Skip to comments.Hillary Clinton flings the dirt but itís sticking to her
Posted on 03/29/2008 6:16:34 PM PDT by COUNTrecount
A golden rule in the game of American (or any modern professional) politics is that if you are behind in a campaign and youre running out of time, you go negative. Twenty years ago I actually took a class in professional campaign tactics at Harvard Universitys John F Kennedy School of Government. We examined case studies of campaigns in recent years and saw the very precise metrics that the professionals use to gauge how much you lose if you throw mud at someone because you look like a sleazebag compared with how much damage you can inflict. The general conclusion is that even though your negatives can go up, the other guy always does worse. So fling away.
Now Harvard is a quite marvellous university, but whatever version of this class it is now teaching needs a little revision in the wake of the past couple of weeks. Hillary Clinton started throwing some stink bombs at Obama months ago; then, after New Hampshire, she threw the kitchen sink; and in the past week, as cable news threw the boiler, she gave it an extra push.
I wouldnt have Jeremiah Wright [Obamas preacher friend who made embarrassing/incendiary comments] as a pastor, she told Richard Scaife in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which just happens to be in Pennsylvania, which just happens to be the next primary state.
Clinton wins even more chutzpah points when you recall who Scaife is. He is the far-right media magnate who made a fortune in the 1990s running the most irresponsible antiClinton stories in The American Spectator, who broke Troopergate, who promoted the notion that Clinton had her best friend Vince Foster murdered and fanned the idea that Bill Clinton was a drug dealer. Still, Clinton managed to sit down with him and discuss the real enemy: Obama. Machiavelli would understand, although one has to think he would be a teensy bit more subtle about it.
Related Links Hillary fights party bid to stop her race At the same time, in the past three weeks Clinton has pounded on about her foreign policy experience. She even said that John McCain, the Republican nominee, had more capacity to pass what she calls the commander-in-chief test than Obama, her Democratic rival. As for her own experience, she reminded us, as Im sure you recall, how she ended the cold war, tore down the Berlin Wall, brought peace to Northern Ireland, prevented the Bosnian genocide, negotiated the Kyoto accords, saved Rwandans from mass murder and transformed the Middle East into a feminist nirvana. Or something like that.
She did all this at the same time as working day and night to provide healthcare for all Americans. Id say that Christopher Hitchenss memorable 1999 book on the Clintons, No One Left To Lie To, clearly needs a new foreword.
Last week she hilariously had to rein back from claims that she had had to duck sniper fire, skip a greeting ceremony and resolve a border issue in the Balkans after arriving in Tuzla, Bosnia. The blogs spotted the whopper first (of course) and then the networks followed. It was all made up as incontrovertible video evidence and eyewitnesses showed and the border issue to which she referred was resolved before she even arrived. Although she had previously told this tall story several times in the past, she first blamed her one-off gaffe on being sleep deprived and then said she misspoke.
Misspoke is a classic Clintonism. What does it mean? You can say that you genuinely forgot, or got muddled up or fibbed. But Clinton cannot ever admit an actual mistake or confess a deliberate exaggeration. It was the same way in which Bill Clinton could never actually say that anything he did was ever wrong. At most it was always inappropriate.
However, the anti-Obama negatives still work, right? We waited for the polling. Those of us hoping for Obama to win went into a defensive crouch. His speech on race was amazing. But you cant win American elections sounding like Reinhold Niebuhr. And sure enough, one of the candidates did see a sudden plummeting in public esteem.
But it wasnt Obama. Clintons personal rating sank to 37% in the NBC/ Wall Street Journal poll last week. It was her lowest rating since 2001 just after her election to the Senate. Did Obama suffer too? Yes, he did. His positive ratings slipped from 51% to 49%; his negatives rose from 28% to 32%. But in polling terms thats almost statistical noise. Nationally, by Friday, Gallup had Obamas national lead over Clinton at eight points his largest ever measured by Gallup.
When you look at critical Pennsylvania, where the next primary takes place on April 22, recent polls show no serious movement in the past two weeks with Clintons average lead still about 12%-16%. Over the past few months the direction has all been in Obamas favour. He is on a six-day campaign tour there and on Friday he won the endorsement of Bob Casey, the Pennsylvania senator. Casey matters because he is the son of the former Pennsylvania governor of the same name, who was one of the most socially conservative and pro-life white Catholic Democrats in the country. If Clintons only hope is now to appeal to white conservative working-class Democrats, she just lost one of their heroes.
However, she still has a chance and her tactics have not entirely backfired. The latest Pew polling, which dug beneath the horse race numbers, found something fascinating and troubling for Obama. People always think that social conservatism and old-fashioned prejudices against blacks are Republican monopolies. They never have been. Until the 1960s the Democrats were overwhelmingly the pro-segregation party. And in analysing white work-ing-class Democrats last week, Pew found the following: White Democrats who hold unfavourable views of Obama are much more likely than those who have favourable opinions of him to say that equal rights for minorities have been pushed too far; they also are more likely to disapprove of inter-racial dating and are more concerned about the threat that immigrants may pose to American values. In addition, nearly a quarter of white Democrats (23%) who hold a negative view of Obama believe he is a Muslim.
This is now Clintons best hope of beating Obama. The woman who has a great and admirable record on racial issues, whose husband was described as the countrys first black president, the candidate with the strongest Hispanic support . . . now needs the votes of older conservative whites, who are uncomfortable with the idea of a black president and suspicious of Latino immigration.
Some candidates at this point would feel so divorced from their own core principles and values that they would see the mathematical near-impossibility of winning and withdraw. One recalls that great line from Robert Bolts A Man for All Seasons, when Thomas More reproaches the man, Richard Rich, who betrayed him for petty political advancement.
Why Hillary, it profits a woman nothing to give her soul for the whole world. But for Pennsylvania?
She’ll never be president.
There - fixed.
It was a GREAT READ untill the very last line.......Andrew Sullivan must be on drugs if he thinks Hillary has a soul.
Yep, it’s sticking to her and no amount of “showering” will wash it off.
I think Hillary’s candidacy is done. She “mis-ran.”
Poofter boy actully wrote an article without mentioning gay rights! Will wonderS never cease?
There was a great example of this in Hillary's statement in Pittsburgh:
You know I have written about this and described it in many different settings and I did misspeak the other day. This has been a very long campaign. Occasionally, I am a human being like everybody else.
They were laughing about this on NPR this morning. "Occasionally she's a human being? When, during a full moon?" They did not raise the more pressing question -- what is she the rest of the time?
Biting the lip is the trick.
Poor poor HEllary... hubby Bill used up all the alloted supply of Teflon...we didn’t call him the Slick One for nothin’ now.
Unfortunately my dear Beast you got stuck scraping your own pots and the old slippery magic substance has gone a bye-bye.
I’m telling ya....she’s PIGPEN!
Ah-HA! The ol' Biting Of The Lip routine, eh?