Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Big Picture

Melody-- a member of my LJ political community-- posted a typical, cynical take on why Obama is doomed (DOOMED!) and why Democrats must work swiftly to get the nomination away from his "extreme" hands. The Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is legendary, and so I found this hand-wringing almost amusing. What follows is my response to her (she has previously scolded me for my "enthusiasm" and "bias"), which I am reprinting here, as this is the big picture view-- for me-- on this election.

Polls show that both candidates can defeat McCain in the Fall, and the superdelegates know it, so worrying about November I doubt will be a major factor in their decision. And considering that about half the superdelegates are elected officials-- Senators, congressmen, etc-- many of whom are themselves up for election this Fall, I doubt they will piss off the party's activist base by giving the nomination to the candidate who came in second place in the primaries. It just won't happen.

Also, I have a post I'm going to be writing later that shows that the GOP is overestimating the power of their attacks on Obama.

With that said, yes Obama has stumbled a bit in the latter half of the primary season. But let's not pretend that happened randomly. It is because the Clintons have played dirty... and are reaping the benefits. For instance, Sen. Obama was running a non-racial campaign... then the Clintons worked overtime to play on racial prejudices by doing and saying whatever necessary to remind voters that Obama is a scary black man.

The second half of that reason is Hillary's shameless pandering which, yes, does absolutely work with voters, most of whom understand policy and details very little. Sen. Clinton-- longtime advocate of tight gun control laws-- decided to play a gun nut starting in Pennsylvania. And then she drank with the regular folks at the bar, because when I think common man, I think Hillary Clinton. Then she started campaigning like a Republican.... calling Obama an "elitist", saying she doesn't care what the "experts" and "economists" think, and then stealing McCain's tax holiday scam to bamboozle gas-price-weary voters. It's disgusting, it's shameless, and undermines the principles and positions that the Democratic party believes in. Yes, it HAS helped her in the polls. But that doesn't mean that a) it's right, or b) that superdelegates should reward this disgusting behavior by giving her the nomination.

And, again, this idea that she is more electable than he is in a general election is ridiculous. In Pennsylvania, for instance, Obama was supposed to lose by 20 points. And then, after a month that included the Rev. Wright scandal and the 'bitter' flap and etc, he managed to narrow that gap so that he only lost by 9 points. And the notion that the majority of those Democratic primary voters who preferred Clinton there will not vote for the Democratic candidate (Obama) in November is equally preposterous. That's like arguing that Hillary would lose Washington state in November because Obama won by a good margin there.

And go look up the 1992 primary results. Seriously. Bill Clinton lost a lot of big states, a lot of key Democratic states. The superdelegates (yes, they were around then too) actually openly wondered if he can defeat Mr. Bush in a general election (he too, if you'll recall, had some scandalous aspects to his character). All the fretting turned out to be masturbatory. The country was in a sour mood and the economy was shit, and the incumbent party lost, as it always does in those conditions.

The only way that Obama and the Democrats in general can lose this election season-- which has been practically gift-wrapped for us-- is if Hillary insists on taking this fight to the convention in late August, which will a) only enlarge party fractures and voter fatigue, and b) continue to give McCain a free pass as the general election fight is pushed back further. We will see all these primaries through to the beginning of June. But then, once it has finally sunk in that Sen. Clinton has lost the nomination, I hope the party leaders will convince her to do the right thing. I am not optimistic.


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