By Scott Cavanagh
Prior to the recent resurgence of the Hillary Clinton campaign, it was common to hear talk of how the Clintons were being out-maneuvered and out-campaigned by the Barack Obama people. While the Illinois senator and his supporters deserve much credit for their eleven-state winning streak and uncanny ability to attract large crowds of supporters and donors, the sudden nosedive of the Clinton campaign was started and perpetuated by a national media enamored with Obama and anxious to paint the Clintons as master manipulators.
It all began with the ridiculous overreaction to everything the Clintons said or did in the first racially volatile primary state of South Carolina. As soon as the tone was set that anything said about Obama would be analyzed for racial overtones, the slide had begun. Bill's "dream world" comment about Obama’s Iraq record had NOTHING to do with race--but the media ran with it all day. It was immediately clear that Hillary was going to be in trouble if anything happened to her African-American support, because if it eroded and things became ugly, Obama would not only go from 65% to 95% overnight with blacks--all of the hipster liberal white yuppies would just eat it all up and go along for the ride. Then, bam, bam, bam -- she makes a correct comment that MLK needed LBJ--they talk about racism. Bill points out correctly that black candidate Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice--and he's a racist. The Clintons were suddenly left without the constituency they had always been most comfortable with and could always count on--African-Americans.
Once that core base of black support for the Clintons was eroded by non-stories (can you imagine, after all the things that have been said about the Clintons--from calling him a murderer and drug lord to calling her a lesbian and Chelsea a dog--people are criticizing them for "going negative" with this harmless stuff?) the press smelled blood. Since then, every time any Clintonite makes any point about Obama's record, it is reported as the big, bad, evil Clinton machine tearing into poor Barack Obama. But I watch these stump speeches and such on C-SPAN all the time, and Obama rips on her every bit as much as she does on him--and it's rarely reported. When she points out that he has a thin resume and a health care plan that does not cover everyone, she is "going negative", but when he says lines like--"It's one thing to try to deliver health care and fail. It's another thing to actually get it done"—when he knows her opposition at that time was total and she was the only person championing the issue--there is never a peep from the press. When he claims that they (McCain and Hillary) are part of the same, old problems, which is--correctly and effectively--his strategy, it’s treated as just good campaigning, but when she points out their (McCain & Clinton) shared experience, she's somehow playing dirty. When he rips on her first Iraq vote--even though he did not have to cast one himself--it's fine, but when the Clintons point out that Obama removed a speech supporting the war effort from his web site in time to run for president, she's being shameful and petty and her husband is labeled a race-baiter.
Meanwhile, all of this plays right into the GOP’s hands. They have already constructed this Bogeyman in Hillary Clinton and have convinced everyone, including the gullible press, that they WANT to face her in the general election--because she has such high negatives and could not possibly carry certain states, particularly in the South. They WANT to face the Clintons? The same Clintons that beat them in ’92; that destroyed them in ’96; that walked out of the White House with a 65% approval rating AFTER they exposed his infidelity? Don’t buy it. This is the same stuff the Right did in 2000. When Al Gore was trying to close the deal against W. In the waning weeks of that campaign, the Fox News Channels of the world continued to disingenuously debate whether it was wise for the vice president to use President Clinton on the stump— constantly posing questions like “With all of his personal baggage, would you really want Bill Clinton campaigning for you?” Gore fell for it hook, line and sinker--pulling the prez off his last southern swing—a snub that caused a lasting riff between the two. Gore ended up losing his home state of Tennessee and Arkansas by percentage points. A backslapping, story-telling Bubba would have been good for those votes in one afternoon, but he was on the sidelines.
No, the Republicans want no part of Hillary, and by convincing the public that she is unelectable and unethical (this push to make her look like some back room Boss Tweed because she might consider using the Super Delegate rules observed by the party for decades comes to mind) they have managed to diminish her and her husband in the eyes of naïve Democrats even more so than Republicans.
It's amazing how many of today's Johnny-come-lately Air America political geniuses have called into radio shows saying that they would not even vote if they had to vote for Hillary. What the hell is that? If this Democratic race had not become the back-biting thing that it has, with many Democrats now ripping much of the Clinton years (suddenly THEY now have troubles with eight years of peace and prosperity) the nominee, be it Obama or Hillary, would have been able to win simply off of the voters' basic understanding that things (particularly the economy) were better under eight years of Democratic control. It would simply be the Reagan mantra-- "Are you better off today, than eight years ago?"
Now Obama has had his run and has supplanted Hillary as the likely nominee. Everyone is touting his special appeal that stretches across racial and ethnic divides and motivates young people like nobody since MLK, but let’s remember one thing—the arrows have not been directly aimed at him yet.
Barack Obama is now officially a liberal icon. The right will organize against this black man in a way even the Clintons have never seen. I just came back from five days in Alabama--and I can tell you from talking to a lot of people at my nephew and niece's sporting events and such that: A) Almost all of them believe he's a Muslim; B) They don't yet know his middle name; C) They liked the Clinton ECONOMY; D) Those good-old-boys actually like Clinton--because he's a big-haired chick-chasing scoundrel they can sympathize with. They have no such kinship to Obama. They thought Gore was a lispy-wimp, but they'd secretly like to BE Bubba. The Clintons always do better in the South than people anticipate.
As far as Obama's performance in predominantly white states is concerned--hardly anyone votes in primaries other than die-hard party people, and the Clintons are right that caucuses are a joke and reflect only the tiniest percentage of educated political junkies. Lets see how many regular folk votes Barack HUSSEIN Obama gets against war hero John McCain, without the eight years of peace and prosperity Hillary can point to—BJ and all. Of course, Obama won't have any of that to fall back on because he and his "this guy talks like a black JFK" crowd have been so busy disparaging the Clinton record it will be unusable artillery in the general election. He will be running on "I'm cool" and hoping that the youth vote that we always hear so much about but never shows up, comes out in droves. And if it does organize on the left, believe me, there will be a push in every mega church and tiny chapel throughout the entire Christian Right community to mobilize every single young voter against Obama--and those kids DO WHAT THEY ARE TOLD.
Still, we continue to hear that we have to nominate Obama because Hillary is unelectable, particularly in the South. How is this so? Hillary is unelectable in the South, but a black man, with a Kenyan father, admitted youthful drug problems, a paper-thin resume and the name Barack Hussein Obama is? The GOP is afraid of HILLARY--not Obama. That is why they have been so easy on him. He is going to face a shit storm like you would not believe after the convention--a storm the Clintons have faced and defeated time and time again. I personally like Obama, but I think we nominate this guy at our own risk.
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Thursday, March 6, 2008
By Scott Cavanagh