In so many ways Hillary Clinton has destroyed her chances of winning the nomination by her own actions. She decided to run a dishonest, Rove-style campaign which only created a greater demand for a politician such as Obama who has avoided such typical political tactics. Her campaign resorted to racism, losing the support of black voters as well as the respect of most principled people. Her use of Michigan and Florida to justify remaining in the race only highlights the degree to which Clinton does not deserve to be president. Each of these tactics has resulted in the further loss of support for Clinton.
Clinton is now equating her hypocritical attempt to change the rules with regards to Michigan and Florida with the civil rights movement and with conditions in Zimbabwe. For many this is an example of irrationality from Clinton which exceeds what we’ve already heard and further proves that she is unfit to be president. Jonathan Chait writes:
Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric today about counting the results in Florida and Michigan is simply incredible. Her speech compares discounting the Florida and Michigan primaries to vote suppression and slavery.
It’s worth repeating: They supported this “disenfranchisement.” Here’s a New York Times story from last fall, headlined, “Clinton, Obama and Edwards Join Pledge to Avoid Defiant States.”
Moreover, it’s obviously true that Obama not campaigning, organizing, or advertizing in those states hurt him, and helped the more familiar candidate in Clinton. She decided to campaign to change the rules only after it became her interest to do so.
This gambit by Clinton is simply an attempt to steal the nomination. It’s obviously not going to work, because Democratic superdelegates don’t want to commit suicide. But this episode is very revealing about Clinton’s character. I try not to make moralistic characterological judgments about politicians, because all politicians compromise their ideals in the pursuit of power. There are no angels in this business. Clinton’s gambit, however, truly is breathtaking.
If she’s consciously lying, it’s a shockingly cynical move. I don’t think she’s lying. I think she’s so convinced of her own morality and historical importance that she can whip herself into a moralistic fervor to support nearly any position that might benefit her, however crass and sleazy. It’s not just that she’s convinced herself it’s okay to try to steal the nomination, she has also appropriated the most sacred legacies of liberalism for her effort to do so. She is proving herself temperamentally unfit for the presidency.
Besides noting that Clinton originally supported this “disenfranchisement,” it is also worth remembering how Terry McAulliffe has changed his position out of political expediency. Plus Clinton herself once said that, “It’s clear, this election they’re having is not going to count for anything” with regards to the Michigan primary.
Andrew Sullivan is even harder on Clinton than Chait was:
How do you respond to a sociopath like this? She agreed that Michigan and Florida should be punished for moving up their primaries. Obama took his name off the ballot in deference to their agreement and the rules of the party. That he should now be punished for playing by the rules and she should be rewarded for skirting them is unconscionable.
I think she has now made it very important that Obama not ask her to be the veep. The way she is losing is so ugly, so feckless, so riddled with narcissism and pathology that this kind of person should never be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Justin Gardner writes:
I think it’s obvious that Clinton’s campaign is now pretty much constructed on Democrats’ naivete. That’s all this is. And for those who don’t pay attention and haven’t heard her previously agree that Florida and Michigan’s delegates shouldn’t count, all of this sounds stirring I’m sure.
So to all of you who fall into the group I’ll reiterate that she only started talking about Florida and Michigan when it was clear she was running into trouble. And then she really ramped up the rhetoric when Obama started racking up wins in those post-Super Tuesday states she had ignored because her campaign thought the contest would be over by then. And that’s the only reason folks. It’s on the record and her actions are clearly transparent.
In short, she’s playing very intellectually dishonest politics and that means she’s essentially lying to her supporters, the media, etc. Very discouraging, but there it is.
John Cole writes, “I think it is time to stop taking her seriously.”
Fortunately the superdelegates are not buying these arguments from Clinton and are not taking her seriously. A final comment from Joe Gandelman begins by comparing Clinton’s rhetorical style to George Bush’s and from there raises valid concerns about whether she will also govern like him:
Clinton’s rhetorical technique is similar to another political figure’s: President George Bush’s. Bush often uses the “there are those who say” when “those” may not have said what he said at all.
Here, Clinton is telling the Democratic party apparatus, and superdelegates who may not have tilted towards her, that if they don’t agree with what she asks for now that she didn’t advocate when she and other candidates signed the agreements not to contest the states, then that means the party “won’t even listen” to Florida and Michigan at all.
Hot button politics? Yes.
And some Democrats will cheer her on and say this shows what she could do against McCain.
But the chiller for some voters will be: is this a sign of how she would govern if she wins the Oval Office?