Column for 24 February, 2008

“Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.”
–Ecclesiastes 10:12

Who would have guessed a year ago that Texas would be picking the next President? Who would’ve guessed a year ago that the Texas Presidential Primary would even actually matter? For the last twenty years or so, Texas has been almost completely irrelevant, since the nominations of both parties were usually decided far in advance and the Democrats never even contested the state come November. The only presidential campaign commercials we ever saw were national ad buys on cable. Actually, come to think of it, that was pretty nice. But now, though, the nomination of both parties, and thus the November election, comes down to Texas. Hillary Clinton, after losing 25 out of 36 primaries and caucuses (and ten in a row), absolutely, positively has to win here or her candidacy is pretty much over. And it’s probably not a good sign for her that Obama has the money and the people to open a store-front office with a staffer in Cleburne. John McCain doesn’t have to win Texas since he’s nearly over the top in the delegate count, but a loss to the grossly under-funded Mike Huckabee would be a national embarrassment, and would further highlight the huge divide in the Republican Party between traditional economic country-club conservatives and social Christian evangelical conservatives. McCain already has enough problems with social conservatives and the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus (or RWHMMC for short; Limbaugh, Coulter, the usual suspects) who loathe him with the kind of contempt they usual reserve for poor children, immigrants or Hillary Clinton. As for myself, now that my first choice John Edwards is out, I freely admit to being conflicted over whether to vote for Clinton or Obama. Since they are virtually indistinguishable on the issues, the choice comes down to who is the most electable. John McCain has pledged himself to serving out George W. Bush’s third term (more war, less jobs). I’m not at all certain the country can handle that, even with a Democratic Congress to check his most wretched excesses, assuming the Democrats in Congress remember they have a spine. So, which of the two is most likely to win? Clinton’s main strength, in my mind, is that she comes pre-attacked. The RWHMMC has already accused her of everything short of eating babies, so they’d be hard pressed to come up with any new vicious slanderous lies that wouldn’t be immediately laughed off by the electorate, or at least that portion of the electorate currently willing to give her a shot. Likewise, Clinton knows exactly just how brutal and unscrupulous the opposition can be; she and her husband have been through the meat-grinder. Her negatives are that she lacks Bill Clinton’s charm, inspirational personality, and political acumen. In fact, she seems to have a sort of negative charisma, inspiring those who hate her to work harder for her defeat. And for someone who is widely perceived to be a Machiavellian machine politician, Hillary Clinton has run a Keystone Cops campaign so far. How else to explain the fact that even with her long association with Texas politics (having stumped here for McGovern 35 years ago) and her highly experienced staff, no one bothered to look into the Texas delegate selection process until now? Granted, no one, least of all Texas Democrats, really understands the arcane logarithms and mathematical alchemy that are used to pick delegates here, but surely someone should’ve taken notes or something sooner than right before early voting started. Worse, the Clinton camp has resorted to some of the lamest, silliest attacks ever. Who thought it was a clever ploy to accuse Obama of “plagiarism” for copying a few phrases from his friend and supporter Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick? And is it really a smart move to tell Democratic voters in Red states that their votes “don’t count”? These are rookie mistakes that smell of desperation and don’t augur well for what would happen when the RWHMMC turns up the heat in the fall. Obama’s main positive is his incredible charisma. The man inspires. A lot. Enough to fill Reunion Arena to overflowing on a Wednesday afternoon. As John Kerry found out the hard way four years ago, inspired and energized followers can make all the difference in an election. Also, I think Obama’s youth, as the first major presidential candidate from my generation, Generation X, would actually be a positive contrast to 71 year-old John McCain. As for the negatives, Obama’s rhetoric, with all its flourishes about “radical change” and transformation, doesn’t really match his fairly pedestrian, run-of-the-mill platform. Plus, his previous campaigns have all been in reliably Blue Illinois; his expected opponent for US Senate in 2004 was felled by a sex scandal and Obama instead trounced the hastily-imported and reliably pathetic Alan Keyes. That lack of political combat experience concerns me. In an election season where Rush Limbaugh has already aired a song called “Barack the Magic Negro” and made word plays on “hoes” and “spades” and Bill O’Reilly has dropped the phrase “lynching party” when talking about Michelle Obama, I think it’s safe to assume that the attacks will only get sleazier and more overtly racist if Obama is the Democratic nominee. The fact that he will be attacked does not concern me; the Republicans will ferociously attack any Democratic nominee. What worries me is that I don’t see any evidence that Obama understands just how nasty it’s going to get, or that he has the blood-sport politics experience to push back against it. His frequent invocations of the spirit of bipartisanship make me concerned about his naiveté, considering that GOP guru Grover Norquist once famously likened bipartisanship to “date rape.” At best, Republicans consider “bipartisan” to mean either “do it exactly our way,” or “pause to reload.” To quote an old Texas political hand in describing the kind of bright, eager young Northeasterners who regularly come down here to work campaigns, I wish some of these guys had run for sheriff.

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Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 8:44 am  Comments (11)  

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  1. Here’s a new Obama meme I just found: Obama Will Fix Your Computer at http://obamawill.com

  2. Hillary is “pre-attacked” because of past shady deals and criminal involvements, not because of howler monkeys. If you take away the howler monkeys, the Washington Post (hardly part of the right wing conspiracy) has reported extensively on it. Obama has none of this baggage of political corruption.

    You mentioned “Her negatives are that she lacks Bill Clinton’s charm, inspirational personality, and political acumen.”

    It is interesting that Bill’s charm and acument seem to be no where in his numerous blunders on his wife-s behalf in this campaign.

  3. Yeah, but none of Hillary & Bill’s “shady dealings” ever came to anything. Whitewater turned out to be exactly as they described it from the start. And she never had any criminal involvements; if she had, you can rest assured Ken Starr would’ve found it.

    “It is interesting that Bill’s charm and acument seem to be no where in his numerous blunders on his wife-s behalf in this campaign.”

    Isn’t that the truth? It seems like the governor on his mouth is broken, maybe because he personally isn’t the candidate this time? But yeah I agree with you there.

  4. The Whitewater thing was a crime ring that had a dozen of its principals convicted. Two of those in the thick of it were not convicted, and they happen to be the ones who repeatedly claimed they were above the law, refused to turn over evidence as required by subpeona, and had the full resources of the executive branch of the federal government at their disposal in order to hinder the investigation.

    And Hillary had the gall to attack Obama for legal work on behalf of for a shady slumlord which amounted to 4 billable hours he did while in a law firm.

  5. Please list all of the “principals” who were convicted for crimes directly relating to the Whitewater real-estate transaction. Please list every instance in which Bill or Hillary claimed “they were above the law.” Please list all evidence which they refused to turn over pursuant to subpoena. And please list all “resources of the executive branch of the federal government” used by the Clintons to “hinder the investigation.” I’m sure their private lawyers, who they paid millions of $$, would be interested.

  6. This PBS article:

    This CBS story lists the Whitewater convicts:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/05/19/archive/main9813.shtml

    Asking for “direct involvement” in the actual real estate transaction seems a little evasive on your part. Would you want the Watergate scandal investigation and condemnation limited to just those who were the actual burglars?

    You know as well as I do that the cover-up in these matters is often worse than the actual crimes that triggered it.

    Above the law? That is what a claim of “executive privilege” as a stalling tactic to obstruct justice amounts to. Here is just one article:

    http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/05/05/executive.privilege/

    As for listing what is in the subpeonas, numerous news organizations describe it as being Whitewater-related.

    As for Clinton wasting tax money to obstruct justice, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/whitewater/ickes_2-22.html

    refers to a special White House “response team” formed to obstruct the Whitewater investigation. “White House” is always a term used for a Presidential administration, and a Presidential adminitration is a government-funded operation. There is other documentation of Clinton asking employees to commit perjury. I guess that is what the White House staff is there for, right?

    Related is all the money Clinton forced to be wasted on the Paula Jones investigtion. In the end, Clinton quietly admitted that he sexually harassed her. Imagine how much easier things would have been if he had told the truth on this when first asked.

    ——-
    Note, these articles are from PBS, CBS, CNN, etc. None of them are Fox, howler-monkey, etc.

    Regardless of how Bush has done even worse with “executive privilege”, it’s clear that the Clintons were tied deeply into a big corruption ring.

    So at least we can get the howler monkeys and probably-worse George W. Bush off the table. This is just about the Clintons.

    And Sen. Obama does not have this in his past.

  7. No one was convicted of ANYTHING directly relating to Whitewater. Period. No one was convicted of covering up Whitewater. Period. There WERE some people who were INVESTIGATED during Whtiewater and then convicted, such as Jim Guy Tucker and Henry Cisneros, to name two, but their crimes had NOTHING to do with Whitewater. Cisneros was convicted of the dubious crime of “lying to the FBI” about paying money to a mistress. Again, not even remotely related to Whitewater. Read those links you sent. “Executive privilege” is not claiming you are above the law; it’s a valid legal argument, and one that Clinton lost on. I happen to think he had a good argument about deposing Secret Service agents and Presidents not being subject to civil process while in office, but the courts thought otherwise. Where is the “corruption ring”? As for Paula Jones, you are wrong on that, too. Clinton NEVER admitted to sexually harassing her, or to doing anything else with her. Her suit was tossed out of court and he then paid her a settlement that contained no admission of wrongdoing. Finally, I never said anything about Obama having baggage; I said he sounds naive and seems not to understand what the GOP is capable of. Hillary does. Does that make her a better candidate? No, not necessarily, especially if Democratic-leaning people such as yourself are willing to believe wholesale Republican fabrications against her. There are ways to argue persuasively that Obama would be a better nominee than Clinton without using spurious GOP talking points.

  8. Cisneros? He was not even on the list of Whitewater-related convicted felons that I provided. You are right that Cisneros is not Whitewater related, but I never claimd he was.

    Clinton settled on the Paula Jones case. Why settle in any way unless you are guilty of it?

    As for “believe wholesale Republican fabrications against” Hillary Clinton, that is why I used as my sources news/etc that is considered to be center, or a little left of it. None of these are GOP, or GOP “Talking Points” Hillary created the situation, not Republicans.

    (I left out the Republican/right created accusations, such as that she killed Vince Foster. So at least that silly thing is off the table. But I mention it just in case you argue that one against me, just like you argued that I had Cisneros in my presented linked list of Whitewater convictions.)

    I know you never claimed Obama had baggage. However, I am arguing that he is a much better candidate because he is clean, and his primary opponent is corrupt.

  9. You’re right. Cisneros wasn’t Whitewater. Jim Guy Tucker was. My point remains, however, that NOBODY was convicted on wrongdoing with regard to the Whitewater real estate deal. Several of the people who were investigated for Whitewater ended up being convicted of other things, but nothing related to Whitewater.

    “Why settle in any way unless you are guilty of it?”

    That’s not much of an argument. First, Clinton was never “guilty” of anything; this was a civil lawsuit, not a criminal prosecution. Second, people settle all the time, especially in situations where, like this one, they are facing an opponent who has unlimited funds to continue appealing the case. Third, what does Paula Jones have to do with Hillary Clinton? You still have yet to show me a single instance where she was found to have engaged in any wrongdoing whatsoever.

  10. I was referring to actual guilt, not court-guilt. Sometimes the two diverge.

    “Third, what does Paula Jones have to do with Hillary Clinton?”

    Hillary have it both ways, can she? She has meager experience, and loves to take credit for the successes of Bill Clinton. But not the failures, I guess.

  11. “I was referring to actual guilt, not court-guilt. Sometimes the two diverge.”

    I have no idea what the hell that is supposed to mean, unless it’s “Facts be damned I don’t give a crap what any court says, she’s guilty so don’t confuse me with facts.” If that’s the case, then you are definately parroting the GOP line.

    “She has meager experience, and loves to take credit for the successes of Bill Clinton. But not the failures, I guess.”

    I agree with you there. it’s pretty thin gruel to count her years being First Lady of Arkansas and the United States as public policy experience, especially considering her major public policy iniative (health care) was a political train-wreck.


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