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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Silent Majority

On this day of the Pennsylvania primary, a possible game-changer for the Democratic Presidential race, I would like to answer some of the questions that many Obama supporters seem to be constantly asking us Hillary supporters. From my travels across neutral and pro-Hillary blogs, I am confident that I am speaking for many and not just for myself. Here goes!

Q. Why does Hillary's experience matter to you? She's just part of the old style of politics.

A. Hillary's experience matters for two reasons:

1) She has been around long enough to know how Washington works. This will be a plus when attempting to get her agenda passed through Congress. We know she is adept at charming her opponents into working with her, as she recently charmed the capo di tutti capi, Richard Mellon Scaife. She also has the best grasp of how to deal with foreign leaders, having traveled to 80 countries as First Lady and been a strong support in negotiating for peace in Northern Ireland. Barack Obama's recent claim that his foreign policy experience was equal to (or surpassing) hers was nothing short of laughable.

2) She knows how to deal with, and defeat, the right-wing scream machine. Many people don't realize this, but her Senate run in 2000 was very, very far from a sure thing.

Her first opponent was - of all people - New York's Nosferatu, Rudy Giuliani. He pulled out in May due to prostate cancer, but if truth be told, Hillary had pulled about even with him before that decision. Then came Republic Rick Lazio, who, up until the very last minute, gave Hillary a real run for her money. She won due to her stellar performance in a one-on-one debate with Lazio, all the while defying the punditry who were constantly, desperately, predicting her demise. It never happened, because our girl never gives up. In 2006, she was re-elected with 67% of the vote.

Q. Why doesn't the math bother you? Barack Obama is leading in the popular vote and pledged delegates. His lead is insurmountable, so she might as well quit.

A. Barack Obama's math does not take Florida and Michigan into account. That is unrealistic and ill-advised. Those votes will at least be counted, even if the delegates are not seated. If you actually give Hillary all the votes she won, the gap narrows to a very surmountable one of 80,000 votes - and that count is from a pro-Obama diarist!

As for pledged delegates, neither candidate can reach the magic number without superdelegates. According to Democratic Party rules, the superdelegates are the only ones that matter at this point, and they can - and will - make their decisions based on any factors they think are important, such as...popular vote totals and electability.

Q. Okay, fine. Let's talk about electability. Don't you think that Barack Obama is more electable? After all, he's bringing in so much new blood and so much excitement to the process. Plus, he's converting a lot of Independents and Republics. Won't he be the best person to go up against John McCain?

A. In a word, no. Here is Hillary's Electoral College Theory of Electability in a nutshell.
At the start of this seemingly interminable Presidential campaign, Democrats saw a very favorable Electoral College map. With Hillary Clinton as the likely nominee, Democrats believed they could turn many states from red to blue, including Ohio (20), Florida (27), Iowa (7), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), Colorado (9), and possibly Arizona (11), Virginia (13), West Virginia (5), and Missouri (11). But Clinton is unlikely to get the nomination.

Barack Obama is a far weaker candidate in many of these targeted states, but in particular in Ohio, Florida., Missouri, Arkansas, and West Virginia. McCain takes Arizona off the table against either nominee. Obama is polling better than Clinton in the competitive southwestern states and Iowa, as well as in Oregon, but trails badly in Virginia, which has elected a string of Democrats in recent years to statewide office. Some Democratic Party officials have written off Florida if Obama is the nominee (in some surveys he trails in the state by 10% or more, though he only trails by 4% in the Rasmussen survey). The Rasmussen survey shows McCain with a 7% lead over Obama in Ohio. Obama lost badly in that state's Democratic primary (by 10% to Clinton) winning only 5 of 88 counties. Now having insulted rural voters for their attachment to guns and God, the state has become even less friendly turf for him.

The Electoral math looks this way: if Florida and Ohio are safe for McCain, and Virginia and Missouri are too, as they now all appear to be, then McCain has a base of 260 Electoral College votes of the 270 he needs to win. He would need to only win 10 from among the states Bush won last time that are in play this year: Colorado (currently tied), New Mexico (3 point Obama lead), Iowa (4 point Obama lead) and Nevada (4 point Obama lead), and several tempting blue states in which McCain is currently competitive: Michigan (18), Pennsylvania (21), New Jersey (15) Wisconsin (10), Minnesota (10), Oregon (7), and New Hampshire (4), among them.

McCain currently is narrowly ahead of Obama in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Michigan, and behind in the others. A Marist survey last week shocked many by showing McCain ahead of Obama by 2% in New York State (an 18% Kerry win in 2004). If McCain is within 10% of winning in New York in November, he will not need the state to win the election, for he likely will have won most or all of the blue states on his target list above.
Note that this analysis was done before the full effects of BitterCling were felt, before Obama's horrible performance in last Wednesday's debate, before he wriggled out of the upcoming North Carolina debate (his only suggested date was Passover, which was unacceptable - then he refused to reschedule), before he whined about eating his waffles...I bring these things up because they are Part Deux of the Clinton Theory of Electability. Obama's personal associations with Wright, Ayers, Rezko; his inability to electorally connect with or understand white working-class voters; his squirreliness about facing hostile questions; all these things do not a good candidate, or President, make. In short, he is not ready for prime time, and while Democrats desperate for any Democrat in the White House don't care as much, McCain will beat him like a drum in the General Election.

Q. Fine, so Obama isn't the greatest in debates or off-the-cuff. Don't tell me Hillary is so great either! What about Tuzla?

A. Hillary's misspeaking on Tuzla was definitely blown into a huge story, and it hurt her for a while. However, she apologized for it several times, most recently in the debate, and I think it is defused as a General Election issue.

Q. Well, what about her vote for the AUMF? Doesn't that bother you? If she hadn't voted for it, we wouldn't be in Iraq now. And how will she contrast herself with McCain on Iraq?

A. First of all, I've read about Bush's first few days in office. ("The Price of Loyalty" was a real eye-opener.) That man was going into Iraq. Nothing, including every Democrat voting against the AUMF, would have stopped him. This assertion is borne out by the fact that the AUMF did not authorize Bush to invade unless certain conditions were met; yet, despite the fact that those conditions were not met, Bush invaded anyway.

Barack Obama's supposed anti-war stance is a joke to me. He made a speech, then voted exactly the same as Hillary once he became a Senator. You want a real anti-war Senator, look at Russ Feingold's record. So to me, there is no difference between them on Iraq, except that I prefer her withdrawal plan to his.

As for Hillary's AUMF vote, I don't agree with it, and I was one of the people who marched against the war in 2003. However, I truly believe that this vote will allow her to credibly counter McCain's "I'm stronger on National Security!" argument. One of the things people always worry about with Democrats is, are they too peace-loving to fight when the chips are down? Well, Hillary has already shown her willingness to fight. So yes, she is too hawkish for me, but she's right where most Americans are - she initially supported the war, but now is insistent that our troops be brought home. Of course, McCain wants to stay there for 100 years. Not too hard to draw distinctions, now, is it?

Q. You Hillary supporters sure are long-winded! My last point is, what about the Movement? Don't you want to be part of the New Democratic Party, a party that throws off the shackles of partisanship and petty politics and moves forward with unity into a bright new, hopeful future?

A. I hate to put a bridle on your Unity Pony, but we Hillary supporters don't see you Obamans the way you see yourselves. We see you as thugs who bully and vilify and ban anyone who doesn't fully believe that Obama is the Messiah of the New Democratic Party. This does not speak of unity, lack of pettiness or new politics. It speaks of McCarthyism. You scare the hell out of us, frankly.

No, we see ourselves as the Silent Majority. We are the true Democrats, the ones who believe that parties exist for a reason, that the fights of the 60's are not over, that the nation is in a hell of a mess and that only a return to core Democratic principles - a New New Deal -can bring us forward into the 21st century.

And tonight, Pennsylvania voters will show us that we are right, as Hillary wins big despite being outspent 4-1 by Senator Obama. Barack Obama's movement is a house of cards that is just waiting for a breath of fresh air to blow it over.

Rise, Hillary, Rise!


Timmy B said...

I hope you are feeling better.

Strong post, you make a compelling argument.
She easily won AZ, giving her the best outside chance of at least embarrasing McSame. I just want to hurry up and vote for a Democrat.

madamab said...

Thank you, Timmy B!

I want to vote for a Democrat too. And if we end up with the Clobama option, both of our favored candidates will get our votes. Ah, unity at last!

Timmy B said...

Clobama takes NY and IL. I think CA, WA,and OR would follow. Wow!
I hope when all is said and done, they "kiss and make up". Each could be a powerful weapon for the other.

Woody (Tokin' Lib'rul/Rogue Scholar & O'erall Helluvafella!) said...

Both candidates, as avatars of their 'identity' communities, campaign from a position of entitlement. Neither is necessarily wrong. There is an argument to make that both/either ARE entitled.

I fear the levels of acrimony between partisans of the competing principals may become insurmountable obstacles to eventual rapprochement. It seems to me that blows have been dealt and wounds inflicted which it will become harder and harder to heal.

I suggested a coalition right from the start. But I am no longer optimistic that such can occur, because now neither may be willing to take the secondary role of VP to the other's starring slot.

madamab said...

Woody, I feel the same way. I was a big, early champion of the Dream Ticket too - but Obama signaled early that he was not willing to consider it. She won't give up, despite the shrill-o-sphere screaming for six weeks that she should, and of course neither will he, so I think they may be forced into it nonetheless. I don't see any other way to Party unity.

It's gotta be Clobama, or say hello to President McCaca.