Wednesday, June 04, 2008

CLINTON'S HAND: AT BEST, STRONG TRIPS

I CONFESS I WAS actually surprised when Clinton refused to congratulate Obama on winning the Democratic nomination.

(AND I'M EQUALLY SURPRISED by the NY Times's headline, which echoes her toxic contention that Barack Obama has merely "claimed" the nomination, when the fact is: he earned it).

IT IS NOT THAT I DIDN'T expect her to be tenacious. But I think anyone who gives it real and measured thought must conclude that she overplayed her hand.

TO VIGOROUSLY OPPOSE and even undermine your Democratic opponent in the heat of a hard fought primary contest is one thing.

HOWEVER: Barack Obama is the nominee of the party they both supposedly support. It was a close race, but he played by the rules they all agreed to, and he won.

TO WITHHOLD her support, as she did last night, and indeed to actually undermine his legitimacy in public is pretty poor form in itself.

BUT IF SHE REALLY IS SEEKING TO LEVERAGE HER VOTERS against a VP slot, or some other prize, how is openly blackmailing her own party's nominee going to help her?

AFTER ALL, whether or not you agree that Obama NEEDS Clinton's voters in order to win, you must accept that the argument itself has a flaw:

CLINTON DOES NOT OWN HER VOTERS.

(as Hilary Rosen points out ELSEWHERE)

YES: the latest polls suggest that 53% of those who voted for her will not vote for Obama. But that means that almost half will indeed naturally gravitate to the nominee without Clinton's express permission to do so.

BUT HOW MANY of those hardcore 53% will follow Clinton into political exile? Into a legacy-scorching feud with the nominee of her party? Or into a doomed Independent bid for President that would almost assure McCain the White House?

ANSWER=SOME, but not all.

AND I WOULD ARGUE that each day that she attempts to horde her supporters at the expense of the party's nominee, the more her reputation and influence within the party will suffer, and the fewer supporters she will actually have to bargain with.

IRONICALLY, (actually ironically), if she had held her cards a bit longer--if she had conceded and congratulated and endorsed Obama last night, she would have looked great. She could have easily conducted the same negotiations behind the scenes in private, and arguably from a much stronger position.

AS SUSANNAH MEADOWS knows all too well from my rantings yesterday in the park, as of 24 hours ago, I was even feeling that, should Clinton make a graceful exit, adding her to the ticket would be unavoidable, appropriate, and smart.

NOW, HOWEVER, I think caving to her open bullying would be disastrous to an Obama campaign and presidency. And I can't imagine I'm the only person to feel this way (just, perhaps, THE LEAST INFLUENTIAL).

BUT IT'S OK. If Obama wants to neutralize Clinton as a serious VP candidate, all he needs to do is wait. So long as she openly opposes her own party's nominee, her cards get worse by the hour.

That is all.

28 comments:

Brad O'Farrell said...

Go away, Hillary.

jeffk said...

John, have you seen this ad yet? Clinton's campaign strategy will continue to hurt Obama and the party, no matter what she decides to do from here. She can certainly help to minimize the damage (assuming she cares to), but the choices she's made are going to haunt us all the way to November.

awryone said...

She seems to be forgetting that in a matter of months, he will be PRESIDENT.
Not the best person to be bossing around.

Brandon said...

Here's an anecdote I heard second-hand about Jim Webb that I think would make him an excellent vice president. I've seen at least some reporting on it that leads me to believe it's true.

So Webb's at one of those lunch functions that politicians have to go to, even if they hate the people giving them when this exchange goes down with the president. Webb is a former Marine officer, with a son stationed in Iraq.

George Bush: How's your son doing?

Jim Webb: I'd really like to see him again.

George Bush: I didn't ask that, I asked how he was doing.

Jim Webb: (basically) Fuck off.

http://thehill.com/under-the-dome/son-also-rises-in-testy-webb-bush-exchange-2006-11-29.html

Hodgmama said...

I love you.

Illusive Thoughts said...

Seems to me if one is going to support her party as she proclaims then she'd have stepped aside with grace and dignity. If she can't; I can't imagine wanting her in a leadership position of any kind for our country.

Bedheaded said...

Well said. It seems to me that Hillary has become the 21st century version of Hubert Humphrey.

Amy said...

Well said!

Steve & Stepher said...

I do so enjoy your blogs Mr. H.

After the past 24 hours I don't see Hillary returning to the White House in any capacity other than as a senator or a visitor.

andrew embassy said...

the Arthur Vs. The Black Knight scene rings hilariously true in this instance. "Allright, we'll call it a draw."

Patrick McComb said...

I can't picture Obama asking the Clintons move into the White House with him. They would try to take things over before the furniture got unpacked.
Hillary's talents would be better suited for a policy wonk position.

Kathy Bugajsky said...

I think he should put her on the Supreme Court. It would get her out of his hair (and ours) for the most part, she'd have a voice, she'd be part of the checks and balances system and she could stay there as long as she liked no matter who after Obama was president.

She could salvage her political legacy as an amazing supreme court justice instead of the person who almost destroyed the democratic party.

capnjoy said...

oooh that speech last night made me mad. it was the most graceless, self-aggrandizing move i've ever seen in democratic politics. for a while there she seriously looked like she was trying to start a riot. it was disturbing.

it was refreshing to see barack's incredible speech afterwards. such a clear contrast...with both HRC and with McCain's creepy uncle reading a bedtime story delivery.

i'm working the obama call center right now. the phones are blowing up, and probably three out of every four calls is from a supporter who hates the idea of HRC as a VP candidate.

M said...

I'm a woman, a liberal democrat, grew up working poor, and am still struggling to hang on to lower middle class. I grew up considering myself a feminist (thought I now cringe at the term, not because I've changed my point of view, but rather because the extremists in the movement have shown me that there was more than smoke in the negative stereotypes I defended it against all these decades.) am the mother of a 24 year old daughter who is much the same. Neither of us, nor our friends have felt that Hillary Clinton spoke for us. Her record in the senate, and all we've learned about the repercussions that Bill Clinton's bad policy choices brought about.. greasing the wheels for so much of what Bush was able to get away with.

In my state of Michigan, too many democrats stayed home because they felt deprived of their right to vote for the candidate of their choice. The majority didn't support Clinton, and "uncommitted" didn't feel right. We voted uncommitted because we hoped to take a stand against Gov. Granholm, and Chairman Brewer's attempt to hand Michigan to Clinton. We didn't blame the candidates like Edwards and Obama for taking a stand against pushing a primary forward in violation of the rules.

So many of us across the state laughed ourselves silly when Granholm and Brewer mewled about putting the state's issues forward. If they cared, why didn't they attempt to increase civic engagement in the state?

I believe that the vast majority of Clinton's supporters will unite together to vote Obama. Those rare few who gathered to rant are in the minority. Honestly, it's one of the rare few times I've felt embarassed to be a woman.

M said...

Hodgman,

In an earlier post you mentioned not knowing how to embed the quicktime video interview with you from Ricky Gervais' page. I tried posting the code in a comment, but blogger doesn't allow that. I was able to post the code on my blog. You can copy and paste the exact code from my blog, into the appropriate post, and viewers can watch the same video, with the same quality. The url is below:

http://lolvincitomnia.blogspot.com/

Alex Andronov said...

I think it's probably fair to say the Obama won because he wished you happy birthday.

P.S. Happy Birthday

Glenn Peters said...

I heard a little of her speech/introduction on Israel, where she said Obama would be a friend to Israel, and it sounded like she stopped herself just short of saying "President Obama would be...". It sounded as close to an endorsement (and as close to a concession) as anything I've heard so far.

Also, "horde" makes a cute verb.

Jon Delfin said...

ABC.

Anybody But Clinton.

Simple as ...

Jun Yan said...

I want to see a video of you ranting in the park.

Happy Birthday.

The Curiously Dull Mint said...

I can't imagine being any more repulsed by Clinton than I already am... and if by some odd chance Obama does choose her as his running mate, I'm going to probably get a migraine and hide under the covers for a week. My friends and I have all written to the Obama campaign HQ urging Obama to NOT choose Clinton, so maybe some of you kind and wonderful folks can do the same?

I think her making the statement that Obama "claimed" victory rather than "earning" it has some racist undertones that just make me wanna hurl. As if the primary were some kind of slavery reparation check. GAH! she pisses me off.

capnjoy said...

someone on one of those news channels made an interesting point. apparently, she didn't expect for tuesday's elections to decide the nomination. she thought she'd have a few more days to work on the superdelegates. the obama campaign, of course, out-maneuvered her, unrolling enough superdelegate endorsements to clench the nomination during mccain's creepy uncle speech. but, if that's true, i can kind of understand her speech as a last reflexive grasp on something she wasn't expecting to have to relinquish just yet. or, as a poor decision made under pressure to fight for every drop of power she can get possibly get. i still think it was a childish, egomaniacal, and irresponsible act. but it's reassuring to me to find a human motivation, cause on Tuesday it seemed hidden behind an inscrutable mask of pure eeeevil.

that being said, i hate the whole "she deserves some time to adjust" line. she's a presidential candidate not a fragile china doll. what would we say if, after john mccain loses to barack on nov. 3, he asked for a few days to get used to the idea. come on people like feinstein! she's a big girl, stop infantilizing her.

Sue said...

Hodg-man, very well said. Total agreement.

Gayle And Don said...

hrc, you have embarrassed yourself.
that is all.

Egg said...

As was pointed out in Salon's round table on race and the Democratic primary (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/06/03/roundtable), the claim that HRC's supporter's will not vote for Obama is not supported by historical evidence. "Check out these data: In February 1992, only 63 percent of Democrats who didn't support Bill Clinton said they'd vote for him; in 1996, 66 percent of the Republicans who didn't support Bob Dole said they'd vote for him in the general election; in 2000, 64 percent of the people who supported Bill Bradley said they'd vote for Al Gore. And what is it today? It's 64 percent of the people who support Clinton say they'll support Obama. Exactly the same. Historical norms."

a said...

I really don't understand why anyone expected Hillary to give an immediate and rushed concession speech the second things happened on Tuesday. The endorsement speech of either losing candidate in this primary campaign was arguably always going to be the most important speech to b given because of the way it has to unite the sides that have been at each other's throats for months. That deserves far more than the 30 seconds of coverage Hillary's speech would have gotten if she had given it just before Barack's victory speech on Tuesday.

I also think that having them meet before she gives it is the smartest thing they could have done, because she can talk to him privately about her plans for the future and he can help to shape the way the party will come together for the rest of his campaign. Expecting something else seems to me to be both foolhardy and entirely missing the crucial nature of the speech that Hillary has to give. I want the party to unite, and that doesn't happen by one side just disappearing.

Jim said...

1) I wonder aloud if Hodgmama is who I think she(he?) is.

2) Tonight I will be seeing the great Jonathan Coulton. Commence envy...now.

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