Posts Tagged ‘Presidential Race’
McCain’s people have been looking at the same polls we have over the past couple of weeks, all of which seem to show Obama gaining a solid lead in electoral votes. So close, as a matter of fact, that he really only needs one swing state to claim the Presidency, whereas things are significantly more difficult for McCain.
One of the biggest pieces of news in the campaigns recently was the McCain camp’s desertion of Michigan. Although a variety of factors are involved, it looks like the Democrat’s 50-state strategy is paying off by making McCain spend more time and money defending what he thought were safe states, also causing him to be unable to project as much force as he wants to in some key states.
In response to his falling numbers in the polls, the Washington Post tells us today that the McCain campaign’s answer will be to talk tougher in the ads:
Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.
With just a month to go until Election Day, McCain’s team has decided that its emphasis on the senator’s biography as a war hero, experienced lawmaker and straight-talking maverick is insufficient to close a growing gap with Obama. The Arizonan’s campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls.
Shifting the debate is something that Republicans have excelled at in recent years. Before we were even in Afghanistan the neocons were talking about Iraq. Instead of the failure of the first four years of Bush policies, we were talking about whether Kerry had actually chased a guy around a hut and shot him. Now it appears they want to shift the debate back to Obama’s experience and the nature of his associations with less than savory characters William Ayers and Antoin Rezko.
I’m not giving predictions here, but just from my observations it doesn’t seem like them trying to get people interested in shady characters from Obama’s past is going to gain any more traction now than it has already. Despite the bailout package being passed yesterday, just about nobody thinks this is really going to turn our economy around dramatically. It should help, but just about nothing is going to change the situation very quickly. Unless some private investor happens to have a couple trillion to hand out, we’re in for the long haul.
Earlier, in his weekly radio address, Bush spoke cautiously about the economy’s future. “My administration will move as quickly as possible, but the benefits of this package will not all be felt immediately. The federal government will undertake this rescue plan at a careful and deliberate pace to ensure that your tax dollars are spent wisely,” he said.
You know when Bush isn’t telling you the economy is rosy and dismissing any evidence to the contrary, things are pretty grim. To get back to the point, it appears that bad economic news is good for Obama. Can McCain refocus the conversation on Obama’s credentials? I don’t know, but I just get the feeling that for the average voter, we’re past that point. Besides which, Obama has shown he knows how to hit back; all he has to do is point out that McCain “backed Bush” (by which he means voted in support of a Presidentially backed bill) 95% of the time in 2007. Both arguments will probably work just as well on voters, which means not much would change.
Obama is apparently trying to shift the dialog to healthcare, which gives him an opportunity to completely beat up Republicans for not allowing Democrats to pass a universal health care package and especially McCain for what Obama and Biden have called (to paraphrase) a plan to offer “a $5,000 credit to offset a $12,000 loss”. I’m honestly not sure if this is going to capture the attention of those voters still swaying in the breeze, but it at least has a chance. I will make one prediction though; if Obama can shift the dialog his way before McCain can (or rather blocks McCain from doing it), McCain will have virtually no chance to refocus attention again before the election arrives. And if that’s the case, he’s better off just hoping for a miracle.
Glenn Greenwald demonstrates how, despite their very best efforts at being wrong about everything and unfairly influencing people in the process, the press failed to derail Hillary Clinton’s campaign in New Hampshire.
UPDATE: The most delicious aspect of Hillary’s win last night is watching the media, who were only yesterday writing breathlessly about her doomed campaign, now being hoisted by their own petards. Because they set the bar so low, they have no choice now but to declare that Hillary’s victory last night was a “stunning comeback”, thus providing an unintended (and almost certainly undesired) boost to her campaign and making her victory a much bigger story than it otherwise would have been. Of course, this “boost” will prove to be as vacuous as the death-knells were so I seriously doubt it will hurt Obama in the upcoming primaries, but it is plain amusing to watch.
CNN is calling it for McCain on the Republican side. Very interesting. With 13 precincts reporting, Clinton is at 40% to Obama’s 36%. CNN says Edwards will come in third, as he’s trailing at 17%.
UPDATE: It’s still a close one between Clinton and Obama. You can see county-by-county results here.
UPDATE II: CNN is calling it for Clinton, with 72% of the precincts reporting.
UPDATE III: My own completely unsophisticated political analysis is that Obama’s victory in Iowa was a little like a football time driving down the field for a touchdown on the first possession, and Clinton’s victory tonight is a little like the other team responding with their own high-yardage, clock consuming scoring drive. In other words, the game is hardly over yet. In fact it’s only just begun!
Poor little libertarians. Their hero is being dethroned.
Today is the New Hampshire primary, and voters are going to the polls. I still think it’s insane that Iowa and New Hampshire have as much sway as they do, but it’s still all very exciting, isn’t it?
UPDATE: As in Iowa, New Hampshire-ites were also apparently not motivated enough last time to turn out.
UPDATE: George Packer is hanging out with some voters in New Hampshire who could do America a favor by staying home.
I read this sort of thing, and it just makes me want to tear my hair out:
Friends Allie Landers, Jenna Smith and Marina Galkina echoed Ramirez. The three stopped by to get a glimpse of Clinton. But they headed for the doors just a few minutes after they got there. They’re Obama supporters.
“I think it’s really hard that you’re campaigning for change — Clinton’s been using that word a lot too — when, if you were elected, then the past presidents would be Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton,” said Landers, 21.
Added Smith, also 21: “I’m from New York. I think Hillary has done a good job as a senator, but it was just her stepping stone. And, for some reason, for whatever reason, I just don’t like her.”
One cannot accuse Ms. Smith of over-thinking her feelings about Clinton. Truth is, a lot of people feel the way she does. They “just don’t like her.” Ask why, and they’ll say “I just don’t.” Then they’ll cite to some mumbo jumbo about something she supposedly did during Bill’s presidency, or as a Senator, or how they think she’s a phony or a fraud, or how they just don’t think she’s very likeable. But what they won’t do is get right to the heart of what they think is wrong with Hillary Clinton, either because they don’t want to admit it or (more likely) they’re not even aware of it and aren’t eager to explore it. Fortunately, thanks to the tireless writing of Bob Somerby, we have a example numero uno of Hillary “hate” in the form of Chris Matthews at MSNBC. Here’s Somerby:
Until the day he’s made to stop, Matthews will continue his sneering remarks about Clinton. He’ll call her “Dukakis in a dress.” He’ll say she reminds him of “a stripteaser.” He’ll pretend, as he did last Thursday and Friday, that Bill Clinton has called her an “uppity woman” (text below). These sneering, gender-based comments and insults will be available each evening on Hardball. And this worthless man will sing the praises of the twin virile saints, John and Rudy. He insulted Gore for twenty straight months until he got George Bush to the White House. (“Al Gore would lick the floor to be president.” “Al Gore is Clinton’s bathtub ring.” ) And make no mistake—he’ll degrade and sneer at Hillary Clinton for as long as it takes.
That’s not an uninformed opinion. If you don’t believe me, go to Somerby’s blog and search for “Matthews Hillary Hate” and see how many of his posts you get back. Hint: it’s a lot, each one documenting in detail some tasteless, crass, inappropriate and sexist smear that Matthews has made about Hillary Clinton. So do you think Matthews just has a problem with Hillary? Or do you think there’s maybe a little more to it? Somerby again:
Matthews has had obvious on-air problems with women dating back to the late 1990s, when he would savage liberal women who challenged his rants against Clinton and Gore. (Remember him? The last nominee we refused to defend?) During this same epoch, of course, Matthews would fall all over himself with praise for his darling, the Faire Lady Willey, who would periodically arouse his admiration with her bizarre accusations on Hardball against the pet-killer, Bill Clinton.
(In August 1999, Matthews gave Gennifer Flowers a full half-hour to accuse both Clintons of serial murders. “You’re a very beautiful woman,” the long-term nut-case said at one point. “And I have to tell you—he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that!” “Gosh, you’re making me blush here,” the chanteuse replied, briefly putting murder charges on hold. Matthews came right back at his guest: “It’s an objective statement, Gennifer. I’m not flirting. So let’s go on.”)
Mattews most certainly has issues with women which, as noted above, manifests itself thusly:
But by far, Matthews’ most consequential expression of this problem in the past year was the stream of gender-based insults he directed at a major presidential candidate—at a certain “strip-teaser,” “giggling girl” “uppity woman”—earlier in 2007. (In recent months, he has dialed this back a bit. He may have done this because some of us complained, while most of us notably didn’t.) And now we get to our accusation: The liberal web was amazingly tolerant of that disgraceful conduct by Matthews—when it was being directed at Hillary Clinton. Maybe we’ll wait seven more years to complain, the way we did with Candidate Gore. Maybe we’ll wait until we get peeved about Giuliani’s mad war.
Do you think Matthews is the only one who feels that way? That everybody else who hates Clinton or “just doesn’t like her” has taken a long, hard look at her policy positions and public statements and determined that there’s something in her, some character flaw, which entitles them to dislike her? I don’t. By the way, Matthews isn’t the only one. Glenn Greenwald takes aim at the campaign press, who are collectively as strangely motivated as Matthews:
Yesterday, The Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut — in an item oddly headlined “Clinton Joins the Girls on the Bus” — described how Hillary Clinton boarded the press bus that follows her around, brought bagels and coffee for the reporters, and delivered some pleasant remarks about what a great experience Iowa has been. But Kornblut pointedly noted that this was Hillary’s “first and only [time] on board the bus since she started campaigning almost exactly a year earlier,” and Kornblut noted that the press corps sat “in silence” until Hillary left.
That report led to this exchange today with The Post’s Lois Romano:
Washington: I just read on The Post’s Trail page that Clinton dropped by the press bus to drop off coffee etc. and was met with cold silence. Wow. Even after 15 years, why is there so much press hostility towards the Clintons? If it turns out to be McCain vs. Clinton (my current guess) in the general, the difference in press coverage between these two is going to be as staggering as it is depressing.
Lois Romano: I was struck by that as well. I have covered Hillary Clinton off on and for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything that stark happen. While there is a tense relationship between HRC and the media, I’m not sure why the reporters on the bus wouldn’t have tried to take advantage of her appearance and ask some good questions. All she could do is refuse to answer them. It’s not for the press to be hostile to Clinton — it’s the media’s responsibility to cover her.
For all the talk about the complex ideological, economic and other factors that shape our horrendous political press coverage, it is always important to remember that so much of it — as Romano’s accurate comments highlight — is attributable to the adolescent, self-absorbed, herd-like behavior of the reporters who travel around with these candidates. Those whom they like personally — the ones who flatter them or otherwise trigger their desire to be liked — receive reverent coverage, while those to whom they’re personally hostile receive the opposite.
For the press corps, the people who are lauded for their supposed objectivity, politics is indeed personal. More:
Greg Sargent yesterday noted that The Politico’s Ben Smith was apparently present for this event as well. This is what Smith wrote about it:
Hillary stepped onto the parked press bus in Indianola for about 90 seconds to deliver bagels and coffee, and I’m not sure what this says about Clinton and the press â€” the chill, I think, comes from both sides â€” but it was a strange moment. . . .
. Nobody even shouted a question, whether because of the surprise, the assumption that she wouldn’t actually answer, or the sheer desire to end the encounter.
One reporter compared the awkwardness to running unexpectedly into an ex-girlfriend.
“Maybe we should go outside and warm up,” said another, as Clinton exited into the freezing air.
Hillary is the cold, frigid ex-girlfriend they all want to avoid. Do they ever think about anything without reference to some high school cliche?
Another reporter, Michael Shcherer at Time, goes way out of his way to answer that question with a resounding “no”, when he compares the GOP debate to high school, where McCain has “always been the coolest kid in school”, Romney “is the overachiever, the do-gooder, the kid in class who always does everything right” and Huckabee “is the class clown with the weight problem everyone likes, who always seemed to have his heart in the right place.” And no, it’s not satire.
So for Matthews Hillary is a “stripteaser”, and for the campaign press, Hillary is the “cold, frigid, ex-girlfriend they all want to avoid.” So yes, their issues with Hillary most assuredly have something to do with the fact that she’s a woman. In fact, it has everything to do with the fact that she’s a woman, as the men on the campaign trail are simply not held to the same standard.
And I guarantee you that the Hillary “hate” out here among us commoners is also motivated by the fact that she’s a woman. If she desires the Presidency too much, she’s “power-hungry” or “ambitious” or afflicted with “megalomania” or she’s “inauthentic.” Even her laugh (Frank Rich proving that not all of this nonsense comes from the right) and her clothes are fair game for criticism, and reflective of her power hungry personality and unfitness for the office of President. She’s (gasp) “calculating” (an emotional moment “remind[s] people that this woman is all about calculation” says un-biased political analyst Michelle Malkin.)
The strangest thing about all this Hillary hate, is that there are a lot of people who don’t feel the same way about her. Even after over a decade of these sorts of attacks, Hillary’s success in running for President indicates that there are a lot of people who don’t have these weird hang-ups about her. It just seems like the people who don’t like her, really don’t like her…as evidence above.
To be frank, this is all crap. Hillary hate is largely about her sex (and smarter people than me feel the same way.) Who among the men running for President now is not ambitious, or hungry for power? Our current President is afflicted with one of the most moronic-sounding laughs of all time, but Hillary “cackles” (like a witch…how clever!) Obama could show up to a debate wearing jogging shorts and t-shirts and the press would laugh, but if Hillary shows a little too much cleavage fierce debate ensues (the reminder that she might actually be a woman under her tough exterior seems to appall people the most; how dare she rub her womanhood in their face?)
So, you who are not of the right who profess to “hate” or who “just don’t like” Hillary Clinton, I’m calling you out. (Those of you who are on the right; well, let’s just say I wouldn’t expect anything other than blatant sexism.) Please try to explain to me how your dislike, distrust or aversion to Clinton has anything to do with other than her being a woman. Cite to examples of things you’ve seen or read about her doing or saying, that would also make you dislike her as a male candidate. I’ll be waiting.
UPDATE: Via Lawyers, Guns and Money, Kerry Howley with more on the sexist double-standard Hillary battles:
Add to this useful list of the worst jobs in the world: consultant to any candidate with breasts. Show emotion and you’re weak; show strength and you’re a collection of servos. Respond to attacks with emotion and you’re “angry.” Respond with equanimity and you’re cold and distant. Shy from war and you’re too feminine to lead; embrace it and you’re the establishment’s whore. And the worst thing you can do? Acknowledge, in any way, shape, or form, the existence of sexism in these United States.
Indeed. In fact, Andrew Sullivan regards such acknowledgment as “victimology“, which Obama “transcends.” If Hillary fails to transcend sexism, it is only because she is not permitted to by frat-boy jokesters who think yelling “iron my shirt!” at a campaign rally is funny, and by commentators such as Sullivan who think that reacting to sexism is playing the victim.
UPDATE II: Jeff Taylor (one of Howley’s co-bloggers at Hit & Run), as if sensing an opportune moment to engage in the tried-and-true Clinton stereotyping, also demonstrates that no emotion that Hillary displays can possibly be authentic. Though is article is hardly as interesting as the one in which Andrew Sullivan diagnosis Hillary with something called “Salieri-Mozart syndrome.”
UPDATE III: Via James Wolcott, here’s Tom Watson for more. I won’t go so far as to hold Obama responsible for not saying something about any of this nonsense (this is politics, and he is trying to win an election and all) but for the rest of it, I think he’s on target. Wolcott, for his part, is annoyed by the over-the-top rhetoric of some of Obama’s more fervent supporters, of which this piece by Ezra Klein (who I like) is an unfortunate example (something else I also don’t hold Obama responsible for.) For a more rational and reasoned assessment and endorsement of Obama see…why, our own little endorsement here!
UPDATE IV: In his post today, Glenn Greenwald informs readers that the love-fest between the media, conservative pundits and Obama won’t last five minutes longer than it takes Hillary to drop out of the race. Only time will tell, but I’d put money behind Greenwald’s claim.
UPDATE V: Huckabee, of all people, rises to Hillary’s defense.
And the top political story of the day is….Hillary Clinton displaying a brief moment of emotion. At a campaign stop today, after she was asked how she puts up with the rigors of campaigning, her eyes “appeared to well up” (Washington Post) and her voice “softened and lowered to a near-hush” (New York Times), providing a “dramatic coda to a campaign in which she has largely offered voters policy prescription” (Los Angeles Times).
Indeed. This sparked ABC News’ headline writer to ask breathlessly, “Can Clinton’s Emotions Get the Best of Her?” — a question that will undoubtedly be the lead story on all three networks tonight, right alongside John Edwards gallantly refusing to comment on the story just moments before deciding that he ought to comment after all. “I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve,” he said, doing his gender proud.
See, how hard can it be to be a reporter, especially one on the campaign trail? You simply make up a good story, then squeeze the facts into them until they squeal.
There’s something to be said for momentum:
Two days before New Hampshire’s Democratic primary, Sen. Barack Obama has opened a double-digit lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton in that state, a new CNN-WMUR poll found Sunday.
Obama, the first-term senator from Illinois who won last week’s Iowa caucuses, led the New York senator and former first lady 39 percent to 29 percent in a poll conducted Saturday and Sunday — a sharp change from a poll out Saturday that showed the Democratic front-runners tied at 33 percent.
Kevin Drum complains:
…apparently the flinty-eyed independents of New Hampshire aren’t quite as flinty-eyed as they’d like you to believe. After a solid year of town halls, coffee klatsches, and early morning doorbell ringing — because, you know, New Hampshirites take their electoral responsibilities so much more seriously than the rest of us — all it took was a few thousand Iowans to flip them from one side to the other in less than 24 hours. Feh.
Of course, the press is doing their part to make sure that these NHrs get with the program:
I’d add that it’s a bit astonishing to watch the real-time narrative construction that went on at last night’s debate. I must have heard the term “meltdown” in reference to Hillary 65 times. And I talked to reporters who would literally say, “I thought she did okay, but I just misjudged it” — the aggregate conclusion of the corps became some sort of objective, or at least agreed-upon, truth that the outliers measured themselves against. Very, very odd. Particularly because the part that much of the press liked least — her heated recitation of the programs she’s fought for — came off, to me, as one of her best moments.
You can imagine how this goes. The collective press corps decides that Clinton, who is of course a canny and crafty political operative, is also somewhat brittle underneath her tough exterior (she is still a woman, after all.) And since she’s brittle, she must be handling the loss in Iowa poorly. And since she’s handling the loss in Iowa poorly, she’s bound-as a woman-to crack at some point. And since she’s bound to crack at some point, any display of “excess” emotion is evidence of this cracking. Of course, rules such as these only apply to women who dare to raise their voices, as John Cole points out. Remember, Howard Dean had to full on screech to get anybody to think he was losing it. But for Hillary…raised voice, harsh words? Cracking.
Anyway, Obama is doing well, and as the candidate endorsed by TWM we’re quite pleased to see his success in Iowa and hopefully New Hampshire. For what it’s worth, I think Obama can take Clinton down without the press stacked against her. But it would be nice if it was a completely fair fight, and it would be nice if women at the height of political power in our country were treated at least somewhat on par with men.
It doesn’t matter what channel you turn it to, the coverage of the Iowa caucus is just not that exciting.
UPDATE: CNN is calling it for Obama. Clinton and Edwards finish tied for second.
UPDATE II: Also, they’re calling it for Huckabee on the Republican side. Heads explode.
UPDATE III: The Washington Post reports that 200,000 Democrats turned out for the caucus, a 75,000 increase over 2004. They weren’t motivated enough last time?
UPDATE IV: Matt Glazer at Burnt Orange says Dodd is done. Matt Yglesias says the same. Dodd never had a chance, which is a shame because his foreign policy expertise and reasonableness is really quite formidable.
UPDATE V: Biden is out too, according to CNN.
UPDATE VI: Is it really that remarkable that white Democrats are willing to endorse a black man for President?
UPDATE VII: Mavs-hater and TNT sports “analyst” and clown Sir Charles Barkley says Obama is off to a “great start.” I guess he can’t be wrong about everything.
UPDATE VIII: By the way, none of my excitement over Obama’s win changes my opinion that the Iowa caucus is an insane way to being the process of picking our next President.
January 2nd, 2008 DOA
The Guiliani campaign is now dead in the water, and the odds of him having a shot at winning the Republican nomination, let alone the Presidential race, are getting dimmer and dimmer. And thank God for that.