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March 3, 2008

Not Supporting Hillary Clinton? I Guess We’re Just Morons


Hillary Clinton’s terrible campaign for the Democratic presidency last week provided reinforcement to the biggest criticism of her before the race got under way – that she is motivated primarily by ambition, and that it was more important for her to win the presidency than it was for her to govern.


It’s the nature of her campaign that’s been responsible for turning so many people off. It’s been a campaign built on the apparent belief that the nomination was really just hers for the asking from the get-go; and that the other Democratic challengers should really do everyone a favor and find a nice, quite corner in which to die. States that she lost weren’t important. If people just gave their vote more than a passing thought, they would realize that she was the right person for the job.


Those who didn’t . . . well, they’re just morons. They really did believe their own self-generated hype of inevitability, which stood strongly until people actually started casting votes.


Last week, Clinton made good on her promise to throw everything at Barack Obama, which included reminders of why she tends to aggravate negative feelings among so many of her critics.


At a Rhode Island rally over the weekend, Clinton mocked Obama’s campaign of hope and unity, suggesting that it wasn’t something that real adults would buy into. It might be a legitimate point, but Clinton charged right through the line between reasonable argumentation and insufferable arrogance like a bull through a red cape constructed entirely of tissue paper, raising her arms and looking into the sky to mock the idea that mere words can inspire.


Last Tuesday, at the Democrats’ final debate before tomorrow’s vote in Ohio and Texas, Clinton spent time demanding that Obama not just denounce Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, but also reject it. To most people, the difference between the two is about as great as the amount of interpretation you can read into the words “is,” and “alone.” Clinton, however, demanded a rejection, and Obama gave it to her.


The reason? Well, to break apart African-American support for Obama by forcing him to reject an African-American leader on national television. It’s a page right out of the Karl Rove playbook – attacking a candidate’s strengths – and one that showed that Clinton is willing to break apart communities to win the presidency.


This might seem like the smart way to win the nomination, but it’s also why Clinton as the nominee would pose such fundamental problems for the Democratic Party. Most rank-and-file Democrats would be happy with either candidate. On the other hand, Clinton’s powerful ability to turn people off strongly negates her strengths in other areas.


Democrats are expected to have a good year, including widening their majorities in the House and Senate. The potential that Clinton will de-energize her party’s volunteer base could put that in jeopardy. And it’s worth noting that Obama’s victories haven’t come because he is an inspiring speaker, but because he has built an organization. In other words, he’s won because he’s outworked Clinton.


There is a message in there for the Democratic Party, but it’s probably best if they figure out what it is on their own.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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