Hillary Is Right But Nobody Cares

We sympathize; so are we.

According to various news reports:

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's increasingly destructive nomination fight intensified yesterday amid allegations that the former First Lady was privately telling senior Democrats that her rival is unelectable.  After publicly suggesting last month that John McCain was better-qualified to be commander-in-chief than Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton is now telling Democratic super-delegates that her rival cannot win a general election against the Republican nominee, a claim not fully denied by her advisers. [emphasis added]

One of the inherent contradictions within party politics as practiced in the United States is the need to be best buddies tomorrow with people you were fighting to the death yesterday.

Both parties have primaries to determine their nominees, whether for the Presidency, the Senate, Congress, local offices, and sometimes even right down to the dogcatcher.  Unlike the general election where the Democrats continue to hate the Republicans if they lose and vice versa, a primary that ends in hatred is not a victory worth having - you need the support of your opponent's supporters if you hope to win the general election and the office itself.

When Senator Ted Kennedy challenged President Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980, Mr. Carter said, "I'll whup his ass."  Having duly whupped Mr. Kennedy's "ass" and won the nomination to run for a second term, Mr. Carter was then forced to kiss it whilst still red and swollen.  He badly needed Mr. Kennedy's support for the campaign against Mr. Reagan, but the wounds were too sore.  Mr. Carter lost in his re-election bid.

There Are Rules for Campaigning

General rules for primaries have evolved over the years.  You want to contrast your record with your opponents', of course, but not by saying he's an incompetent fool; "incompetent fool" is reserved for the other party's candidate.  Instead, you say, "I can understand why he did that, after all he is a good man, but it was the wrong decision, and my experience / viewpoint / better information would allow me to make the right decision."  Or you say something similar; the idea is to say that your opponent is good, but you are great.

That simply isn't working this time.  Hillary and Obama have virtually identical policy positions on almost every subject, separated only by subtleties of nuance and emphasis.  They have the same amount of executive experience, that is to say, none; they each have tremendous appeal to a vital block of Democratic voters along with some appeal to voters in the center; and most of all, they are each a Member of a Favored Minority Group.

Hillary can't trash Obama's health care plan too badly because hers is almost the same.

Obama can't ridicule Hillary's extensive experience organizing the White House Easter Egg Roll because his resume is about as limp.

Hillary can't point out Obama's lucrative personal land deals lest he turn the finger against her Whitewater investigations, Rose Law Firm, cattle futures trading, Vince Foster, etc, etc, etc.

There are essentially no differences between Hillary and Obama as candidates - their ideas, qualifications, and experience are all but identical.  The only differences are between Hillary and Obama as people.  That means they can't talk about policy or issues when explaining to voters why to vote for one or the other; they have to get personal.

Hillary tried getting personal about herself; she cried and "found her voice", for example.  That helped in New Hampshire, but not enough to win the next several primaries.  She has nothing left but to get personal about Mr. Obama.  Saying good things about your opponent won't help you; getting personal about your opponent means slinging mud.

When there's nothing left to sling but mud, then mud it is.  The Clintons have perhaps the best opponent-research, dirty tricks, and attack-ad operations money can buy, and it's been working overtime for months.

Sensing her life's dream sliding slowly from her grasp, Hillary is throwing everything including the kitchen sink.  It helped in Texas, but still not enough.

Now she has gone beyond all semblance of the traditional rules.  You may contrast your opponent to yourself; you may make fun of silly things he's done, you can dig through his legislative record and find bad bills, you can even talk about his kindergarten art projects.  You are not supposed to say that he simply cannot or ought not to win because he's not qualified for the office; yet this is what Hillary has done repeatedly.

What it's All About

The only purpose of a primary is to find the candidate who is best equipped to lead the party to victory in the general election.  Hillary has been in politics longer than most voters have been alive.  It's difficult to imagine anything that would come to light that would affect people's feelings about her; people's minds are locked in stone when it comes to Hillary.

Not so with Obama.  He came on the scene as a relative unknown with a golden tongue, preaching a doctrine of unity and reconciliation for which large portions of the American people have thirsted for many years.  When was the last time we had audiences fainting with emotion at a political speech?  Since he's done so little, it's hard to point to specific actions that give the lie to his fine words.

But Hillary did, finally, find the right poison - the poison spewed by Obama's pastor of twenty years, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

No matter how a candidate for the American Presidency may feel about the other party, about the war we're in, or the things we've done as a country, he can't just sit there and listen to somebody say "God damn America!" without response - yet that's just what Obama did for years and years and years.

His core supporters don't care; many of them probably feel the same way.  But middle America, where elections are won, will see those film clips over, and over, and over, and think, "Twenty years?  Twenty years of that?"

And here we see the irony.  After a lifetime of digging, and throwing, dirt; of stooping to every sleazy and underhanded tactic imaginable; of lying, cheating, and stealing with utter abandon; of honing the "politics of personal destruction" into an invincible force, Hillary has finally come upon an opponent who has a genuine, fatal flaw.

No lies required; no exaggeration desired; no phoniness or fraud needed here.  She has found the weapon to decapitate Obama's candidacy, in the form of his racist, anti-American pastor's evil rantings.

And it doesn't work because nobody listens to her anymore.

Cassandra Clinton

It's difficult to imagine the fury that Hillary must be feeling today.  After years of lies and trumped-up charges about her opponents, she has finally found an issue that, by rights, should lead to instant victory for her campaign.  How could anyone vote for a man who listens, by choice, to the blame-whitey conspiracy lunacies of Rev. Wright for two decades?  (Obama even put his daughters under that "ministry"!)

And whose wife clearly echoes much of the same view, with her shocking admissions of never having been proud of her country until Obama's campaign got moving? And who sees herself as a victim in spite of living in a million-dollar mansion?

There is absolutely no reason to believe that Obama is a racist.  He's never shown any bias toward or against anyone; he's never said anything inflammatory or incendiary.  Insofar as you can see into his heart, he appears to be a good man who means nobody any harm.

But would that be a viable defense for a white politician who attended KKK meetings with his family for twenty years, while never personally donning a sheet, burning a cross, or tying a noose?  The very thought is absurd.

Yet this legitimate piece of essential information about Obama's incomprehensibly bad judgment, while it is having a corrosive effect on voters generally, is making no difference at all to the Democrats who will choose the nominee.

Hillary, like Cassandra of old, can see the train wreck coming; she can see in her mind's eye John McCain's television commercials starring the Rev. Wright; she can feel the revulsion and horror in the hearts of middle America as they sniff the cup Obama's been drinking from; she can visualize the landslide defeat in store.  Similarly, she knows that, while there's no way she would win the Presidency in a landslide, the Clintons have an unequaled track record at squeezing out victories over Republicans when the going gets tough.

Hillary is right to think that this should be a killer issue.

The Clintons have been an amoral duo for their entire joint career.  They do whatever it takes to achieve power or benefit themselves.  But we don't believe that they have any active hatred for America; they'll do what's good for the country, or at the very least what they think to be good, as long as it doesn't cost them too much.

There are occasions where the Clintons did something that they knew was bad for the country to benefit themselves, but those generally involved Bill's personal peccadilloes or Hillary's first Senate campaign.  Hating America was never a way of life for them.

In contrast, while Barack Obama doesn't appear to be anti-American, he surrounds himself with people (his wife? his pastor?) who unquestionably are.  How can he not be affected by the views of his nearest and dearest?  It's not humanly possible.

Hillary believes herself to be a better candidate for the Democrats, and a better President for the country, than Barack Obama.  She's absolutely right.

How ironic that, the one time she's 100%, completely, totally, overwhelmingly, unarguably right, being right no longer makes any difference.

There's an old saying, "He who slings mud, loses ground."  Hillary has slung so much mud that she no longer has any ground on which to stand.  Eventually, like Wile E. Coyote, she will look down... and none of us want to be in the room when she does.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments
"When Senator Ted Kennedy challenged President Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980, Mr. Carter said, "I'll whup his ass." Having duly whupped Mr. Kennedy's "ass" and won the nomination to run for a second term, Mr. Carter was then forced to kiss it whilst still red and swollen. He badly needed Mr. Kennedy's support for the campaign against Mr. Reagan, but the wounds were too sore. Mr. Carter lost in his re-election bid."

Although you are absolutely right, this is a poor example of what you are saying for one very glaring reason; Carter was a crappy president, and Ronnie was cool as heck. Ronald Reagan was a good man, with a pure heart (relatively speaking, of course), and he had the rock-star/Hollywood personality to get the young vote if all else failed. Your suggestion is that Carter would have beat Reagan in the general election if he had campaigned against Kennedy better. I could not disagree more. I believe that Reagan was destined to win that election, and not even the charisma of Obama could have rivaled him.
April 9, 2008 10:48 AM
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