Four theories to explain Hillary's stunner.

A mostly political Weblog.
Jan. 9 2008 5:04 AM

Hillary Stuns--Four Theories

Bonus 5th Theory just added!

(Continued from Page 58)

They love Obama. He's very inspiring. But in the end, Iowans vote on electability. I hate to say it, but my guess is they'll vote for the white guy — Edwards — this time, just like they voted for the war hero last time."

Right, last time. Dems rely on the good sense of Iowa caucusers at their peril. ...

Paging Rielle Hunter! ... 6:42 P.M link

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I bristled at Chris Matthews' breathless pumping up of Obama's Jefferson-Jackson speech on MSNBC yesterday. Then I read it. It's a very skillful speech  in that Obama simultaneously does three seemingly contradictory things:

1) Portrays himself as a "real" Democrat. ("Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we're worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won't do.")

2) Portray's himself as a bipartisan bridge-builder! ("I expanded health care in Illinois by bringing Democrats and Republicans together." ... "I don't want to pit Red America against Blue America. I want to be the President of the United States of America.")

3) Portrays himself as a brave truthteller willing to tell voters "what they need to hear" as opposed to "what they want to hear"--to deliver the "bitter medicine" (as columnist Roger Simon put it on Hardball) ...

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Of course, Obama gives no examples of #3--in fact, he's telling Iowa caucus Democrats more or less exactly what they want to hear, namely that they don't have to compromise (#1).  He's certainly not telling them that the way to be a bipartisan bridge-builder (#2) is often precisely to violate #1 and "triangulate," as Bill Clinton did on welfare reform. ... 

Obama's new wrinkle is the argument is that Bush is so unpopular he's freed up a bunch of voters at the center for Dems to capture without triangulating. That may be true on universal health care coverage (where Obama's plan arguably triangulates a bit more than Clinton's plan). But I'm not sure where else it applies. At bottom, it still seems a variation of Shrumian populism, the idea that there are obvious answers to benefit the common man and the only thing standing in the way is some elite group or "corporate lobbyists in Washington"--as opposed to the non-populist position, which is that there are answers that benefit the common man but what's standing in the way is usually a) the common man and b) poweful interest groups on the Democratic as well as Republican side. If our most difficult domestic problems (Social Security, health care cost control, poverty, civil rights, immigration) really did conform to the Populist model, they'd have been solved by now, by Democrats. ...

Update: See discussion of this argument--including further refinement under withering assault!-- here and here. ... 6:01 P.M. link

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Monday, November 12, 2007

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