Friday, February 23, 2007
The truth is Hillary's campaign has been a series of ill-considered moves. Obama panicked her into a way-too-early-announcement. The cause of the panic was fund-raising (poaching of presumed supporters), which is the least vulnerable aspect of her campaign. Basically, if she wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, she wins the nomination. The most she can spend in Iowa and New Hampshire is $20 million, every last dollar counted, including the surrounding states primary television advertising that will be seen in Iowa. So money is not her problem. Imagining that it was and therefore entering the race six-to-eight months before she needed to was a MAJOR mistake. Had she entered in August or September, the surge would have run its course successfully or not. The Iran issue would be that much further along. Pandemic flu would have hit or not hit. Etc. By announcing early, she brought into play a hundred unnecessary variables.
In a nutshell, her challenge is (a) herself, (b) her vote on the War (and her bizarre accounting for same), (c) her husband (never very popular with the party's left wing and a wild card every day), (d) the whole Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton can-we-ever-get-out-of-this-movie thing, (e) Hillaryland (consultants turning everything to hectoring mush), (f) deep-seated fear among Democrats that she is, in truth, the least electable candidate they have.
Geffen, a long-time ally, addressed a, b, c, d, e and f. The Clinton campaign, by responding the way it did, amplified his remarks at least twofold. If that's a win, I'm for the Breck Girl.
11:26 P.M. link
Do we really have to go through another presidential campaign watching the NYT's Adam Nagourney get spun? And without Deborah Orin around to bring everyone back to reality? Grim! Nagourney's Friday piece--"reporting" that "even Mr. Obama ... seemed to acknowledge that he may have been outmaneuvered" by Hillary in the Geffen flap is a case in point.
1) Nagourney didn't reportanything to back up the claim that Obama acknowledged being outmaneuvered. He quoted Obama saying he wanted to avoid such "distractions." But Obama could have regretted it for sincere, highminded reasons, even if the controversy helped him. Why be cynical and assume that if a pol regrets something it can only be because it cost him votes? Or Obama could have been more deeply cynical than Nagourney--seeming to admit error as a tactical ploy (to placate the famously wussy Iowa caucusers, who hate Dem fratricide) while quietly pocketing his winnings.
2) Nagourney's conclusion, and that of most other MSM pundits, assumes you can analyze which campaign won and which lost without assessing the truth value or appeal of what Geffen said about Hillary. In this "neutral," strategic analysis, Obama lost because he was the positive candidate lured into going "negative." Doesn't it matter whether Geffen's charges were true--or at least rang true--or were baloney? "Objective" reporters are uncomfortable making such judgments, but those are the judgments voters will be making. If Geffen was giving voice to what lots of Democrats were actually thinking about Hillary, and if by doing so he in effect gave Dems permission to stop suppressing these objections, and if those objections are powerful, he could have done Hillary damage even if her brilliant staff lured an Obama press aide into putting out a snarky press release.
3) No Nagourney "I've Been Spun" piece would be complete without a quote from notorious Dem counterproductive overspinner Chris Lehane, whose tendentious 24-7 BS sniping as Al Gore's 2000 press secretary helped elect Bush in the first place (and constitutes the very "game as it customarily is played" that Obama condemns). The Obama camp's response "fundamentally undermined their long-term message," Lehane concluded. To ward off charges of bias, Nagourney claims Lehane "has not endorsed a candidate," but it's inconceivable that Lehane is without an agenda or agendas here--at the very least, the agenda of sucking up to Nagourney by telling him what he wants to hear. Also, Lehane is almost always wrong. I remember, after the California recall debate, he declared that Schwarzenegger had lost ground because he was mean to Arianna Huffington, thereby offending women voters. In fact, Schwarzenegger's put-downs almost certainly helped elect him. Lehane's spin is most useful as a Lawrence O'Donnellish contrary indicator. Maybe he isn't allied with a candidate because nobody wants him.
Update: Melinda Henneberger reports that Geffen's criticism "Is Nothing I Haven't Heard from Women Voters Across America." She didn't hear it from men voters? There's your lede! ... Oh, I see. She only talked to women. ... So we have a First Woman who doesn't appeal that much to women running against a First Black who doesn't appeal that much to blacks. Cool. Maybe Identity Politics is dead. ... 11:13 P.M. link
First Warner, Now Vilsack: Another seemingly inexplicable drop-out from the Democratic presidential race. Just when the two national frontrunners are busy destroying each other, why would a credible fallback choice like Iowa ex-Gov.Tom Vilsack bail? The fundraising troubles that are allegedly the "only" reason he quit a) don't seem that bad and b) were all quite foreseeable when he declared his candidacy in November. ... Baseless speculation (but why not): Did someone (e.g. Hillary) realize she desperately needed Vilsack's Iowa supporters and make him an offer he couldn't refuse? ... 1:36 P.M. link
Won't They Comp Posh? And here I thought Scientology was on the defensive: I didn't know there was a whole new batch of possible celeb recruits/hangers-around--Lachlan Murdoch (that from Radar), Will and Jada, J-Lo, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, even maybe Forest Whitaker. But the religion might be too expensive for David Beckham's fashionable wife. ("Victoria is too cheap to convert.") Elizabeth Snead says: "Maybe she can get Scientology wholesale." ... 1:06 P.M. link
Matthew Yglesias displays thestrenuous casuistry loyal Democrats will employ to avoid the need for any confrontation with teachers' unions on the question Steve Jobs recently raised--firing lousy teachers. According to Yglesias the issue isn't firing bad teacher but attracting good ones:
... the reason politicians rarely push for it is that the actual payoff is very, very low. The issue is that there isn't this vast pool of highly effective potential hires out there. The schools with serious teacher-quality problems tend to have them because the better teachers, by and large, don't want to work there and schools have problems filling all the slots with minimally qualified people. The real action (also disliked by teacher unions, if pissing off unions is your goal) is in the certification process, who counts as a qualified teacher, and what counts as an effective teacher (here's where the accountability comes in). If in the future that created a situation where there were tons of people looking to break into the teaching field then it might make sense to expend political capital on making it easier to fire people. [E.A.]
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