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April 22nd, 2008
Drink deep the gathering gloom

The Clinton campaign has been negative since Senator Obama won the Iowa caucus with the obvious goal of Senator Clinton capturing the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. But as the nomination has become less attainable, her campaign’s actions have been designed to achieve a second goal, at least since the days leading to the March 4 primaries, at that is to increase the chances that Senator Obama will lose the presidential race to Senator McCain if the Illinois senator does clinch the Democratic nomination as now seems likely. (Full disclosure: I worked on the Obama campaign for a few weeks block walking before the March 4th primary and have no affiliation with the campaign currently).

The Clinton campaign has played racial politics by trying to identify Obama as the “black candidate” so as to scare off white voters and to falsely claim that Hispanic voters historically don’t support African-American candidates. (Gergory Rodriquez of The Los Angelos Times blew apart that twisted yarn showing how Hispanics supported Dinkins in New York City, Kirk in Dallas and black congressmen from Los Angelos itself for example).

Senator Clinton has declared repeatedly that she and Senator McCain are ready to handle the responsibilities of the presidency “from Day One”, conveniently omitting her fellow Democrat from this elite list although she professes to believe that Obama would make a great vice-president. Further, Mr. Clinton questioned Senator Obama’s patriotism by saying “it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country.” This drew the ire of retired Air Force general Merrill A. McPeak who, when endorsing Senator Obama, compared Mr. Clinton to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.

Finally, Geraldine Ferraro, again playing in the mire of racial politics said “If Obama was a white man he would not be in this position.” The identity politics pot is calling another political kettle black.

The question is why? Why would the Clinton campaign want Obama, if he receives the nomination, to lose in November? The Clinton campaign knows that if Obama wins the nomination and the general election in 2008, the odds are great that he will be his party’s nominee in 2012. No twentieth century president who wanted his party’s nomination has failed to get it no matter how vehement the opposition. The list is long. Taft (1912), Truman (1948), Ford (1976), and Carter (1980) all received their party’s nomination. If Obama wins both nomination and election in 2008 and gets his party’s nomination in 2012, the next opening for Senator Clinton will be in 2016 when she will be 68 years old and her husband out of office for sixteen years. The unstated assumption of the Clinton camp is that voters will consider her too old then and that the political chits owed the Clinton’s will no longer be valid having passed their expiration date.

Yet, the Clinton machine also knows that if Obama obtains his party’s nomination and then loses this November, the odds are against him getting his nomination a second time. The last time the Democratic Party nominated a presidential candidate who had already lost a presidential race was in 1956 when Adlai Stevenson was nominated a second time.Since then, the Democratic Party is littered with one time presidential nominees: Humphrey (1968), McGovern (1972), Mondale (1984), Dukakis (1988), Gore (2000), and Kerry (2004).

For the Clinton gang, 2008 is not her first and last hurrah for her presidential hopes if she fails to get the nomination only if Obama loses in November. That reality is why her campaign has been so harsh since the first days of March.

And that is what her campaign for at least the last seven weeks has eerily been channeling the ghost of the national campaigns of George Wallace. Before many were Reagan Democrats they were Wallace Democrats – blue collar, white ethnics in small industrial cities who felt squeezed on all sides. Wallace’s and Clinton’s campaigns are campaigns of negativity, of attack, of pain. Theirs is the politics of resentment.

So Senator Clinton’s campaign does not care if it’s actions will lead to democratic defeat in November if Obama is the party’s nominee. As Gerald F. Sieb observed, Senator Clinton has drilled “home the idea that he [Obama] isn’t seasoned or tough enough in dealing with world leaders and national security issues. That plays straight into the coming McCain strategy if Sen. Obama is the nominee.” And as Peggy Noonan has said, the Clinton campaign has “has always been more vicious than clever.” The highest loyalty of the Clinton’s has always been the Clintons.


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8 thoughts on “Drink deep the gathering gloom

  1. Breathe deep the gathering gloom
    Watch lights fade from every room
    Bedsitter people look back and lament
    Another day’s useless energy spent.

    Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
    Lonely man cries for love and has none.
    New mother picks up and suckles her son,
    Senior citizens wish they were young.

    Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
    Removes the colors from our sight.
    Red is grey and yellow white,
    But we decide which is right.
    And which is an illusion?

  2. I should have attributed that post to The Moody Blues. Once I read the headline I couldn’t get that stupid poem out of my mind and I can never remember how it goes so I sniffed it out on the web. It really doesn’t have anything to do with the content of the article which I didn’t read since I can’t tell the difference between him & her, politically, and I don’t care since I won’t vote for either one of ’em. I do admire Ed’s thoroughness though.

  3. Phil,

    Have you heard Yellow Submarine lately? Hope this helps with your obsessing over The Moody Blues tune. If it is just poetry, what about The Highwayman, that should take up an afternoon or maybe even a weekend.

  4. It may not be as deep, but any Roger Miller lyrics are a fun time too. (sorry for continuing the hijacking of your thread Ed.)

    (Back to the subject) In my opinion, the Clintons (et. all) are the epitome of modern politicians. The idea of public “service” is lost on all of the modern politicos – self-interest trumps everything. The Clintons did not invent dirty politics, double standards, or even tossing teammates under the bus – they just perfected it.

  5. thank you to all the people who read and commented on my “Drink Deep” piece. If I had known the title was going to generate that much dsicussion, I may have titled it “Once More Into the Breach, My Friends” and then we would have had a discussion of Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Elizabethan writers in general. 🙂
    Seriously, check out Peggy Noonan’s essay in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. Noonan makes a few points but in her main point she is agreeing with my analysis. Just remember, you heard it here first. 🙂

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