Clinton Exaggerates Position in Polls Against McCain

There is a bizarre contradiction to Hillary Clinton’s only remaining strategy at this point. There is really nothing left other than hope that the superdelegates step in and override everything which took place in the primaries and caucuses. In other words, Clinton is hoping for an extremely undemocratic outcome. The contradiction is that she tries to make her arguments for the superdelegates to ignore democratic principles by making bogus claims which sound like they are based upon democracy.

One common claim has been that she leads in the popular vote, which is only true if you count Florida and Michigan where there was not a legitimate vote and if you ignore the caucus states where Obama did win fairly. Another argument she makes is that she is more electable against John McCain, even though, despite numerous advantages, she was unable to beat a newcomer like Barack Obama. To give the illusion of supporting Democratic principles, Clinton has often made untrue claims about doing better than Obama against McCain in the polls. Citing such polls gives both a false impression of electability and popularity.  CBS News has exposed this false claim:

During an evening rally in Montana’s largest city Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton explained to the crowd why she should be the Democratic Party’s nominee, but what ensued was a list of overstatements and exaggerations as she made her case. “You have to ask yourself, who is the stronger candidate? And based on every analysis, of every bit of research and every poll that has been taken and every state that a Democrat has to win, I am the stronger candidate against John McCain in the fall,” she said.

The problem is, there are a number of polls that show Clinton in a close race with John McCain, many within the margin of error, not including a few that show Barack Obama beating McCain by a larger margin than Clinton…

For days, Clinton has been grasping at almost anything to make her case to voters as the clock in the campaign winds down. Most recently Clinton compared the plight of Florida and Michigan voters to the struggles of the early suffragists and likened the primaries of those states to the fraudulent election that took place in Zimbabwe.

Just as her argument that she leads in the popular vote is both untrue and irrelevant (as the nomination is based upon delegates, not the popular vote), this latest argument from Clinton is also both untrue and irrelevant. Even if Clinton were to do better in the polls at the moment, polls taken at this time have little predictive value with regards to the November election.

There are several reasons, beyond many polls, why Obama would be the stronger candidate in November. One is that Obama has far greater potential for upward movement. Clinton’s strength comes from core Democratic Party voters but she has problems beyond that. Just as Obama has done less well than Clinton among white, socially conservative, working class voters, Clinton has done poorly in the primaries among black voters, the young, independent Democratic-leaning voters, more socially liberal voters,  and educated voters, and more affluent voters.

There is a far greater chance that Obama will make major inroads into Clinton’s supporters than Clinton will with Obama supporters. Many black voters will stay home in protest over the racist nature of Clinton’s campaign. The young, independent, educated, and affluent voters who do not normally vote Democratic are unlikely to back Clinton should she win the nomination. In contrast, we have seen that Obama does better the more he campaigns in an area. He has plenty of time between now and November to solidify his support among the Democratic voters who do not currently back him.

Another factor which makes the current polls poorly predictive is that, while Clinton has taken the low road, Obama has taken the high road. Obama’s criticism of Clinton has generally been over policy disagreements such as her support of the Iraq war, their differences on negotiating with enemies, and mandates on health care. In contrast Clinton has double teamed Obama  with the right wing on matters such as Reverend Wright. There’s far more in Clinton’s background which has not come up during this primary battle. Obama did not want to run that type of campaign, but I bet the Republicans will. Clinton might look like a strong candidate against McCain at the present time, but remember that John Kerry and Mike Dukakis also had strong leads this far out before the election. By November, should she be the candidate, I bet Clinton will fall in the polls as much as such previous Democratic candidates did once faced with a concerted Republican attack.

John McCain is No Barry Goldwater

Yesterday I noted the analogies between the race between Obama and McCain and the fictional race on The West Wing between Santos and Arnold Vinick. While there are some similarities such as having a young charismatic Democrat taking on an older, more experienced and somewhat maverick Republican, there are also important differences. John McCain does not share the more libertarian traits of Arnold Vinick. McCain differs from Vinick in opposing choice on abortion and in supporting the folly of the Iraq war. Of course John McCain has never claimed to be Arnold Vinick. Instead he claims to be more like Barry Goldwater. Alison Goldwater Ross, granddaughter of Barry Goldwater, argues that McCain has rejected Goldwater’s legacy.

The two Arizonans clashed on several occasions during their political careers. Goldwater, as documented in “Pure Goldwater,” a book by the Senator’s son Barry Jr., was depressed and angered by McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five scandal. Later in his career, a rift developed between the two after McCain used Goldwater’s name — without his permission — for fundraising purposes.

My grandfather felt that he was deceived by McCain,” she said. “Because he looked at McCain and said, here was this young guy who has a lot of potential in the Republican Party, who is coming through the ranks, and then he pulled something like this. My grandfather had to ask, ‘Is this something I want to be close to?'”

In his later years Goldwater did not go along with many of the changes in the right wing, and even began to think of himself as a liberal. This includes a rejection of the growing influence of the religious right in the Republican Party. While Goldwater was certainly a hardliner on the cold war, such a view in opposing a threat of the magnitude of the Soviet Union does not mean he would necessarily go along with actions counterproductive to our national security such as the Iraq war. Ross agrees:

“I think, at the end of my grandfather’s career, first of all he would be looking at what state we are in today with what Bush has done, and I think he would be just incredibly appalled,” said Ross. “I think his head would be spinning. How in the world did we get ourselves in this state? How did this happen? What went wrong? Where did this Republican Party go?”

On the issues of Iraq, women’s rights, and the separation of church in state, Goldwater’s granddaughter says the gulf between Barry and McCain is vast.

“I don’t think my grandfather would ever pander to the religious right like McCain did. That would get him angrier than anything. He believed in the division between church and state, he fought that constantly. And these guys are getting in there… religion is a wonderful thing but it does not have any place or purpose in politics,” she said. “My grandfather was for women’s rights. The idea that my body is mine, and what I want to do with it, I will do with it… McCain isn’t of that mindset.”

While Ross opposes McCain, this does not mean that she supports the old Goldwater Girl, Hillary Clinton:

So, whom would Goldwater support if he were alive today? Ross, whose dissatisfaction with McCain was first expressed on the website of BraveNewFilms, wouldn’t say. But she herself is “leaning towards” Sen. Barack Obama, despite believing that Sen. Hillary Clinton has gotten the short end of the stick in terms of press treatment because of her gender.

“Hillary, you know, was a Goldwater girl. And she has this great tenacity,” Ross said. “Unfortunately, she has been directed in some ways that haven’t really worked for her campaign… I really like what Obama is representing. I like the fact that if he becomes our next president, the walls will come down; people around the world will view the U.S. as a more enlightened, open-minded country. It will be, overall, an extremely positive mood.”

Remembering Mike Gravel

Mike Gravel has the dubious honor of having failed to win the nomination of not one but two political parties this year. After he failed to win the Democratic nomination he also ran for the Libertarian Party nomination. Some, including many Libertarian Party members and candidates, did find it strange that a non-libertarian was running for the nomination but Gravel was hardly the only non-libertarian to compete. While Gravel failed, another non-libertarian, Bob Barr, did manage to win the nomination.

It was difficult to take Gravel seriously as a candidate this year but before totally laughing him off it is worth remembering that in the past he was a Senator of some significance. The Caucus gives a quick run down of some highlights in his career:

Mr. Gravel, 78, spent 12 years in the United States Senate from Alaska, pursuing even then an anti-war agenda and railing against the military industrial complex. His tenure was marked by dramatic procedural actions criticizing the Vietnam War, but his claim to fame came when he tried to release the Pentagon Papers by reading them on the Senate floor. He also waged a one-man filibuster that ultimately led to a compromise to let the draft expire in 1973.

The Democrats could have done worse than to nominate Mike Gravel. Considering how close Hillary Clinton came to winning, in fact they almost did do worse.

Scott McClellan Admits Bush Was Not Open on Iraq

Nancy Pelosi might have taken impeachment off the table, but there is hope that Bush might spend his later years in his cell reading unfavorable exposes of his administration. Last November there were hints that Scott McClellan’s memoirs would not be very flattering to the Bush administration. With the book now ready for release on Sunday, Mike Allen reports that the former White House press secretary had many unfavorable things to write:

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.

Among the most explosive revelations in the 341-page book, titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95):

• McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.

• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.

• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”

• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.

• McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

Andromeda Strain Concludes (Four Hours Too Late)

Part II of the The Andromeda Strain, which I mentioned yesterday, aired Tuesday night. It was somewhat entertaining, but certainly did not do the original book or movie justice. Rather than concentrating on the scientific aspects they tried to mix in both action and rather cheap suspense by having corrupt shadow forces in a Bush-like government be responsible for much of the problem. My suggestion is that all copies of the scripts and DVD’s of this miniseries be sealed in a satellite and placed in orbit. The only danger is that they might return to our present through a wormhole to subject us to the show yet again. Perhaps we can enclose the DVD’s in a case with a binary code which explains how to destroy them. If you followed that you should have no difficulty with the plot of the show.