Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hillary Proves Eric's Point

Eric and Jill have been trading shots in Eric's comments about the emerging phenomenon of Clinton supporters holding their breath until they get their way threatening to abandon the party in the fall. Eric's basic thesis (as I read it and apologies if my summary is off) is that
if Hillary supporters can be led back to the party, Hillary needs to take the lead. Jill's response is that Obama must take the lead in "building trust" among these voters.

I tend to side with Eric for a couple of reasons. First, because the hardcore Hillary supporters who make such statements seem to have closed their minds and hearts to Obama's overtures. As such, only someone who has their trust is likely to persuade them to trust Obama.

Second, Hillary hasn't just benefited from suspicions about Obama, she has encouraged them. The campaign emails to donors reek of a sense of entitlement, but the overt message is that Hillary is besieged by injustices perpetrated by powerful forces no one should have to contend with. For example, here's her latest missive about Kentucky:

    Every time we win another state, we prove something about ourselves and about our country. And did we ever prove something tonight in Kentucky.

    We showed America that the voters know what the "experts" will never understand -- that in our great democracy, elections are about more than candidates running, pundits commenting, or ads blaring.

    They're about every one of us having his or her say about the path we choose as a nation. The people of Kentucky have declared that this race isn't over yet, and I'm listening to them -- and to you.
This particular take on The Terrible Injustice -- that some cabal of elite opinion makers is trying to somehow cut off her glide path to sure victory by forcing her out of the race -- is a staple. So are whiny complaints about Obama's money, and strident advocacy for counting the Florida and Michigan results as is. The message throughout the correspondence from the campaign has been that the only thing between Hillary and the White House is the way the system is stacked against her.

Never mind that until she started losing primaries, she was the prohibitive favorite of the Democratic establishment. I get emails over the signature of Terry McCauliff, the former Dem party chair and one of the most successful money men of the past twenty years.

The longer this goes on, the deeper the distrust builds and Team Hillary actively stokes that distrust. There are reasons to believe the problem will not be as bad as it appears now. But if Hillary's voters put McCain in the White House, Hillary will have authored the catastrophe.


Mencken said...

I actually read that whole back and forth between Eric and Jill. The biggest laugh was Jill using language she recently chastised me for using. I guess when you're as sincere as she is you can pull it off.

Anyway what I see is Hillary playing Salieri to Obama's Mozart. Hillary Salieri being the darling of the court until the brash boy genius B. Mozart comes out of nowhere and steals the glory- relegating the once proud Salieri to bystander status.

Hillary supporters saying that they would rather not vote, or vote for McCain over Obama is like Salieri fans saying they would stop listening to music entirely, or start listening to the Pine Bluff Arkansas Community Orchestra play the Star Wars soundtrack rather than listen to Mozart.

I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

You can't say "whiny". That's sexist talk.

Jill said...

Hey Scott - thanks for the link.

Which overtures in particular are you thinking of here: "...hardcore Hillary supporters who make such statements seem to have closed their minds and hearts to Obama's overtures."

I've blogged about some kumbaya action in Calif. but I'm not sure what else I may have missed.

Second thing, how do you think we will know that this is what happened (what metrics will you be looking for after the GE) re: "if Hillary's voters put McCain in the White House, Hillary will have authored the catastrophe."?


Scott Piepho said...


Oh, please don't tell me that your fall back will be that he has made no overtures. He campaigns, for God's sake. He goes to towns and holds rallies and avails and tells whoever will listen what he is about. And I see, one after another, examples of white-women-of-a-certain-age saying "I just don't like him." That tells me that they have closed their minds to whatever specific overtures he might make, at least absent help from someone "trusted."

As for metrics, I am actually not interested in proving the hypothesis. What I am interested in doing is reminding people, including WWoaCAs what is at stake in this election. To wit: at least two seats now occupied by the four member "liberal" wing of the Supreme Court, the possibility of more, not less, military adventurism, perpetuation of Dubyanomics, etc.

By the way, does it bother you at least a little that at least some of the WWoaCAs are likely motivated by race?

Jill said...

What's this stand for: WWoaCA?


Jill said...

Scott - I think of overtures as something over and above regular campaigning. But if you're not using it that way, now I know. Tx.

Yes - he has campaigned to large and open and diverse crowds. I would hope all candidates do.

Not sure how that's an overture to Hillary folks, but ok.

I agree 100% with reminding the voters who say they won't vote or will vote McCain about what is at stake. But you wrote, "But if Hillary's voters put McCain in the White House, Hillary will have authored the catastrophe." which I took to mean that you believe it will be the fault of Clinton's supporters who either don't vote or vote for McCain if McCain gets elected. I don't think those are the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Over the last couple weeks he has been making more and more overt appeals to HRC supporters. Just last night in Iowa he mentioned both the Seneca Falls declaration and that Clinton's campaign opened doors for his own daughters.

Obviously those appeals are only based on some of what about the HRC campaign appeals to in its voters, other voters will be looking for other appeals. But if those voters are looking for healthcare, economic policy, or foreign policy, there's really not a whole lot of distinction that would require changing his general appeals.

Modern Esquire said...

Wow, another adamant Obama supporter who believes it's not Obama's responsibility to bring the party together in the fall, but instead it's "all Hillary's fault." I'm amazed. Shocked even. I think I may even be getting the vapors.

Look the very fact that Obama is making "overtures" to Clinton supporters is a concession that he has a responsibility as the titular head of the party now to bring it back together after the primary. That's what the nominee does. That's what McCain has been doing. This is one political law where Obama is not the exception.

Although Pho convenience phorgets that after Iowa the Edwards folks and some in the media were already calling Hillary's campaign over, there is objective proof that the media, even when Obama was largely viewed as a frontrunner, covered Hillary in much harsher and negative tone than Obama.

How anyone could listen to Chris Matthews talk about Hillary and say that there weren't forces to undermine and discourage her campaign is beyond me.

Or when Obama patronized Clinton with his "Hillary you're liked enough" or literally brushed her off at a campaign rally, or the campaign to make her entire experience to be President as nothing more than being First Lady and then say to make these comments is ridiculous.

Modern Esquire said...

By the way, where in your post do you demonstrate that Hillary has proven Eric's point???

Scott Piepho said...


If Obama loses big, it won't be because of Hillary or pro-Hillary refusniks. But if he loses a squeaker with one swing state in the balance, we can certainly make the argument that the refusiniks tipped the balance. And my argument is that Hillary is stoking their dissaffection with her quixotically extended campaign and wounded entitlement cant. You can disagree with my argument if you want, but there it is.

Oh, and WWoaCA are White Women of a Certain Age.

Modern Esquire said...

Did anyone catch the news story that the exit polls in Kentucky that showed the number of people who said they wouldn't support Obama if he's the nominee in the general is the same number of people who said in 2004 they would cross over for Bush if Kerry wee the nominee?

Yeah, I guess I was the only one paying attention...

Look, if Obama loses, it's because of OBAMA. There's no magical, objective threshold where Obama's lost can be attributed to Hillary.

No matter what the margin, though, Obama supporters will be first out the gate to blame Hillary. It's instinctive to them.

Scott Piepho said...


Yet another Hillary supporter blindly supporting her increasingly ridiculous and divisive extension of the campaign. I'm so dizzy I may join you here on the settee.

Obama certainly must do his part to bring Hillary supporters to his side, but he cannot do it as long as the campaign persists. If there is any chance of opening closed minds, it will happen after Hillary graciously concedes and voices support for her opponent. From her continual refusal to do that comes the charge of deliberate fratricide.

I should have noted one other aspect of the Camp Hillary version of the Seven Minutes Hate -- attributing to Obama the misdeeds of people over whom he has no control. I'm there with you that Chris Matthews is a dick. But is he honest to God The Media?

Finally, I see your "Likable enough" and raise you "Whatever he was doing on the streets," "South Carolina is a Black electorate" and "I take him at his word that he's not a Muslim."

There are ten seconds to go. The team is down by twenty points. And the coach continues to instruct his players to deliver hard fouls. No on feels good about that coach.

Jill said...

Tx on the acronym.

I want to see this written up as a moot court problem - because someone is going to take some element of it to some court some day.

Anonymous said...

This is all academic until we have a nominee, but I'll be watching closely at what Clinton does and says. My argument is that it needs to be bold (ie, she needs to tell any voters who would vote for McCain or not vote at all that they'd be betraying their vote for her).

I have a feeling she will come out strong after she has proven to whatever degree she thinks she must that she's tough. I've never doubted that she is, but there is tough and there is stupid tough. She's entering stupid tough as we speak with the Florida/MIchigan talk and talk of taking it to the convention.

The argument that Hillary is the only one with enough equity in these disaffected voters has not been countered in my opinion to any degree that would make me think otherwise. The argument that Obama is the titular head and needs to show leadership is simply not an effective answer and is a straw man. It goes without saying he has to do that - he has and he will. He is, in fact, letting Hillary land as softly as he can right now. He could have already declared victory in a much stronger way because we all know this is over absent an attempt complete implosion of the party. But it also must be recognized that the type of divisive campaign Hillary has run since Super Tuesday requires that she step up and do some healing.

It's actually too soon to have this argument, but my guess is we'll all be left without anything to argue about when Hillary drops out as she'll begin campaigning aggressively for Obama if for no other reason to bolster her cred to run in '12.

Modern Esquire said...

"This particular take on The Terrible Injustice -- that some cabal of elite opinion makers is trying to somehow cut off her glide path to sure victory by forcing her out of the race -- is a staple."

I would consider Chris Matthews part of the cabal, whcih is why I brought it up. Did I say Chris Matthews was Barack Obama? No, but god knows the way he's fauned over him he might as well be considered part of the campaign.

Rhetorical questions work best when they aren't stupid. Of course, Chris Matthews isn't the media. But you have to admit when it comes to political news he has a larger megaphone than most and I pointed to him as an example, not the sum total.

You discounted the notion that there was a cabal that was against Hillary. I pointed out Chris Matthews and things Obama has said or done to be dismissive of Hillary's candidacy. Then you wanted to get in a pissing match about who's done the most bad things about the other.

The point is that you are flat out wrong to suggest that there hasn't been a large segment rooting against Hillary from the beginning and have in subtle and not-so-subtle ways taken any opoprtunity to undercut her candidacy.

Again, I pointed out that after her third-place finish in Iowa, Edwards and some in the media were already suggesting it was over for Hillary. Didn't see any response to that inconvenient fact.

I'm still looking for where in your post you actual show where Hillary has "proven" Eric's point. The title of the post is completely disconnected from the text. It should be titled, "I agree with another Obama supporter that Clinton, and not Obama, is responsible for bringing the party together before the fall."

Because that's all you really said.

Anonymous said...

A couple of objective (I hope) observations. Presidential Candidates are disected by the media and their adversaries. That is what happens to all candidates. Front runners receive more scrutiny than those trailing them. Journalist do have preferences for candidates and it does show in their reporting. To ascribe a conspiracy or cabal setting to this reality is a bit of a reach. MSNBC's coverage has been favorable for Obama. ABC (and later Fox) were both favorable for Clinton. CNN has at least three passionate Clinton supporters on their team.

All of that said, it is important to acknowledge that there were some mistakes made by the Clinton camp that simply can not be blamed on the media. Hillary's campaign chose themes of "ready on day one" and "inevitability." That was a serious misread of the electorate. Clinton's campaign abandoned the caucus states. That was ill advised and not the fault of the media. Clinton's campaign badly mismanaged its finances. That was not the fault of the media.

Finally, these are both two great candidates. The fact that she ran into Obama is the fault of no one. Johnson was furious at the young upstart Kennedy. Who did he think he was? You are never entitled in politics. In the primary, you have to win more delegates than the other person. In the general, you have to win more electoral college votes (just ask Al Gore).

Scott Piepho said...


Eric's argument is that Hillary needs to take the point in bringing her followers back to the fold. My point is that Hillary's campaign communications stoke the suspicions and the Terrible Injustice narrative which are keeping the party disunited. And I offered a case in point.

The observation about 2004 is heartening. I'm far more interested in winning the election than winning this argument. Two observations, though. First, the 2004 voters had a full nine months before the election to get over their disappointment, something that Hillary's zombie campaign is preventing this year.

Second, to the extent this is good news, it's something to be offered as an olive branch, not something to be a complete blowhole about.

Scott Piepho said...


Agreed, especially that these are two solid candidates. I liked Hillary going in, though I had concerns about electability. I've been very disappointed in her conduct during the campaign, particularly her current vacuous argument for securing the nomination despite her deficit in pledged delegates and (by all measures but one) popular vote.

And I'm deeply disappointed in the negativity by supporters of both candidates. From where I sit it's been worse from Camp Hillary, but probably because I'm more sensitized to it.

Anonymous said...


I agree that some of Clinton's supporters, and surogates, have used language that has been counterproductive and, at this stage, unwise. To be fair, the losing side is always angrier.

All of that said, there is a counter balance to those types of comments. You saw Edwards come out last week. Given the tenor of the FL comments, you could see Gore come out in the near future. If the talk of taking the fight to the convention continues, you could see Feinstein come out after that. Clinton also knows that if she is seen as having damaged Obama in the general, she will face the wraith of the black voters in every subsequent primary battle. Right now her camp is split. Wolson, Ickes and the like want to position her to step in if there is even one slip up. However, there are those around her who understand that she will do more damage to herself and the party in the long run if this doesn't get put to bed soon.

Anonymous said...

The voters who will decide the election aren't watching Chris Matthews or CNN.(have you seen the ratings?) Rather, they are watching American Idol on Fox or the Braves on TBS. Using the media as a reason for your campaign's miscues and deficiencies is one of the oldest smokescreens in the book.