Posted by Pol Observer
I don’t have a clue what is going to happen tomorrow in the Ohio and Texas primaries.
We keep learning the hard way that when it comes to the 2008 election, nobody knows anything. This year, we are much better at figuring at how what it all means after each event happens than we are at knowing what will happen.
A month ago, Clinton owned Ohio and Texas. Obama began to gain and moved into a tie in both. It looked as if he would keep going and knock her out. But now polls are showing Hillary gaining in Ohio while Texas remains close. The uncertainty is so great that both camps are already posturing on the post-election interpretation.
Obama’s turnout machine could win both states, and effectively end the race. Or Clinton could win both. I could easily see a result that is so ambiguous that the race goes on at least until the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.
That brings Jewish voters back into the story since unlike Texas and Ohio, the Keystone State has a large Jewish population. But wait, remind me to remind myself: nobody knows anything.
This delicious uncertainty is turning 2008 into the most extraordinary election year. We are all spectators.
Clinton’s campaign at this stage reminds me of the agent played by Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry Maguire, whose client played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., says, “You’re hanging on by a very thin thread, Jerry. And i dig that about you!”
The staff and consultants are jumping ship, saying they played no role in the campaign (e.g., Mark Penn), others are blaming others in the campaign, everybody’s blaming Bill, superdelegates are deserting, and the end seems nigh. Yet Clinton raised $35 million in February with 200,000 new donors, and is scoring punches on Obama.
The Clinton campaign is bleeding, fighting against getting knocked out, and may yet throw a winning haymaker. The pre-primary pressure on Clinton to pull out after tomorrow has undoubtedly backfired by steeling the Clinton spine.
Meanwhile, Obama is facing test after test, including the dreaded “red phone” commercial, and finding himself challenged both by Clinton and by John McCain. He’s raising money like there is no tomorrow, and hoping to pull out a win in Texas with a high turnout from his enthusiastic supporters.
We will leave for another day the question about whether this incredible, unprecedented nomination campaign between two popular, well funded Democrats is good or bad for the party. There are good arguments on both sides.
Right now, it’s time to get out the popcorn and see what happens next.
5.20.09 at 7:26 pm | Now that the voters have blown up the jury-rigged. . .
4.28.09 at 2:01 pm | Senator Arlen Specter (PA), has switched parties,. . .
3.17.09 at 10:32 pm | So far, I think Obama has done a tremendous job. . .
3.6.09 at 8:32 pm | The city elections on March 3 turned out to be. . .
11.22.08 at 4:14 pm | Barack Obama has one overriding task: he must. . .
10.28.08 at 2:43 pm | In the campaign's final days, McCain and his. . .
10.28.08 at 2:43 pm | In the campaign's final days, McCain and his. . . (3)
3.17.09 at 10:32 pm | So far, I think Obama has done a tremendous job. . . (3)
5.20.09 at 7:26 pm | Now that the voters have blown up the jury-rigged. . . (1)
February 28, 2008 | 1:29 pm
Posted by Pol Observer
It looks as if Republicans are pretty certain that Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination. For most people, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. For those who run against Republicans for president, getting slimed is the only real compliment. In the last few days, the Republican attack machine has been hot on Obama’s trail.
John McCain has attacked Obama on Iraq, and the president echoed that attack in a press conference. The Tennessee Republican party tried to portray Obama as anti-Semitic. A speaker at a McCain rally launched into a vituperative attack on Obama. We should expect a steady diet of this stuff from now until November.
My guess is that all this reflects the belief in Republican circles that after March 4, Hillary Clinton’s prospects will fade. If that is true, Obama will get a big publicity boost in early March as the apparent nominee. From the standpoint of the Republicans, the goal must be to smack him around now and try to tarnish him before that boost comes. Take him down a peg quickly, make him rebut rumor after rumor, and try to get the mainstream press to ask questions like “Is Obama patriotric enough?” For now, they can piggyback on the Clinton campaign’s last ditch attempt to derail the Obama Express by spreading their own stuff about him.
McCain may be adopting the strategy that the Bush campaign used against him in the 2000 South Carolina primary. Republicans say really nasty things about Obama, and McCain “rejects” and “denounces” them, while somehow being unable to stop them. Recall that in 2000, George W. Bush kept praising McCain publicly while his minions spread the rumor that his adopted child was black and that McCain was mentally damaged by his Vietnam captivity. Bush stayed above the battle.
Now we’ll see how Obama handles the incoming.
February 25, 2008 | 3:06 pm
Posted by Pol Observer
It’s getting painful to watch the endgame of the Democratic nomination. If Obama wins, I imagine we might date the beginning of the end from the time that Clinton accused Obama of selling “false hope.”
Running against hope is, of course, hopeless, as the spouse of the original Man from Hope (Arkansas) should have known. It’s hard to become more likeable while telling people that they shouldn’t get their hopes up.
It’s especially hard to watch Clinton and her “final days” campaigning.
I’m not one of those on the bandwagon labeled, “she ran a terrible campaign.” She didn’t, in my view. She just ran into a better candidate. It’s like sports. Your team, your coach, your game plan all look great right up until you face a better team or a team playing better.
Without Obama, Clinton would have crushed the field, and we would be admiring her fantastic organization. Clinton is extremely talented, and just found herself overmatched in a year when the Democrats had two great, well-funded candidates.
That being said, frontrunners who fully expect to win (see Patriots, New England) often get really nasty when they lose. I think the Clinton team is getting into that zone, mixing frustrated entitlement with bafflement at their apparent fate. I remember George Bush the Elder marvelling that he was losing to this inexperienced “kid” from Arkansas in 1992. It really hurts.
Clinton tries to hit the right notes, but instead goes from the plaintive to the enraged and then back again. Whether or not the Clinton people are behind the release of a photo of Obama in Muslim garb to the Drudge Report, they are certainly acting as if they think it is very clever. I doubt that there is a formula to turn their campaign around and each “Hail Mary” pass annoys Democratic voters even more.
Looking down the road, the problem for Obama is that if he does win, he has to take steps to keep the Clintons from sulking in their tents. (One indicator to watch is if they start talking about what a great guy John McCain is.)
February 22, 2008 | 4:53 pm
Posted by Pol Observer
The NY Times story about influence peddling and McCain may help explain at least one piece of this many-sided puzzle: why a number of DC Republicans have often expressed their personal dislike of McCain.
I imagine that some Republicans on Capitol Hill have resented his “St. John” ethics presentation of self, when it conflicts with his actual and continued relations with lobbyists. Congressional Republicans have long been frank about their belief that to the victors go the spoils. They took unprecedented control of DC lobby money after they won Congress in 1994.
Led by Tom DeLay in the House, they bullied lobbying groups into firing Democratic staff members and consultants. (This highly-organized effort was called the K Street Project.) While they paid some small price in public regard for this stance, it was an effective way to entrench their party in power. It outraged Democrats.
So here is McCain, talking with Democrats and acting all high and mighty about not taking money from lobbyists. That might have been more forgivable if it had been a more accurate view of his behavior. Nobody gets mad at Democratic Senator Russ Feingold for talking like that, since he also acts that way.
But it must have been pretty widely known that McCain still was dealing with lobbyists, making calls to government officials, and basically having it both ways, which is what the Times story illustrates. It must have really irked Republican senators to be lectured on ethics by McCain and to see him getting worshipful treatment on the Sunday talk shows as the most ethical and honorable man on Capitol Hill.
Were he not the likely party nominee, a lot of Republican Senators would be chortling that St. John had finally gotten his comeuppance. Instead he has become a martyr to conservatives who loathe the New York Times. Any chortling will have to be done privately.
That leaves for another post the question of where this story leaves McCain with Democrats and the media . . .
[to be continued ...]
February 19, 2008 | 8:47 pm
Posted by Pol Observer
Hello! and welcome to JewsChoose 2008. My name is Raphael Sonenshein (although I go by Raphe). I’m a professor of political science at Cal State Fullerton, and a regular columnist for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
The Wisconsin results are coming in now, and it looks like yet another victory for Obama. That means it’s almost time for the Jewish test to begin! This is a really tough moment for a Democratic candidate on a roll. John McCain is aiming most of his attacks at Obama.
Obama has already faced the viral emails around the Jewish community claiming all sorts of things about him, and it will only get worse. We’ll hear that his middle name is Hussein (true); that he is a radical Muslim (false on both counts); and plenty of other stuff. Even well informed Jewish voters can be shaken by these things. Heck, there was a time back in 1969 when many Los Angeles Jewish voters were briefly persuaded that Tom Bradley was a black militant!
Obama’s bona fides have been vouched for among Jews, by among others, the conservative New York Sun. I hope he has advisors who can avoid the traps that can hurt a relatively unknown candidate. Remember when John Kerry announced that he would send the team of Jimmy Carter and James Baker to the Middle East? That did not go over well with Jewish voters. The best defense is very clear and proactive communication to the Jewish community about Israel, anti-Semitism, and other key concerns, like in this conference call Obama made to Jewish journalists.
Right now, Obama’s main concern is not the Jewish vote, because his more immediate issue is how to keep taking Latino voters from Hillary Clinton. He can put away the nomination by winning Texas, the last state left with a large Latino population.
But he’ll have to keep a close eye on the Jewish community in the meantime.