of Brooks Brothers. I trust we are not voting for the best Drag Queen, but a national leader.

From what I’ve observed, modern “Democratic Values” basically boil down to throwing out the Founding Fathers’ vision of a Republic governed by landowner-elected representatives, and replacing it with a one-man, one-vote democracy.

Actually, the expansion of the voting franchise began long before the modern period. Even given that, all I have to say is "What took us so damned long?"

It's time to let go of the vision of a republic made up of sturdy yeomen farmers and/or aristocratic men of property. Unless, of course, we all want to return to being a nation of sturdy yeomen farmers and/or aristocratic men of property.

Any hands go up? Even yours, Bill? My guess is not.

We don't live in the same world the founders did. Maybe that makes you wistful, maybe that makes you stand up and cheer. Either way, it ain't the same world.

All things considered, I think we're better off.

Those promoting “Democratic Values” have been successful and have moved our little experiment to the point where a sliver of the electorate pays the great majority of the taxes, and over half of the population is now on some sort of government assistance.

Your first point is factually false, unless the only taxes you care to include are federal income tax.

Your point about "government assistance" has some merit, except it's probably way more than half, and the demographic involved is perhaps not exactly the one you have in mind.

Thanks -

Jes: it wouldn't be easy for any Republican candidate to win this year.

Well, no. There is no way in heck that they should. Mark my words though, if HRC is the D candidate they actually might. That is the only way possible IMO.

I have a former boss who is a rabid right-wing Republican. Now retired, he sends me several emails each day with (usually vile) attacks on leading Democrats- Hillary Clinton, Obama, Pelosi. Thus, I have a pretty good statistical sample of the mud the Republicans are planning to sling.

I have noticed a distinct difference. In the emails that slime Hillary Clinton, there is almost always an element of truth. She tried to steal publicly-owned furniture when she left the White House? Basically true. Firing the White House travel office personnel? Legal, but ugly, and she clearly lied about it. Representing companies regulated by the state government of Arkansas, when the regulatory agencies' chiefs were appointed by her husband? At best, a horrendous conflict of interest. Sympathetic, while in law school, to Black Panthers who had committed a torture-murder? There is actual evidence for that.

The anti-Obama emails, however, are all a major stretch. A hate filled Muslim who attended a madrassa? CNN has documented that Obama's elementary school was not a madrassa, and twenty years in a black Christian church says "not Muslim". Halfrican? Don't even go there. He should leave his church because of the award to Farrakhan? People will remember how many Roman Catholics support gay rights and contraception without leaving their church (including me).

Bottom line: to demonize Obama, the right wing noise machine has to resort to "stretch" tactics that make them look ridiculous, and which many uncommitted voters will see through. The smears on Clinton often contain an element of truth- which will make even untrue smears seem credible.

Hilzoy's post is totally on target.

"That is the only way possible IMO."

You neglect, among many other scenarios I could suggest, the Kang and Kodos intervention possibility.

You earthlings always underestimate Kang and Kodos. It will be your undoing.

Point taken, rilkefan, let's just hope that this is an honest reversal of the position she held only a year ago and that she has really set her hubby straight as announced in the interview.
I don't have anything in particular against Hillary, they're all liars after all, but I deeply distrust her both on this issue and on foreign policy in general and I don't think I'm alone. Maybe the Clinton campaign should do more to assuage these fears.

In the emails that slime Hillary Clinton, there is almost always an element of truth.

Yep, despite the denials of some on the left. The fact that not just rabid Republicans but also a great number of moderates and independents (and even some Democrats) find her distasteful = clue?

I agree with OCSteve. As of now, I'd say the odds are >80% our next President is a Democrat. If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, those drop to 50-50, and if the Republicans nominate McCain, I think it's more than likely they win.

The anti-Obama emails, however, are all a major stretch.

Indeed. And a lot of fair-minded Republicans I know realize that.

Thanks for the explanation, Donald. Amazing how widely varied political species are.

Any of Hillary's other shortcomings aside, I think that not much will reactivate the right and center-right so much as the prospect of Hillary in the White House. OTOH Obama is not nearly as provocative, so I can see how some might be trying to knock him off early.

Political game of Survivor, more than anything else. Me, I'd just as soon run the strongest from both parties against each other and see what happens.

Me, I'd just as soon run the strongest from both parties against each other and see what happens.

Now there's an idea. Unfortunately, the bases of both parties favor partisan verve and ideological orthodoxy in their candidates, and partisan verve and ideological orthodoxy are not the best attributes for an actual sitting President to have. Hence the strongest candidates usually fail to get nominated.

McCian can beat HRC. I have been hunting all over but I can't find the linnk, but yesterday I read a summation of poll data on head to head races for President. There were six to eight polls and all had McCain beating HRC. He is likely to win because he appeals to independents and she doesn't.

For some reason Democratic primary participants can't get it through their thick heads that they aren't choosing a President--they are choosing a candidate. In order for the candidate to get elelcted the candidate has to be appealing to people who are not present at theprimaries. That's whhy all this talk about "Which one is the best? (meaning which one is clossest to what I want?) is so self-indulgent.

The formula for winnningthe Presidency is base+ enough independents to get a majority in enough states. Typically independents say that they don't vote for the party, but rather for the person. In real life terms this often means that they watdh TV, get an impression of personality and vote for the candidaate who seems like a person they like. This is why there were voters in NH that dithered between McCain and Obama. This is also why HRC is quite likely to lose: she'll get her base but not enough of the independent vote.

That's why electability needs to be the subject of discussion, not the differences in style, the trivail differences in policy proposals or this whole nonsensical argument over which candidate will be the bringer of change. Change will only happen if the Deomcrat actualllly wins.

I will vote, if I have to , for Hillary, but I would not put money on her chances of winning.

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