Sidney Blumenthal Argues Against Running Against McCain as Bush III

Add Sidney Blumenthal to the list of people who agree with my belief that the Democrats are making a mistake in campaigning against George Bush as opposed to specifically against John McCain. From Washington Whispers:

Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and strategist for Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, went “off message” (his words) today with a warning to his party: Don’t run against GOP nominee John McCain by painting him as Bush III, because he’s not. Bucking the Democratic National Committee’s talking points that characterize a potential McCain administration as tantamount to a third Bush term, Blumenthal told our Liz Halloran that running on that strategy in the fall would be a mistake. “I understand people’s political reasons for doing that,” he said. “I think it’s more helpful to describe [political opponents] as they are.” Bottom line, Blumenthal calls the strategy “a mistake and adds: “The public doesn’t see [McCain] that way. That’s a hard sell.” At an event to promote his new book, The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party, Blumenthal also predicted that McCain has “lots of room to maneuver” politically before the fall election. What hurts the presumed Republican nominee? His need, Blumenthal says, to reassure conservative Republicans about the kind of nominees he’d make to the Supreme Court.

There are certainly areas where McCain can be compared to Bush, such as on Iraq as well as on potential Supreme Court nominees. There are also significant differences and if the major argument against McCain is that he is another George Bush there is plenty of room for him to convince voters otherwise.

Chuck Hagel Criticizes McCain

While John McCain has Joe Lieberman putting on a Zell MIller act this year, there is now a Republican criticizing McCain and defending Obama. Sam Stein quotes Chuck Hagel:

“We know from past campaigns that presidential candidates will say many things,” Hagel said of some of McCain’s recent rhetoric, namely his policy on talking to Iran. “But once they have the responsibility to govern the country and lead the world, that difference between what they said and what responsibilities they have to fulfill are vastly different. I’m very upset with John with some of the things he’s been saying. And I can’t get into the psychoanalysis of it. But I believe that John is smarter than some of the things he is saying. He is, he understands it more. John is a man who reads a lot, he’s been around the world. I want him to get above that and maybe when he gets into the general election, and becomes the general election candidate he will have a higher-level discourse on these things.”

Hagel, speaking to a small gathering at the residence of the Italian ambassador, took umbrage with several positions taken by the McCain campaign, including the Arizona Senator’s criticism of Obama for pledging to engage with Iran. Engagement is not, and should not be confused for, capitulation, he argued.

“I never understand how anyone in any realm of civilized discourse could sort through the big issues and challenges and threats and figure out how to deal with those without engaging in some way….”

Hagel then offered a wry tweak of his GOP colleague. “I am confident that if Obama is elected president that is the approach we will take. And my friend John McCain said some other things about that. We’ll see, but in my opinion it has to be done. It is essential.”

Clinton and Obama Split Primaries With Obama Coming Closer to Nomination

Tuesday’s primaries turned out as expected. Clinton won big in Kentucky and Obama won big in Oregon. Clinton won the working class white vote in Appalachia while Obama won the working class white vote in a liberal state. This is not how Clinton will spin it, but the Clinton spin won’t fool anyone. The exit polls which reveal that 20% of the voters in Kentucky admit to voting based upon race makes the meaning of Clinton’s win quite clear. While it didn’t work nationally, the use of race in the campaign did help Clinton in Appalachia. While many Obama supporters are looking for another John F. Kennedy, those voting for Clinton are really looking for the next closest candidate to George Wallace.

While Clinton keeps moving the goal posts, claiming different criteria for winning the nomination, Obama has remained focused on the delegate race. Tuesday’s primaries gave Obama a majority of the elected delegates available. Technically the superdelegates can vote contrary to the majority of primary and caucus voters, but they won’t.

Many superdelegates are holding off on making an endorsement until Obama reaches a majority, often because they come from areas which voted for Clinton but they don’t want to support her. This includes about sixteen superdelegates from California. Clinton’s new line is that she failed to win due to sexism. I hardly believe it is sexism which is keeping Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer from backing Clinton in California.