Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sunday Soliloquy - "The Story" in Ohio and Texas

On Meet The Press this morning, an interesting mix of Republican and Democratic strategists explored the Ohio and Texas Democratic primary election themes and the prospects for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Tim Russert introduced the panel:
MR. RUSSERT: "He helped put Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House in 1992: Democrat James Carville. She worked for Bush 41, Bush 43 and Dick Cheney: Republican Mary Matalin. He worked for John McCain on his 2000 presidential campaign: Republican Mike Murphy. And he worked for Kerry, Gore and Barack Obama's key supporter Ted Kennedy: Democrat Bob Shrum. The very latest polls, strategies and issues. The race for the White House through the eyes of Carville, Matalin, Murphy and Shrum, only on MEET THE PRESS." - [Transcript]

While "Conventional Wisdom" has Obama pulling a victory out of Texas, if Texas turns into New Hampshire Redux - Mike Murphy knows the reason why:
"She's got one thing working for her, that is the near death experience phenomena this year - every time it looks like the perils of Pauline., the trains coming, she has a rescue." - Mike Murphy
Remember New Hampshire? - Obama up by 10 points in the polls the night before the primary, with Olbermann, Matthews and the media in general fawning and falling all over themselves waxing poetic about a new dawn for America and virtually conceding the primary and nomination to Obama - right up to the minute that the votes were counted and Clinton declared the winner. There was lot of speculation of what moved the voters and changed the votes those last days. Was it - The Clinton tears? The sympathetic woman vote? The humanization of Hillary? Hillary "finding her voice"? - I think it is none of these, but a variation of Murphy's observation. What moved the vote, was the specter of the nomination process ending in New Hampshire.

This is the dynamic - Clinton is such a polarizing personality, that if a primary is perceived by voters as a popularity contest, or even just a mechanism for allocating delegates, Obama wins. If, in the voting booth, the voter is simply answering the question "Who do I like better?" - they tend to vote for Obama. It is only when the voter clearly understands that they are voting for the end of the 2008 Democratic party selection process, that the dynamic changes. When a vote for Obama is a vote to end the Clinton campaign, the personality and likability preferences are swept away and voters face different, tougher questions:
  • "Am I certain that Obama is the best choice to lead the party?"
  • "Do I understand what an Obama presidency would actually be like?"
  • "Are we really ready to decide or would we prefer the the process continue?"
  • "Should we or should we not look at this choice a little longer?"
In January, in New Hampshire, the frenzied media bias for Obama created the perception that a victory for Obama would be the practical end of the Democratic nomination process. This time, in Texas and Ohio, a victory for Obama is, in fact, the practical end of the Democratic nomination process. My guess - Like New Hampshire, when the undecided voters walk into the booth thinking a vote for Obama is a final vote for the selection of the Democratic nominee "beyond any reasonable doubt", they will vote instead to continue the deliberation. Bill Clinton made the smartest move on the campaign trail when he stated this choice explicitly - telling voters:
"If she wins Texas and Ohio, I think she will be the nominee. If you don’t deliver for her then I don’t think she can be. It’s all on you.
He was making sure they understood that a vote for Obama was a vote to stop looking and evaluating - the exact message that changed the vote in New Hampshire. James Carville then explained the significance if she does win both.
"If she wins both, it changes the narrative, then she has a real case to make. She is coming back." - James Carville
Absolutely correct. This is what I have been saying here and in comments on other blogs. With a Clinton win in Ohio and Texas, the narrative, The Story, becomes more important than the elected delegate total. That said, it is appropriate to paraphrase an infamous Clintonian parsing and state: It depends on the what the definition of “win” is. What exactly does it mean to "win" in the byzantine undemocratic process that is the Texas primary/caucus?

In this context, the popular vote in Texas is the sole determinant of victory. Not delegates and not caucus results. As long as she wins the popular vote The Story stays intact. The Story is all that matters to her campaign now. The Story that Clinton wins all the big states except Illinois. The Story that momentum has shifted. The Story that Hillary Clinton is the new "comeback kid". That story is all that is needed to provide political cover for the superdelegates to vote for Clinton at the convention. Even a 200 elected delegate lead for Obama is the equivalent of a dead even tie, as long as The Story is intact.

Mary Matlin refines The Story with an interesting embellishment.
"If she wins both states, even fractionally, she can say he [Obama] can't close the deal." - Mary Matlin

Finally, while Bob Shrum agrees this is the last stand, he puts the contest in the context of a generational transition:
"...what we're really seeing is a generational struggle inside the Democratic Party. We've seen this before... And there's a huge fight going on inside the party, I think, between the old order and an emerging new order. And I don't know how it's going to be resolved. I think it's very, very close. I do believe Bill Clinton was right: She must win both of these." - Bob Shrum
Where have I heard this before? Ah - I remember - it was me. The generational nature of Obama's campaign is a theme I was pounding in my August 20,2007 post "Obama's core constituency - not racial, not geographic, but generational" and even earlier when he announced his campaign "Obama declares candidacy for Vice-President & launches pre-emptive strike on Boomers".

Certainly if The Story unravels, and she loses the popular vote in Texas, the game is over. But I still find it hard to believe that Boomers are going to step into that voting booth and say - Bill Clinton and George W Bush will be the sole boomer representatives in the White House.

My view - If this is indeed a generational struggle, it is not yet time for the Boomers to pass the torch.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Live Blogging the Live Bloggers - Clinton's Last Stand - no, really this time.

Why? Why? Why can I not get my act together on these things ahead of time? The debate is minutes away and I just finished the screen shot montage. We had some fun with this last Thursday in Texas so we'll give it a go again tonight in Ohio. The last two Democratic presidential candidates are taking the stage for the 20th debate in Cleveland tonight, covered by MSNBC live and moderated by Brian Williams. I'll start with the question I ask every time:
"There are plenty of bloggers covering the debate live tonight, but is anyone covering the live bloggers? DWSUWF rushes in where other, more sensible bloggers, fear to tread. "
We'll include Daily Kos, from the left, a commenter suggested VodkaPundit for the right but since CQ's Ed Morrissey has moved to HotAir I'll also check in there. We will continue the Wonkette and Cynic's Party snark-off, and stick with Megan McArdle for a libertarian point of view and 2008 Central as the centrist blog. As always I will likely guess wrong about the blogs to monitor and will be scrambling for substitutes once we get started.



Wonkette: "...the only way Hillary Clinton can win the 2008 Democratic nomination: get it close, fudge some rules, break the country. Let’s see if she can do it!"
VodkaPundit: "The problem with hauling the laptop into the bedroom for these events is, I can’t have a cigar in the bedroom. Who wants to contribute to the Buy VodkaPundit an Outdoor Television Fund?"
Daily Kos: "Obama just needs to basically hold his ground. Clinton can "win" any given exchange on pure debating points (and often does) but unless she knocks something so far out of the park it achieves orbit, or unless Obama screws up in a big way, it's unlikely to change the dynamic of the race, and that dynamic favors Obama.""Will Hillary Clinton continue her harsh attacks from the weekend on Barack Obama? Will Obama maintain his cool presence he’s worked hard to maintain in these debates? Will Tim Russert admit he attended law school at Cleveland State on national television? Will Clinton fight back against MSNBC, or have those battles passed? Will Obama keep up his attacks on Clinton? Will Brian Williams ask more or fewer than 4 pointless questions"
Reason - David Weigel: "For all the hubbub about Clinton's attacks and graceful exit line in the Texas debate, polls showed that voters think she lost it, badly: Texas voters who watched it swung hard against her. Clinton spent the weekend bashing Obama in Ohio, but today she backed off and her campaign pushed the argument that the media was rooting for her to lose. The goal, I'd guess is to stoke up some anti-Obama questioning from the Russert-Williams moderator tag team."

DWSUWF - Ok, I am 15 minutes behind. Sue me. Apparently the entire debate is about health care - so - No problem. Megan McArdle is not live-blogging, so back to David Weigel at Reason.



Wonkette: "First question, paraphrased: Hillary, do you consider calling Barack shameful and a liar very “valedictory”? Why are you still running against our favorite Kenyan potted plant?"
VodkaPundit: "Well, this is a contested campaign…” Clinton, explaining her “change of tone” since the debate last Saturday. She excuses herself by playing defense on NAFTA and her health care plan. It’s a judo move, trying to make Obama look like the attacker. I think it sounds lame."
Daily Kos: "Hillary denies the recent Obama photo came from her camp and Obama graciously accepts that response ""The first question is about some the anger expressed by Hillary Clinton over the weekend. She explains that she is upset because she believes that Obama is distorting her record and the facts and wants to have a real debate grounded on true statements. Williams follows up with a question about the now infamous photo of Obama in Somalian elder clothes that appeared on Drudge. She states that to the best of her knowledge she is not aware of it coming from her campaign."
Reason - David Weigel: "Clinton brings the funny: "If anyone saw Saturday Night Live, maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and if he needs another pillow." The crowd is so amused that it stays stone silent. (Does she really want people to wash a show where the guest host recommended Ohio votes for her because "bitches get things done?""

DWSUWF - Rolling. Will branch out to more blogs if I catch up. Right.



Wonkette: "Ooh, the University of Pennsylvania (among others) said Barack’s attacks on Hillary’s health care plans were unfair. Well, this writer recently graduated from this same UPenn and now writes dick jokes all day on Wonkette. Advantage, Barry."
CYNICS' PARTY commenter Cynica:"OMG, she’s self-destructing! She just pointed out that she ALWAYS gets the first question in EVERY debate; “I’m not complaining, I just think it’s curious.” Also, she said spending 16 minutes on who covers more people under their healthcare plan is OK because “that’s the most important issue.” Really? I’m a lot more concerned about stagflation and the war in Iraq than about some pipedream of UHC that I don’t see ever happening in this “you eat what you kill” culture. Arrrgh!"
VodkaPundit: "What is it about Democrats that they can talk for hours over who covers either 14 or 15 million more people? Yawn... “This is not just any issue… but whether the country will do what is right.” “Right” in this case telling millions of people exactly what to do. I thought rights were things the government isn’t allowed to stop us from doing. "
Daily Kos: "They ended up getting into what they got into last week - trading the exact same points about their healthcare plans. Obama says mandates are bad and Clinton doesn't cover everyone anyway, Clinton says Obama does have a mandate, Obama says "wait, let me answer that..." and the debate does not move on. It's an important issue, but we've gotten to the point where there's no value being added in the discussion.""Clinton will not let this discussion go. She contends that at the point that Obama’s plan has mandates, he recognizes the necessity of them and argues that it’s simply bad policy for him to leave them out in the broader sense... Brian Williams tries to shift the topic and Clinton is not having any of that. She talks right over him until she’s able to make her point. Finally, Williams changes topics to NAFTA, but not before complaining about the 16-minute discussion on health care."
Reason - David Weigel: "All this wonking on health care can't be good for Clinton: She has hit this argument in state after state, in (as Obama said) negative mail and robocalls, and the vote of Democrats who care about this has shifted to Obama anyway. She is convinced that her crushing defeat on this issue in 1994 gave her credibility for life. Voters: Less convinced."

DWSUWF - I am still losing ground. Well, after all - this is a second degree derivative blog. Give me a break.


Wonkette: "It’s a NAFTA question, for Hillary — basically, what does she think about it in toto? Hillary thinks this is a good opportunity to mention her Saturday Night Live endorsement. — Oh, and she thinks NAFTA’s terrible and broken and they should fix it, terrible law. Would you like a pillow with your retort, Barack?"
CYNICS' PARTY commenter pedonator:"The most important message of tonight’s debate: Television doesn’t stop!"
VodkaPundit: "Oh, please. Clinton says she has been against NAFTA “since the beginning,” but bit her tongue because she was First Lady. Did I already say “Oh, please?” And what the hell is a “trade time-out?” - “Hey, Mexico, don’t send us any stuff for a couple weeks while we figure stuff out. You too, Canada. We don’t need no stinkin’ Dodge Chargers for a while. Obama wants a “fair deal” for American workers. Harry Truman called, and he wants his line back."
Daily Kos: "Russert pressuring Clinton for a response to pull out of NAFTA within 6 months of taking office. Clinton refuses to commit to the timeline. The crowd let out a collective gasp. She says she wants to renegotiate. Obama agrees with Clinton and says that renegotiation is the way to go.""Tim Russert confirms that Sen. Clinton indeed said what Obama suggested that she did about NAFTA. Notes that during the ’90s, Al Gore said that the president can withdraw from NAFTA within six months and asks Clinton if she’s elected, will she notify Canada and Mexico that she’ll withdraw from NAFTA. Clinton says she will notify Canada and Mexico that we will opt out, unless we renegotiate some of the core components of the agreement. Noting Obama’s equivocation/ambivalence on the issue, Russert asks him the same question about withdrawing from NAFTA. Obama seconded Clinton’s answer."
Reason - David Weigel: "Woo-whee, here comes the trade restrictionist one-upping! Clinton has "always" been critical of NAFTA (remember when she strapped herself to her husband's desk and refused to let him sign the treaty?) and wants a trade pause. Obama awkwardly unleashes some oppo: "When she was... running for the Senate, she said... NAFTA had been... on balance, good for New York and good for America. I disagree.' - Good for Russert, citing trade facts to both candidates and trying to get them admit they're pandering to economic ignorance."

DWSUWF - Tough for both candidates to triangulate, when primary voters like NAFTA in Texas and hate it in Ohio. Perhaps next time the Dems can align the primaries around the issues. Only states on the same side of an issue can hold primaries on the same day.



Wonkette - Ken Layne: "Ha ha, Hillary made a speech about how Barack Obama is just like George W. Bush. — Ha ha ha more, John McCain has “vast” experience in foreign policy, in that he has been a tool of lobbyists from here to the Middle East. — $12 billion a month x 100 years = Who f*cking cares, we’ll all be dead then, anyway. — Attacking sovereign nations, blowing up our allies, blah blah, whatever."
CYNICS' PARTY commenter Lyndon LaDouche: "I like how Barry sits back from time to time with a “Bitch is wack” expression. I think she’s doing badly. She looks tense, aggressive (not in the good way) and curiously ineffectual. And the voice! Please! Turn down the mic. He is being very much the candidate waiting out her rants."
VodkaPundit: "Obama on the Muslim world: “You know those elections and riots that have totally screwed up Pakistan lately? I would have made sure they happened much sooner.”
Clinton on Obama: “He gave a great speech in 2002 when he didn’t have to do anything.” And, “until relatively recently” Obama and Clinton have voted the same on war issues in the Senate. It’s a pretty lame attack. - On the other hand, Clinton pointing out that threatening to “bomb Pakistan” maybe wasn’t “too wise” was pretty sweet... Obama’s weakness is, he forgets that the enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda and Sunni deadenders, and not the government in Baghdad."
Daily Kos: "Williams asks Obama to defend his lack of foreign experience. Obama hits back with his stance that he was against going into Iraq and brings up holes in our current policy in Pakistan. Says his judgment in these matters is superior to Clinton's. Hillary is now pointing to her own foreign travel and experience. Then turning to Obama's Iraq vote and his record of voting to fund the war. She keeps going negative and it just isn't working. This is not pretty.""Clinton will respect Iraq’s sovereign wishes too. Then, takes issue with Obama’s argument about his judgment on Pakistan and Afghanistan by stating that he’s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs and hasn’t had any oversight hearings yet on issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama concedes that he hasn’t had oversight hearings yet. He states that he became chairman of that subcommittee when the campaign began and then seems to suggest that oversight hearings wouldn’t have really mattered much anyway because of the Bush Administration. Uhm, I’m not sure this is a particular good response."
Reason - David Weigel: "Would Clinton skedaddle from Iraq if the people asked her to? "Absolutely." She makes another unheard-thus-far oppo attack, that Obama hasn't held Afghanistan oversight hearings. There's probably not space in a debate to tease out Clinton's real foreign policy differences with Obama. She has the White House's ear; he doesn't. She was extremely Janus-faced about the surge. But she comes off as well as she possibly could talking about her specific (and forgotten) Senate initiatives."

DWSUWF - Agree with Weigel - no real difference between their positions, but this is the reason that McCain loses in November. It's still the war stupid.


(sounds like an Elton John song)

Wonkette - Ken Layne: "Louis Farrakhan likes you. Why do you kill white people that you supposedly will represent — or is there something you’re not telling us? Let’s up the ante, Barry: why do you support the Holocaust you anti-Semitic piece of sh*t? Nah nah, Barry says. No anti-Semitism. Ruh roh, Hillary wants to chime in on her relationship with the Jews. — Barack thinks her dichotomy on their different ways of denouncing Jew-denouncers is, say, a false dichotomy. He thinks there’s really no difference and he’ll denounce Jew-denouncers in all sorts of fancy wordplay. — Hillary agrees. Barack Obama does not hate the Jews"
CYNICS' PARTY commenter pedonator: "Well I’m glad that we’re all agreed on denouncing and rejecting anti-Semitism, and much more importantly, anti-Israelism. Because we all know they’re one and the same. That was just about the most awkward few minutes I’ve seen so far in this campaign, from both of them."
VodkaPundit: "My drunkblog is being liveblogged. That’s so meta, I need a drink... Kudos for Obama for denouncing Louis Farrakhan… but then he dodged the issue of rejecting Farrakhan’s support. Dude, you can’t pull out after you’ve… oh, never mind. Obama: “The Jews love me!” Clinton: “They love me, too!” This half-Jew is pretty much sick of the both of you."
Daily Kos: "Clinton followed Russert's attempt at a bullshit anti-semitism issue with Farrakhan's support of Obama with an even more bullshit moment in which she jumped on him for only denouncing rather than rejecting, and he agrees to do both while pointing out the silly vagueness of the distinction.""ROAR! No, it’s not a monster; it’s another Russert question. He asks if Obama will reject Louis Farrakhan’s support. Obama says that he doesn’t condone some of Farrakhan’s remarks, but isn’t really sure what else to say on the subject. Russert wants to know what Obama will say to the Jewish community to reassure them that he doesn’t support/agree with the anti-semitic remarks that Farrakhan has made. *sigh* Really? Is it really necessary to ask Obama to say that he’s not antisemitic? I could understand if he was having high-tea and pork with Farrakhan on a regular basis, but, they don’t even deal with each other. As you can imagine, Obama says he’s not anti-semitic. *shock* I guess these are the kinds of lawyering skills Russert learned in law school (and may also explain why he’s not a lawyer). Clinton follows up by noting that in New York she rejected the Independence Party because of anti-semitic statements that they have made in the past and adds that she did so in the face of political"
Reason - David Weigel: "Huh. Notice how Obama keeps looking away from Russert after each of this "what do you think of this asshole who supports you? When's the last time you shaved your head and drove your car into a bris?" questions. I don't think these questions were good for Obama, but Russert packaged them in a friendly way, to let Obama explain his connections away. And he doesn't interrupt them. That was surreal, Clinton's attempt to re-link Obama and Farrakhan by pointing out, hey, she's rejected anti-Semites full-out. I can't decide if Obama defused it by making it sound like she was parsing."

DWSUWF - Oh man... I am a full hour behind, but I have to have a drink now with my fellow half-jew Vodka Pundit.

Umm - That's really good. A simple tall drink - Gin and Tonic. Boodles Gin. A double. And another. I just realized how I can get caught up, just go right to...



Wonkette - Ken Layne: "Does Hillary regret anything? Does Barack regret too much? — Hillary: Well… Jesus, let me rack my brain!… I’ve mentioned the Iraq vote was iffy before — Russert: DO YOU REGRET IT — Oh Tim, it was the Bush Administration, you see, who did the Iraq war after I pretended to vote for it, no big — Russert: DO YOU REGRET THE VOTE, BILLARY. — Tim, did you know that Barack did crack in high school, while plagiarizing, and last week too? — Russert: DO YOU REGRET THE VOTE, BILLARY ROD-SHAM CLINTON. — Yeah sure I regret that vote all the time."
CYNICS' PARTY commenter SanFranLefty: "She looks so much better than last week. But I agree on the Rhode Island sweatshirt, etc., that Chelsea needs to step up and take a role in pointing her mom to some nipped-in jackets in cool jewel tones. Hillz does have beautiful skin and eyes and I’m sure just an hour with Tim Gunn could do so much to help."
VodkaPundit: "Clinton, at long last, renounced her vote on the Iraq War. I think. Kind of, anyway. Depending on how you parse the Clintonese, that little statement could be the big story of the night. Obama would have changed how he acted (or failed to act) regarding Terry Schiavo. Nobody gained anything to be proud of from that sad case. And we end with a general love fest, group hugs, kumbaya and all that."
Daily Kos:"Russert is asking them what vote they'd like to take back. He is treating this like Meet the Press rather than a debate. Obama going back to the economy and trying to end on a high note with compliments for Clinton. No doubt he came off looking better tonight.""Russert wants to know if either candidate would like to take back a vote or a statement they have made. Clinton won’t admit she made a mistake on Iraq, much to Tim’s chagrin, but she does state that she would like to have her vote back. Obama would like to take back his inaction on the Senate’s approval of the legislation that allowed the Federal government to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. You see, many Senators (including Obama) were on vacation when the bill came to the floor and so it passed with little opposition. To Obama’s credit, he does answer these questions honestly. However, this Schiavo issue is something he talked about regretting back in April 2007, so it’s not like he’s saying anything novel or particularly controversial. Although, it’s probably not a good political strategy to say something unpleasant took place in part because you were on vacation."
Reason - David Weigel: "Why. In the name of God. Would Clinton bring up Iraq in her closing answer? It's the third or fourth issue on the minds of Ohio voters. It's the issue that Obama owns her on. It's like she threw in the towel, walked into the ring, grabbed it, and threw it again. And this is just weird: Obama is taking the long leash the moderates have given him and doing his own version of Clinton's closing answer from the Texas debate. He closes weakly. I think he needs occasional bursts of applause to keep his solar panels charged."

DWSUWF - That gin and tonic was good. I think I'll have another one.



Wonkette - Ken Layne: "Barack Obama doesn’t look like a clown, which becomes painfully apparent watching Andrea Mitchell, Jesse Jackson and Chris Matthews jabbering dumbly. Keith Olbermann is … uh … hang on, we need to get a lot more wine, in our mouth. Pat Buchanan is somehow Barack’s biggest supporter. Rachel Maddow wants us to know that we should not vote to drive into a ditch. And that means JOHN McCAIN WON THE DEBATE. Oh what is wrong with this woman?"
CYNICS' PARTY commenter RedManLaw: "I’d have scored it 54-46 Hillz in the first half, and the reverse of that for 2/3 of the second half... Unicorn could have pointed out that Bill Clinton’s only significant foreign policy experience prior to becoming president was letting Columbian drug planes land at Mena... Pundit on MSNBC just said O was “strong, firm and in command.” Notice that Hillz said she was part of the administration when talking about good stuff coming from Hubby’s administration? O shoulda jumped on that like a loose ball and made it 3rd and long. Barry didn’t lose, so I’m good with it."
VodkaPundit: VodkaPundit has either passed out or is still working on his Pajamas Media wrap-up. So we switch to noted gay conservative author and Obama supporter -
Andrew Sullivan:
"Obama won it - quite easily. It was overwhelming before the final break. But decisive nonetheless. I can't see how she manages to rescue her campaign now. And his momentum will continue. It's over, right?"
Daily Kos: "I'm not sure which is worse.....Russert moderating or Matthews analyzing afterward... Well, now we know what's worst of all: Russert and Matthews analyzing it together. Two such stupid men so pleased with themselves, their grins wrapping around their entire damn heads as they stroke each other's egos..""If you’re still watching MSNBC, change the channel immediately or risk absorbing some of the idiocy that is almost guaranteed to ensue. Matthews opens his analysis by complaining that the 16 minutes of health care policy discussion was pointless and boring; he laments the lack of fireworks. Apparently, substantive discussions are bad for Americans to listen to because it means we may learn something. Does he realize how incredibly detailed debates over policy and political discourse used to be say 60 or so years ago?"
Reason - David Weigel: "America loses. Obama waffled and swerved and sounded worse than I think he usually sounds. He was saved on the Farrakhan issue only when Clinton went overboard. He was saved on his closing only when Williams asked for another closing. Clinton sounded about the same as she did in Texas... Geraghty thinks the moderators sowed doubts among swing voters by asking about things Obama is never asked about. I'm inclined to agree but only if Clinton uses some of those revelations on the trail."

DWSUWF - Consensus view - the debate was a draw. DWSUWF agrees. Clinton will take Ohio. So it's all about Texas. If she takes Texas and Ohio, she'll take Pennsylvania. If she finishes with all three, the superdelegates will give her the nomination regardless of the pledged delegate count. The price for the nomination, will be to make Obama VP. With that ticket Dems win in a landslide, because either can chew up and spit out McCain on TV. Think Kennedy vs. Nixon.

If I have anything else to add. I'll update tomorrow.

Sheesh. The MSNBC crew is taking a lot of flak. I though Russert, Matthews, Williams and MSNBC did a credible job.

Some links may be screwed up. Probably some typos. I'll fix tomorrow.


UPDATE: 27-February-2008

Made a few repairs. Added a few links. Edited a few linked quotes.


Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is the Clinton Campaign Undead?

Image credit: Diesel at the Mattress Police

I said I would update the last post with concluding thoughts on the Democratic debate, but as it turns out no real analysis is needed. After watching the coverage on CNN and MSNBC, I realized that the Democratic race was indeed over, and apparently only Hillary Clinton and her campaign is tragically unaware of this fact.

Keith Olbermann in particular seemed positively and justifiably incensed (and nobody does righteous indignation like KO) that Clinton is continuing a hard scrabble fight for every vote and delegate, behaving for all the world like - I dunno - she is running hard to win the nomination for the Presidency of the United States. Bitch.

Keith directs the conversation to his predetermined conclusion analyzes the debate with Newsweek's Richard Wolff in Thursday's Countdown Transcript:
OLBERMANN: "Richard, there is a handshake in there, there’s a standing ovation. It sounded not just polite, it sounded conciliatory. In that answer, did we find out ultimately which part of her camp, which elements in her campaign group won the battle? The go nuclear camp towards the stretch run here, or the preserve dignity camp?"
Interesting formulation there Keith. The Clinton camp can either "go nuclear" or "preserve dignity" and apparently "fighting to win the nomination" is no longer an acceptable option in the world according to Keith Olbermann.
OLBERMANN: Well, interpret that, because obviously that’s the headline question before we go nuts and bolts on the individual answers, was there a message in there? Was there some sort of door being knocked on even if Hillary Clinton has gone from great favorite to long shot underdog, was she knocking on the door saying, you know what, we don’t have to be enemies, here, if you’re going to beat me, I’m not going to drag the ticket down, I’m not going to drag the Democrats down, I would be even willing to campaign for you, I might even be on your ticket? Is it too much to read all that into a simple handshake and a “we’ll be fine” answer at the end?

WOLFFE: We’re reading a lot into it, but I think it was striking. Look, that was by far and away her best moment of the debate. It was the very last moment of the debate, so if she was really trying to deliver that message, she could have done it right at the very start...

OLBERMANN: Just as we speak, an e-mail has gone out from the Clinton campaign. Let me ask you about this. This is from Howard Wolfson about that very last moment.
“What we saw in the final moments,” said Wolfson of the Clinton campaign, of course, “in that debate, is why Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States. Her strength, her life experience, her compassion, she’s tested and ready. It was the moment she retook the reins of this race and showed women and men why she is the best choice.”
I don’t know of anybody who would have seen that who would have thought of that in terms of a commanding moment other than Howard Wolfson. Does that suggest that when she got off that stage, somebody in her camp said: why did you do that? And was outraged, surprised, shocked, whatever term you’d want to use?

WOLFFE: Well, look, the campaign has got to continue to fight and project some confidence in their own victory ...
What is it with these people? Keith Olbermann - I mean, KEITH OLBERMANN - the righteously indignant voice of "Countdown's Special Comment" and keeper of the flame of white hot truth- that very self-same KEITH OLBERMANN - determined through his insightful analysis that Clinton was virtually conceding the nomination to Obama and that the campaign is all over. Done. Finis. And Richard Wolffe is going to suggest that THE OLBERMANN is reading too much into it? It is truly surprising that a man of Richard Wolffe's journalistic credentials fails to appreciate THE OLBERMANN analysis. And that is not the worst of it. Howard Wolfson, The Clinton campaign Communications Director had the temerity, the unmitigated gall, to suggest that the Clinton's concluding comments showed she was the best candidate and was continuing to fight on. I could feel Keith's disappointment and pain as he shook his head and clucked his tongue while reading that blatant falsehood.

It really should be enough for all of us that THE OLBERMANN has rendered judgment on the race. But for those who, for reason beyond all understanding, do not think that Keith Olbermann's assessment is definitive, there is a virtual unanimity of similar views in in the blogosphere and mainstream media:

Kristopher at The World Around You says to "Put a Fork in Her", while Bill Quick of the Daily Pundit prefers the "stick a fork in her" phrasing as does pundit guy and the Hub Blog. GPC justs ruminates about the nature of Hillary and forks over a Friday Lunch. Doug Mataconis is attending to the "Hillary Clinton Death Watch" , while Kos says "no need, she is already dead". Larry Kudlow also says it is over, over, over, and The New York Times metaphorically sees a darkening horizon, but I am not sure if they are invoking a setting sun or an approaching storm or - you know - that thing that always happens before the dawn. The Seattle times prefers a boxing metaphor, putting Hillary Clinton "on the ropes". Sully finds that Hillary Clinton in the rear view mirror is still closer and larger than he would like.

Hillary Clinton is also getting a lot of advice. Gordo advises that "Clinton should back off" and Jonathon Alter wants her to "get out now". Carl wrote an open letter to the Senator as did the Zaftig Redhead, posting her open letter at TPM and saying "Cease campaign operations -- NOW. Call a press conference. Preferably before the Ohio and Texas contests. "

All this advice. All this certainty. All this unanimity. What is Hillary thinking? Why would she continue to subject us all to this completely pointless campaign? It is so so sad.

After all, the only way she could win is if she won in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Even Bill understands that and has said as much. There is just no reason to think there is any possibility of that happening, unless you want to put some stock in the meaningless fact that SHE IS LEADING THE POLLS IN ALL THREE STATES (although a virtual tie in Texas). Why does she not understand that she must get out of the race with dignity even though SHE IS LEADING IN PENNSYLVANIA, LEADING IN OHIO, and LEADING IN TEXAS? Nobody knows. After all, that outcome would only give her victories for EVERY SINGLE BIG CITY STATE IN THE COUNTRY INCLUDING NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, CALIFORNA, MASSACHUSETTS, TEXAS, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, FLORIDA*, and MICHIGAN*, excepting only Illinois. ALL OF THEM.

Not sure what is wrong with this Caps Lock key. It appears to be sticking. Whatever.

Now some silly, uniformed amateur political dilettantes might think that three big state victories in a row would bring the Obama "10 in a row" momentum to a full, four wheel lockup, tire screeching stop. Some might think the momentum would then be in Clinton's favor, just in time to provide political cover for the super delegates to “vote their [arm-twisted] conscience” about what is best for the Democratic party in November. You know, like winning all the big states.

Don't listen to them Hillary. Just get out. Don't keep fighting. It's all over. Please, please consider these quotes and face reality:

Rasmussen says that Obama has an insurmountable lead in the polls, The Huffington Post says the Shaken Clinton Camp facing trench warfare after probable defeat and Keith Olbermann says "All right, if the polls are on the money there, it‘s Obama by at least a dozen... In that construction, what could possibly happen later on that would make this statement false: when the polls close... Barack Obama will have cinched the Democratic nomination?"

Oh wait. All of the links in that last paragraph were from just before New Hampshire primary, which umm... Clinton won. My bad. No matter. That's irrelevant. Just get out, Hillary. Just quit now for the good of the party and the country.

Senator Clinton - let me add my voice to the chorus and net this out for you:

We don't want a president that can pull off a come-from-behind, against-the-odds, back-against the-wall victory using old fashioned hard ball politics. The Democratic Party does not want a fighter that is building momentum at the end of the process with wins in Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Finally, we the American people don't want a president that can cut deals, trade favors, twist arms, and pull every trick in the book to win the nomination. If Obama has more elected delegates earned in a byzantine undemocratic nomination process that is over-weighted with caucuses that ignores Florida and Michigan, well that should be definitive. I mean, in this world (It's a small world after all) , who would want a hard eyed, ball-cutting, arm-twisting, politically sophisticated, articulate, scary-smart policy wonk, who is a cutthroat negotiator, never gives up, figures every angle, a political realist and ruthless bitch sitting in the oval office and leading our country?

No, no, no - we don't want that.

What we really want is the inspirational leader of a children's crusade.

Can we fix it? "Yes we can."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Live Blogging the Live Bloggers - Clinton's Last Stand

UPDATED: Tuesday 26-Feb-2008
It has been a while since we attempted a live blog of the live bloggers, but with the last two Democratic presidential candidates taking the stage tonight for a debate hosted by CNN and moderated by Campbell Brown - we are on the case. I'll start with the question I have asked before:
"There are plenty of bloggers covering the debate live tonight, but is anyone covering the live bloggers? DWSUWF rushes in where other, more sensible bloggers, fear to tread. "
As always, we'll include Daily Kos, Heading Right for a left and right perspective. Tonight we will include both the cynical champion Wonkette and upstart Cynic's Party for a snark-off, and Reason Hit and Run Blog for a libertarian point of view. I'll also monitor the Moderate Voice and include a centrist blog if I can find one blogging live between now and 8:00 PM EDT. I will likely guess wrong about the blogs to monitor and will be scrambling for a substitutes once we get started.

It'll take a few minutes to ramp up, the beer has been poured and here we go - keep refreshing your browser for latest updates ...
Wonkette:"It’s another Fight Night tonight on the teevee, with Obama and Hillary debating again, this time from Austin"
Cynic's Party: No thread? Just a quote from George Bush in Africa - "It’s easier to tear a country down than to build it up."
Daily Kos Commenter LYFE: "Let the Games Begin! Does Clinton go negative?""Campbell Brown is the moderator; somewhere, Katie Couric is sad. She couldn’t get to moderate a debate but her stand in when she was at the Today Show does."
Reason - David Weigel: "Expect Hillary Clinton to hit Obama on experience, Obama to promise change, and... well, for basically every argument to echo the arguments of 9 months ago, but do so with meaner adjectives. Drink when you hear the words "Rezko," "ready," "lifted," (the soft version of "plagiarized") and "John Edwards" and you'll black out at 8:43 or so."

Cripes. Late again. Debate is underway.

Wonkette: "Is there some weird microphone problem? Is there a heavy wind onstage? Not sure about this jacket of Hillary’s…the piping on the collar makes it looks like two little yellow strings are leaping out of her sternum."
Cynic's Party Commenter RML: "Barry’s off to a slow start. Hils was very warm, almost human, in her opening remarks. Please, God, don’t let him chinger it up esta noche."
Daily Kos Commenter Mr. Met: "I'm loving Hillary's stump steech!Yes, the ENTIRE DAMN THING.""Clinton gives an opening statement about working in Texas 36 years ago. She name drops Barbara Jordan and Ann Richards. Talks up starting S-CHIP, and what she did to give health care to reservists. Says that discrimination against sick people ought be unconstitutional, and that veteran care needs to be improved. Finishes by talking about her “lifetime of experience.” And apparently her campaign is now “your campaign."
Asymmetrical Information: "Hillary is looking chipper and trim; she's clearly one of those people who thrives on soul-crushing defeat. Her speech, however, sets my teeth on edge. She compares being uninsured to being racially discriminated against. Having diabetes is all kinds of awful--but not the same kind of awful as being a black kid in Selma ca. 1946."

Substituting Megan McArdle for Dave Weigel who is taking the night off.

Wonkette: "Will Hillary meet with Raul Castro? She says she will, after he makes it clear Cuba will not be Communist anymore. Obama, on the other hand, has probably already been to Cuba, as he is a genetic Communist."
Cynic's Party Commenter RML: "Cuba - someone should reference how Nixon went to China. Start unofficially, keep the summit on the downlow and go in for a historic visit and some iconic images. Maybe someone will write an opera about Barry going to Havana (and sneaking off for a stogie when Michelle isn’t looking)."
Daily Kos Commenter Cruz: "On Cuba - Why is Hillary speaking as if she will be president of Cuba? Will she meet with Raul, or not?""Obama says that he’s willing to meet with Raul Castro, and sees an opportunity to change. Distinguishes preparation from precondition, but it sounds really, really similar. Like, really similar. He cites freeing political prisoners. Talks about opening change here with remittances and visiting."
Asymmetrical Information: "Obama comes out with bold, transgressive statement: not so much liberty in Cuba.. All right, Obama is suggesting ending the travel ban. Not quite bold and transgressive, but refreshingly sensible."

I just noticed I overlooked a right wing site. Looking...

Wonkette: "handsome Jorge of Univision is like a Latin Anderson Cooper. He could maybe talk more, and the candidates could maybe talk less? Nope, more hectoring about comprehensive immigration reform. She is so very detailed. She needs a little laser-beam pointer so that she can show us the immigrants in the shadows. Boy, she is going to do a lot in the first hundred days of her presidency."
Cynic's Party Commenter Pedonator: "Barry has a charming if quixotic position on improving Mexico’s economy to stem the tide of illegal immigration. With Cantarell collapsing and PEMEX chronically corrupt, he’d better get on that DAY ONE!"
Daily Kos Commenter markusd: "Obama sucks at this - He is rambling, no energy, not in command of what he's saying. Yeah, I know, he has a cold. He's "had a cold" for every other debate, it seems.""Obama says they agree. Says consulting with local communities is the key, and that listening is important. Moves on to saying justice is important, and deporting everyone is absurd, but order is important. Says everything is linked, and that is why comprehensive reform is important. Says passing the DREAM act is important for allowing children who have broken no laws on their own access to citizenship."
Asymmetrical Information: "The candidates are on the spot: moderator asks flat out whether they would finish the fence or undo it. Hillary tries to dodge by changing the topic to Canada. No, seriously. The Canadian hordes with their ice guns and their exaggerated "oo" sounds will not violate the territoriality of this great nation on Hillary Clinton's watch. 54°40' or fight! Anyone who might have thought that Hillary Clinton had, like, voted for the fence was mistaken. She was voting for possibly considering the fence. Once again, Obama agrees with HIllary. Why is he running against her again?"
McQ at QandO: "CLINTON:English should remain our common unifying language. That's how immigrants have become a part of America. But doesn't want to see English be the "official" language. Hmmm, one of the few things she's not really willing to make a law.
OBAMA: Important that everyone learn English and that's a unifying language. Bi-lingual education? Sure. Children should learn a second language. Failure of NCLB - Bush, Bush, Bush, tests, Bush. Don't forget it was Teddy Kennedy's wet dream."

Q&O picks up the right wing live blogging responsibilities - only live blogger I cound find from the Heading Right site - I suspect a vast Right Wing Conspiracy to ignore this debate. I am not drinking enough. I have to go the bathroom.


Wonkette: "Obama can’t help it if you can’t get past his mellifluous baritone and soulful stylings to the meat of his meat-filled arguments. Hillary: That isn’t change you can believe in, that’s change you can XEROX! Audible gasps and moans in the press room."
Cynic's Party Commenter nojo: “Change you can Xerox.” Great line. Who wrote it?"
Daily Kos Commenter jj24: "change you can xerox - what an asshole.""Obama mentions Patrick giving him the line and that the accusations are silly. Goes back to the “Silly Season” line that he last brought up in the kindergarten paper kerfuffle. Says some of his speeches are pretty good. Blatant egoism? Yeesh. That’s not going to play well everywhere. Talks about what he says in speeches, mentioning education and his position on Iraq. Clinton is asked about it being “Silly Season.” Says that if your candidacy is going to be about speech, it should be your own words. Says it’s not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox. Audience boos."
Asymmetrical Information: "DC journalistic establishment consensus, based on a completely unscientific sample of two journalists in my livingroom plus some internet chatter: this debate is boring. Surprisingly so, considering that you've got Hillary Clinton, a pretty formidable debater, in a fight for her life... Is it just me or does Obama look like he's trying to let down Hillary gently? He doesn't seem like he's really desperate to defeat her."
McQ at QandO: "Yes, two lines, words matter, Patrick is his National co-chair who suggested he use the words. Silly season in politics. Forget all of that, how are we going to make college affordable, etc. Not just hope and inspiration but a $4,000 tax credit to make college affordable. Specific, concrete proposals, not just words. Clinton: If you candidacy is about words, they should be your words. Finally, fireworks!"

Gonna have to check the transcript. I thought I heard Obama say he had only been using the "words" for two weeks. As DWSUWF readers know, it's not the first time. Barack better hope it is the last. He has been set up to get cut off at the knees on the next discovered "borrowing".


Wonkette: "Remember way back in the year nineteen hundred and ninety three, when half of Obama’s supporters weren’t even born yet? Hillary was failing back then, too, at health care reform. John McCain was having sex with a lobbyist one-quarter his age."
Cynic's Party Commenter RML: “Hilz - first cheap shot referencing the ill-prepared surrogate. BO - Hilz f*cked up in her shot at change (health plan, yo) so give me a shot. Ms. CNN Tool brings up plagiarism. Bullshit. *boos for Hillz*"
Daily Kos Commenter beauchapeau: "This undecided Ohio voter who is 27 years old, a former Edwards supporter (and Dean supporter in 2004), and college educated, and employed at a top-30 liberal arts college ... has just decided to vote for Hillary Clinton while watching tonight's debate. And I'm surprised. I had been kind of leaning Obama. I'm not even 100% sure what pushed me in that direction. But who knows, I have almost two weeks. Maybe I'll change my mind again. Or sit it out.""Clinton says she took on universal health care against special interests in 1993 and 1994, and health insurance companies are deciding who should live and die is wrong. 9:03: Obama says he will debate the issues. Cites Clinton calling his plan universal health care earlier in the campaign. Says their plans are 95% the same, citing precisely how that is the case. Talks about the philosophical difference over mandates, and cites Robert Reich. Says that they agree on goals but differ on how to get there. He then moves into criticizing how Clinton tried to get health care passed behind closed doors instead of with people behind it."
Asymmetrical Information: "A huge portion of this debate has consisted of Hillary bashing Obama about the lack of a mandate in his health care plan. As readers know, I don't want more government involvement in the health care system. Nonetheless, even if you do, it's worth pointing out that, as Austan Goolsbee explained to me a while back, the mandate just doesn't matter that much. Barack Obama has arguably the best health care economist in the country on his team; if David Cutler doesn't think that mandates are necessary or useful, then it's probably not worth spending a ton of time debating."
QandO: "Now she's contrasting her "universal" health care system with his voluntary system. Bush, Bush, Bush. - Obama: Health care programs are basically the same. Philosophical difference - mandated vs. voluntary. Different ways of getting there. - Clinton: Mandates are a must!! [Lord spare us]. She's reduced to quoting John Edwards. What if Social Security was voluntary [oh, I can dream]. Obama: Not a mandate on government to provide it, it is a mandate on citizens to get it. Uses MA system as a mandated system failing."

This is hard work.

LAST "philosophical" QUESTION
Wonkette: "HRC - "Whatever happens, we’ll be fine.” This is a breakup speech."
Cynic's Party: Hillary had a MOMENT. As the debate drew to a close, Hills got all emo and started talking about how she just wants to help America so, so bad because she loves God, and babies, and puppies, and stuff. It was some very touching shit. After she spoke the crowd was applauding like crazy. They may have been cheering because the debate was over, but the bottom line is they were putting their hands together and making noise, and it was right after Hillary spoke."
Daily Kos - Scout Finch: "While I think that Barack Obama generally won the debate tonight, there is no doubt that Hillary's final response was her strongest of the night.""Last question, finally. What was a moment that tested each the most? Obama says he would not point to a single moment, but his entire life. Says learning to take responsibility for his own actions and how he could bring people together. Cites his cumulative experience as a reason he is qualified to provide a better government. Clinton says everyone knows she’s lived through crises. Says she does not know how she keeps going, but challenges of everyday Americans are far more difficult. Talks about speaking at the opening of a facility for injured troops in San Antonio, and how the problems they deal with are so serious, and she has vowed to improve people’s lives from a young age. Says she and Obama will be fine, and she hopes she can say the same thing about the American people."
Asymmetrical Information: "Is she gonna cry? Is she? No. That was a nice little speech Hillary gave, saying that whoever gets elected, "we'll" be fine. I suspect that the folks inside Hillary's campaign who were pushing for a new "likeability" strategy won a big argument this afternoon."
QandO: "Love fest. Oh, man, she's toast. It's almost like she's saying goodbye. It is mercifully over. The expected standing "O". Gotta tell you folks - a fairly standard performance for both with a small spike of excitement. Not what the Clinton candidacy needed"

I'm done. Dinner & drink await. I'll sleep on it and update with concluding thoughts tomorrow. But first, I just want everyone to know, that I have been through crisis' and challenges in this post, but I know it is nothing compared to what you the DWSUWF reader must go through. No matter what happened in this live blog, I was honored, honored, to be here with my fellow live bloggers. I am absolutely honored. Whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the DWSUWF readers, and that's what this blog should be about.

UPDATED: Tuesday 26-Feb-2008
The "concluding thoughts" expanded into a full-blown rant about the media treatment of the debate and campaigns of both candidates, was too much for an update, and moved to a new post here.

We had some fun with this and the post attracted the attention of few other bloggers commenting on the "meta" nature of live blogging live bloggers. Among them Megan McArdle who ws live blogging at Asymmetrical Information and guest blogging at Instapundit:
"NOT THOROUGHLY TIRED OF DEBATE-BLOGGING YET? Well, for all two of you, Divided We Stand has live-blogged the live-bloggers."
Most amusing was Jon Henke at The QandO Blog who posted "THE ULTIMATE METABLOG":
"I am writing a blog post about somebody who wrote a blog post about somebody who wrote a blog post about the people who wrote blog posts about last night's debate."
I am very concerned about linking back to Jon from this post, as there is a very good chance that upon pushing the PUBLISH button, the universe will fold into itself and disappear into a singularity. What the hell, it's a calculated risk.


If you are reading this we managed to avoid the feared quantum-relativistic disaster, and you should check back for another and perhaps final Democratic debate edition of live-blogging the live bloggers an hour or so from now.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.