Why Hillary Makes A Lot Of Us Scream

I learn from Tom Hayden’s article in The Nation that we have one thing in common. Neither of our wifes think very much of Hillary Clinton. Hayden explains Why Hillary Makes My Wife Scream:

Going negative doesn’t begin to describe what has happened. Hillary is going over the edge. Even worse are the flacks she sends before the cameras on her behalf, like that Kiki person, who smirks and shakes her head at the camera every time she fields a question. Or the real carnivores, like Howard Wolfson, Lanny Davis and James Carville, whose sneering smugness prevents countless women like my wife from considering Hillary at all.

To use the current terminology, Hillary people are bitter people, even more bitter than the white working-class voters Barack has talked about. Because they circle the wagons so tightly, they don’t recognize how identical, self-reinforcing and out-of-touch they are.

To take just one example, the imagined association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers will suffice. Hillary is blind to her own roots in the sixties. In one college speech she spoke of ecstatic transcendence; in another, she said, “Our social indictment has broadened. Where once we exposed the quality of life in the world of the South and the ghettos, now we condemn the quality of work in factories and corporations. Where once we assaulted the exploitation of man, now we decry the destruction of nature as well. How much long can we let corporations run us?”

She was in Chicago for three nights during the 1968 street confrontations. She chaired the 1970 Yale law school meeting where students voted to join a national student strike again an “unconscionable expansion of a war that should never have been waged.” She was involved in the New Haven defense of Bobby Seale during his murder trial in 1970, as the lead scheduler of student monitors. She surely agreed with Yale president Kingman Brewster that a black revolutionary couldn’t get a fair trial in America. She wrote that abused children were citizens with the same rights as their parents.

Most significantly in terms of her recent attacks on Barack, after Yale law school, Hillary went to work for the left-wing Bay Area law firm of Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein, which specialized in Black Panthers and West Coast labor leaders prosecuted for being communists. Two of the firm’s partners, according to Treuhaft, were communists and the two others “tolerated communists”. Then she went on to Washington to help impeach Richard Nixon, whose career was built on smearing and destroying the careers of people through vague insinuations about their backgrounds and associates. (All these citations can be found in Carl Bernstein’s sympathetic 2007 Clinton biography, A Woman in Charge.)

All these were honorable words and associations in my mind, but doesn’t she see how the Hillary of today would accuse the Hillary of the sixties of associating with black revolutionaries who fought gun battles with police officers, and defending pro-communist lawyers who backed communists? Doesn’t the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom Hillary attacks today, represent the very essence of the black radicals Hillary was associating with in those days? And isn’t the Hillary of today becoming the same kind of guilt-by-association insinuator as the Richard Nixon she worked to impeach?

It is as if Hillary Clinton is engaged in a toxic transmission onto Barack Obama of every outrageous insult and accusation ever inflicted on her by the American right over the decades. She is running against what she might have become. Too much politics dries the soul of the idealist.

It is abundantly clear that the Clintons, working with FOX News and manipulating old Clinton staffers like George Stephanopoulos, are trying, at least unconsciously, to so damage Barack Obama that he will be perceived as “unelectable” to Democratic superdelegates. It is also clear that the campaign of defamation against Obama has resulted in higher negative ratings for Hillary Clinton. She therefore is threatening the Democratic Party’s chances for the White House, whether or not she is the nominee.

Terry McAuliffe–Hypocritical and Ignored

Yesterday I noted how an excerpt from Terry McAuliffe’s book, What A Party!, exposes his hypocrisy. This story is now being widely reported in the blogosphere. Besides revealing how hypocritical McAuliff and the Clinton campaign are being over seating the Michigan and Florida delegations it also reveals how irrelevant Terry McAuliffe has become.

This story began to spread after Mark Nicholas blogged about it on Friday. What is amazing is that the book came out in January but nobody noticed this until now. The selection quoted by Nicholas so greatly contradicts what McAuliffe is now saying that if other bloggers or journalists had noticed this I would expect someone to have mentioned this earlier.

I buy a tremendous number of political books every month. It’s gotten to the point where my book shelves are full and I have stacks of recent books on the coffee table and anywhere else where I can put them. McCauliffe’s book is not one that I purchased. Apparently many others made the same decision to bypass this one.

Dallas and the Cold War

Dallas premiered thirty years ago today. The show definitely had an impact on the development of the prime time soap opera. The Washington Post writes that it also helped win the cold war:

“Dallas” wasn’t simply a television show. It was an atmosphere-altering cultural force. Lasting nearly as long as recovering alcoholic Larry Hagman’s second liver, it helped define the 1980s as a glorious “decade of greed,” ushering in an era in which capitalism became cool, even though weighted with manifold moral quandaries. Beginning with the famous “Who Shot J.R.?” cliffhanger at the end of Season Two, “Dallas” was either the highest or second-highest rated show in the United States for a half-decade, showing up in Abba songs and Ozzy Osbourne videos, spinning off the mega-hit “Knots Landing” and inspiring such book-length academic analysis as French academic Florence Dupont’s “Homère et ‘Dallas’: Introduction à une Critique Anthropologique.”

After a long hip parade of unironic countercultural icons such as Luke of “Cool Hand Luke” and Randle Patrick McMurphy of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Dallas” created a new archetype of the anti-hero we loved to hate and hated to love: an establishment tycoon who’s always controlling politicians, cheating on his boozy wife and scheming against his own stubbornly loyal family. But no matter how evil various translators tried to make J.R. and his milieu (“Dallas, you merciless universe!” ran the French lyrics added to the wordless theme song), viewers in the nearly 100 countries that gobbled up the show, including in the Warsaw Pact nations, came to believe that they, too, deserved cars as big as boats and a swimming pool the size of a small mansion.

Joseph Stalin is said to have screened the 1940 movie “The Grapes of Wrath” in the Soviet Union to showcase the depredations of life under capitalism. Russian audiences watched the final scenes of the Okies’ westward trek aboard overladen, broken-down jalopies — and marveled that in the United States, even poor people had cars. “Dallas” functioned similarly.

“I think we were directly or indirectly responsible for the fall of the [Soviet] empire,” Hagman told the Associated Press a decade ago. “They would see the wealthy Ewings and say, ‘Hey, we don’t have all this stuff.’ I think it was good old-fashioned greed that got them to question their authority.”

In Romania, “Dallas” was the last Western show allowed during the nightmare 1980s because President Nicolae Ceausescu was persuaded that it was sufficiently anti-capitalistic. By the time he changed his mind, it was already too late — he had paid for the full run in precious hard currency. Meanwhile, the show provided a luxuriant alternative to a communism that was forcing people to wait more than a decade to buy the most rattletrap Romanian car.

If Dallas did some good in helping win the cold war, it might have also have had a terrible effect upon the United States:

Which is not to forget how “Dallas” helped shape our own little corner of the world. It would be too much to say that the show made the rise of George W. Bush possible, but it’s certainly the case that “Dallas” helped shift the center of American culture from the right and left coasts to the great cowboy middle, decentralizing the traditional sources of power elites in social and political terms. The same accent that marked Lyndon B. Johnson as a hick a generation earlier now signifies vitality and drive, if not couthness. Texas presidents may have proven disastrous for the country, but they symbolize a country less stuffy and stratified than ever.

The show was also discussed today on NPR and the decline of the show was blamed upon the manner in which Bobby Ewing was brought back from dead in the shower scene. That did leave the show open to ridicule but I don’t believe that this is what killed the show. People overly concerned with reality would already have numerous reasons not to take the show seriously even before Bobby’s death was written off as a dream. Besides, as absurd an explanation as it was, the scene has become one of the best known classics of television. It was an absurdity so big that it fit in with the atmosphere of Dallas.

The real problem is that in its later years the show lost virtually everything which made it great. The show was at its best when it dealt with both the extended Ewing family with Ewing Oil. Over the years members of the family either died or left the show, losing this aspect of the storyline. To compound matters, Ewing Oil was broken up and we no longer had J.R. and Bobby clashing over control of the company. Without his family and his company, J.R. Ewing was no longer as interesting an anti-hero to watch.

Voting Behavior and The Losing Candidate

Megan McArdle and Arnold Kling consider voting behavior by Democrats should their candidate lose the nomination. Megan writes:

Arnold thinks that as soon as the dust has settled, the party will unite behind the nominee.

I would guess that this will be less true of a Hillary Clinton nomination than of a Barack Obama nomination. The identity politics just doesn’t resonate the same way for her base. For reasons that I can’t quite articulate, I think that even the sixty year old women who strongly personally identify with her will be less angry and disappointed with a Clinton loss than blacks will at an Obama loss. If Kennedy had had the nomination snatched from him at the last minute because the party elders thought a Catholic couldn’t win–or worse, because some Democratic voters were uncomfortable with a Catholic president–you’d have had a great deal of trouble motivating Irish-American turnout come November.

There are also the swingy Democrats who liked McCain in earlier Republican primaries. Those people are in the Obama camp right now. The war has changed the picture somewhat, of course, but Hillary will have a much harder time keeping Obama’s supporters from defecting to the other side than he will hers. Obama also appeals to some of McCain’s support among independents.

That said, I’m overall unconvinced by the large numbers of people who say that they’ll vote for McCain if their candidate doesn’t win. Most of them will fall back in line, and of the ones who don’t, most of those will stay home. What problem there is comes down to turnout. If Barack Obama is the nominee, I expect that blacks will react the way the Irish-Americans, and to a lesser extent the Catholic community, did about Kennedy–i.e. if they had to stand in line on a bed of hot coals to vote for him, they’d happily do it. You’d barely need an urban turnout machine. Hillary motivates some women this way, I think, but not as many, and too dispersed to do the party much good.

Meanwhile, if Clinton is the nominee, the Republican turnout problem is largely taken care of–even people who are sick of Bush and don’t much care for McCain will hustle to vote against her. No obstacle will be to great for those people to overcome; the polling place could be destroyed by a flash flood, and they’d just swim to the next town.

I think Megan is correct about black voters. It would be one thing if they had a candidate who ran a valiant campaign and came in second. Prior to this year it might even have been seen as a good sign if a black candidate could have come in second. However far too much has occurred this year for Clinton to possibly win the nomination anymore without it being perceived (most likely correctly) as having stolen the nomination.

There’s just something about a stolen election which quite naturally does not sit well. Back in 2000, when George Bush was running as a compassionate conservative, I still favored Al Gore but I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about him and didn’t care all that much about who won. I could have lived with a Bush victory (not knowing what that would really bring). I cared far more about the election after voting day when I saw the Republicans go to court to block a recount, and when I realized how unfair the situation was in Florida.

I can’t imagine blacks and other Obama supporters tolerating a stolen nomination and turning out to back Clinton. I also agree with Megan that most will sit at home as opposed to voting for McCain, although some independents will vote for McCain over Clinton.

The Democrats will probably have the greatest problem with blacks sitting out the election if Clinton is the nominee, but they will also lose the votes of others. The most obvious voters who would be lost would be the young who have not voted before and independents who are only voting in Democratic primaries because of Obama.

To a lesser extent a loss by Obama will also exacerbate another division in the party. The more educated, affluent, socially liberal Democrats (who I discussed in more detail a few days ago) will also have some reluctance to vote for Clinton. The degree to which this harms Clinton, should she win the nomination, would depend upon how strongly they identify as Democrats and to what degree they see the nomination as having been stolen. Those who regularly vote straight Democratic are likely to do so regardless of who wins the nomination, unless they see the nomination as having been stolen. However others, such as myself, who only vote Democratic when satisfied with their candidate, are more likely to stay at home.

In the heat of a primary battle, many people will say that they will not vote for the other candidate if they should get the nomination. I think this is far more convincing when coming from someone such as myself, who also refused to vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, than by someone who regularly votes Democratic. While some Clinton supporters might stay home if Obama wins the nomination, I also think that the Democratic Party regulars who tend to back her will stick with the party even if she loses.

Most importantly, I think that many of the superdelegates realize this. They know that Obama will bring in far many new voters than Hillary Clinton can, while either candidate will turn out their base. They also know that they need more than the usual Democratic base to ensure a victory. Democrats from red states and battle ground states particularly realize that having Obama as the nominee will greatly help Democrats running down ticket, while Clinton would harm them. It will take a major change in the dynamics of the race for the superdelegates to back Clinton over Obama.

Obama More Electable As Appeals to Independents

John Avlon, author of Independent Nation: How Centrism Can Change American Politics has an op-ed in The New York Post explaining why Obama is more electable that Clinton. (Hat tip to Joe Gandelman).

It’s electability, stupid.That’s what Hillary Clinton and her surrogates have been spinning to super-delegates and anyone else who will listen since she lost her grip on once-inevitable nomination.

There’s just one problem – when it comes to independent voters, those crucial swing votes in swing states, Hillary doesn’t hold the electability edge: Barack Obama does.

Independent voters favor Obama by a 2 to 1 margin over Hillary – 49% to 24% – according to a NBC/WSJ poll taken after the Jeremiah Wright scandal in late March. His approval rating among Republicans is almost twice Hillary’s as well – 19% to 10%.

Crossover appeal is the key indicator of electability – especially for Democrats. Despite Democratic dominance of Congress during most of the 20th Century, no Democratic president managed to win more than 51% of the popular vote, with the exceptions of FDR and LBJ. What’s the lesson? Democrats especially depend on Independent voters and even some centrist Republicans to win the White House.

That’s true now more than ever: Independent voters are the fastest growing and largest segment of the American electorate, as detailed in former Clinton and Bloomberg pollster Doug Schoen’s new book “Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two-Party System.”

Avlon notes how John McCain also appeals to many independents, while Clinton will not receive their support:

Despite her largely centrist voting record in the Senate, Hillary Clinton is kryptonite to independent voters because she is one of the most polarizing figures in American politics. She is a brand-name reminder of Bush-Clinton-Bush era of hyper-partisanship that most independents want to leave behind.

“Hillary Clinton has the least traction with independents because her political persona calcified a long time ago,” says GOP strategist Rick Wilson. “She appeals to constituencies the Democrats already own and possesses none of her husband’s charisma and ability to connect with voters in the middle of the political spectrum. Hillary is John Kerry in a pantsuit to most independent voters.”

Obama, on the other hand, as a matter of style and substance represents a new generation of post-partisan politics. While Obama is certainly a center-left politician, he analyzes problems in a way that coolly criticizes the extremes of left and right. He reflects a more pragmatic approach to problem solving and brings an uncommon principled civility to politics. All this translates to unusual crossover appeal – Obama even managed to get 9 write-in votes at the conservative Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit.

A presidential campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain would be a win-win for America’s rising tide of independent voters. They present clear policy differences, but they are decidedly non-polarizing political figures, offering a healthy competition for cross-over votes and a welcome break from the hyper-partisanship of the Bush-Clinton-Bush era. Nominating Hillary Clinton would deepen our domestic political divisions –that’s a data-driven conclusion that’s difficult for her supporters to spin their way out of.

Obama Reaches Out To Clinton Conservatives on Fox News Sunday


Barack Obama did a good job in his interview on Fox News Sunday (video above). With all my criticism here of Fox I should also say that Chris Wallace also did a good job. Sure I could nitpick (and I was annoyed by him repeatedly calling Clinton’s nine point victory in Pennsylvania a big win) but I can think of a number of people from other networks who have done much worse. The interview wasn’t overly adversarial on either side. I certainly never expected Obama to “take on” Fox as some were led to believe.

From my perspective the highlight was when Obama was asked about areas where “Republicans have a better idea.”

Well, on issues of regulation, I think that back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, a lot of the way we regulated industry was top down command and control. We’re going to tell businesses exactly how to do things.

And I think that the Republican party and people who thought about the margins (ph) came with the notion that you know what, if you simply set some guidelines, some rules and incentives for businesses, let them figure out how they’re going to for example reduce pollution. And a cap and trade system, for example, is a smarter way of doing it, controlling pollution, than dictating every single rule that a company has to abide by, which creates a lot of bureaucracy and red tape and oftentimes is less efficient.

I think that on issues of education, I have been very clear about the fact, and sometimes I have gotten in trouble with the teachers union on this, that we should be experimenting with charter schools. We should be experimenting with different ways of compensating teachers. That –

WALLACE: You mean merit pay?

OBAMA: Well, merit pay, the way it has been designed I think that is based on just single standardized I think is a big mistake, because the way we measure performance may be skewed by whether or not the kids are coming in the school already three years or four years behind.

But I think that having assessment tools and then saying, you know what, teachers who are on career paths to become better teachers, developing themselves professionally, that we should pay excellence more. I think that’s a good idea. So –

WALLACE: But, Senator, if I may, I think one of the concerns that some people have is that you talk a good game about, let’s be post-partisan, let’s all come together — just a couple of quick things, and I don’t really want you to defend each one, I just want to speak to the larger issue.

The gang of 14, which was a group — a bipartisan coalition to try to resolve the nomination — the issue of judicial nominations. Fourteen senators came together, you weren’t part of it. On some issues where Democrats have moved to the center, partial-birth abortion, Defense of Marriage Act, you stay on the left and you are against both.

And so people say, do you really want a partnership with Republicans or do you really want unconditional surrender from them?

OBAMA: No, look, I think this is fair. I would point out, though, for example, that when I voted for a tort reform measure that was fiercely opposed by the trial lawyers, I got attacked pretty hard from the left.

Obama got it right. He stuck to liberal principles on issues such as abortion rights, opposing the partial-birth abortion ban because it made no provision for the health of the mother. He also understood the politics:

It is true that when you look at some of the votes that I’ve taken in the Senate that I’m on the Democratic side of these votes, but part of the reason is because the way these issues are designed are to polarize. They are intentionally designed to polarize.

On partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. All I’ve said is we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother. And many of the bills that came before me didn’t have that.

Now part of the reason they didn’t have it was purposeful, because those who are opposed to abortion, and I don’t begrudge that at all, they have a moral calling to try to oppose what they think is immoral, oftentimes what they are trying to do was to polarize the debate and make it more difficult for people so that they could try to bring an end abortions overall.

So the point I’m simply making is that as president, my goal is to bring people together, to listen to them. And I don’t think there is any Republican out there who I’ve worked with who would say that I don’t listen to them, I don’t respect their ideas, I don’t understand their perspective.

And I do not consider Democrats to have a monopoly on wisdom. And my goal is to get us out of this polarizing debate where we are always trying to score cheap political points and actually get things done.

Obama also stuck to liberal principles in opposing the Defense of Marriage Act, while the Clintons have repeatedly ignored principle with regards to gay issues. Where Obama does go against the Democratic mainstream are all areas where I agree with him–on regulation of business, tort reform, charter schools, and merit pay for teachers (if a reasonable way can be done to accomplish this). The influence of the University of Chicago on Obama’s economic thought can be seen here.

This would be likely to receive the approval of others such as myself who are socially liberal and pragmatic economically, and explains why Obama receives the overwhelming support of educated, affluent Democrats. It remains to be seen how much this interview will help him with those supporting Clinton. It does tell a lot that the media by which one reaches out to Clinton supporters is Fox News. Whether or not it is helpful politically, the fact is that Barack Obama is the only liberal left in the race, facing two conservatives in Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

Julia Sweeney Is Officially Anti-Hillary

This is a week old but I didn’t find out about Julia Sweeney’s post on Hillary Clinton until now. She begins:

Okay, as of today, I am officially anti-Hillary. I have held out. Most people I know really can’t stand her. I was always quick to add that if she were the nominee I would support her. But after last night’s debate, how she was pushing things all out of context, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I really hate what she’s doing, and I feel her worst self is being revealed. Now, if she does become the nominee, I would vote for her. She is far better than McCain. But I am not a real supporter.

The way she is relentlessly pounding on Obama about this off-hand remark about bitter people, the way she is going after him about his pastor’s remarks, it’s just embarrassing at this point. It really made me angry.

SciFi Friday (Sunday Edition): Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, and a Babelfish

Lost had another terrific episode, this week concentrating on Ben. On the island Ben faced the murder of Alex by Widmore’s men. We also learned that he hadn’t been totally honest about the smoke monster in the past as it turns out he has the ability to summon it when in danger. Ben wasn’t the only one found to be dishonest. Daniel Faraday lied about a message from the freighter. When caught and pressed by Jack, he admitted that rescuing the survivors of Oceanic 815 was not part of their agenda. Before Jack could react he developed appendicitis.

In the flash forward Ben appears in the Sahara wearing a Dharma parka. He is also very curious about the date as if he wasn’t sure what year it was. Perhaps he’s also caught up in some of the time issues. Ben recruits Sayid as an assassin . While a previous episode (which took place further in the future) suggested Sayid is working for Ben to protect a secret held by the rest of the Oceanic Six. In this episode he begins working for Ben after one of Charles Widmore’s men kills Nadia, who Sayid married after leaving the island. The two aren’t mutually exclusive as Sayid might have started working for Ben for one reason with Ben finding another reason to manipulate Sayid to continue in the future.

The episode concludes with Ben confronting Charles Widmore, who is still searching for the island despite having had a freighter go there and return. Ben tells Widmore that instead of killing him he will kill his daughter to make Widmore suffer the same fate as him.

Battlestar Galactica was a bit of a let down after the previous episodes. We saw the aftermath of Cally’s death, religious conflict involving Baltar, and Tigh repeatedly visiting Six, probably hoping to receive some insight now that he has found out that he is really a Cylon.

If the remake of Battlestar Galactica, originally a terrible show, turned out so well, imagine what might be done with a remake of a good show. Two sixty minute episodes of Blake’s Seven are planned, possibly being the start of a new series. The show centers around a group of rebels fighting a totalitarian government.

The SciFi Channel showed Partners in Crime, the first episode of Doctor Who with Donna as the new. companion. As I’ve hinted since the show aired on the B.BC., we also got a glimpse of another former companion–Rose. Most likely this will be part of a season long arc and they will continue to tease us until later in the season.

New Scientist reports on efforts to build a universal translator should we have contact with aliens. The device is being referred to as a babelfish as used in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Clinton Donors Switching to Obama

Many Democrats feel that the negative campaign being waged by Hillary Clinton is damaging to the party, and risks costing the party the support of African Americans and affluent liberals. Some of those who disapprove of Clinton, including former Clinton supporters, are expressing their displeasure with contributions to Obama. The Washington Post reports:

There are signs that the anger voiced by some African Americans is beginning to extend to the Democratic donor base. Campaign finance records released this week show that a growing number of Clinton’s early supporters migrated to Obama in March, after he achieved 11 straight victories. Of those who had previously made maximum contributions to Clinton, 73 wrote their first checks to Obama in March. The reverse was not true: Of those who had made large contributions to Obama last year, none wrote checks to Clinton in March.

“I think she is destroying the Democratic Party,” said New York lawyer Daniel Berger, who had backed Clinton with the maximum allowable donation of $2,300. “That there’s no way for her to win this election except by destroying [Obama], I just don’t like it. So in my own little way, I’m trying to send her a message.”

The message came in the form of a $2,300 contribution to Obama.