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March 08, 2008


The Boston Globe story is the perfect illustration of what I most dislike about Hillary: she is perfectly willing to make stuff up as it suits her purposes. This is worse than the other methods politicians have of shading themselves (vagueness and evasiveness) because you are left never knowing what to believe, and wondering how much of this falsehood becomes truth to the person telling it (see Bush, GW).

"The obvious downside to making this case is the inconvenient fact that she actually doesn't have extensive foreign policy experience. She must, therefore, be gambling that people won't notice this..."

I think this misses the point. It doesn't matter whether people believe she has experience, since it is virtually possible for her to win the nomination anyway. The only practical effect of this attack is to weaken Obama's support in the general election amongst the democrats who respect Clinton's opinion. Given senator Clinton's obvious intelligence, I have to assume that this is intentional.

Is this 3am call scenario something that actually happens, or is it more likely to be a secret knock on the door or something. Maybe a flashing strobe light over the door to the bat cave? Anyway, we all saw how Bush handled his "3am" moment in 2001, and if that doesn't scare people nothing will.

I think you're right, hilzoy, about why the Clinton campaign chose to go hard on *experience* against Obama. But any assumption on Clinton's part that reality would go unnoticed or uncommented upon demonstrates that --urp-- she's not very credible as a *judgment* candidate either. Did she think her international friends and "colleagues" would back up her exaggerations?

it's really amazing that her supporters find any substance at all in her. as i see her, she's a hollow shell of a candidate. her self-proclaimed experience, in nearly every case, is imaginary.

Oh, Jay Jerome will be along momentarily to lecture us all on the fact that what Hillary says about her involvement in these matters doesn't have to be completely true, and in fact can be completely false, as well as the ideas behind the statements are sound.

Or that it doesn't really matter what her experience is, and she's perfectly entitled to lie about it, because it's going to be a Hillary-Bill co-presidency, and she'll have the benefit of his experience.

Or something. I'm sure there's some excuse.

The biggest misjudgment in these statements, I believe, is the Clinton campaign's apparent disregard for their impact on Obama supporters. I don't mean the "now I won't vote for X" comments running rampant on the blogs these days. Frankly, I've seen some ardent supporters of each candidate make these statements, but November is a long way off and I believe most will rethink things when emotions cool down, even if only a little.

That said, by crossing a line in many Obama supporters' minds about legitimate "tough" campaigning against a fellow Democratic candidate, I believe the Clinton campaign has killed any chance of harnessing Obama's phenomenal fundraising and volunteer organization. When it's all said and done, if Clinton gets the nomination many Obama supporters will vote for her even if they have to hold their noses. But they won't donate and they won't volunteer. And boy does she need them.

Can anyone -- anyone anywhere -- anyone in the media -- who talks about Clinton winning the nomination draft up a scenario as to how that might actually happen?

DailyKos pointed out that if HRC and Obama split the delegates from here out that Obama would be just about a third of the superdelegates to clinch the nomination. He might lose the superdelegate count, but I do not think it is likely he will lose it at that margin.

Merely the off chance that he has a meltdown is not enough to justify her staying in the race. After all, he can have a meltdown with her candidacy suspended, and there is simply no other person the nomination is going to. So it to be something more than that. It has to be a meltdown provoked by her campaigning and by her attacks.

Her only real shot is to hope for some kind of total meltdown which she provoked, but it seems like childishness to stay in the race at the cost of bloodying up your eventual nominee just on the outside chance of possibly landing a knockout blow. This is, after all, the *party* nomination. I assumed there was a certain structure to all our motivations, and that ultimately Democrats wanted to win in November. But I guess we are not motivated in the ways I thought we were.

You know, she probably just observed that no other Democrat had ever been gotten in trouble for being pinned as an "exaggerator". I mean, that's reasonable. Oh. Wait.

"Tested and vetted" my f**t.

("had ever been gotten", in case you were wondering, is an editorial transitional fossil. Somewhere between "had ever gotten in trouble" and "had ever been pinned". Sigh.)

KRK: There are convincing reasons for Democrats to vote for McCain over Clinton, if they care about withdrawal from Iraq. I've made this argument for a while. Andrew Sullivan is now making it too.

Yes, I honestly believe that the Man of 1,000 years of War is more likely to pull us out of Iraq than HRC, and I've thought that long before she demonstrated the extremes that her selfishness would take her to.

Ara, I've heard RealClearPolitics has a scenario for HRC winning, but I never cared enough to go look it up.

Ara, I don't mean to suggest that no Obama supporters would vote for McCain or (more likely in my opinion) not vote for president. This would certainly happen. I just don't think the majority of Obama supporters would do so. I also believe that some Clinton supporters would vote for McCain or sit it out if Obama is the Democratic candidate. But, again, not a majority.

I do believe, however, that given the past few weeks the majority of Obama supporters would draw the line at funding/working for the Clinton campaign even if they're willing to vote for her. That's all I'm trying to say. The Clinton campaign seems to be assuming that they would get most of Obama's votes. I'm suggesting that even if that were true to a large extent (though they'll never get all), they wouldn't get his donations or volunteers. And it was a big mistake on their part to discount this.

The key thing for the Obama campaign to hone in on out of all this is Sinbad.

Yes, Sinbad.

Sheryl Crow is also amusing, but not nearly as funny as Sinbad. It's the perfect symbol of the hollowness of these claims - her big example of her foreign policy experience is a trip that she took with Sinbad.

The one-line answer to Hillary's crack that Barack Obama has nothing to offer but his record of getting it right on Iraq: in 1940, the Brits turned to Winston Churchill, although he had (arguably) only got one thing really right in his political career; he had always been right about Hitler.

Sometimes, you only have to get one thing right.

Please forgiven me for being long winded. i got a new computer (that I can see!) so I'm like a kid with a new toy.

Anyway for what it's tworth, this is what I think about Hilary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton was one of the people who got shot squarely in the head during the Rove/Atwood polarization campaign. The right threw everything at her: lesbian, murderer, shrew, bitch, unprincipled self-serving hyper ambitious…and eventually they convinced about half the electorate that she was the worst thing since Medusa.

When this campaign started the worst I believed about her is this: I believed (and still do) that she voted for the war out of moral cowardice . She knew very well that Bush was lying. Heck, I knew and I’m nobody.

The first glimmer I got of her selfishness was in during her last run for the Senate. I got fundraising letters from her about monthly. It bugged me a little at the time that she was seeking dollars nationally for her absolutely safe seat, when there were so many under funded Democrats in close races who needed the money more that she did. Later on, when MyDD initiated a campaign to get some of the well funded campaigns to help some of the struggling ones, she was asked to make a donation. She was asked, in fact, several times. She refused. Meanwhile, in upstate New York--her state!-- Eric Massa was scratching for every dime in his race against Kuhl. I gave Eric Massa a donation, but Hillary didn’t.

But that’s forgivable, I guess. It wasn’t until this primary campaign got underway that I really began to see why she has high disapproval ratings.

At least part of the rightwing narrative on her is true: she is unscrupulously and self-servingly ambitious. And she is deliberately, as a matter of policy, seeking the nomination by using the same polarizing divide and conquer techniques on us, her fellow Democrats , that the Republicans used on us for years.

Now that is not a good thing. Some people think it is. They figure that she’ll be as mean to the Republicans as they were to her. Well, maybe she will, but she’s being Karl Rove to her fellow Democrats now and that is toxic to us all.

Some online pundits, K-Drum for one, think that her relentless unprincipled Rove-style negative campaign is good for Obama: toughen him up, give him practice for the general. But it the meantime our party has to swallow her poison and it isn’t good for us in the long run. . The effect on our party will be the same as the effect of Rovism on our politics in general: polarizing. The expectation is that after being subjected for months to her abuse we will all kiss and make up in the end. Well, no. Rovism served the Republicans in the short term but in the long term it brought them down. Hillary’s Rovism may serve her in the short term but in the long run it is very bad for us as a party.

Let me explain in detail:

1. Lying. The first one I remember is her claim in New Hampshire that the “present” votes reflected badly in some way on Obama. In fact, the “present” votes were part of a deal worked out between the Illinois Planned Parenthood and the Illinois Dems. The president of the Illinois PP made a robocall for Obama to correct the record. That didn’t stop Hill and her supporters from continuing the lie. They kept it up until their negative campaigning backfired on them in Georgia. She lied in Illinois about the Obama flyer. FactCheck says the information in the flyer was accurate.
2.Smears. The Hillary campaign has attempted to link Obama to the Weather Underground, and to Rezko. Not only is she engaged in a practice that we all despised when Republicans did it, but she’s poisoning the waters for Obama, making it harder for him to win against McCain. In other words, not only is she using a despicable campaign technique but she is also showing herself to be more loyal to her own ambitions than to the party. Hillary, herself is highly vulnerable to this sort of attack (Hsu!), but Obama hasn’t stooped to smears.
3. Labels intended to marginalize. Obama supporters, half the Democratic party, are latte drinking cultists in states that don’t matter. That isn’t what Hillary supporters say about Democrats. It’s what the Hillary campaign says about us.

4.Faux victimization. . Hillary throws the mud and then claims that it has nothing to do with her. In Ohio Hillary went on the attack with the words “Shame on you Obama.” She listed a whole string of nefarious activities. All of the activities were things she had done. None of them were things that Obama had done. Classic Rove move: tell Obama that he should be ashamed of the things SHE did!
6. Faux outrage. She said that he lied when he used the word “boon” to describe her attitude toward NAFTA. This is classic faux outrage. She didn’t use the word “boon” but she was on record for years as considering NAFTA a benefit. But, rather than admit that she was in fact a supporter of NAFTA who only suddenly discovered some doubts in Ohio, she did the Rove thing about creating a smokescreen of faux outrage over a word choice.
The hissy fit some of her supporters threw over the word “periodically” is another example. Dare I say “hissy fit”? The purpose of faux outrage is, of course, intimidation. Make the target afraid to say anything. It worked for years against Dem leaders like Clinton herself. She’s afraid of rightwing faux outrage: that’s why she has McCain’s position on Cuba. It hasn’t worked on Obama, fortunately.
7.Blame the target. Rightwing nuts have for years told Dems that we are too sensitive, that we get upset over nothing , that we imagine things. Remember Bush Derangement Syndrome? If a Democrat objected to something outrageous that Bush did, then it didn’t mean that Bush had done something outrageous: it mean the Democrats who objected were nuts. Well, Hillary supporters use this technique all the time. It’s a recurrent theme with Hillary supporters that Obama people are extremist in their objections to Hillary. We are apparently supposed to take her shit and like it.

There is a natural human tendency once one has chosen a candidate to defend the candidate. Taken to the extreme it is cultish behavior: the inability to retain critical judgment about the chosen leader. One of the worst things about Hillary’s use of Rove techniques on her fellow Democrats is the effect it has had on some of her supporters. People who are otherwise normal have become like wing nuts in their behavior out of partisanship for Hillary. The dishonest nature of her campaign puts her supporters in the position of having to resort to dishonesty to defend her. That’s what’s behind the claims that Obama supporters are unfair, mean, assuming the worst, etc. It’s both a bullying tactic and avoidance tactic.

This is what Hillary supporters don’t say about the pattern of behavior she has established: “Oh no, it is wrong to be disrespectful to a Democratic constituents. No, it is wrong to disrespect the party itself. Our candidate shouldn’t do that.”

The darkening of Obama’s skin tone is another example of her disrespect for the people in her own party. According to Factcheck the whole ad was darkened, including Obama’s features. This is, again according to FactCheck, a common practice in the making of attack ads. The claim that the ad is racist is “unsubstantiated.”

Racism generally is pretty hard to substantiate, but let’s let that word go. What we are left with the darkened image of a black man, darkened to make him look less appealing to the voters: sinister, in fact, to use Factcheck’s word.

Why didn’t Hillary’s campaign see the problem with that? After all the suffering of African American men and their families because of the stereotype of the black man as sinister, why did they think it would be OK to darken the ad? This is the reaction from a poster at Jack and Jill Politics:

They just assume that Black folks will come around and be Good Darkies and vote for Miss Hillary, because where else will we go?
The rest of us haven't figured out what we're going to do, but we do know this much:


Rikyah says that out of the twelve members of her family all but two will refuse to vote for Clinton.

This is Gary Hart’s take on another campaign trick of hers:

It will come as a surprise to many people that there are rules in politics. Most of those rules are unwritten and are based on common understandings, acceptable practices, and the best interest of the political party a candidate seeks to lead. One of those rules is this: Do not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee. This is a hyper-truth where the presidential contest is concerned.
By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party's nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her.
As a veteran of red telephone ads and "where's the beef" cleverness, I am keenly aware that sharp elbows get thrown by those trailing in the fourth quarter (and sometimes even earlier). "Politics ain't beanbag," is the old slogan. But that does not mean that it must also be rule-or-ruin, me-first-and-only-me, my way or the highway. That is not politics. That is raw, unrestrained ambition for power that cannot accept the will of the voters.

It ought to be a given that the standard bearer for the Democratic Party, our choice for President, for Chrissake, be a person who, at a minimum, treats our own party members with respect. Not a person who uses Rove tactics against her own party.

I can’t remember a campaign when one of the forerunners competed by trying to demonize not only the other candidate but the other candidates supporters as well. Edwards, Clark, and Kerry supporters were nasty to each other and nasty about the other candidates, but I don’t recall Edwards, Clark, or Kerry every saying anything demeaning either about the other candidates or their supporters.

The last time I remember the candidates attacking each other’s character and the characters of respective supporters was back in 1968.

So , if she continues to polarize us this way will be able to kiss and make up at the convention? Most of the Dem base will. I would not blame any African American who didn’t. The legions of young new voters that Obama has recruited won’t stick around for her because, for the most part they are looking for constructive, positive politics , not the same old shit. But mostly kissing and making up will happen.

What won’t happen is support beyond mere voting. The Clinton folks are out of their minds if they think that they can subject their fellow party members to weeks and weeks of Rove treatment and then get those people, the targets of their disrespect, to show up for GOTV, make donations, and do the other basic stuff that helps an candidate win.

Not only that but Hillary is showing, by her behavior, that she deserves her high negatives. Part of the rightwing spin on her turns out to be true: she is ruthlessly, selfishly, and unscrupulously ambitious. That means that she won’t be able to get very many votes from outside of our base and the election against St John the Straight talker will be close. She will campaign like it is 2004 and hope for a different result.

So, no , it isn’t Ok that she subject Obama and her own party to the Rove treatment. What was toxic to our national political discourse is toxic to our party.

A Clinton win would involve -

in the next six weeks she manages to inflict some serious, permanent damage on Obama, and win a massive double digit win in Pennsylvania, netting her, I don't know, 20 delegates. Pledged delegate margin: +140 Obama

Meanwhile, new primaries are scheduled for Michigan and Florida on June 7.

She moves on to the further states - managing to hold it very close in North Carolina and wins a solid victory in Indiana on May 6. Delegate margin: +135 Obama.

She wins a landslide victory in West Virginia on May 13. Delegate margin: +127 Obama.

On May 20, she wins another lanslide in Kentucky, and pulls out a surprise squeaker in Oregon. Delegate margin: +116 Obama. Although Obama's numbers are still quite good at this point, the narrative would be terrible - he'll have been losing contests left and right, and there'll be considerable claims that his momentum is gone and his campaign is running on fumes.

On June 1, Clinton easily wins the Puerto Rico primary. Delegate margin: +108 Obama.

On June 3, Clinton is able to once again pull out victories in the once-thought-to-be-safe-for-Obama western states of South Dakota and Montana. Delegate margin +105 Obama.

On June 7, Clinton wins a somewhat close, but clear, victory over Obama in Michigan, and crushes him in Florida. Delegate margin: +80 Obama.

At that point, even though Obama retains a pledged delegate lead, its size has been halved from where it once was, and clearly all the momentum is on Clinton's side. Both candidates push hard for superdelegate support over the next two months, but Clinton is able to convince enough more of them to secure an apparent majority. Probably Obama still rolls the dice and it goes all the way to the convention, hoping he can pry loose enough superdelegates to win the nomination, but is unable to do so, and Clinton wins the nomination on the first ballot in Denver.

I don't think that's particularly likely, but if Obama does that badly in the remaining contests, there'd be a valid case to be made that he should not be the nominee.

The Clinton response to hilzoy's analysis is that as weak as her foreign policy resume is, Obama's is even weaker. frankly. John McCain's resume wins against either candidate, which means that the Democrats are once again behind on the national security issue from day one of the general election campaign. Maybe the selection of someone like Biden as vice president may help here.

I think Ara and Andrew Sullivan are right about Iraq and McCain. He's also far better than Clinton on public diplomacy. (Obama is tops here.)

He used to be stronger than her on torture (he was the only R I'd consider voting for on exactly this issue); his pandering harms him here, but where will he be in November? Whereas Clinton on torture has been a classic case of "This is such an important issue, and I take it very seriously." aka Please assume I agree with your position, whatever that is. So I can't compare her head on to a wishy McCain. But she sure doesn't win.

It comes down to judges as the last glimmer. And as I debate the seemingly unattainable* Clinton presidency, I'm forced to ponder how much she'd triangulate on judges. Whereas McCain took flack for the Gang of 14.

Watching Clinton campaign, I fear being deeply embarrassed at her presidency in a way I probably wouldn't with McCain. And with the campaign staff she's assembled....I just don't see her getting much done. I don't see her rolling through more congress members with her name on top of the ticket.

Stonetools: I've been arguing that on foreign policy for a while--no one left in the race beats McCain on experience. Don't fight him there. (Though Biden as veep is a good idea.) Fight him on judgment and vision. But Clinton, by casting herself as the candidate of experience, and her quotes this week about herself and McCain vs. Obama, or about her foreign policy experience, sets this up in the fall if she faces McCain. (Even if she tries to switch tactics, Rs are going to replay all those experience clips.)

HRC has said that Obama's foreign-policy experience amounts to a speech. When asked what her foreign-policy experiences, she mentions China. What did she do in China?


I find it startling that the Obama campaign has not made anything of this irony.

It's typical of Clinton that she doesn't think ahead. This is another--ANOTHER--reason why she's such a bad choice.

Right now she is so busy trying to bash Obama on experience that she has thought about how McCain can kick her butt on that one.

Couldn't see past the shorterm gain of darkening a black man's skin tothe long term harm of pissing off her constiuents.

Couldn't see past the short term gain of spinning the flyover states as unimportant to see the long term harm of that disrespect in the general when McCain tells tham that they do matter--to him.

Couldn't see past the short term safety of R-lite votes on defese issues to the long term harm to her Presidential aspirations, (I'm assuming that if she had voted against the war she wouldn't have a primary challenger nowaaa0

I'm sure there are more examples. She is smart but only in the short view.

The problem with Clinton is exactly the same problem there is with Bush: you can't trust what they say. If they say something you can't assume that is true. You can't even assume that it is within spin-distance of the truth. You have to assume that it is a flat-out lie and look every single thing up.

That isn't good from a leader.

Hey, I think we agree on something!

Blatant bad faith.
The teasing sophistry of “what the meaning of is,is”, dodging and weaving around the truth to gain leverage in a hostile environment, proves to have been a view of the world that guides Ms. Clinton as well as her husband.
It turns out not to have have been merely a rhetorical device for deflecting hostile interrogation, but a weapon with which to attack all opposition, including her intended constituents. It cements her bond with Bush’s most morally and legally offensive policies. It gives deplorable substance to warnings that the framework of corrupt executive power set up by Bush will outlast his tenure and tempt his successor to entrench those “gains” and use them to the nation’s disadvantage.
Dare one say: No wonder she is so avid for the power now declared the province of the Presidency?

Apart from the often ludicrous incompetence of the Clinton campaign and its contempt for fact, the way that its view of the world resembles a junior-high/middle-school clawing for advantage, trivializing a contest for crucial national and global leadership; oh for some old-fashioned reality-based thinking.

HRC's exagerrated claims about her foreign policy experience are worrisome. Big and little lie politics are back in full force. (Actually, they have never gone away).

HRC's exagerrated claims about her foreign policy experience are worrisome. Big and little lie politics are back in full force. (Actually, they have never gone away).

...That isn't good from a leader.

No. And she doesn't strike me as doing too well on the "respect for the rules" front either, which is pretty important. Especially now.

I think this video says it all:

The Clintons are our Iron Man

I was involved with -- and present during --Hillary Clinton's visit to Macedonia in May 1999, and can categorically state that she has grossly exaggerated her role in helping reopen the Macedonian border to Kosovar refugges, and further that her web site contains one out-and-out falsehood regarding the visit.

Her version of the visit has her successfully "negotiating" with the Macedonians to reopen the border, but as others have pointed out, she didn't negotiate anything. She had fairly short meetings with the Macedonian president and prime minister to deliver standard U.S. talking points on our support for Macedonia and our wish to see the refugees sheltered safely, among other topics. She was one of a succession of U.S. and allied officials and celebrities who delivered exactly that same message to the Macedonians. Also as others have pointed out, the on-again-off-again border closures by the Macedonians went on both before and after her visit, but in this particular case had ceased before her arrival. The biggest closure problem at the time of her visit was actually being caused by the Serbs on the other side of the border, not by the Macedonians. Her visit was useful, but broke zero new ground.

The falsehood I mentioned is contained on her own web site, in The Fact Hub section on Kosovo, where her claim is that "Despite concerns about security, she traveled to the international border on the edge of the war zone, and visited refugees." That is simply not true. She drove from the capital city of Skopje to the nearest complex of refugee camps (Stenkovec I and II, and Brazda), and made a very successful visit to the camp residents. She went no farther toward the border, which is located on the other side of a range of small mountains, about ten miles up a narrow and twisting two-lane road. Hillary Clinton's web site is flattly wrong in its dramatic claim about her going to the border.

I know this is about Hillary's alleged national security experience, but it has progressed into her electability and the issue of how large a role national security will play in the election. The wild card issues that need to come into such a discussion are our energy crisis -it's going to worsen- and the financial crisis; throw in food and you've got widespread fear that will overshadow any "confidence" McCain can inspire that he will keep us safe from the nebulous terrorists. But how much better is Hillary -if she wins the nomination- at addressing such fears?

Let's not assume the political climate in November will be much the same as it is now.

I know this is about Hillary's alleged national security experience, but it has progressed into her electability and the issue of how large a role national security will play in the election. The wild card issues that need to come into such a discussion are our energy crisis -it's going to worsen- and the financial crisis; throw in food and you've got widespread fear that will overshadow any "confidence" McCain can inspire that he will keep us safe from the nebulous terrorists. But how much better is Hillary -if she wins the nomination- at addressing such fears?

Let's not assume the political climate in November will be much the same as it is now.

Sinbad speaks.

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