Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Monday, November 19, 2007
How to win a primary and lose and election
The latest skirmish between the Democratic front-runners, who are apparently determined to immolate each other so thoroughly that it won't matter which one of their charred corpses emerges as the nominee, because his or her fellow Democrats will have already written that candidate's obituary in Primary blood, has me believing that the Democratic Party might just be terminal.

The latest proof that Democrats are more interested in winning primaries than general elections: Barack Obama is now attacking Hillary Clinton, in person and by name, using material gleaned from one Robert David Sanders Novak.

...the same Robert Novak who knowingly outed covert CIA operative Valerie Plame...

Yeah.

It all started when Novak penned a gossip column entry so thin and nebulous that it almost has to have come, not from secret sources within the Clinton campaign, but from Novak's scumbag Republican friends. Get a load of this idiotic piece of gossip:
Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.
Did I mention that Novak, who is in close running with Rudy's pal Pat Robertson for Most Likely to Actually Be The Devil... had the temerity to do his publishing on a Sunday? Oh, irony...

Anyway, the key line in this waste of words is the following: "The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed." And the purpose of the blind item would be ...??? Exactly.

The Novak column did contain one piece of wisdom that even the Dems should be able to figure out:
Experienced Democratic political operatives believe Clinton wants to avoid a repetition of 2004, when attacks on each other by presidential candidates Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt were mutually destructive and facilitated John Kerry's nomination.
Indeed, which I suppose is the last, best hope of John Edwards.

This entire "scandal" is pathetic, but it does prove something I've believed for some time, which is that Democrats are good at only three things:

1. Capitulating to Republican presidents
2. Capitulating to Republican members of Congress; and
3. Decimating each other in primaries in order to ensure a Democrat can't win the White House

Enter Barack obama, who incredibly, not only apparently believes what he reads in a freaking Robert Novak column, but who appears more than willing to act on it, John Edwards style, to the detriment of a political rival who ... and this is the important part ... is a member of the same party he is, and who could eventually become the nominee, as could he. Meaning that if he destroys said political rival, the results in the general election will be predictable, and most helpful to the GOP.

Said Obama at a presser responding to the unsourced rumor:
"We don't want anybody to have any doubts that when it comes to these kinds of practices, I won't tolerate it," Obama said, responding to reporters' questions on the controversy. "In the era of the blogosphere…if you don't get on this stuff quick, then it starts drifting around."
And he added this:
“I am prepared to stand up to that kind of politics, whether it's deployed by candidates in our party, in the other party or by any third party,” Obama said. “The cause of change in this country will not be deterred or sidetracked by the old ‘Swift boat’ politics. The cause of moving America forward demands that we defeat it.”
Nice flourish, but one has to wonder whether the appearance of toughness on Obama's part is somewhat misdirected.

If the ongoing Democratic fratricide had some purpose, other than to satiate a media elite that has been virtually demanding internecine war between the Dems in order to satiate their Clinton fetish without actually appearing to slime the Hated Couple THEMSELVES, then I could understand it. But alas, there is no point to it. John Edwards is on a search and destroy mission against those he sees as standing between him and a White House he will never occupy...

Barack is caving to the media demands that he destroy Hillary for them, only to find himself in the position of being the one Democrat who still reads Novak's column (maybe it's a Chicago thing...) and doing the bidding of Clinton jihadists like Chris Matthews.

And after all the dirt has been thrown, what will we be left with besides a series of neatly produced GOP attack ads for the general election, written not by Karl Rove, but by other Democrats.

To quote Bill Cosby, "come on, people!"

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the 11th Commandment states that "thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Democrat." Recall that of all the nasty things that were said about Reagan, the one that has really stuck: the notion of "voodoo economics," came from one of his own: his future vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush.

I find it stunning that the Dems who are running for president are getting busy attacking one another, while virtually ignoring the big, fat elephants in the room, starting with the president and working your way down through the his sycophant courtiers in Congress, and those crackpot geezers running for the nomination of the GOP. Ya think the Dem first tier guys could find SOMETHING about any of those clowns to attack?

Earth to Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama: one of you will be the Democratic nominee for president. And before you take on the job of "uniting the county" -- an idea that assumes that most Republicans want to unite with you ... you will have to start by uniting your party, and consolidating the support ... and this is the big one ... of your present rivals. If you make it your business to destroy those Democratic rivals, then good luck doing THAT.

Figure out who the enemy is, fellas. Hint: it's not Hillary and Bill Clinton.

(Sigh)



That said, there is a reason why candidates fall into the negative campaign trap: it works. At least in primaries. The latest Iowa polling bears that out, showing Barack Obama pulling every so slightly ahead of Hillary (though still within the margin of error. Still, perception is important.)

The new polling doesn't take the Novak nastiness into account, but it does reflect at least three weeks of continual Hillary pounding. Bottom line, the poll does suggest that the negativity against Clinton is working, not for the main peddler of it, John Edwards, but for Barack:


At the heart of the Democratic race has been the dichotomy between strength and experience (qualities emphasized by Clinton, Richardson, and Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut in their appeals) and the ability to introduce a new approach to governing (as Obama and Edwards have promised to do).

Iowa Democrats are tilting toward change, and Obama appears to be benefiting from it.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed reported that a "new direction and new ideas" are their top priority, compared with 33 percent who favored "strength and experience." That is a shift from July, when 49 percent sought change and 39 percent experience.

Nationally, Clinton is viewed as a candidate of change, with support from 41 percent of Democrats seeking a new direction in a recent Post-ABC poll. But in Iowa, Obama dominates the "change" vote, winning 43 percent of that group, compared with 25 percent for Edwards and 17 percent for Clinton.

Still, Clinton retains a comfortable lead among Iowa voters who consider strength and experience more important, with 38 percent compared with 19 percent for Edwards, 18 percent for Richardson and 12 percent for Obama, according to the new survey.

She appears more vulnerable on questions of character. Thirty-one percent found Obama to be the most honest and trustworthy, about double the percentage who said the same of Clinton. While about three-quarters credited both Obama and Edwards with speaking their minds on issues, only 50 percent said Clinton is willing enough to say what she really thinks. Forty-five percent said she is not sufficiently candid.

Overall, the poll points to some strategic gains for Obama. His support is up eight percentage points since July among voters 45 and older -- who accounted for two-thirds of Iowa caucus-goers in 2004. He also runs evenly with Clinton among women in Iowa, drawing 32 percent to her 31 percent, despite the fact that her campaign has built its effort around attracting female voters.

In the end, the personal attacks may bring down Hillary. Democrats who want to win next November ought to hope that if the attacks continue, that they DO take her down. Otherwise, Mrs. Clinton will limp into the general thoroughly decimated by members of her own party, and possibly fatally so. If she does go down hard, Obama (most likely the beneficiary) will have a hell of a time bringing her supporters into the fold. And he will foreclose the possibility of utilizing the major campaign asset called William Jefferson Clinton. (though clearly, given his message, Obama wouldn't want to have Clinton campaign for him.)

It's a major gamble on the part of Edwards and Obama. A desperate gamble that can only hurt their party's chances in the general.



Update: My point exactly...


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posted by JReid @ 9:18 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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