Fed up and rising

February 24, 2008 by barbara

barbara writes

I don't really have time for this today, but I am so sick and tired of Hillary Clinton that I must make time.

UPDATE: Check out the woman who claims her experience and professional demeanor qualify her for the presidency. Can you say junior high trash-talk? Sure you can!

Do I want a president of the United States who waggles her finger and scolds, "Shame on you, Barack Obama!" while the Ohio governor is stationed behind her, looking like some kind of bobble-head with an anxiety disorder? Actually, I don't. One mommy per person is sufficient, thank you very much. We rediscover that each time the pearl-bedecked Barbara Bush shoots off her big mouth.

Do I want a president who, as Frank Rich points out in today's NYTimes, slams "what she sees as the empty Obama brand of hope, (to which) she offers only a chilly void: Abandon hope all ye who enter here. This must be the first presidential candidate in history to devote so much energy to preaching against optimism, against inspiring language and — talk about bizarre — against democracy itself. No sooner does Mrs. Clinton lose a state than her campaign belittles its voters as unrepresentative of the country." Read his whole commentary here.

Do I want a Democratic candidate who, incredibly, likens her opponent to George W. Bush, the most dangerous, incapable, self-serving, inadequate, bone-headed president since time out of mind? What an appalling, disgusting, divisive, blatantly untrue thing to say.

Mrs. Clinton seems to believe that little Obama should cave in terror (a Republican goal) at her tirades and those of her surrogates. That it's perfectly all right for the Clintonistas to snark and attack, and that it is not all right for Obama to defend himself. The woman is coming unglued.

I have tried very hard to ignore the "Hillary is perpetually angry" meme, but it's simply not possible. Hillary Clinton is perpetually angry. Particularly when she sees her campaign tanking, which it is. And with good reason. She picks her own scabs and blames everyone else because she's bleeding.

She has morphed into (reverted to form?) a snarking harridan and I'm fed up and rising with her, her campaign "team," and the man who is arguably her soulmate. Enough already. Respect must be earned, and I have given all the unearned respect I'm going to give to Hillary Clinton.

I just sent my first donation to Obama.

I wasn't going to post the following piece from Paul Loeb because I didn't have time to format it for this site. Changed my mind. With his permission, here it is.

How Much Damage Will Clinton Do Before She Folds?

by Paul Rogat Loeb

In the wake of ten straight losses, Clinton's going to need some miracles to win, and Mike Huckabee's already ahead of her in line for divine intervention. But the question is how much damage she'll do to Obama and the Democratic chances before she quits. Plenty more. Click here.

If the fight goes to the convention, we know the answer: Unless she totally routs Obama in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, her sole remaining path to the nomination depends on convincing the superdelegates to overturn the will of the voters, and convincing the credentials committee to honor the problematic Michigan and Florida elections. So she'll have to practically destroy the party to save it, or more accurately to save herself. Assuming a possible breaking sex scandal doesn't bring down McCain, he already beats Clinton by 12 points in the latest poll, while Obama defeats him by 7. If the young voters, independents, and African Americans who Obama's enlisted in droves stay home in November because they feel they’ve been betrayed, Clinton's chances would be slim to none.

But she still can do real damage to Obama with her negative attacks in the remaining primaries, particularly in swing states like Ohio. Recent match-ups show Obama a solid victor in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, and Oregon, and dead even in Ohio, while Clinton goes down to defeat in all of them. But depending on how negative she gets and how long the primary battle continues, she could cost the Democrats the election by forcing Obama to spend his time responding to an endless succession of petty attacks, and by giving the Republicans ready-made talking points, like Hillary's comment that only "one of us is ready to be commander in chief."

The potential damage is magnified if you count Clinton's surrogates. At the Youngstown, Ohio rally following Clinton's Wisconsin defeat, International Association of Machinists President Tom Buffenbarger called Obama supporters "latte-drinking, Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies." That's despicable rhetoric, echoing the worst Limbaugh/Fox myths about limousine liberals, while it dismisses the majority of union members who just backed Obama in the Wisconsin and Virginia primaries, or the members of unions like SEIU, The Teamsters, and the United Food and Commercial Workers, who just endorsed him. It also happens to totally steal its language from the sleazy "latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading" anti-Howard Dean ads of the right-wing Club For Growth, that helped give us the disastrous candidacy of John Kerry.

If repeated enough, though, those myths have the potential to stick. Clinton supporters have just created a new "527" political committee, which while technically independent and issue-oriented, is explicitly designed to allow Hillary supporters to evade the standard $2300 donation limits. The group aims to get contributions of $100,000 or more from as many as 100 Hillary donors, so they can pour $10 million in ads into the next round of critical races. Whether or not this is legal, and that's arguable, no other candidate has done anything remotely similar in this election. And since the ads have no checks of accountability, they'll be as nasty as their backers decide.

Between Clinton's actions and those of her surrogates, they might just stigmatize Obama so much that some of her supporters stay home in November, instead of voting for him. They'll also encourage Republicans and independents who've been crossing over to support Obama do the same, or even vote for McCain despite his embrace of Bush's disastrous policies. I think Obama will still win, so long as his supporters do everything possible to make that happen. But Hillary's attacks will plant the seeds of doubts. And these will diminish the magnitude of Obama's likely victory just enough to make far harder for him to pass the major changes we need.

Clinton's attacks could also make a difference in down-ticket races. Right now, Obama mobilizes huge new constituencies that could elect a wave of new Democratic Senators, Congressional representatives, governors and legislators. But if Clinton manages to damage his appeal sufficiently, he will become far less of an asset even if he still wins. Plus the longer she remains in the race, the more he has to spend money responding to petty attack ads like one in Wisconsin where she accused him of avoiding debates, although he'd already participated in 18 and had two more coming up. It also means, as Tom Edsdall has pointed out, that the Democratic National Committee risks getting so starved of cash because it's all getting diverted to the nomination fights, that the DNC can't develop the critical grassroots infrastructure to implement its 50-state strategy.

Hillary may give up if she fares poorly in Ohio and Texas. Bill intimated recently that she had to win both or she was likely done. But she's talked of fighting all the way to the convention, as have her key strategists, so it's at least possible that she could keep the race in limbo until less than 10 weeks before the November election, making it far harder for Obama to focus on defeating McCain.

One solution, ironically, could come from the superdelegates. They were established originally as a conservative force in the Democratic Party, a bulwark against grassroots insurgencies like McGovern. In 1984, they actually handed the nomination to Walter Mondale, for his disastrous candidacy, despite Gary Hart's lead in elected delegates. But they also have an ostensible mandate to consider the Party's greater good, and if they acted in this fashion, they could play a key constructive role.

Suppose a critical mass of superdelegates did what 400,000 petition-signers just asked them to do in a MoveOn/Democracy for America ad that ran in USA Today—and pledged to honor the will of the voters? Suppose they announced in advance that they'd support whichever candidate had more elected delegates going into the late August convention? Suppose they also came up with a joint solution to the Michigan and Florida mess, where these states lost their delegates by violating a Democratic Party agreement on when states could hold their primaries? It would be a travesty to validate their sham elections given that the candidates couldn't even campaign in Florida, that Obama and Edwards had pulled their names from Michigan ballot, and that Clinton herself told New Hampshire Public Radio that her staying on the Michigan ballot was irrelevant because Michigan’s vote “is not going to count for anything.”

But what if the superdelegates acted now, to make clear that they will not validate those two elections as they stand, and that they'll encourage their colleagues on the Credentials Committee to do the same? As an alternative, they could urge those two states to do what the DNC has already suggested, and rerun their elections as caucuses. Yes, this would cost some money and effort, but if the experience of the states that have held them is any guide, it would also offer a major chance for the party to mobilize and engage new supporters, and it would bring participants together in a way that reminded them of the values they shared in common. If the two state parties, both dominated by Clinton supporters, still refused to go along, the superdelegates could also offer the alternative of simply seating Clinton-Obama delegates 50-50, to make it a dead wash. But they need to make clear that Clinton won't be able to pull out a last-minute victory by gaming the rules.

Facing a relatively united bloc of precisely those superdelegates that Clinton still hopes to win, I suspect she'd be far more likely to quit, and do far less damage while still in the race. Key party elders like Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi are already working to ensure a convention process that pulls the Party together, rather than splitting it apart. They and others might play an additional role by speaking out against destructive negative campaigning (whether by Clinton or her surrogates), and making clear that if this goes too far, she will lose their support.

Were Hillary running less of a scorched-earth campaign, it could continue onto the convention without major damage. But she's pursued this approach from the moment Obama emerged as a serious challenger, and seems only to be reaffirming it more in recent weeks. For instance, at the most recent debate, she was mostly all congeniality and smiles (excepting a few snotty comments like "change you can xerox."). The next day, her campaign followed up by pushing the media to cover Obama’s receiving $200 from a former member of the destructive Vietnam-era political group, the Weathermen. (This despite Bill Clinton pardoning another Weatherman from prison as he was leaving office). All this means that if Democrats really want to end this kind of divisiveness, they'd do well to unite around Obama now. He just got the endorsement of the 6-million member Change to Win Coalition (and individual member unions like SEIU, the United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE/HERE, and the Teamsters). The United Steel Workers, a national social justice leader, initially endorsed John Edwards, and will make a decision at their next board meeting. It's time for the other major industrial unions and progressive organizations to commit too, or to reconsider their earlier support for Clinton.

That's also true of prominent individuals, like Edwards, who I originally supported. It's now well overdue for him to encourage his supporters to back the legitimate inheritor of his quest for change. Maybe Clinton will still make an improbable comeback, but the longer she keeps campaigning, the more attacks and divisiveness we'll see. The more party leaders speak out to prevent this from happening, the less risk that she'll create lasting damage in her desperation to hold onto a prize that's now almost certainly slipped away.

Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, named the #3 political book of 2004 by the History Channel and the American Book Association. His previous books include Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time. See www.paulloeb.org

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Comments

lilalia (not verified) | February 24, 2008 - 7:46am

I thought that this time around your politicians were interested in a fair fight. Like you, I wonder how much damage Mrs. Clinton is going to ensue before she steps down. It does appear that it is business as usual with the Clintons.

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paul miller (not verified) | February 24, 2008 - 8:12am

Hilary sold her soul when she cold heartedly calculated that supporting Bush's war of extreme aggression was the correct political move, once she shook hands with Lucifer everything became politically negotiable, sad, and to think she could have been our first Margaret Thatcher

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barbara says (not verified) | February 24, 2008 - 8:43am

Did you hear that door slam and all its deadbolts click into place? Behind it was the pathway to the outside possibility of an Obama/Clinton ticket. However, since she is slashing and burning her way to nowhere, that now cannot happen. And frankly, that's a huge relief. Because it is becoming more clear with every passing day that to be saddled with Clinton(s) would be highly detrimental to Obama's presidency. He is now absolutely free to choose someone whose experience and states(wo)manship makes them part of a solid, respectable, electable package.

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Anon 1 (not verified) | February 24, 2008 - 8:53am

Margaret Thatcher was a leader of high character and discipline. I am sorry to disappoint you, but the Clintons have never been in that category, nor ever will be.

Not anywhere close.

I am heartened to know that you would use Lady Thatcher as your example.

There is hope.

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paul miller (not verified) | February 25, 2008 - 6:02pm

Gov Gridlock overridden!

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barbara says (not verified) | February 25, 2008 - 6:31pm

McCain's presumed running mate has been overruled. Huzzah!!

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