One Person's Opinion

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008
I support Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. Indeed, the supposed political brilliance of the Clintons has always eluded me-- Bill Clinton got less than 50 percent of the vote twice against crappy opposition, he lost the Congress in 1994 for the first time in 50 years because the public was so dissatisfied with his performance, he was impeached in 1998 because he decided to lie in a deposition and drag the country through 8 months of further lies until he was caught dead to rights, and while he ran the country well enough (especially on budgetary issues and the economy), he failed to accomplish anything particularly meaningful in eight years.

And Hillary, of course, ran health care into the ground (without even proposing a liberal plan in the first instance), won a Senate seat by leapfrogging over more impressive New York politicians like Nita Lowey who had paid their dues for years, and didn't accomplish anything in the Senate except voting for the war in Iraq, the biggest American foreign policy disaster since Vietnam.

Nonetheless, while tonight's loss in North Carolina and virtual tie in Indiana will increase the volume of calls for her to get out of the race, I don't have any particular desire to join the chorus. Why? Because I think the arguments for that-- the alleged harm of attacks against Obama and the need for a "unified" convention-- are entirely overrated.

First, it is important to note that Clinton, while in second place, is not far behind. In truth, if she could convince superdelegates to vote for her, she could still wrest the nomination away from Obama. (She won't do that, but that doesn't mean that she is mathematically out.) In the old days, a candidate with Clinton's level of support would have certainly been permitted to take her cause to the convention.

Why, then, must she drop out after winning more votes than any second place finisher in history? Allegedly, it is because her attacks on Obama are helping the Republicans. But are they? First, her attacks are fairly mild-- she is careful to praise Obama often, and making stupid arguments about a gas tax holiday is hardly a historic example of dirty politics. And forcing Obama to respond to mild attacks probably does him some good as a candidate.

Second, there seems to be this abiding conviction that the political conventions need to be shows of unity. But why? I'll let you in on a dirty little secret. Nobody watches conventions anymore. People don't care about them. Networks don't cover them. They may be slickly produced, expensive infomercials, but they are completely inconsequential ones.

Except-- if a convention actually decided something, people would watch. Indeed, a contested Democratic convention would be the best thing to happen to Democratic politics in years. While the Republican snoozefest would be ignored, millions of Americans would tune in to see the Clinton folks do battle for the nomination. Yes, there would be some disunity on display. But this would also mean that millions of Americans would hear Democrats giving speeches on Democratic issues, like health care, the economy, and opposition to the Iraq War. While in politics, unlike some other parts of life, there is such a thing as bad publicity, in this scenario, the good would clearly outweigh the bad.

So let Hillary take her cause and her delegates to the convention. She earned it, and it's good for the party. But I do wish she'd shut up about that gas tax.


Nope. Divided we fall.

I can't see McCain actually winning, but they only way he might is if the Dems are divided against themselves.

So far, as the campaign has dragged on, the infighting amongst the base has become worse. If it goes to late August, and requires a back-room decision, the party will be severely divided. There is already open nursing of revenge-voting fantasies going on, and it's only early May.
It's nice that somebody's paying attention. Senator Clinton has repeatedly stated that she'll support Senator Obama if he wins the nomination (just as he has said he would support her), her attacks on him aren't particularly harsh compared to modern general elections or primary campaigns in the past (ditto for his attacks on her), and the Democratic base will eventually rally around the nominee same as always. Meanwhile, the primary is getting new Democrats registered in each state it goes to and keeping attention focused on our party. Let it go on.
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