Wednesday, August 27, 2008 10:17 AM
Hillary Clinton did her duty last night. She threw her support behind Barack Obama and delivered the requisite sound bites. There was “No way. No how. No McCain.” And a favorite here in Minnesota, “It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these days, they’re awfully hard to tell apart.”
What she didn’t do was say much about Obama’s platform, leadership abilities, or vision. In a 23-minute speech, Obama the candidate (versus Obama “the Democrat who is not me”) got about 3 minutes of time—and that's a generous tally. For a speech that’s drawn most of the convention’s limelight, that’s a big void. It was evident, as the New York Times reports, that Obama’s team had little input in its writing.
We could see more of the same tonight, when Bill takes the stage. We’ll definitely hear about Hillary. But given reports of Bill’s bruised ego and his lust for recognition of his accomplishments in office, we could get not only a primaries flashback, but a ’90s flashback, too. Here’s hoping he saves some room in his speech for the nominee.
Watch Hillary’s speech:
For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Democratic National Convention, click here.
UPDATE (8/27/2008, 5:00 p.m.): My colleague Elizabeth Ryan points me to some choice analysis by Anne Taylor Fleming at the Washington Independent:
Yes, she endorsed Obama—mentioning him at least a dozen times. But what she endorsed was the candidate — not the man. He had no flesh on him. He was the Democratic candidate, and that was enough for her.
There was no talk of Obama’s passions, his career, their shared goals and ideals. Of course, she reaffirmed the big “D” democratic values. We’re for the forgotten, the working class not the upper class. We’re for energy independence and a restitution of the respect America used to garner around the world, so squandered in the last eight years. We’re for health care and hope and change. That’s why I ran, she said—underscore “I.” She never said that’s why Barack Obama is running. It was a passionate but strangely impersonal—almost totally impersonal —endorsement.
Monday, August 25, 2008 6:11 PM
Ahh, prepackaged conventions. What’s the media to do? How about rehash the primaries? Hence, we have the Hillary Clinton narrative that just won’t die: The party’s divided, delegates are going to spoil the convention, chaos will reign (cross your fingers).
The Columbia Journalism Review’s Campaign Desk smacked down the tired media meme last week. Choice moment:
[T]he angry-women-will-sink-Obama myth is yet another example of the media confusing activist opinion with public opinion in general. And public opinion generally defies such a simple—if dramatic—storyline.
But the media’s not the only one dumping gasoline on a dying fire. There’s also the McCain camp, which just released this ad:
Kevin Drum, newly blogging for Mother Jones, surmises that “the folks running McCain’s war room are getting cabin fever or something.” But that could be a good thing:
Maybe an attack ad this transparent will be just the thing to finally get all those ex-Hillary supporters fully on board with Obama.
Drum points to some savvy analysis by Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic, who notes that despite all the hand-wringing about party unity, the Democrats are remarkably in step with each other:
[F]or all the talk of disunity, the really remarkable story about the Democrats right now is the absence of meaningful dissent on the party's agenda. When it comes to substance, the Democrats are arguably more united than they have been since the early 1960s. Yes, you can find divisions on both domestic and foreign policy, on everything from the relative priority of deficit reduction to America's response to Darfur. But these debates don't match the kind we've seen in the past.
For her part, Hillary had this to say about McCain’s ad blasts this morning at a breakfast for the New York delegation: “I’m Hillary Clinton, and I do not approve that message.”
For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Democratic National Convention, click here.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008 5:27 PM
What’s next for Hillary? The blogosphere speculates:
Ben Smith over at Politico lays out the fallout from last night’s historic primary finale in broad strokes:
Clinton is the strongest runner-up in the history of Democratic politics, a status that gives her an unusual amount of leverage on her rival, Barack Obama. But she’s also hemmed in by the reality that to be seen as a half-hearted campaigner for Obama, or worse, as causing his defeat, would be political suicide.
She especially needs help restoring support from an African-American community that had been her base – assistance that can only come from Obama’s fulsome embrace. She could use Obama’s help raising money to retire her debts, something she signaled with an aggressive online appeal for cash last night. Her supporters assume she has earned the prime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention that Obama can bestow.
Those around her say that beyond the mundane negotiating points – a half hour in Denver, help raising money – there is a more personal, less tangible demand that she be accorded the respect she feels she earned in an historic bid that brought her closer to the nomination than any other second-place Democratic finisher.
TPM Election Central has a handy little round-up charting which players are saying what about the VP question. As for Hillary’s non-VP options, Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish puts his money on a health czar–type position:
My bet: The presumptive nominee will publicly offer Senator Clinton the lead role in his administration for healthcare reform. He may have to doll up the title to make it appear grander than HHS but some kind of cabinet level health czar position might work. Her fallback position is to offer to spearhead the legislation in the Senate - why not name the bill after her? - and campaign on this subject for the ticket through the fall. Offering her healthcare may be too petty for her privately; but that's why it calls her bluff on the whole "I'm-just-doing-it-for-the-little-people" schtick. How can she be seen to treat healthcare reform as an insult to her stature? If it's her cause celebre, how can it be beneath her?
Fantasy Team Of Rivals time: Clinton gets healthcare; Edwards gets poverty; Gore gets the environment; the other Clinton is made secretary of state.
He can offer, can't he?
And here’s David Corn at MoJoBlog:
It could well be that party leaders--out of kindness, respect, and worry (over whether her supporters will eventually swing behind Obama)--afford Clinton a few days to process her defeat. After all, this historic race was damn close, as so few nomination contests are. But this is politics, not therapy. So the grace period won't be long.
Understandably, the Senator from New York who almost became the first woman to win a major party's presidential nomination has put off this decision for as long as she could. And her performance in the final weeks of the campaign has strengthened her future presidential prospects. Should Obama lose to McCain, Clinton and her supporters could use these late-contest wins to bolster an I-told-you-so argument that would come in handy for the 2012 campaign. But if she does not play nice soon, she puts her future within the party at great risk.
As for myself, I’m having a tough time even conceiving of Hillary as the VP nominee. My thoughts are too clouded by resentments at all the underhanded and potentially damaging jabs she’s thrown at Obama and all the political maneuvering she and her surrogates are orchestrating right now. I do think, though, that it’s important to take a step back and consider the plain question of whether or not she’d be a good vice president. You wouldn’t know it from her campaign, but way back before Election ’08 got rolling, the woman was well respected for her expert maneuvering in the Senate, how she nurtured people’s trust, built consensus, and crafted meaningful legislation. And Bosnia trip or no, she does have important foreign policy experience and knowledge. Call me naïve, but I think it would be interesting to have a conversation not about what her candidacy as vice president would mean politically, but what it would mean qualitatively.
, licensed under
Wednesday, May 07, 2008 5:00 PM
The buzzer hit 7:30, the networks called North Carolina for Barack Obama, and the racial rhapsodizing began.
FOX predictably buzzed about Obama’s weaker showing among whites, compared to Hillary Clinton’s, and his windfall backing from blacks. Not-so-subliminal message on repeat: Can this guy really win whites?
Over at CNN, demographic hashing similarly swirled. Thanks, then, to Jeffrey Toobin for pointing out the obvious: Obama couldn’t have won North Carolina without white support (some 36 percent, according to exit polls). Then he offered a crucial reminder that seems to have vanished amidst the Wright wrangling: That’s how Democrats win in the South, with a slice of white voters and the bulk of black ones.
Forget the hand-wringing over whether half of Hillary voters will abandon the Democrats if their gal isn’t topping the ticket. (Those sentiments, gauged as they are in the heat of primary battles, are next to meaningless.) After eight years of Bush, that many of those Democrats aren’t going to vote for a Republican out of spite, let alone one who wants to perpetuate war in Iraq, roll back abortion rights, and take the court farther to the edge of right than it already is. The question is: Will those issues be pressing enough to convince black voters to go to the polls after watching the party they’ve been unceasingly loyal to snatch away the opportunity for the first African American to become president.
Here’s Michael C. Dawson, political science professor at the University of Chicago, over at the Root:
Should that happen, the Democratic Party will face the Herculean task of trying to mobilize its most loyal constituency—black voters—in the face of deep and widespread black bitterness and active campaigns in the black community encouraging black voters to defect or abstain. You can already hear the angry comparisons. Just like in 2000, the protests will go, an election will have been "stolen." But this time from within the party! Malcolm X's quote about how the rules are changed when blacks start to succeed will also, I bet, be prominently displayed.
And here’s a piece from McClatchy last week:
African-Americans have been the Democratic Party's most reliable bloc, giving about 90 percent of their votes to former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in the last two presidential elections.
In a close election this year, an African-American exodus from the voting booth could be costly to Democrats, particularly in the South, where blacks are a large proportion of the electorate.
If Obama isn't the nominee, "there would be a significant number of African-Americans who would stay home. They're not voting for (presumptive Republican nominee) John McCain," predicted David Bositis, a senior analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which researches black voting trends.
Now that North Carolina and Indiana are over, we’ll move quickly to West Virginia and Kentucky, where Clinton promises to soldier on and rack up white-bolstered, lopsided victories. It’s likely that, despite the predominating wisdom that the nomination race is nigh over, we’ll be subjected to more demographic splicing. It’s time to simply acknowledge that both candidates have their demographic battles and bulwarks, and to move onto wrapping things up by nominating the person who’d be the better president.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 10:28 AM
First, let’s get the night’s creepiest moment out of the way. Viewer discretion is advised (for those prone to nausea):
Now, onto parsing Pennsylvania. Herewith, some of the best bits from the blogosphere.
Lots of spin coming from both campaigns tonight. I’d say the real story is that this leaves us basically where we were.
—Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo
In the world of media narratives, how the press will talk about the primary campaign, it's true we're at the status quo. But in terms of who is actually going to win this thing, last night was actually a bad night for Clinton. Somehow she has to win a lot of delegates, and opportunities to do so lessen with each contest.
A fascinating wrinkle buried in the Pennsylvania exit polls is that Democratic voters do not appear to believe that Obama’s nomination is a foregone conclusion. Given Obama’s purportedly unassailable delegate lead, it was stunning that 43 percent of Pennsylvania voters said they believed that Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. Clearly, we have identified that proportion of the Pennsylvania electorate who never, ever turn on a cable TV news show.
—Walter Shapiro, Salon
But what is striking in the exit polls is the polarization on three lines: gender, race and age. It was dead even with men; but a massive advantage for Clinton among women. The racial difference is obvious as well. But what really leaps out is age. Obama lost every cohort over 40; Clinton lost every cohort under 40. Race also affects the generations in turn: 67 percent of whites over 60 voted for Clinton—a massive 24 point advantage. Among the younger generation, there is much less racial polarization: under 30, whites split evenly. This is a fascinating result. It appears to me as the future struggling to overcome the past.
—Andrew Sullivan, the Atlantic’s Daily Dish
Indeed, if you look at Obama’s vote in Pennsylvania, you begin to see the outlines of the old George McGovern coalition that haunted the Democrats during the ’70s and ’80s, led by college students and minorities.
—John B. Judis, the New Republic
There seems to be an ever-expanding list of rationales why the delegate counts in front of our faces don't actually matter, or don't actually exist, or are terribly misleading. There seems to be an ever-expanding list of supposedly devastating Obama faults, such as the supposed elitism of the black guy from Chicago (seriously?), and there is a cynical and mocking dismissal of political eloquence from a campaign that once counted the political eloquence of their former president as one of their greatest assets. People have muttered over the negative tone of the campaign of late: hell, go negative. It's about time the Democrats figured out how to competently go negative, even though so far they have only bothered to practice it against each other. More irritating is that the negative attacks presented are, well, stupid, and seem increasingly to be predicated on the notion that voters, the press, the pundits, and we political hangers-on are all idiots seeking to cling to the most shallow of accusations. The press and the pundits? OK, I'll give you that one. The rest of us, however, weren't born yesterday.
—Hunter, Daily Kos
Forget delegates and the popular vote for the Democratic presidential nomination. The most important thing Hillary Clinton gained by winning the Pennsylvania primary yesterday was a better argument—indeed, a much better argument.
—Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard
There’s a saturation level that has been reached. We know the strengths and weaknesses of these candidates. We know what demographics they win against one another and what demos they lose. About half the Democrats in the country like Clinton and about half like Obama. She’s from the Northeast and he's from the Midwest, and they get a tilt in their favor in each of those regions. He can't knock her out because she's really good at campaigning, and she was swamped by him early because he's really good at campaigning. The level of competition is far higher here than it will be in the fall against John McCain, actually. So the superdelegates can make their choice. They could make it today.
The longer Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama get bloodied and bruised, the more superdelegates argue they want the fighting to end. If so, it’s within their power to intervene. So why don’t they?
—Alex Koppelman, Salon’s War Room
There is no doubt this contest is hurtful to the Democratic Party. But it might actually be helpful toward bringing Americans together. I know that sounds odd. But I think that this is actually helping bring Republicans and Democrats together... I personally find myself respecting Hillary more than ever in the past. My guess is, other conservatives feel the same way. Sure, she may be a socialist, but she is at least tough and doesn’t give up.... Is this the Hillary that liberals have always admired—but I was blind to because of philosophical differences?
—Matt Lewis, Townhall
And the Winner Is: John McCain
—Huffington Post lead headline
The Democratic candidates have been tearing each other down, but McCain has lost a little ground against Obama in the polls and is now slightly behind him. McCain has his work cut out for him, and so do conservatives.
—Editors, National Review
Get ready for Guam.
—Joel Achenbach, the Washington Post
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 11:24 AM
Committed citizens vote. But what about Peace Corps volunteers and embassy employees? Finding a polling place or postage for an absentee ballot can prove challenging in Cambodia or Cologne, even for Americans who have a personal stake in our international image. To ease that burden, the overseas branch of the Democratic Party instituted a new online voting system with this month’s Global Primary reports Adriane Quinlan in the New Republic. With an estimated 20,000 members casting ballots, Democrats Abroad will send 22 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, just one less than the state of North Dakota. Voting ended February 12, and, after a technical glitch, the group announced on Friday that three delegate votes are pledged to Obama, one and a half to Clinton, and another two and a half to be determined at the Democrats Abroad Global Convention in April.
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