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 Tuesday, March 25, 2008

US Presidential Election: Hillary Clinton's Long March to Defeat


David Brooks

Read here full article in New York Times

Hillary Clinton may not realize it yet, but she’s just endured one of the worst weeks of her campaign.

First, Barack Obama weathered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair without serious damage to his nomination prospects. Obama still holds a tiny lead among Democrats nationally in the Gallup tracking poll, just as he did before this whole affair blew up.

Second, Obama’s lawyers successfully prevented re-votes in Florida and Michigan. That means it would be virtually impossible for Clinton to take a lead in either elected delegates or total primary votes.

Third, as Noam Scheiber of The New Republic has reported, most superdelegates have accepted Nancy Pelosi’s judgment that the winner of the elected delegates should get the nomination. Instead of lining up behind Clinton, they’re drifting away. Her lead among them has shrunk by about 60 in the past month, according to Avi Zenilman of

In short, Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near.

Last week, an important Clinton adviser told Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen (also of Politico) that Clinton had no more than a 10 percent chance of getting the nomination. Now, she’s probably down to a 5 percent chance.

Five percent.

Let’s take a look at what she’s going to put her party through for the sake of that 5 percent chance: The Democratic Party is probably going to have to endure another three months of daily sniping. For another three months, we’ll have the Carvilles likening the Obamaites to Judas and former generals accusing Clintonites of McCarthyism. For three months, we’ll have the daily round of résumé padding and sulfurous conference calls. We’ll have campaign aides blurting “blue dress” and only-because-he’s-black references as they let slip their private contempt.

For three more months (maybe more!) the campaign will proceed along in its Verdun-like pattern. There will be a steady rifle fire of character assassination from the underlings, interrupted by the occasional firestorm of artillery when the contest touches upon race, gender or patriotism. The policy debates between the two have been long exhausted, so the only way to get the public really engaged is by poking some raw national wound.

For the sake of that 5 percent, this will be the sourest spring. About a fifth of Clinton and Obama supporters now say they wouldn’t vote for the other candidate in the general election. Meanwhile, on the other side, voters get an unobstructed view of the Republican nominee. John McCain’s approval ratings have soared 11 points. He is now viewed positively by 67 percent of Americans. A month ago, McCain was losing to Obama among independents by double digits in a general election matchup. Now McCain has a lead among this group.

For three more months, Clinton is likely to hurt Obama even more against McCain, without hurting him against herself. And all this is happening so she can preserve that 5 percent chance.

When you step back and think about it, she is amazing. She possesses the audacity of hopelessness.

Why does she go on like this? Does Clinton privately believe that Obama is so incompetent that only she can deliver the policies they both support? Is she simply selfish, and willing to put her party through agony for the sake of her slender chance? Are leading Democrats so narcissistic that they would create bitter stagnation even if they were granted one-party rule?

The better answer is that Clinton’s long rear-guard action is the logical extension of her relentlessly political life.

For nearly 20 years, she has been encased in the apparatus of political celebrity. Look at her schedule as first lady and ever since. Think of the thousands of staged events, the tens of thousands of times she has pretended to be delighted to see someone she doesn’t know, the hundreds of thousands times she has recited empty clichés and exhortatory banalities, the millions of photos she has posed for in which she is supposed to appear empathetic or tough, the billions of politically opportune half-truths that have bounced around her head.

No wonder the Clinton campaign feels impersonal. It’s like a machine for the production of politics. It plows ahead from event to event following its own iron logic. The only question is whether Clinton herself can step outside the apparatus long enough to turn it off and withdraw voluntarily or whether she will force the rest of her party to intervene and jam the gears.

If she does the former, she would surprise everybody with a display of self-sacrifice. Her campaign would cruise along at a lower register until North Carolina, then use that as an occasion to withdraw. If she does not, she would soldier on doggedly, taking down as many allies as necessary.

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 Friday, March 14, 2008

Senator Clinton: Geraldine Ferraro is Bad News for your Campaign, So Are your Advisers and your Husband



Keith Olbermann on MSNBC Wednesday Night

Below is from a network transcript:

Finally, as promised, a Special Comment on the presidential campaign of the Junior Senator from New York.

By way of necessary preface, President and Senator Clinton -- and the Senator's mother, and the Senator's brother -- were of immeasurable support to me at the moments when these very commentaries were the focus of the most surprise, the most uncertainty, and the most anger. My gratitude to them is abiding.

Also, I am not here endorsing Senator Obama's nomination, nor suggesting it is inevitable. Thus I have fought with myself over whether or not to say anything. Senator, as it has reached its apex in their tone-deaf, arrogant, and insensitive reaction to the remarks of Geraldine Ferraro... your own advisors are slowly killing your chances to become President.

Senator, their words, and your own, are now slowly killing the chances for any Democrat to become President. In your tepid response to this Ferraro disaster, you may sincerely think you are disenthralling an enchanted media, and righting an unfair advance bestowed on Senator Obama.

You may think the matter has closed with Representative Ferraro's bitter, almost threatening resignation. But in fact, Senator, you are now campaigning, as if Barack Obama were the Democrat, and you... were the Republican. As Shakespeare wrote, Senator -- that way... madness... lies.

You have missed a critical opportunity to do... what was right. No matter what Ms. Ferraro now claims, no one took her comments out of context. She had made them on at least three separate occasions, then twice more on television this morning. Just hours ago, on NBC Nightly News, she denied she had made the remarks in an interview -- only at a paid political speech. In fact, the first time she spoke them, was ten days before the California newspaper published them... not in a speech, but in a radio interview. On February 26th, quoting...

"If Barack Obama were a white man, would we be talking about this, as a potential real problem for Hillary? If he were a woman of any color, would he be in this position that he's in? Absolutely not." The context was inescapable.

Two minutes earlier, a member of Senator Clinton's Finance Committee, one of her "Hill-Raisers," had bemoaned the change in allegiance by super-delegate John Lewis from Clinton to Obama, and the endorsement of Obama by Senator Dodd. "I look at these guys doing it," she had said, "and I have to tell you, it's the guys sticking together."

A minute after the "color" remarks, she was describing herself as having been chosen for the 1984 Democratic ticket, purely as a woman politician, purely to make history. She was, in turn, making a blind accusation of sexism -- and dismissing Senator Obama's candidacy as nothing more than an Equal Opportunity stunt.

The next day she repeated her comments to a reporter from the newspaper in Torrance, California. "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

And when this despicable statement -- ugly in its overtones, laughable in its weak grip of facts, and moronic in the historical context -- when it floats outward from the Clinton campaign like a poison cloud, what do the advisors have their candidate do? Do they have Senator Clinton herself compare the remark to Al Campanis talking on Nightline... on Jackie Robinson Day... about how blacks lacked the necessities to become baseball executives, while she points out that Barack Obama has not gotten his 1600 delegates as part of some kind of Affirmative Action plan?

Do they have Senator Clinton note that her own brief period in elected office, is as irrelevant to the issue of judgment as is Senator Obama's... ...while she points out that FDR had served only six years as a governor and state Senator before he became President? Or that Teddy Roosevelt had four-and-a-half years before the White House? Or that Woodrow Wilson had two years and six weeks? Or Richard Nixon... fourteen... and Calvin Coolidge 25? Do these advisors have Senator Clinton invoke Samantha Power -- gone by sunrise after she used the word "monster" -- and have Senator Clinton say, "this is how I police my campaign and this is what I stand for," while she fires former Congresswoman Ferraro from any role the campaign? No.

Somebody tells her that simply disagreeing with and rejecting the remarks is sufficient. And she should then call, "regrettable", words that should make any Democrat retch. And that she should then try to twist them, first into some pox-on-both-your-houses plea to 'stick to the issues,' and then to let her campaign manager try to bend them beyond all recognition, into Senator Obama's fault. And thus these advisers give Congresswoman Ferraro nearly a week in which to send Senator Clinton's campaign back into the vocabulary... of David Duke.

"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. "How's that?"

How's that?

Apart from sounding exactly like Rush Limbaugh attacking the black football quarterback Donovan McNabb? Apart from sounding exactly like what Ms. Ferraro said about another campaign, nearly twenty years ago? Quote:

"President Reagan suggested Tuesday that people don't ask Jackson tough questions because of his race. And former representative Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that because of his "radical" views, "if Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race." So... apart from sounding like insidious racism that is at least two decades old? Apart from rendering ridiculous, Senator Clinton's shell-game about choosing Obama as Vice President? Apart from this evening's resignation letter? "I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign. "The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you." Apart from all that?

Well. It sounds as if those advisors want their campaign to be associated with those words, and the cheap... ignorant... vile... racism that underlies every syllable... And that Geraldine Ferraro has just gone free-lance. Senator Clinton:

This is not a campaign strategy.

This is a suicide pact.

This week alone, your so-called strategists have declared that Senator Obama has not yet crossed the "commander-in-chief threshold"... But -- he might be your choice to be Vice President, even though a quarter of the previous sixteen Vice Presidents have become commander-in-chief during the greatest kind of crisis this nation can face: a mid-term succession. But you'd only pick him if he crosses that threshold by the time of the convention. But if he does cross that threshold by the time of the convention, he will only have done so sufficiently enough to become Vice President, not President.

Senator, if the serpentine logic of your so-called advisors were not bad enough, now, thanks to Geraldine Ferraro, and your campaign's initial refusal to break with her, and your new relationship with her -- now more disturbing still with her claim that she can now "speak for herself" about her vision of Senator Obama as some kind of embodiment of a quota...

If you were to seek Obama as a Vice President, it would be, to Ms. Ferraro, some kind of social engineering gesture, some kind of racial make-good. Do you not see, Senator?

To Senator Clinton's supporters, to her admirers, to her friends for whom she is first choice, and her friends for whom she is second choice, she is still letting herself be perceived as standing next to, and standing by, racial divisiveness and blindness... And worst yet, after what President Clinton said during the South Carolina primary, comparing the Obama and Jesse Jackson campaigns -- a disturbing, but only borderline remark, after what some in the black community have perceived as a racial undertone to the "3 A-M" ad... a disturbing -- but only borderline interpretation... And after that moment's hesitation in her own answer on 60 Minutes about Obama's religion -- a disturbing, but only borderline vagueness...

After those precedents, there are those who see a pattern... false, or true. After those precedents, there are those who see an intent... false, or true. After those precedents, there are those who see the Clinton campaign's anything-but-benign neglect of this Ferraro catastrophe -- falsely or truly -- as a desire to hear the kind of casual prejudice which still haunts this society voiced... and to not distance the campaign from it. To not distance you from it, Senator!

To not distance you... from that which you as a woman, and Senator Obama as an African-American, should both know and feel with the deepest of personal pain! Which you should both fight with all you have! Which you should both insure, has no place in this contest!

This, Senator Clinton, is your campaign, and it is your name. Grab the reins back from whoever has led you to this precipice, before it is too late. Voluntarily or inadvertently, you are still awash in this filth. Your only reaction has been to disagree, reject, and to call it regrettable. Her only reaction has been to brand herself as the victim, resign from your committee, and insist she will continue to speak. Unless you say something definitive, Senator, the former Congresswoman is speaking with your approval.

You must remedy this.

And you must... reject... and denounce... Geraldine Ferraro. Good night, and good luck

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 Wednesday, March 05, 2008

REALITY CHECK: Hillary Clinton's Alamo will be in Texas and Ohio Regardless of Media Spins


Randy Shaw:

Read here for more

Absent a hurricane or some other unforeseeable event, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign ends tonight in Texas.

The media has covered so many angles to the Texas campaign -- the Latino vote, the generation gap, Californians arriving en masse to help, the bizarre “two step” voting system (people vote first in the primary and then in the caucus) -- that the essential piece of information has been obscured: the most delegate-rich districts are heavily African-American, and will go overwhelmingly for Barack Obama.

While the Latino vote gets far more attention, low turnout in past elections has left Latino districts with fewer delegates.

Meanwhile, African-American refugees from Hurricane Katrina are now concentrated in Houston, adding to Obama’s likely victory margin in that delegate-rich area. Republicans’ strategy to change the political make-up of Louisiana by displacing blacks from New Orleans will help nominate the presidential candidate they fear most.

While the Clinton campaign is spinning all kinds of talk about proceeding after March 4, even an Ohio victory will not stop a Texas defeat from ending her candidacy.

Remember Texas Delegate Rules!

While the traditional media would love for the Obama-Clinton race to continue to the late August convention -- CNN’s primary night ratings are through the roof -- tonight effectively ends the Democratic presidential primary race. Regardless of whether she wins Rhode Island and Ohio, Hillary Clinton cannot continue without a major victory in Texas -- an event that borders on the near impossible.

Although Clinton’s need to win 65% of Texas delegates in order save her candidacy was much discussed in the wake of her Wisconsin defeat, this critical fact has receded into the background as media coverage of the race has gone into overdrive. Also pushed aside has been Texas’ voting system, which assigns delegates to districts that have voted most heavily Democratic in the past.

These districts are primarily African-American. And in cities like Houston, Obama’s strength has been increased through two factors: the transplanted refugees from New Orleans, and SEIU -- which is going all out for Obama -- getting a major beachhead in the city in late 2005.

The media occasionally notes how Texas’ delegate selection rules strongly favor Obama, but this point has gotten lost amidst the information deluge. In fact, the media has done such a poor job at explaining Texas’ system that even close observers may not be aware that the winner of the state’s popular vote gets no extra delegates.

This means that unlike New York or California, a popular vote victory by Clinton in Texas would not increase her delegate count. Instead, 2/3 of the delegates are picked by district through the primary system, with the balance selected through tonight’s caucuses.

Consider that when commentators say that Clinton is justified in continuing if she wins Texas’ popular vote. Such a “victory” is irrelevant -- instead, Clinton must win a substantial majority of Texas delegates to retain a prospect of entering the convention in the lead.

Simply put, Obama is virtually certain to win more Texas delegates than Clinton. Even a tie in Texas prevents Clinton from ending the primary/caucus season with anywhere close to Obama’s delegate count.

Clinton’s Campaign Cannot Last Until April 22

Although both Bill Clinton and James Carville have admitted that a Texas defeat ends Hillary’s campaign, others have argued that she will take her fight to Pennsylvania on April 22 if she wins Rhode Island and Ohio and wages a close but losing race in Texas.

But there are two problems with her continuing after a Texas defeat.

First, it means Clinton continuing a contest where she has no mathematical ability to enter the convention with the most delegates, which would only divide the Democratic Party.

Second, there is too much down time between March 4 and April 22 for the Clinton campaign to claim “momentum” from its Ohio and Rhode Island victories.

If the Pennsylvania primary were next week, then Clinton could justify holding out for a political miracle. But we’re talking six weeks. Six weeks has become like six years this political season. Six weeks ago, the campaigns were still organizing for South Carolina’s primary. Six weeks ago, Obama’s long winning streak had not even begun.

Hillary Clinton cannot sustain six long weeks of having to explain why she is playing the spoiler.

The Limits of Clinton’s Scorched Earth Campaign

Whereas Republican Mike Huckabee has continued his presidential challenge despite McCain’s grip on the nomination, few see the former Arkansas Governor as dividing his party or weakening its eventual nominee. But Clinton’s increasingly vicious campaign against Obama is increasingly seen as accomplishing both.

For example, when Clinton publicly stated yesterday that John McCain has a lifetime of experience behind him while Barack Obama has but a single speech, she gave the Republican a great quote for the November election. As Rachel Maddow of Air America radio told Keith Olberman, "That's what you say when you want to be John McCain's Vice Presidential choice."

The Democratic Party Establishment that has long backed Hillary Clinton is not going to tolerate six weeks of further attacks on Obama from a candidate that cannot win. Unlike Huckabee, Clinton is not claiming to represent the “soul” of her Party, and continuing her campaign after losing Texas would appear as pure bitterness.

Clinton knows that Texas represents her last stand, which is why she has thrown a “kitchen sink” of attacks at Obama in recent days; once she loses Texas, she has nothing left to alter the race.

The Myth of Clinton Momentum

Ever since the crying scene before New Hampshire, the media has jumped on isolated incidents in the waning days of the campaign to find a boost for Clinton.

In South Carolina, until the votes were counted most commentators felt that Bill Clinton’s racially charged appeals would prove successful; we were told that whites were fleeing Obama in droves.

The truth was the opposite.

The day before Super Tuesday, Hillary again cried in Connecticut, an action that was predicted to stem Obama’s momentum there.

It didn’t.

In Virginia, we were told that after MSNBC’s David Shuster accused Hillary of “pimping” her daughter, that voters would rush to Clinton in sympathy.

Didn’t happen.

In Wisconsin, we were told that Clinton’s claim that Obama was guilty of “plagiarism” would lead her to victory.

She lost by nearly double what any poll had predicted.

Now we are told that “sympathy” for Hillary is boosting her support for today’s primaries, even few voters in any election who bases their vote on such a criteria. We are told that Hillary has finally “found her voice,” even though that supposedly occurred in New Hampshire.

If such arguments prevent Obama supporters from getting overconfident, great. But everything I have heard says that Obama has an extraordinary operation in Texas that will carry him to the delegate victory.

There are probably more Bay Area folks working for Obama in Texas than for Kerry in Nevada in 2004, and Obama rallies have greatly outnumbered Clinton events in almost every Texas city.

It would only be fitting for the most progressive Democratic nominee in three decades to secure his spot by winning in the state that gave us our last progressive president, Lyndon Johnson. And to be put over the top by the long-suffering victims of our government’s inaction in New Orleans, who are making Houston the heart of Texas’ Democratic revival.

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