three quick links about the democratic primary with no analysis

Obama is pulling away from Clinton in electoral votes. The Clinton campaign is resorting to desperate measures. Obama is fighting back with class and humor.

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  1. mark
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I bet you can’t tell which campaign I’m leaning toward.

  2. Meta
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Hillary says McCain is more qualified that Obama:

  3. Chelsea
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Please know that there’s another side to this.

  4. mark
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I assume this is my old friend Chelsea in Boston and not Chelsea Clinton… Either way, I’m sorry. I know there are good things about your candidate/mother. If she wins the nomination, she’ll get my vote. That doesn’t mean, however, that I like the way she’s running her campaign.

  5. Chelsea
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Understood, Mark. But you are an opinion maker of sorts, and, as such, I believe you have a responsibility to present all sides (or as many as you can). Normally, not being much of a political type, I couldn’t care less about friends’ politics. But I have to say, I have not been that impressed with Obama. I’ve also heard disturbing things about him. (Not the stupid stuff; more substantial things.) Not that I think Hillary is such great shakes. But, like many in this country, I prefer her as a candidate. I wish you wouldn’t bash her so.

    Yes, I am your friend Chelsea

  6. Posted March 15, 2008 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Mark simply provided links that illustrate the point that much of Clinton’s campaign is built upon bashing Obama.

  7. abbyc
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think that either of the democratic candidates has been bashing the other in the ordinary sense of that word, or at least based on what I have gathered in following along with the campaigns for a while, though not always all that closely. The press seems to be dredging up petty conflicts each day that aren’t actually operative between the candidates to have an engaging story to spin again and again essentially unchanged every week. I keep getting headlines along the lines of “HC accuses BO of … ” or “Bo accuses HC of …, ” yet when I actually read the story, the comments tend to be far more respectful, reasonable, and substantive than the headlines would lead one to believe.

    For example, the headlines about Geraldine’s atrocious comments relating to BO’s supposed racial privilege (what a joke! if any man transcends race, ’tis he … ), read something like “Hilary apologizes for … ” implying that she, not Geraldine, has something to confess, while in fact, in the article, HC would disclaim that same negative attitude towards BO strongly and emphatically, and be proactive in setting the discourse to higher plane, a more civil and respectful register. BO has done exactly the same and no less often. We owe the relatively respectful dialogue about race and gender in this campaign to the grace and intelligence that both of these nominees have shown–remember the 1980s? the 1990s? This year of campaigning is many millions of light years away from the discourse so hostile and so paranoid during those decades.

    As to this blog, I do not think that anyone bashes HC per se, but I do think that the comments about her are too uniformly negative to be credible. On some issues, HC has been a real disaster, a huge, huge disappointment, and an utter cop out (e.g. the whole Republican rhetoric of terrorism that she has been employing ever since she landed in NY, sought a seat in essentially foreign territory, and needed the vast support of that often Israeli-centric, Iran- and Palestine-phobic state to win election), but on other extremely important issues, HC has made incredible headway and done amazing things (championing for women, children, health, global justice, especially in making people aware of the interconnectivity of the local and global and the private and public spheres). For of all her troubling compromises (and they are indeed quite troubling), she has in fact had it incredibly rough in the press while her husband was in office, was violated so often in so many unsympathetic news reports, and so rudely, as to have little choice except to cave to the mainstream, and cave profoundly. (The Michael Moore film about health care did a great job remeinding us of that past history.) HC also has the ability put radical ideas in succulent, succienct, compelling packages and make them fly unscathed and near plausible to mainstream audiences (e.g. “Women’s rights are human rights”). We forget how much we owe to HC in making basic respect for smart and powerful women the new norm, now uncontroverted.

  8. Posted March 16, 2008 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    abbc, what a great comment! You are very right about the positives of Clinton, but do you judge her past as simply the ends justifying the means? In other words, is it OK to climb to the top somewhat unethically if you’re going to positively impact the world once you get there?

  9. abbyc
    Posted March 16, 2008 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Those are very tricky questions to answer, Cousins V, and frankly, I don’t think that I can do so. A woman would have next to no chance being a viable candidate for commander in chief in this moment in time without presenting herself as a hawk, and HC certainly couldn’t have won her senate seat without appeasing the hawkish defenders of the Israeli occupation, which would include support of the Iraq war on the basis of WMDs (that would target Israel primarily, violating “national security” only if one considers that ill-situated country as inextricably intertwined with our own).

    I do know that the republican nominee is a thousand times the cop out that Clinton could ever be (or seen to be)–I can’t believe that this ordinarily moderate senator signed off on Bush’s pay offs to the abjectly wealthy the other day in the form of an extension of the tax breaks. (Whoever heard of giving tax breaks to the super wealthy in middle of a war with the deficit already so high and a recession on the way? ‘Twould be insanity at best since the lower and middle classes are the ones to spend and get the economy stirring again … ) I also can’t believe that McCain didn’t repulse the endorsement of the president, who sanctions and legalizes torture that this senator has spent a lifetime proving ineffectual as well as inhumane.

  10. Ol' E Cross
    Posted March 17, 2008 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    As unpleasant as it may seem, Obama and Clinton simply need to procreate and have a child. That way, in forty or so years, the Democrats will finally have a chance at winning back the White House. It’s the only thing I can envision that will stem the self-destructive in-fighting.

    Let’s just pray to God they don’t have twins…

  11. mark
    Posted March 17, 2008 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    At some point you have to draw the line. It’s understood that some people have to bend in order to be electable, but there’s a line. Clinton supporting a war that she knew was wrong. McCain advocating torture. Those are two instances I can’t abide. Obama, in my opinion, still has a shred of integrity. At least there’s some hope.

  12. abbyc
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I don’t see why Clinton and Obama procreating would be any less appealing than imagining the sexual combinations and recombinations of any other political pair. I hope that you don’t mean to imply that their perceived racial differences would make their hypothetical intercourse and offspring any more shocking than those of other politicians, who tend to lack sexual appeal anyway however prone to sex scandal of late.

    It is also important to remember that HC hasn’t endorsed the war in Iraq, only embraced some of the rhetoric that leads to such disasters. As a person who teaches literature and is well aware of the power of representation, I do know that that rhetoric can in itself make reality and script it shamefully for the worse, so I don’t excuse her entirely for her appeals along those lines. However, as to actually getting us out of Iraq and restoring that country to a tenable peace, I think she can and will accomplish those feats no less capably than Obama.

    There are two NYT articles that would complement the three above nicely:

    Clinton Criticizes McCain, Obama on Iraq

    Postfeminism and Other Fairy Tales

    At a conference at EMU the other day, Lynn Rivers reminded us that women constitute 52% of the electorate, yet only women hold only 15% of the seats in public office, from local councils on up to the senate. That is a shocking statistic, and one to give anyone pause before refusing a vote to someone as smart about policy as Clinton. Much the same can be said about candidates of color, who are mighty underrepresented in this supposedly representational democracy.

  13. mark
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    It is my understanding that Clinton voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq. That, to me, seems like more than just embracing ‘some of the rhetoric’… And, yes, absolutely, women and minorities are woefully underrepresented in American government. That does not mean, however, that we should excuse the things that they do in pursuit of higher office. I agree that Hillary probably felt the need to come across as hawkish in order to be taken seriously as a candidate for President. That, however, does not excuse it. Like it or not, the truth is that she supported a war she knew to be wrong.

  14. Chelsea
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that’s true. A *lot* of people supported the war then.

    Feel better,


  15. abbyc
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Clinton gave Bush the authority to threaten to go war with Iraq in order to give teeth to his promised diplomacy relating to the WMDs, diplomacy that never came to fruition except in the form of bombs and destruction. That WMD tale was of course bogus in the first place and Clinton’s vote was a profound mistake, but that vote was also not of the same kind or of the same degree of mistake as authorizing or engaging in the war itself. That mistake is so horrid and so unethical as to be a crime, a miscarriage of justice on an immense, unforgiveable scale in taking the lives and ruining the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, the responsibility for which rests almost entirely on Mr George W Bush junior and his warmongering administration.

    I certainly do not agree with Clinton’s vote, but I would not call that vote in itself unethical, or at least not so much so as to nix her as a candidate for president permanently. If she was arguing for a perpetuation of the war, there would be no question in my mind, and I would vote for Obama with a clear conscience and no ambivalence at all. However, Clinton has clearly laid out her position vis a vis Iraq, a platform from which she cannot retreat easily if elected.

    If we had a primary, I would likely vote for Obama anyway; in fact, should I get the chance to vote for Obama, he will probably be the first politician that I am actually pleased to vote for and that I have few reservations about. My point is simply that it is not so clear cut a decision, that reasonable people could think otherwise, that it is not fair to argue that we should dismiss Clinton out of hand, even those like myself who are entirely against the war in Iraq.

    My one reservation with Obama (besides the fact that he did not campaign in MI) is that I do not know for sure whether he too will compromise and cop out in the end, for he has yet to be truly tested. The conundrum reminds me of a debate in the 17th century about the presumed chastity of nuns. Some argued that nuns were properly not chaste until they were in the material world, faced with real worldly desires and seductions outside the safety of a convent, temptations from which they afterwards came out unscathed and uncorrupted. Now leaving aside the ridiculousness of valuing women only in terms of their virginity and repression of sexual desire, the structure is somewhat the same with regards to the presumed chastity, or political integrity, of Obama.

    I will need to do more research and remind myself of the history before I vote, but on the whole insofar as I can recollect, Clinton comes off fairly well after being faced with countless forms of political temptation. I can reasonably predict where she will disappoint me and where she will succeed in terms of policy, whereas Obama has had few such temptations in the grist of national politics, not enough for me to form an opinion about what he would do in similar situations reliably over a long stretch of time.

  16. dave
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Clinton voted for the congressional resolution that authorized Bush to go to war. Clinton nows says that she didn’t think Bush would use it to go to war, but that’s ex post facto revisionism born of Hillary’s opportunism. Mark is entirely right on this. Don’t buy the Clinton campaign’s spinning of it!

  17. abbyc
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I was paying close attention to Clinton’s motives for signing the resolution at the time because she was still very much my senator in my own mind even though I had recently moved from New York to Michigan. She described her motives for her vote to New Yorkers that year exactly as I described them above even before she voted for the resolution. The vehemence of the primary and the reductive ways in which primary debates are conducted can make even the facts themselves look like spin, but that’s the truth as I can remember it in all its complication as I perceived it then. (I read the news over lunch half asleep and do confess to having a terrible memory when it comes to politics.) Now as to whether Clinton actually believed that Bush would undertake that diplomacy is another matter entirely. ‘Twould be foolish for her to do so, and she is hardly foolish. Yet Bush had not been president very long, she had not been a senator very long, and even a suspicious person could be mislead given Bush’s then pretense of bipartisanship (what a joke!) and his lack of pretentions to the office of the president that he had so recently usurped. My guess is that she knew that it was a bluff, but convinced herself otherwise despite because she felt obliged to the Liberman-esque hawks who helped to bring her to office, who loudly and rudely objected to pro-Palestine statements that she had made earlier, and who felt that Iraq was a threat to Israel.

  18. mark
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the clarification, Abby. And the defense, Dave. Both are appreciated. If I have time tonight, I’ll go and check the exact wording of the resolution. Regardless of which one of us is right, however, I won’t likely change my opinion. Even if the wording shows that she just giving Bush the authority to “threaten” war, that doesn’t change the fact that, in my opinion, she chose to do the expedient thing, over what she knew to be right. She knew, again in my opinion, that Bush wanted to go to war, and she knew the evidence was being trumped up. Even if she just gave him the authority to go one step closer to war, she’s still complicit. Others had the courage to stand up and say “no,” even though they knew it would likely cost their careers. She wasn’t one of them. I’ll vote for her if she’s the candidate, but hopefully it won’t come to that.

  19. Chelsea
    Posted March 20, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Something else we need to consider: Which of the three serious candidates would be best equipped to serve through the impending economic depression? (And, if we get a Democrat this time, then plunge into depression in earnest, what’s going to happen in presidential elections after that?)

  20. mark
    Posted March 20, 2008 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know how anyone prepares for that, Chelsea.

  21. Chelsea
    Posted March 21, 2008 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I think a smart candidate *would* know how to prepare (although I didn’t suggest preparation, per se) and, more important, what to *do.* Compare and contrast, for instance, Herbert Hoover, FDR.

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