Who is in control of 2008?

by: Matt Stoller

Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 02:42

I got some heat from Edwards supporters for my last post, when I wrote that Clinton has been the focus of relentless negative attacks for the past two weeks and both Obama and Edwards are mostly unscathed.  They argue that Edwards has been nailed by the haircut story and his house, and that is accurate.  But it is also a weird change of pace for Edwards supporters, considering the main line of complaint has been that Edwards is being ignored by the media.

If you look at the data, he is being ignored by the press.

Just five candidates have been the focus of more than half of all the coverage. Hillary Clinton received the most (17% of stories), though she can thank the overwhelming and largely negative attention of conservative talk radio hosts for much of the edge in total volume. Barack Obama was next (14%), with Republicans Giuliani, McCain, and Romney measurably behind (9% and 7% and 5% respectively). As for the rest of the pack, Elizabeth Edwards, a candidate spouse, received more attention than 10 of them, and nearly as much as her husband.

And then there's Obama, who has received a hugely disproportionate amount of positive press akin to McCain in 2000 for his straight talk on Social Security, among other things.


I'm becoming increasingly skeptical that there is any grand coalition building going on here, or that the progressive movement or the creative class is at all relevant to this election at this point.  It looks to me like the press is picking our nominee, as usual.  Obama could have sown up a grand coalition, he did not, so now it's all about the media.

The Edwards and Obama people are in a celebratory mood over this anti-Clinton frenzy, and rightfully so.  It's good for them.  I thought Obama was done, but I shouldn't have made that statement.  He's obviously not, and neither is Edwards, though I'd still give the advantage to Clinton.  Beyond a bit of embarrassment at taking back a prediction, I don't have a dog in this fight.  I can't figure out if there is a difference between the candidates, and I am disturbed that none of the movement is coming from progressive or substantive critiques.  I'll be watching the trade debate to see if this changes.

What is very clear is that if you are pleased with the shape of the race of the last two weeks, you should be careful and temper your joy.  The press is a wild, unpredictable, vicious, and easily bored group of gossips who do not like progressives, Democrats, labor, or any of us.  And despite what you may or may not think, they do not like your candidate.  Finally, Mike Lux has made the point that the Clinton's are at their best when their back is up against the wall.  Many people have thrown their lot in with the Clinton's, and she has done great politics all over the country.  Since Obama and Edwards have faced little negative attention over the past few months, there's a lot to work with.

I don't think that 2008 is that significant an election, but most Democrats do.  And you can be sure that Clinton is going to do her best to have caucus goers and voters in New Hampshire asking themselves whether they should try an untested and inexperienced Obama against the Republican machine.

Matt Stoller :: Who is in control of 2008?

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Maybe I am missing some of the point .. (4.00 / 2)
but progressives haven't mattered much so far because no one is willing to shit or get off the pot .. so to speak ... out of all the big name blogs ..  I have not seen one endorsement yet ... Kos .. here .. MyDD ... Atrios .. Josh Marshall .. FDL .. Glenn Greenwald ... I could go on .. heck .. has anyone with any kind of name in the Dem blogosphere endorsed anyone? .. Andy Sullivan gushes over Obama .. but I don't think he's explicitly endorsed Obama yet .. no one is willing to take any chances ... and .. if and until someone is willing to take that chance ... the netroots won't have as much power as they hope .. is there a reason for all the fence sitting? .. besides everyone saying they don't have a dog in this hunt? ... are all the big names in the blogosphere all undecided? .. I doubt it ...  for whatever reason .. they don't want to publicly disclose who they are rooting for ... it's funny .. we all bitch about the lack of leadership from Reid and Pelosi .. and yet on the most important issue in ages ...  no one seems willing to step up to the plate .. and make their case

Chris Bowers (0.00 / 0)
did an ad for Richardson, and Armando AKA BTD is for Dodd.

But I completely agree - the passivity in the blogsphere is nothing short of amazing.  The comment here by Stoller amazes me.  Meteor Blades on DKos said in a thread he assumed that Clinton would walk to the nomination - which blew me away.

All of this makes the attacks against Obama for being too passive VERY ironic.

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BTD no longer for Dodd (4.00 / 1)
He unendorsed last Saturday.

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2008 (0.00 / 0)
I don't think that 2008 is that significant an election

Why do you say that?

resource wars (0.00 / 0)
Resource wars, climate change, loss of American cities and preeminence, it's all baked into the cake at this point.

[ Parent ]
Resources wars and how we respond (4.00 / 1)
Yes, but how we respond to those challenges is going to be critical.  I see the next 10 years as being the last chance to get the US on the right track before energy problems and global anger overwhelm us.  And whether or not the right person is providing good leadership is critical - we have seen from the example of Bush/Cheney how much damage bad leadership can do.


[ Parent ]
unclear (0.00 / 0)
Good points.  I'm not persuaded there's much of a difference between Clinton and Bush, though, in how they would react to crises.

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no difference? (4.00 / 3)
No difference between the candidates? I reject your premise, but even if it were true, I would favor Edwards.

Look at how states like OH, MI, PA and others have been gerry-mandered to give Republicans more seats in the House than they deserve. To win back those seats, we will need to appeal to voters in the small towns and rural areas.

As I have written before, maybe all of our candidates could win Ohio, but Edwards would be the strongest person we could put at the top of the ticket, if the goal is enlarging our majority in the U.S. House. He has the most potential to reduce the Republican edge among rural and small-town voters:


Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

No dog in this fight (4.00 / 1)
Sad truth. Progressives need to work at other levels. We are not powerful enough to influence Presidential politics, but we can sure as hell get a hold on the rug (the party) on which these people play out their ambitions. Maybe someday we can even yank it out from under the worst of them.

Can it happen here?

I don't think I have ever disagreed (4.00 / 1)
with any statement in the five years I have been in blogshere as much as this one:

"I don't think that 2008 is that significant an election, but most Democrats do."

It really leaves me speechless.

Right on (0.00 / 0)
I heard plenty of the same eight years ago and we have all seen what eight years of Bush did.  There was an enormous difference between W and Gore.  There will be an enormous difference between Romney and any of the likely Democrats.

This Congress will not and can not stop the machinations of any Republican in the White House.  The "60 rule" in the Senate and Steny and the Blue Dogs/Bush Dogs in the House make sure of that.  We will likely have three Supreme Court nominations coming up.  Do you want Romney (or even Rudy) packing the court?

Until and unless we restore the Fairness Doctrine, Democrats will need to at least nominally control the Presidency and both branches of the Legislature just to stop the bleeding.  We need to rsstore balance.  That took twelve years post Reagan (Bush I was a partial brake).  This damage is much deeper, more systemic and built into law.  It will take a minimum of twenty years to dig us out from under George W. Bush, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, Tom DeLay, and Mitch McConnell.  Every Presidential election is crucual at this point.  We simply can not afford to lose another.

[ Parent ]

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