Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Clinton vs. Obama

In case you hadn’t noticed, the fur has been flying between the Clinton and Obama camps.

In all this, a few nuggets stand out. First, there are David Geffen’s comments, which ought to be used over and over again by any Republican nominee, should HRC get the nomination:

What ignited the battle of words was an interview with Geffen in Wednesday’s New York Times by columnist Maureen Dowd, in which Geffen portrayed himself as disenchanted with both Clintons, their failure to always stand firm on principle and their style of political battle. "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it’s troubling," he said.

He called Bill Clinton "a reckless guy" who "gave his enemies a lot of ammunition to hurt him and to distract the country."


Asked if Obama would be able to stand up to the Clinton machine, Geffen said, "I hope so, because that machine is going to be very unpleasant and unattractive and effective."

Then, there’s this account of the Clinton team’s motives in responding as they did:

By pulling Obama into the controversy, Clinton aides hoped to take the shine off a candidacy that has sparked surprising excitement, not only in Hollywood but among many Democratic activists across the country.

(I’ll add a chunk from the NYT article on this same point when the site comes back up; as I write this, it seems to be down.)

Also interesting is HRC campaign chair Terry McAuliffe’s bare-knuckle threat:

Her campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, recently warned donors that Clinton would remember those who did not back her. "You are either with us, or you’re against us," McAuliffe told potential donors during a dinner at [Clinton supporter Haim] Saban’s house.

No nights in the Lincoln Bedroom for Obama supporters. And I guess in a Clinton Administration, they might expect to be audited by the IRS.

All of this damages HRC much more than Obama, though I think we’re seeing a glimpse of what’s to come should he begin to close the gap. Sit back and enjoy the show, if you can.

Update: Here’s the NYT chunk I couldn’t get off the web earlier this morning:

Other advisers said the Clinton camp was simply frustrated that Mr. Obama had received glowing media coverage, and was eager to call out his campaign for hypocrisy by contrasting the Geffen remarks with Mr. Obama’s pledge to be positive.

“Obama has gotten under the campaign’s skin for weeks now — especially his free ride in the media —and Hillary’s people were just waiting for their first chance to attack his image as Mr. Positive,” said one Clinton adviser who is not part of the day-to-day political operation.

Update #2: Slate’s John Dickerson thinks HRC is the winner here:

For the Clinton team, the Geffen remarks offered a chance to bait a trap. If they could goad Obama’s campaign into firing back, they could show that his soaring talk is just talk.

So, who won this round? Sen. Clinton. The Clinton team got exactly what they hoped for.

Discussions - 9 Comments

I think this tells us that Hussein Obama might be a fraud, but he isn’t stupid enough to believe he’ll be the VP nominee with Hillary. HE KNOWS, more than many another, that Hillary won’t reach out to a community that she already has locked up, by selecting a member thereof to be on the ticket.

This bust up between the camps is either an indication that Obama knows that he has to emerge from the Senate NOW, before he acquires a long and lengthy voting record, with which his political opponents can impale him, [there are reasons the Senate is known as the killing fields of Presidential ambition, {as well of legislation...}], OR Obama is making it real clear that he’s not just some piece of fluff, some politician tarted up by the likes of an Oprah. In which case, if the latter, he’s going to try to seal up the 2012 nomination.

So either he knows his chance is now, or he’s trying to make it clear to all that he’s the one after Hillary.

But I think the talk of a Hillary/Obama ticket is over. I expect her to reach out to the Hispanic community. That makes much more sense than reaching out to the Black community. Additionally, if she selects Hussein Obama, the media might follow him more than her. She’ll seem old and stale in comparison to the rising "star." And Hillary isn’t going to flirt with danger by selecting someone with such an openly muslim name, despite all of Obama’s protestations of his Christianity.

Might that attempt to reach out to the Hispanic Community be why Bill Richardson (Gov - NM) sided with HRC in this? Maybe HE will be the VP choice on the ticket...

A catfight between two left-wing rivals. Whatever implications it may have for ’08 are completely unknowable.
My guess is that the Democrats will be completely united in the general election. Republicans may not be. The far more interesting dynamic is on the GOP side.

I’d expect the Dem. nomination fight to be nastier and more divisive than the Republican, since the nomination looks valuable right now and because there’s such a strong anyone-but-Hillary sentiment among the online activists. Will they be able to vote for someone they’ve been calling a liar and a trimmer -- much less work or contribute -- if she wins the nomination? Will Hillary supporters easily get on board the winner of the anyone-but-their-candidate sweepstakes?

The Republican race at this point seems not nearly as pointed, maybe because it’s so dispirited.

The Democratic race may well be nasty, but there is no serious political difference among the candidates. Also, I don’t believe there are major differences in terms of electability. All can count on a unified Democratic base if they win the nomination. And they’re all extremely electable, unfortunately, for two reasons that won’t change: One, the Republican base is confused and demoralized and will probably remain so (at least compared with ’04). Two, the "mainstream" media bias will reach unprecedented, Orwellian levels. So the whizzing contests on the Democratic side are trivial. Nice to see them doing this -- they all richly deserve it -- but it’s sound and fury, signifying nothing. Years ago, someone wrote: "Will Rogers once famously said, ’I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.’ Today that joke is on anybody who believes it." Words to live by, now more than ever.

If African-American voters don’t seriously invest in Obama, as they haven’t yet, the cost in the general election of attacking him during the nomination process will be very low.

Still, the more back-and-forth there is, the more soundbites there will be to throw in the face of the nominee. And, unlike now, they’ll be thrown at a time when ordinary folks will be paying attention. That, in any event, is my provisionally sunny take on it.

Deb was right to notice how Richardson didn’t waste any time jumping in to the defense of Hillary. There is an enormous opportunity for him, and this is his way of telling one and all that he’s aware of it.

I don’t think Hillary has the nomination locked up. I don’t think the Dems will turn to someone as untested as Hussein Obama, but that doesn’t mean that it will automatically go to Hillary.

There is already a movement afoot to drag Gore back in. That tells ya that there is deep unease about giving her the nomination. The Dems who have some savvy are nervous that she’ll NEVER win the White House, for the way she makes people dislike her intensely.

Biden noticed as much about a month or so ago, when he rightly observed that her numbers have peaked, and that she’s well below 50%, then he went on to ask why would the party consider a nominee who won’t gather additional votes.

We can dream: Hillary wins the nomination and Gore steps in on a third party ticket.

I think there’s that much dislike for her in the nutroots.

Perhaps we can slip the Obama and Hillary camps some WMD...let them "go to town" on one another. Sure, some collateral damage, but mostly lower forms of life (e.g., Dems).

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