Concerns About Clinton and Obama Going Forward

by: Matt Stoller

Sun Jan 27, 2008 at 16:06


So I have one major concern about Clinton coming out of the South Carolina experience, and that is her campaign organization.  Simply put, they were not IDing voters, they did not have doorhangers, and I was sent on election day to doors of lots of women who told me they voted in the Republican primary.  It looks to me like they obviously cut a big list of women and half-heartedly did little to no outreach.  Worse, they didn't work the state while pretending they were, which was a mistake that can only come from internal infighting that we saw with the Kerry shop.  The right hand was failing to organize and the left hand was telling the press that they were competing in South Carolina.  The decision was also made at some point in December to disengage, while the Obama people were heavily manipulating the state voter file and running a top notch operation.

Now, it's possible that this was a one-off, but from what I hear, the Clinton campaign at the top is somewhat disorganized, prone to panic, and driven by committee.  Bill and Hillary never give up, of course, but there is tremendous infighting that is paralyzing.  And let's just note that Mark Penn isn't a very good strategist, and you cannot sustainably build field organizations in the same reactive manner you can respond to media firestorms.  Now, the Clinton's had good or great organizations in Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire, and they have some superb progressive field people at the top, so I initially thought that they would respect the 50 state strategy.  I am no longer so sure and I worry that, to the extent that organizing matters, the Clinton's may try to confine the map and not drive out new voters in 2008 in states like Kentucky where, with the right opponent (Mitt), we could win and pick up a Senate seat.  More than that, I am concerned about strategic drift.  The Clinton's are great at running in a hostile environment with a media campaign, but they are not field or internet people at their core.  When they commit their team to it they are great, but how strong is that commitment?  I worry about that.

Both Obama and Clinton have played vicious hardball in this primary, as they should.  In Nevada, Clinton's people in some areas clearly abused the rules, as did Obama's (read this fascinating post from Steve Clemons from an Edwards staffer for more on this).  A caucus is in many ways a voter suppression event, and Obama's campaign refused to concede and implied fraud without going through the formal motions of redress, just as Clinton's sued to keep the caucuses off the strip and is now playing bullshit games with Michigan and Florida.  Identity politics, of the sort from the Clinton surrogates or the type from Obama and McLurkin and the arguments about 'tea' which are clearly oriented towards Clinton's gender, have played a big role.  On balance the Clinton's may have played dirtier, though I'm not sure, and if it's true it is certainly not by a large amount.  We must also note that dirty pool in elections has a long and rich history, as JFK, FDR, or Lyndon Johnson have shown.  It's politics, not pillow fighting, and the prize is control of the Presidency.

My worries on Obama are very different from my concerns about Clinton.  He has taken a slight lead in Colorado, an early indication of a bounce showing he's capable of taking the nomination.  And Todd Beeton is right that Massachusetts is now a state to watch for a lot of reasons.  The Obama-esque liberal reformer streak runs strong in that state.  He's definitely in this, possibly even in the driver's seat.  What worries me is that his message of post-partisan unity will be smashed immediately when the Republicans decide they disagree with him, and the press gets bored and turns.

For now, Matthew Yglesias, K-Lo at NRO's the Corner,, Andrew Sullivan, and Josh Marshall are all effusively praising Obama.  There's something of a DC-New York Ivy pundit crush on Obama that I'm seeing all over the place.  The Village is happy as a clam to see Hillary and Bill go down.  And be aware that the Village doesn't like us and wants us to shut up and stop bothering them about silly things like civil rights and the Consti-whatever it's called.  And oh yeah, Iraq.

So as you are seeing the primary play out, note that Obama's coalition is resting on what is potentially a very fragile foundation.  I find Obama's organizing capacity remarkable and wonderful for all sorts of reasons, and I'll have more on that soon.  But keep in mind that the weird alliance between the pro-Obama netroots, the DC Villagers and media, the right-wing establishment, business leaders, social justice activists, and black elites is temporary.  These varying interests only intersect on one thing, and that is taking down the Clinton's.  A Village temper tantrum against the Clinton's happens periodically, and it is never a good thing.  Ever.  And if and once the Clinton's have lost, the fraying of this coalition will happen instantly and unpredictably, depending on Obama's personal allegiances and the various political interests and their calculations. 

If this coalition frays, it might not stop a Democrat from getting to the White House, but it could destroy their capacity to govern.  And while it's true that no President will be as unskilled at governing as Bush, it's also true that Bush has made the job much much harder.  As Parag Khanna notes in his excellent New York Times piece, America is no longer the preeminent power in the world, we are one of several powers, and bringing us down psychologically and institutionally to a humble republic in a multi-polar world with climactic instability will require herculean competence and vision.  The right of course will simply use the troubles they caused and the next President must deal with to run and win in 2010, and set us up for President Petraeus in 2012.

This campaign, and frankly the next number of years, is in the political realm going to be vicious and ugly, and we should be noticing that something is amiss and preparing for it.  This is getting really really weird.

Matt Stoller :: Concerns About Clinton and Obama Going Forward

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disorganization? (0.00 / 0)
The Clinton campaign displayed brilliant organization in New Hampshire and Nevada.  Basically, I think they just wrote off South Carolina as a loss and put almost no resources into trying to close the deal there.  They instead diverted resources (money, key staff, and candidate's time) to Super Tuesday states.  I wouldn't take that as a sign of any kind of general disorganization.

it's how they chose not to compete (0.00 / 0)
Mostly my info comes from a conversation with a consultant who told me about the conference calls going on with Clinton's leadership, and how they were panicking and indecisive.  They are great when they make decisions.  But the 'we need to bring in more people but not fire anyone' clean-out after Iowa that almost happened is not a sign of managerial strength but of Kerry-esque campaigning.

[ Parent ]
Jump to conclusions (0.00 / 0)
Why would they fire anyone after Iowa? Clinton was never going to win there anyways. And even if she had a chance it was going to be a very tough contest anyways. I think had she lost New Hampshire, it definitely would have been time to move some people around. But she didn't lose New Hampshire, in large part to her overlooked ground game. You really seem to be over generalizing based on one state, who like others have said, she wrote off.

Besides, Clinton's problems haven't been ground game oriented they've been message oriented. Primaries are finesse based attacks rather than extreme uses of blunt force trauma. You Its very hard to contrast with your opponent when hes the "likeable inspirational one" and you're the "divisive dirty establishment" character.


[ Parent ]
At this point (0.00 / 0)
I think Obama has two challenges:

1.  Cut into Clinton's enormous lead among Hispanics
2.  Win back the white liberal support he had in Iowa and New Hampshire.

It may be that Obama has solidifed the African American support , and can now focus on those two groups.  This is why the Kennedy endorsement is potentially so useful - particularly in the Hispanic community given Kennedy's leadership on the Immigration question.

I still very much think this is an uphill climb for Obama - but it looks a lot more doable than it did 48 hours ago. 


That is a really good point (4.00 / 1)
about the Kennedy vote being able to bring in the Hispanic support for Obama.  Though it probably has less to do with current immigration leadership and more about the Kennedy legacy in the Hispanic community.

I also think that Obama has fallen far short of solidifying the black vote.  What he has done is show that he can get the likely black voters.  What he needs to do is wake up the deeply disenfranchised black vote.  This will provide him with a large batch of previously untapped votes and it will have an effect on down ballot votes.  When the Democratic Party wakes up to this possibility Obama will get a significant jump in support and endorsements.


[ Parent ]
Their turnout in South Carolina was off the charts. (0.00 / 0)
He got more votes than were cast for all the candidates combined in the entire 2004 Democratic primary there.

If there's one thing Obama can do, it's get people to the polls.

One Million Strong --- Join up!


[ Parent ]
I don't think you can credit Obama with getting those votes out. (0.00 / 0)
The turnout was off the charts in Iowa and New Hampshire, too.  The people are desperate to get a new president.  That's why they are stampeding to the polls.

[ Parent ]
Which downballot races will Obama on? (0.00 / 0)


Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
I'm being sarcastic, either (0.00 / 0)
I'm genuinely curious.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure.... (0.00 / 0)
if I missed something, but is there any chance of Gore endorsing either one? 

I would think semi-low info, environmental,  white liberals would jump into their Prius to vote.  (not snark...okay maybe a little)


[ Parent ]
I think you are very right! (0.00 / 0)
Speaking only for my home state, Gore seems to have strong influence in California. I think his endorsement to either candidate, if it occurs before Feb 5, would play a larger role than probably an other endorsement that is to be had.

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
Gore is beyond politics (0.00 / 0)
Sure, he could endorse - but why would he want to sully himself by stepping down into the trenchs at this point? 

I figure he could work effectively with any of the top 3 candidates - so why run the risk of pissing off the ones you don't endorse?  Why pick sides when you don't have to?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
When did Obama lose that support? (0.00 / 0)
I don't think NV and SC have large pockets of ultra-liberal white Democrats...at least, not that I've heard of, while there's a strong anti-war streak in Iowa, for example.

I know Obama's base here in CA is primarily among whites, despite what the media might want to make of the SC win.


[ Parent ]
His campaign continues to impress me (0.00 / 0)
Obviously those 2 points in NH may haunt him the rest of his life.

But I am beginning to believe that Obama intentionally baited Bill in Reno with his remarks to the editorial board regarding who transformed this country and who DID NOT. Obama baited Bill, who was already playig the role of the attack dog causing him to lose his temper and lose his charm. The Obama campaign had to deal with Bill--they had to reduce his credibility--they had to make him look a fool. It worked. Bill's stock has dropped considerably in one short week of negative hard ball campaigning.


[ Parent ]
Interesting stuff, Matt (0.00 / 0)
My opinion keeps changing, day to day, and now seemingly hour to hour, but I think you're onto something here.

That is the Obama's "unstable coalition" thing.  It bothered me and it bothered me viscerally for weeks and led me to give more sympathy to Hillary than perhaps was justified. 

Why viscerally?  Personal experience.  I was once part of a local union leadership that was being raided by another union.  Allied against us were the most militant (militant-talking anyway) workers angry we hadn't struck at the last contract and the usual crowd of company-minded folk.  Set upon by both sides, our leadership knew that the insurgent coalition could never hold together, but it was a very near thing, and we prevailed, and then went on strike at the next contract and did all right for several years until deindustrialization killed us.  The raid happened as Carter was losing to Reagan, by the way.

The Obama coalition is weird.  But I finally realized that the Clinton camp, though less of a weird coalition, has problems of its own as evidence by Bill going out of control.  With the Kennedys moving to Obama, this could be the end for them.

But you're not wrong.  The weird Obama coalition will be hard to hold together if he's elected.



sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


Obama and Dean? (0.00 / 0)
Is there any evidence of Obama's opinion on Dean and the 50-state strat?  He should be on board as it should dovetail with his rhetoric nicely. 

I ask because the stuff I read seems to believe that Dean is gone as DNC chair if Hillary gets the nom.  It's back to the 12 state strategy.


Re: (0.00 / 0)
This a meme being pushed in the blogosphere, mostly due to the presence of Terry McAuliffe on Team Clinton, but I really haven't seen any evidence for it.

[ Parent ]
regarding Obama (4.00 / 1)
I mean, I sorta get it that he has a fragile coalition, but goodness, what president doesn't?

I think you're underestimating what it would be like to actually have a popular president. You know, one with an approval rating above 40%. If Bush wants to pass legislation, he can't campaign to build popular support - he has no credibility.

Obama has shown me that he has a capacity to build grassroots, popular support for the things he wants. A President Obama holding one of his mega rallies in a swing district a couple weeks before a big vote is a powerful tool. One that Bush frankly doesn't posess any longer (and hasn't for a while).


Bush's use of the 'Bully Pulpit' only proved one thing.... (0.00 / 0)

...that the Dem leadership under 'SellOut' Reid, Miss Nancy, Emmanuel and Schumer had no clue.

The Republicans are much, much better tacticians than the Dems are at the moment. Obama will get torn to shreds if he tries what  you suggest.

And without a supermajority in the Senate his legislation will go nowhere.

Advantage ReThugs as they bloviate about the do-nothing congress and the 'inexperienced' president.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


[ Parent ]
Pleae tell me Matt that... (4.00 / 1)
you do not now, nor would you ever state that McCain could win in the GE. This is as I have been informed unacceptable apostasy here at OpenLeft.

Even though you out in reality land seem to indicate it could happen.

Nah...after the Kerry debacle I'm sure everyone in the Dead Loser Caucus is determined to avoid those mistakes.....

Right?

Right?

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


When the going gets weird... (0.00 / 0)
...the weird turn pro - HST

Obama is the train that will not stop until it reaches the station.  We knew it in 2004, as we know it now.

Clinton is DLC.  Lieberman.

Yes we can!


How lovely (0.00 / 0)
a meaningless slogan.

[ Parent ]
Hey, be nice (0.00 / 0)
Meaningless slogans are all they have!

Just kidding, just kidding.


[ Parent ]
I'm in it to win it! (0.00 / 0)
Ok, not a slogan, but I cringe everytime this phrases crosses my mind - which for some reason is often.

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (4.00 / 1)
I think you're looking at this from the temporary moment of the primaries. My guess is that if Obama wins the primaries, most of the Democratic supporters of other candidates will rally around him as the Democratic candidate, and likewise if Clinton wins. I am reminded of a lot of talk in 2003/2004 about whether or not Dean supporters would rally around the Democratic candidate if he lost. I was a Dean supporter, and I really didn't want Kerry to win, but once he won the nomination, I supported him, as I believe most so-called Deaniacs did. It's sort of a figment of the primary season. I would also argue that there would be a more unified effort in the blogosphere to rally behind Obama if he becomes president. So, I'm not sure that the coalition Obama would have as president would be the same as he has in the primaries. The establishment will act for its own interests no matter who is president. The question is how Obama (or whoever becomes president) responds, and which side the liberal/progressive blogosphere takes. I would think that it won't be the side of pundits bashing a Democratic president, unless there is good reason. Lastly, it is not just those in the Village who do not want to see a Clinton return, and there are probably those in the Village who do want to see one.

The 'Village People' are who have assembled... (4.00 / 2)

......funded, and launched the Obama JuggerNaut!

Obama's done his work by drowning out Edwards populist message, one 'The Village' never wants uttered much less heard, and keeping the levers of power safely in their hands.

Not ours.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


[ Parent ]
Somewhat agree (0.00 / 0)
The Obama 50 state strategy is a ruse.

I'll believe it when I see it.

I do think some of your analysis is pretty good, though I'd beg to differ on your grand assumptions about the state of the race based on CO (one recent poll today?).

I think the real study of field operations will be better understood after Feb. 5. Though you could be right, but I'm not convinced yet.

I think Hillary is going to hand Obama some whoop ass on Feb. 5 -- and the media is quietly concerned and, consequently, overtly milking this Obama win to inject as much mojo into him as they can...

But the lack of tender care that backlashed after Iowa is treading close and I've heard from a few female friends already fuming at the "men" in the media and overtly unfair coverage of Hillary.

Revenge of the women Take Two...


Nice post. (0.00 / 0)
  This post is like a Rorschach test; each commenter interprets it completely differently, and as a result no one is screaming at you for bias for a change!
  Anyway, I agree that Obama's primary coalition is very strange and very tenuous.  Progressives haven't completely jumped on the bandwagon, because of the unsavory coalition partners.  We don't play well with the elite media. 
  One thing I like about Obama is that he is neither insider nor outsider, which possibly explains the bizarre coalition.  Sometimes I wonder if we shoot ourselves in the foot by choosing the candidate with the least establishment support.  Perhaps it would be better to pick someone with a little establishment support, so then that leader can use his power to change the establishment.  I don't want to be forever in a state of siege.  Even though I support Edwards, I can see Obama as a nice compromise between anti-establishment Edwards and machine politician Hillary.

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy

Good of you to stimunlate discussion (4.00 / 5)
My professional and personal experience has led me to differ just a tad with two of your (I understand they are tentative) conclusions:

1) Professionally, I have learned that the media narrative is quite stable. Since the beginning, voices on the left have been looking the Obama charm gift horse in the mouth and worrying about the day when the media would turn on him. They won't. They need him. He is too good in his role and no one else fills it. Yes, there are variations on a theme, but the theme remains. We need to celebrate the fact that it is our guy that is the hero in the narrative.

2) Personally, I have learned that the grassroots coalition Obama is putting together is real and defeats easy categorization. I get the e-mails and know the folks who traveled from my NC down to SC to canvas and GOTV this weekend. At the first meeting, last spring, of the local group there was not one person who had ever done anything more than vote. They are a mix of Dems, independents and Republicans who really and truly believe in the "we the people" part of the message and in pragmatism at a policy level.

The professional organizers Obama had in SC did an unprecedented job of productively channeling the volunteer energy of the Obama supporters. Wow.

The media will continue to play their role as they do so well (not only for Obama, and against the Clintons, but also as lifetime McCain supporters).

Obama's challenge, should he move toward victory, will be, as you note, more in the area of bringing the more traditional parts of the party, bureaucracy, and progressive movement into a working coalition.

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This is one of the things that concerns me (0.00 / 0)
As you note, Matt, we don't know whether the press and the morons here in Washington will keep giving Obama the benefit of the doubt and what this might mean for his "fragile coalition". This is something that worries me greatly if Obama wins the nomination and/or becomes the next President. What happens when a guy who runs on a post-partisan, pox on both their houses platform gets stuck in an all-out partisan battle with Republicans? I don't know how Obama handles this and whether his coalition holds together as Republicans become increasingly aggressive and shrill. The changes that need to happen in this country are going to come at the expense the rich and powerful and their Washington agents elected to the Senate and House are not going to go without a brutal fight. Does the media, which revels in tearing apart Democrats, give Obama the benefit of the doubt as mr. bipartisan? History and my gut, which has more nerve endings than my brain, tell me that the answer is no.

What happens when the Democratic congressional leaders start acting like they did when they worked under previous Democratic Presidents? The Democratic Party isn't one big happy tent with a singular leader. Everyone thinks they are in the driver's seat and intends to let everyone take notice. Congressional Democratic leaders will assert way more independence and control when a Democrat is in the White House. Can Obama stand up to them? Can he get legislation through Congress? Not only will he have to deal with Dingell and others trying to reassert power, he'll also be dealing with the reactionary Republicans. He can't seriously believe that his message of bipartisanship will get Jeff Sessions or his friends Richard Lugar and Tom Coburn to vote for any kind of universal health care, real global warming legislation, or any number of progressive or even-faux progressive bills. Shit, they won't even vote for Lieberman-Warner, and that bill sucks. And we know all about the moderates who are on the team.

Sometimes it feels like I'm supposed to close my eyes and take a leap of faith to believe that everything would be possible with President Obama. But when I think about it I'm incredibly concerned about his ability to govern in the kind of atmosphere he's going to be thrust into. We'll all be happy when Bush is gone, but the toughest part is yet to come. We still have to fix everything. And some people, people that Obama says he wants to work with, just want to keep smashing plates and breaking windows.


Obama administration (0.00 / 0)
If Obama wins the presidency he becomes the new establishment. I wonder how much of the Clinton adminstration would return with President Obama, and by extension if the same experience that Hillary campaigns on would be present in an Obama administration.

[ Parent ]
Leaps of Faith... (4.00 / 1)
are what Obama is encouraging us to do - to envision a future of a different kind of politics, and in his mind is a more progressive politics than currently exists. In order for this new politics to become a reality, people must first believe that that vision is possible.

It was MLK who believed that a color-blind society could exist. While that reality has not happened yet, our society has progressed much further than most thought possible. The idea of gays and lesbians should have equal rights is even more recent, but progress has been made. When Kennedy proposed that the country would send a man to the moon in less than ten year, the nation was struggling to get to space. Even if Obama cannot personally deliver on the vision he has for America, his vision is one to aspire toward.


[ Parent ]
Obama and the Senate (0.00 / 0)
Obama clearly broke an unwritten rule of the Senate by running for the presidency during his first term....Those 50-odd Democratic senators would not forget that when dealing with President Obama....It would not be pretty....

My prediction for an Obama presidency: four years of lame duck while earmarks are the driver for all legislation.


[ Parent ]
Basic Math (4.00 / 1)
Why would a Republican cooperate with President Obama?  If Obama won 60% of the vote in that politician's district, he or she might be unwilling to pick a fight with such a popular President.

I think this is what happened in the 80s with Reagan and what happened since 9/11 with the Democrats.  Why did Democrats in reliably Democratic states vote for the Patriot Act, the Iraq War and the gutting of habeas?  Because they feared that the President was more popular than they were in their district and didn't want to risk their job to stand up against him.

It's not rocket science.  If we win a landslide this Fall the Republicans will fall in line out of fear of losing their jobs in 2010.  The reason they didn't in the 90s is that Bill Clinton never won a majority of the national popular vote. 

Voter Genome Project


[ Parent ]
This is certainly taking the wider view (0.00 / 0)
and I think the "Obama coalition" you have here might be something of a reach.  Also, there have always been important issues at stake.  How many times did we hear how historically important '04 was? 

To me its pretty obviously a binary choice: the Clintons or Barack Obama.  They seem equally intelligent to me, so I think you have to make a judgment call on character: who is likely to keep their campaign promises?  Obama has stuck to his guns, IMHO, with great integrity.  As to the Clintons, one word: triangulation.

The Politics of Bruno S.


What are his positions? (0.00 / 0)
I hear blah, blah, blah, unity, inspiration, I'm awesome.

[ Parent ]
Comeon (0.00 / 0)
how different are they from Hillary's?  Positions are't the issue here.  "I  hear blah, blah, blah, unity, inspiration, I'm awesome" is, I think, a bit unsubstansive.  Read my comment above.  Confront it.  Where do you disagree me?  If you do, I have absolutely no problem with that--I welcome it in fact.  But charactaturing what I wrote or what Obama is arguing for is what I have problem with, and why I'm supporting him against the CLintons--who do what you are doing. 

The Politics of Bruno S.


[ Parent ]
Comeon (0.00 / 0)
how different are they from Hillary's?  Positions are't the issue here.  "I  hear blah, blah, blah, unity, inspiration, I'm awesome" is, I think, a bit unsubstansive.  Read my comment above.  Confront it.  Where do you disagree me?  If you do, I have absolutely no problem with that--I welcome it in fact.  But charactaturing what I wrote or what Obama is arguing for is what I have problem with, and why I'm supporting him against the CLintons--who do what you are doing. 

The Politics of Bruno S.


[ Parent ]
That's strange (4.00 / 1)
You hang around a progressive blog but don't know the basic positions of the leading candidates? Oh, no, you were being funny....or something.



"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
not so crazy (4.00 / 2)
I think there is some interesting points to this post, but o the whole i'm not really convinced of its thesis. The world is a crazy place, the US is an incredible power, and the election of a new president really shakes the whole government up for at least a year. wild things are going to happen, like massive over haul of agency leadership, plus two quick SCOTUS retirements. I think its just about impossible to predict what things will be like 2 years into an administration much less 4 or 8 years out. America is a sleeping giant right now, hamstrung by cronies and a $100Billion-a-year sink hole in the middle east. I think if its real potential is again unleashed America can rise to pre-eminence again. I think the US remains far more dynamic as an entrepreneurial market place than the frustratingly byzantine EU and payola gated China. Right now the EU looks good, but I think thats more to do with the fact that the US is just so piss-poorly managed.

However, I don't think the US can make such a comeback with a Clinton whitehouse, because we will revert to the bickering of the 90s. this is IMHO, but i think it is bolstered by Clinton behavior this past week. An Obama whitehouse might have a shot at it, especially with so many young people getting involved in politics. And getting $100Billion back into the local economy won't hurt.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare


Small point: (4.00 / 1)
I just want to add a little wrinkle to the above analysis.  I don't want to overstate the point, or give the impression that I have bought the Obama narrative hook, line and sinker, but I think that there might be something happening around Obama's candidacy that Matt doesn't appreciate fully: Obama may actually be changing the views of some republicans, even some in positions of power.  He may actually be transforming, to some degree, the contours of the coalitions that Matt highlights in his thoughtful post. 

This is just a small observation; I'm just trying to make the point that coalitions are not static entities, they fluctuate over time based on transformative events. 


Hmmm (4.00 / 1)
I doubt anything Obama says, not matter how inspiring, will actually change the mind of top-tier Republicans in Washington, or the right-wing pundits, financiers and think tanks that fuel them.
The minds of conservative-leaning voters, however, are begging to be changed, and Obama may be able to assist. Though most people here seem content to flip those people off rather than reach out to them.


"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
First step... (4.00 / 1)
is to change 'conservative' Democrats... why Ben Nelson went for Obama is more than intriging...

Don't expect huge changes in 2008 -- but I think there is a possibility of a shift from the madness we have now if we don't elect a 'Clinton Dynastic' choice/


[ Parent ]
Note on Fragile coalitions/foundations (4.00 / 2)
I don't disagree with you that Obama's current coalition is very wobbly and a breeze in the wrong direction might throw it off. However, FDR's New Deal Coalition was much the same. The Southern Conservatives could have walked at anytime, but because of FDR's charisma and political ability they stayed put longer then possibly imagined. Many parts of the Clinton coalition will naturally fold into Obama's if he is the nominee. I think that by Obama's shear force of character he might be able to hold it together. Its a bigger gamble with Obama, but the potential reward is so great, that I am willing to bet on him.

On the bright side (0.00 / 0)
Whichever of these two wins the nomination will have beaten a very tough opponent.

And: the scariest competition on the other side is a septuagenarian who's gone all in on the Iraq war.


the race (4.00 / 1)
In some respects Obama's campaign reminds me of Howard Dean's run in 2000 in that his presence in the race unleashes all sorts of energy that the traditional media are poorly equipped to understand.  Obama supporters are full of piss and vinegar, they love their guy, and they believe that our sorry political/media culture can indeed be overhauled.  It is bottoms-up democracy, and it confounds and pisses off the mainstream journalists and pundits who are supposed to report on it.

Hilary just doesn't light a fire under anyone, including her own constituency.  The endorsements I've read that support her candidacy all have the same tone, i.e:  "After giving it a lot of thought, I've come to the reluctant conclusion that Hilary is proably the one who gives us the best shot in the general election...."

There's no passion, no grassroots fervor for her, and thus she is the wrong choice if we are serious about overturning the existing order of things.


OK, you just (0.00 / 0)
made an argument that resonates with me.  That's the first pro-Obama argument I can actively agree with in a couple of weeks.

[ Parent ]
A good time to use cable to geo- and demo-target (0.00 / 0)
A tangentially related issue that intrigues me is if and how any of the candidates are using cable TV to deliver their messages.  Since the focus is to an unusual extent on winning congressional districts (to maximize delegate counts) and appealing to fairly distinct demographic groups/identities (women, African Americans, hispanics, etc.), this primary season seems ideal for a highly-targeted cable-network advertising strategy.  I'd also guess that primary voters are more likely to be cable subscribers and also to watch cable news (though I don't know that's true).

The technology's there to do this in a highly targeted way and to customize ads accordingly, and the cable operators have been trying to sell themselves as a political ad platform for a number of years.

My guess is that none of the campaigns geared up for this and its too late to mobilize on it now (more complex and more work than just buying broadcast time), but I really don't know.

Anyone have any idea if either of the candidates is taking this route?


Leap of faith (0.00 / 0)
Unfortunately, voting for a president is always a leap of faith.  You just have to judge by what they say, what the propose, who they surround themselves with and what they've done in the past.  But you never really know.  To some degree, I don't think even the candidates themselves really know, given the singular and extreme nature of the presidency.

Actually, the Obama campaign has filed formal complaints (0.00 / 0)
in Nevada.  You had mentioned that they hadn't gone "through the formal motions of redress."  But there have been formal complaints.

Second, why should they concede?  They lost the popular vote narrowly, but because of their strength in rural Nevada they won the delegate count, which Howard Wolfson reminds us again and again is all that matters.

One Million Strong --- Join up!


And the Edwards staffer referenced in the Steve Clemons article (0.00 / 0)
mainly blames students and immigrants for massive voter fraud with little evidence.  And as I'm sure he knows, the Latino vote broke heavily for Clinton, and the student vote was down substantially.  At 12% far below the youth participation that we've seen in every other primary or caucus this season.

Blaming students and immigrants as scapegoats for losing is just weak.  And raising the specter of massive voter fraud with no evidence plays into Republican talking points about requiring voter ID.

One Million Strong --- Join up!


[ Parent ]
If Obama is a Prarie-Fire Candidate (0.00 / 0)
"What worries me is that his message of post-partisan unity will be smashed immediately when the Republicans decide they disagree with him, and the press gets bored and turns."

And you can be sure the Republicans will keep their powder dry until it is too late for us to do anything about it.


Obama Coalition (4.00 / 1)
So many people on the blogs (not all, so don't jump me) seem to live in a completely different world than I do. The people around me are factory workers, secretaries, truck drivers. And we are very enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton (though we may not show ourselves in the same exuberant way as college kids).  To some extent, we see the Obama movement as other-worldly and not based on tangibles. We worry about our jobs leaving (which they are), our health insurance deteriorating (which it is), our schools losing traction (which they are).  In other words, lunch bucket issues.  A lot of us (again, not all) see Hillary as the competent one, as she says, the workhorse, who will go to Washington and get things done. We're tired and anxious and we're not so worried about slogans and inspiration as we are about results. And, furthermore, we've been through enough Republican wars to have little faith that we can "bring them together" with us. Just look what the Repub congress is doing to stonewall the Dems right now. Look at Joe Scarborough right now.  He's using Obama as an excuse to "impeach" Bill Clinton and get a job done that they failed at before. And what is so sad is that so many Democrats are joining in. That doesn't mean people can't favor Obama but I don't think we should jump on the bandwagon to trash our own candidates.

If your objective is to build the dem party (4.00 / 1)
Obama is by far more likely to strengthen and broaden the party for years to come.

Clinton will focus on how to win 51% and be done with it. Dean will be replaced.

Personally I look forward to discussing how we can be more inclusive, how to build bridges between class and race, how to deal with our diversity within the party, how we deal with our own bigotry and racism, etc.  That is the optimal challenge--not fighting with the party head regarding mission and vision.

That's a losing challenge in my book.


Clinton Campaign is Likeable Enough (0.00 / 0)
I do not see the Clinton campaign as making too many mistakes,  and I actually see them respond fairly quickly when faced with  situations that need adjustment.

The Obama campaign feels kind of self righteous in its support for Obama, and the netroots as a whole feels anti-Hillary at all costs.

I have constantly heard so many people in the netroots community tell me that the Clintons are exactly what the netroots was founded to oppose.

However, I have been a passive follower of this "netroots" for a long time. When 9/11 handed us all a shock and allowed the right wing to open their largest can of whup-ass on us, we all clamored towards the netroots in order to find "unity" to be able to withstand the full frontal assault on democratic values and ideals.

Now that we are poised to finally be able to undo some of this damage, we have disagreements about who might be able to most effectively repair our country and its policies.  That is completely understandable.

What I do not understand is how so many people in my political sphere are seeking to marginalize Clinton supporters.  The idea of "netroots" is not just how some people (even founding members of the so called movement) decide on exactly what it should be.  It rests with all of us. Working so hard to exclude members of a movement that are already here seems very irrational.

I know the last bit might stray from topic, but it is really pissing me off. On another blog I and many like myself have been subject to baseless attacks. (I guess they justify them for their "noble" cause.) 


Clinton: bloggers in government agencies (0.00 / 0)
For anyone who, like me, is interested in the candidates' positions on government transparency and the use of technology to increase it, here's a short video clip from Clinton.  It sounds kinda vague and not seriously thought through to me (and I'm inclined to be skeptical about Clinton statements re: openness), but I'm glad to see her addressing the issue, even in passing.

http://www.huffingto...


Capacity to govern (0.00 / 0)
Bingo, Matt. That's my entire concern in this campaign, and my worry over our current Democratic Congress-- with memories of Carter and Bill Clinton's first term.

That's why, primarily, I've committed to HRC. I think that if she wins the presidency, she has the best ability and knowledge (both of the issues and the working of the executive branch) to govern.

My greatest worry about Obama is precisely what is going to happen during his presidency.

HRC's showing in SC has disappointed me. By Feb 6, we'll see who's ahead, and the entire picture of the election will be a lot clearer.

My sense is that Obama has a very good chance to win. I hope he can summon the political forces to effect good governance, enlightened diplomacy, and the political acumen to address some of the severe failings of the Bush administration.

I do hope that both the winners and the losers of the primary will work hard to bring together the party and smooth over the divisions. Without healing within the Democratic factions, we are in a world of trouble.


Shelby Steele, Obama's biographer, was on BookTV yesterday... (0.00 / 0)
He had some interesting insights into Obama as he discussed his book, " A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win."

Here's the thread at DU which I started when I caught the last few moments of the Q & A:

http://www.democrati...

People may not want to accept the idea that Obama may be another Bill Clinton in terms of personality...Steele figures he already compromised...he quote Obama:

Obama figured out the strategy of bargaining at 14...
He found out that "if you're not angry, they'll like you..." He says he's done it all his life...

Doesn't that sound as dysfunctional as Clinton's constant need for approval?? 

Check it out....think about it.  What are you folks being set up for?? (I'm for Edwards, I already suspected Obama from the beginning)


Shelby Steele (0.00 / 0)
I saw Bill Moyers interview him a couple weeks ago, and was not impressed.  His analysis of Obama sounded intriguing, but in the end was pretty shallow.

Steele is a conservative who doesn't like Obama's tactics, and is pretty arrogant about it (that title makes me role my eyes -like I need Steele's assessentment of whether Obama can win).

Also I don't think the angry tactic is dysfunctional, it is a strategy.  (One that I don't agree with)

I am an Edwards supporter also :)

but I don't think the Obama supporters are being set up, I just think his ultimate agenda is not as clear. 


[ Parent ]
One thing in HRC's favor (0.00 / 0)
now that you mention it, is that it's pretty obvious she doesn't have that need for approval her husband has, and it looks to me like Obama has.

[ Parent ]
I just read Tom Hayden's endorsement (0.00 / 0)
of "the movement Barack Obama leads."
http://www.huffingto...

I agree with most everything Tom said, and recommend it, regardless of your current views on the Dem candidates.

Reading it also reminded me of a comment Matt made in a recent thread about Obama's "Reagan" comments:

Obama spent two years in the 1980s organizing.  Tom Hayden actually spent the 1980s organizing, and Obama bashed him for it.

Since Matt didn't explain what the bashing was or provide any documentation, I don't know what he's referring to.  But, regardless, it seems that Tom is able to see beyond it.  And I think what he sees is very important:

Is Barack the one we have been waiting for? Or is it the other way around? Are we the people we have been waiting for? Barack Obama is giving voice and space to an awakening beyond his wildest expectations, a social force that may lead him far beyond his modest policy agenda. Such movements in the past led the Kennedys and Franklin Roosevelt to achievements they never contemplated. [As Gandhi once said of India's liberation movement, "There go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader."]

We are in a precious moment where caution must yield to courage. It is better to fail at the quest for greatness than to accept our planet's future as only a reliving of the past.

So I endorse the movement that Barack Obama has inspired and will support his candidacy in the inevitable storms ahead.



The Clinton campaign (0.00 / 0)
should take the high road and emphasize the Clinton-Gore policies, bills and initiatives that had positive net results because they greatly outnumber the ones with negative net results. Everyone only remembers the ten policies with negative net results.

The Domestic Policies of the Clinton-Gore Administration (1993-2000): A Brief Summary

Bills or Policy Positions With a Net Negative Impact

1. Don't Ask, Don't Tell (1993)
2. NAFTA (1994)
3. Some aspects of the Crime Bill (1994)
4. Telecom Act (1996)
5. Communications Decency Act (1996)
6. Welfare Reform (1996) - replacement of AFDC with TANF
7. Defense of Marriage Act (1996)
8. Some aspects of the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (1996)
9. Taxpayer Relief Act (1997)
10. Digital Millenium Copyright Act (1998)

Bills or Policy Positions With a Net Positive Impact (one of the sources)

1. Family and Medical Leave Act (1993)
2. National Voter Registration (Motor Voter) Act (1993) - this was the trigger for the fastest expansion of voter rolls in U.S. history and a major win for the voting rights movement
3. Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993)
4. Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit (1993) - perhaps the largest poverty reduction program in the U.S.
5. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (1993) - this was the famous budget with tax increases on the wealthy and tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses, which the GOP railed against forever
6. Federal Direct Student Loan Program (1993) - this allowed the Government to loan money to students directly at lower rates and compete against private agencies
7. Creation of AmeriCorps (1993)
8. Assault Weapons Ban (1994)
9. Violence Against Women Act (1994) - the National Organization of Women called this the "greatest breakthrough in civil rights for women in nearly two decades"
10. California Desert Protection Act (1994)
11. Minimum Wage Increase Act (1996)
12. Megan's Law (1996)
13. Food Quality Protection Act (1996)
14. Enhancement to Safe Drinking Water Act (1996)
15. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (1996)
16. State Children's Health Insurance Program - SCHIP (1997)
17. Child Tax Credit; HOPE Scholarship, Lifetime Learning Tax Credit (1997)
18. Head Start/Pell Grants Expansion (1997)
19. Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997)
20. Child Support Performance and Incentive Act (1998)
21. Workforce Investment Act (1998) - provides federal job training funds for dislocated workers, adults and youth
22. Work Incentives Improvement Act (1999) - this was "landmark legislation modernizes the employment services system for people with disabilities and makes it possible for millions of Americans with disabilities to no longer have to choose between taking a job and having health care"
23. Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act (2000) - allowed senior citizens to work part time without losing their social security benefits
24. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (2000)
25. Re-authorization of Older Americans Act (2000) - with an important program added "The National Family Caregiver Support Program"

Key Initiatives with a Net Positive Impact (one of the sources)

1. Revocation of Gag Rule and Certain Restrictions on Abortion/Medical Funding (1993)
2. Childhood Immunization Initiative (1993)
3. Federal Child Support Enforcement (1995)
4. Prohibition of Federal Contracts with Businesses that Replace Legally Striking Workers with Permanent Workers (1995)
5. Youth-Smoking Reduction (1995)
6. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (1996)
7. Enhanced EPA Air Quality Regulations (1997)
8. Smoke-Free Federal Workplaces (1997)
9. FDA Regulations on Prescription Drug Testing for Children (1997)
10. Child Safety Lock Agreement with Handgun Manufacturers (1997)
11. Patient's Bill of Rights implemented in Federal Health Plans (Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, etc.) (1998)
12. Kyoto Global Warming Protocol Signed (1998)
13. Medical Privacy Protections (1999)
14. Creation of Giant Sequoia National Monument (2000)
15. Worker Health and Safety Rules to Prevent Repetitive
Stress Injuries (2000)

Key Presidential Vetoes with a Net Positive Impact

1. Veto of Increase in Statutory Debt Limit (1995) ["busting the budget"]
2. Veto of Federal Budget (1995)
3. Veto of Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (1995) [tort "deform"]
4. Veto of Welfare Reform Act (1996) - two original versions were vetoed before a final version was passed (see Section A)
5. Veto of Common Sense Product Liability Reform Act (1996) [tort "deform"]
6. Veto of Teamwork for Employees and Managers Act (1996) - [union-busting measure]
7. Veto of "Partial-Birth" Abortion Ban (1996, 1997) - [anti-choice measure]
8. Veto of School Voucher Bill/ Education Savings and School Excellence Act (1998) [weakening of public schools]
9. Veto of Tax Cut bills (1999, 2000) [irresponsible tax cuts]
10. Veto of Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act (1999) - pertained to Yucca Mountain, EPA powers, etc.
11. Veto of Estate Tax Elimination Act (2000)
12. Veto of Bankruptcy Reform Act (2000)

Banned for posting five straight diaries.


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