Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Things about the Obama campaign that make me nervous.

1. By March 11, 2004 John Kerry had enough delegates to have the Democratic nomination in the bag. Post Super Tuesday 2000, Al Gore had over 2500 delegates. At this point, Obama’s lead over Hillary is about a third of the lead that Kerry March 2004 has over Obama’s April 2008 delegate count and a fifth of the lead Gore’s 2000 delegate count has over him, and that’s not even counting a month’s worth of primary’s totals for April for Kerry and Gore.*

Yet still I keep hearing that Hillary should resign because Obama is beating the pants off her and he’s clearly the people’s choice. (I even said so myself, though not in those terms, before I looked at the numbers. I’m going to change my position to “somebody should probably resign if only to save both candidates money, but I’m not calling for either candidate to do so.”)

2. The way we pick Democratic delegates does not reflect the way delegates will work in the fall election. Awesome that the five Democrats in Idaho picked Obama, but general-election-wise, so what? Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania generally are the ones who decide elections. Clinton polls better in all of them.

3. When Democratic officials made bad decisions in 2000 that ended up disenfranchising voters, people cared. Even looking at this purely pragmatically, y’all don’t think the folks in Florida are going to remember which candidate wanted their votes to count? If Obama wins the nomination, I’m sure the McCain camp will be happy to remind them how Obama favored mail-in voting in Congress, but rejected it when a state he was going to lose might be able to use it.

Yes, the Democratic officials in Florida and Michigan were the ones who screwed up. Much like it was Democrat screwups all around in Florida 2000. But I still think that Democrats in those two vital states are going to stay home if the guy who wanted their votes not to count is the Democratic nominee.

4. I just don’t like candidates who use emotion over reason as much as Obama does and I hate the way his supporters are talking about him and about Clinton. I’m tired of hearing criticisms of Obama being framed as “attacks on hope.” The man is not hope incarnate. He’s a politician. When the popular vote is with him and the delegate count isn’t, he says he really won. When the delegate count is with him and the popular vote isn’t, he also says he won. Duh, all politicians do that. I don’t hold the fact that he’s a politician against him. He hides it better than Clinton does, but when you get down to it, the tactics are a lot the same.

I’m tired of hearing Hillary’s offer to have Obama as a vice-president be called racist or at least demeaning, while Obama offering Gore (delegate count, March 2000: 2514) a job (not even the Vice Presidency) is a sign of Obama’s general awesomeness. WtF?

5. His most passionate supporters are so damn scary. You know how you can mention that the sky is blue and Robin Edgar can find a way to turn that into a negative thing about Unitarian Universalism or his church? Obama supporters are a little like that with Hillary Clinton. (E.g. Clinton just released her tax returns. It’s fascinating to watch people complain that the fact that she and Bill make a lot of money from speaking fees and/or complaint that they gave 10 percent of their income to charities and spin that as somehow less virtuous than the three percent Obama gave away. Huh?) Listening to Obama supporters feels like watching Fox News.

Also, it creeps me out how many Obama supporters say that if Clinton does win, they won’t vote for her.

How did “Dean or Green” work out in 2004? Not very well.


Anyway, I’m planning to vote for the guy come November if he wins the nomination. I don’t mind politicians. But I’m still nervous.

CC
Ducking and covering.


* That is all very awkwardly phrased. The simple version is “Kerry and Gore had their nominations more than sewn up a full month before now. If Obama is the people’s choice, why aren’t more people voting for him?”

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good luck getting your comments heard fairly in the UU blogoverse. I've had the same misgivings about Obama and his supporters as you (balanced with some very serious misgivings about Clinton and her people), but when voiced online the Obamaniac claws always seem to come out. There seems to be no perspective in the pro-Obama camp, or worse yet, a willful refusal of perspective. The worst part of all is how many Obama people can't see how nasty they're being, including toward other people with near identical values and policy desires who are members of their own party and often admire much about Mr. Obama. There's no acknowledgment of crossing the line, just knee-jerk assertions that Clinton or her cronies are even worse. Just read the UUpdates ticker daily, you'll see a litany of how Clinton is tantamount to the anti-Christ but not much about McCain. I've been ever so slowly drifting toward Obama (my primary is coming up soon), but I'm really, really reluctant to be lumped in with such a crowd. (A true shame: there are some awesome people whom I respect who support Obama, and haven't displayed any of the unsavory behavior of their peers. But they get associated with those whose rhetoric is just extreme, it's too bad).

UURepublican said...

I could not agree with you more, CC.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you flunk out of a Master's program in Political Science?

Richard Fritzson said...

Dear anonymous, while I'm not a big fan of either of the two Democratic candidates, I prefer Obama primarily because of how well run his campaign is and because I enjoy being talked to as if I were a real thinking person and not some stereotype. However, the on-line arguments I see in favor of one or the other always seem the same (see below). Judging candidates by the behavior of their most vocal on-line supporters is pretty much a pointless activity. Don't think of yourself as part of that crowd. Just make your decision for whatever reasons you have and vote.

Obama supporters expect him to get the nomination because he has more pledged delegates and a larger share of the popular vote. If you hold elections, even if they're primaries, people expect them to matter. Because of that, a technical analysis of why Obama might not be the better candidate in the fall just isn't going to impress his supporters. Ditto for arguments about why the rules for Florida and Michigan should be changed now, in the middle of the vote counting process. Is the latter a problem for the Democrats? Maybe. But it's not as bad a problem as having held a majority in Congress for two years and not done anything to end the war.

regards,
Rich

Your comments are just about perfect for this. Not making fun of them, I'm just pointing out that I could say this to any Obama supporter and they would just nod in agreement.

I've had the same misgivings about Clinton and her supporters as you (balanced with some very serious misgivings about Obama and his people), but when voiced at party meetings the Clinton claws always seem to come out. There seems to be no perspective in the pro-Clinton camp, or worse yet, a willful refusal of perspective. The worst part of all is how many Clinton people can't see how nasty they're being, including toward other people with near identical values and policy desires who are members of their own party and often admire much about Mrs. Clinton. There's no acknowledgment of crossing the line, just knee-jerk assertions that Obama or his cronies are even worse.

Chalicechick said...

No, I didn’t flunk out. I decided I hated grad school more than I wanted a Masters Degree that likely wouldn’t help me get a job anyway. It sounds like a shortsighted decision on paper, but I’ve never regretted it. Indeed, I think it’s amazing I stuck it out as long as I did given how unhappy theCSO and I both were.

I'm much happier in law school and my peers are human, which helps.

Oh, and if the fact that I dropped out of grad school is a reason to discount what I’m saying, then you’re one of the people I’m talking about.

CC
who does occasionally tire of getting insulted on her own blog.

h sofia said...

If one judged by online bloggers, Ron Paul would be way more significant than he is, so I wouldn't put too much stock in that. Of course, the reason he isn't significant is because the Republican Party has ostracized him (he's raised a ton of money - and has more money from military service people than any candidate).

The blogosphere is not as crucial (to use a coined phrase) as it seems to those of us who are in it.

I voted months ago in my state's primary; which didn't really count anyway because my state only goes by delegates, apparently. So I'm not following this stuff until it's time to vote again. Otherwise, my neck would get sore from all the back-and-forth action.

Sometimes my hubby tries to talk to me about it, and I have to give him the hand. "Nope. I'm not getting caught up in the drama."

Chalicechick said...

(((But it's not as bad a problem as having held a majority in Congress for two years and not done anything to end the war.)))

What do you suggest?

CC

Chalicechick said...

(((Ron Paul would be way more significant than he is, so I wouldn't put too much stock in that. ))

He's a non-entity now because of the racist newsletters, but even with them coming out well before Super Tuesday he came in third for the nomination with pretty much zero support from the Republican party.

That seems pretty significant to me.

CC

Louis Merlin said...

Seems to me there is a lack of perspective all the way around. I keep telling people that no matter who becomes presidential - including McCain - we'll be better off that we are now.

On the other side, I have to admit that Obama is pushing some very powerful buttons for me. I desperately want to be for my country and not just against Pres. Bush. I want a left wing political leader who does not just triangulate to 'get results', but speaks up for progressive values (see George Lakoff, Rockridge Institute).

The thing that worries me about Clinton is that we had eight years of Clinton before. Bill was a good president - but the country became more conservative during his tenure, rather than more progressive.

In the long run, we need not just new policies, but a new dialogue about what are the values that make this country great (i.e. taking care of each other, protecting the environment, spreading opportunity, etc.) Right now, only Obama is making this dialogue happen.

Robin Edgar said...

What will Democrats do when John McCain chooses Condi Rice as his running mate? ;-)

Robin Edgar said...

:CC who does occasionally tire of getting insulted on her own blog.

Yes, it must be almost as bad as being insulted in your own home or in your own U*U church or something. . .

Tyler said...

I have a few responses, and a disclaimer. Also, my answer is long. I apologize in advance.

The disclaimer: I support Hillary Clinton, and for reasons I don't wish to go into here, I believe that she will make an excellent president. Having said that, the rest of this post will probably sound like it's written by an "Obamafile".

Now for the responses:

1 -- "I keep hearing that Hillary should resign because Obama is beating the pants off her"

I have heard only two superdelegates express anything close to this statement (Leahy and Dodd) and both of their statements are so filled with "if..." statements that -- when read in context -- make a lot of sense. I noticed you don't have references here, only "I keep hearing...". On the blogosphere, the only people whom I respect who make those statements usually say something like this: "If the only way she can win the nomination is to persue a scorched earth policy then she should get out of the race now", which is a *very* different statement, and a statement with which I agree (and I hope you do too). And up until about 10 days ago (before the Mark Penn controversy) the scorched earth policy appeared to be her campaign method of choice. There seems to have been a noticeable change in her rhetoric since the start of April, and while I appreciate this change, it's also corresponded with an overall drop in her poll numbers.

Other statements on this matter have usually gone like this: "Once the primaries are complete in early June, the superdelegates should start their endorsements quickly so we don't end up with an internecine convention floor fight in August. Once one candidate (presumeably Obama) had enough pledged delegates and superdelegate public-endorsements to attain the nomination, the other (presumeably Clinton) should drop out". That's also a statement I agree with. We don't need another 1980 convention, where Ted Kennedy kept running long after Jimmy Carter secured the nomination. As a Kennedy supporter in 1980, I remember the nasty feelings all around -- feelings that made it very difficult for Carter to nail down his base. In my opinion, Ted Kennedy's continued fight (and is incredible DNC speech) was one of several reasons that Jimmy Carter lost in 1980.

2 -- You don't seem to believe that "Obama is beating the pants off of her".

On this, we have to disagree. The overall incompetence of Hillary Clinton's campaign has been a major source of frustration for me. This was a candidate who had a 100 superdelegate lead before the first primary vote was cast, had the most expreienced organization working in her corner, and has proceeded to run a campaign that looks like a high-budget version of the keystone cops. There is no secret to winning caucus states. Organization, message and getting your supporters to the polls. Winning caucus states is what the primary game is all about, and in this respect, Clinton's ground game has been an absolute disaster -- she's lost EVERY caucus. We can argue whether caucuses "represent the vote of the people" -- they don't -- but at least a third of the primary game results come from caucus voters.

As evidence of her electoral demise, I present to you the numbers from demconwatch.blogspot.com:

As of today, the pledged delegates: 1415 to Obama, 1255 to Clinton, with about 435 delegates remaining. Barring extreme results (40 point wins for Clinton in every state from here on out), Obama will win the primary voter's race, by a final margin of 150-200.
Then there will be the superdelegate endorsements.
As of today, that score is 245 for Clinton, 221 for Obama, with 327 undeclared. While these numbers may change, the trend for the past month has been a constant drip drip drip toward Obama. 2 months ago, Clinton's lead among SDs was 100. Now it's 24, and in the past several weeks, the ratio of endorsements has been running almost 8-1 against Clinton. Not good.

The basic issue here is that, at this point in time, Clinton's chances for winning the nomination are -- and I believe I'm being generous -- about 10%. Right now, she's losing, and partly because she was the odds-on favorite coming into the race, her loss is major. Now, Obama could self destruct, or someone could find a skeleton (literally?) in his closet, or the voters and superdelegates could suddenly view his candidacy with fear and migrate en-mass toward Clinton. But none of these are likely scenarios. If I were her, I would start preparing for an exit strategy for her campaign, for a continued fight through July and August won't do any Democrat any good.


3 -- "I'm tired of hearing Hillary's offer to have Obama as a vice-president be called racist or at least demeaning"

Now, when I heard her statement, I too was offended -- and I support her! The sentiment that he -- who has run an exceptional campaign and is in the lead -- should accept the role of underling, struck me as a poor choice of words to express a potentially good idea. Here's how it sounded to me: "With my hard work and experience, and your hustle and charisma, you should be my sidekick". Now regardless of the intent of that statement, it *does* have a ring of insult to it, don't you agree?

4 -- "Obama offering Gore (delegate count, March 2000: 2514) a job (not even the Vice Presidency) is a sign of Obama’s general awesomeness. WtF?"

Obama's statements to Gore (who has NOT endorsed him, btw) were an example of HOW TO make such a statement. Unlike Clinton's offer, a potentially good idea that handled in a clumsy manner, Obama's request (it wasn't even an offer) was handled very well. When you look at Obama's actual offer to Gore, he's not offering him ANY position at all beyond advisory, which from watching Gore's career over the past 4 years, may be exactly what Gore wants. The difference here was that Clinton made Obama an offer that sounded self-serving and insincere, even if it wasn't. Obama's offer sounded genuine, even if it was purely self-serving. Once again, Obama projects an image of himself as wanting to be surrounded by competent advisors, Clinton projects an image of someone who uses politians to suit her goals. And in a political campaign, image is everything.

5 -- "His most passionate supporters are so damn scary. "

Agreed, and so are many of her most passionate supporters. We Unitarian Universalists have a hard time with passion. Our services are low key, we read the words of our hymns before we sing them, and we generally spurn the idea of supernaturalism and inspiration in favor of reason and rationality. But like religion, politics is all about the arousal of passion in supporters. Lack of passion is (one reason) why Dukakis lost in 1988, Bush lost in 1992, Gore lost in 2000, and why Kerry lost in 2004. It's why Reagan is considered to be a demigod amongst Republicans, but Bill Clinton -- who's average job approval rating was higher than Reagan's -- is simply considered to be a "pretty good president" by Democrats. I have to confess, as a UU, passionate and unwavering support causes me some nervousness, but I try not to judge the candidates by their most zealous followers. I try to judge them by their own words and their own actions. And on those measuring sticks, Obama does well. As does Hillary Clinton.

6 -- "Also, it creeps me out how many Obama supporters say that if Clinton does win, they won’t vote for her."

Yes, that worries me too, though that seems to happen on both sides of this divide (polls actually indicate that more Clinton supporters make this statement than Obama supporters, but I hear your concern). It's the passionate supporters who look at the person and not the message who say this. Romney and Huckabee supporters said this about McCain's candidacy, and now most of them are silent (or are actively trying to foment conflict between Clinton and Obama).


You also mention the recent flap over the Clintons' wealth. As far as the money issue goes, that's a non-issue to me, and to most people. Having said that, 90% of $100 million is a lot more than 97% of $1 million. But personally both candidates have a lot more money than I do, and I expect that at the end of Obama's candidacy or presidency, he'll soon start to make a lot of money as well. He might even approach the earning power of many of his Harvard Law Review alumni :-). My suggestion on nonissues like this: just ignore the people who make a big deal of it. Obama himself (and his campaign) doesn't seem to make much of it, so why listen to his most zealous followers?

At any rate, I think we basically agree. As policy-centrists, Obama and Clinton will make good representatives for Democratic Party values, and this campaign season has been pretty nasty. But both candidates have their blind followers (as to the Republicans), and because of the overall closeness of his campaign and ease of writing in blogs, the most ardent supporters are able to make themselves heard. And yes, many of them are crazy. We just don't need to listen to them.

Thanks for reading

Tyler

Robin Edgar said...

CC said: You know how you can mention that the sky is blue and Robin Edgar can find a way to turn that into a negative thing about Unitarian Universalism or his church?

Yup. . . ;-)

ogre said...

CC, remember that the common wisdom is that anonymous criticism is usually the droppings of an anonymous coward.

Tyler--awesome analysis. I'm just over the other side of the fence, but most of what you said seems spot on. to me.

Robin, it occurs to me that maybe you think you're being cute, clever and endearing--or that this behavior will move minds and hearts. It's none of the above. Which may not bear on the justice of your case and cause--but it pushes people to not feel like caring enough to even look. Just for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

Rich, I agree that Obama's campaign has been way better run. In fact, that's not a strong enough statement, since Obama's campaign has been awesome and Clinton's has been awful. I honestly don't know if I've ever seen a major campaign run as well as his so far.

But when you parody my remarks, I think you're missing my intent. Perhaps you've seen Clinton people act that way toward Obama people in other venues (I haven't, but I can believe it). What I was trying to be specific in talking about though was UU circles. That's why I referenced UUism online twice. I cannot recall ever seeing a UU Clinton supporter get nasty about Obama online.

On the other hand, every single day a bunch of different UU Obama supporters say pretty nasty things about Clinton, things I'd be uncomfortable about us saying about conservatives, let alone a close cousin like Clinton. As religious people, I hope that we have more perspective, more humility, and more appreciation for other people and their ideas than is being displayed by that camp. Just as one example that comes to mind, it is theologically-inappropriate to me to label any human being a monster. But not one single UU Obama supporter that I encountered questioned this kind of dismissive labeling--instead, they rushed to document how Clinton is in fact not a member of the human race and lacks inherent worth or dignity. So my disappointment isn't so much at random Obamaniacs--after all, there are always crazies in every party. It is at UUs who are poisonous in their talk about Clinton and her supporters (UUs included), and have no ability to recognize this fact about themselves.

UUs have beat up Bush and his cronies for years because they can't ever acknowledge wrongdoing or take responsibility when they cross the line. But it turns out a bunch of UU Obamaniacs can't see their own actions either. I simply haven't seen such divisive behavior on the part of UU Clinton supporters. I'm not in either camp, but if I were I hope I'd be able to keep some perspective, both toward my candidate and toward my own actions, words, and values. I like Obama and will probably end up voting for him, but the actions of some of his supporters genuinely make me feel sad.

Even in this thread, no Obama supporter steps forward and says, yeah, we have crossed lines and we have done damage to the party too. It just doesn't happen. Obama supporters don't apologize, and don't display self-awareness. All they ever seem to do is come back with stuff about how the Clinton camp is worse, as if that somehow justifies themselves. I come away from encounters with most pro-Obama UUs depressed, not hopeful.

This isn't said to make anyone angry. It's just an account of how this non-aligned, religiously-motived, politically liberal voter is reacting to everything.

Satori said...

If the fact that Obama doesn't have the nomination wrapped up makes you nervous about him, how does the fact that Hillary doesn't make you feel about her?

To compare this race to the last two Democratic primaries, Kerry vs. Dean and Gore vs. Bradley, isn't Clinton on the Kerry/Gore side? She's the establishment candidate. I'm not sure how the fact that Obama has inched out a delegate lead over someone who Conventional Wisdom said would have this wrapped up by Super Tuesday shows a weakness in his campaign.

Chalicechick said...

(((If the fact that Obama doesn't have the nomination wrapped up makes you nervous about him, how does the fact that Hillary doesn't make you feel about her?)))

It makes me feel that she could loose the election perfectly fairly and that anyone who beat her would not necessarily have stolen the race. It makes me feel that “the people” have not made a clear choice and that nobody has a mandate for the way the campaign should be run.

I've certainly never heard an Obama supporter say anything like that.

As for Hilary as the "Establishment" candidate, how many anti-establishment senators do you know? The Clintons were middle class before they got involved in national politics.

Both candidates are pretty establishment, IMHO. Edwards was, too.

CC
who has concerns about Hillary as well, but prefers her to McCain.

And who doesn't have a problem with someone being a member of the establishment, as long as they are using those connections to get things done.

Robin Edgar said...

:CC, remember that the common wisdom is that anonymous criticism is usually the droppings of an anonymous coward.

That's my take on anonymous criticism when it is obviously offensive and cowardly Ogre. Now what did you say your real name was? I seem to recall you dishing out some rather cowardly anonymous and/or pseudonymous criticism here and there on the internet. . .

:Robin, it occurs to me that maybe you think you're being cute, clever and endearing--or that this behavior will move minds and hearts. It's none of the above. Which may not bear on the justice of your case and cause--but it pushes people to not feel like caring enough to even look. Just for what it's worth.

Which is not very much Ogre. . . Most U*Us, including you, have long ago demonstrated that they don't care enough to look at my case let alone respond to it in a manner that lives up to U*U principles and purposes. CC made a stupid comment about me in her blog post so I responded to it in a manner that I consider to be quite appropriate. For the record the sky over the Unitarian Church of Montréal was indeed blue when the rather less than intelligent designer Aurélien Guillory stole my picket sign in mid-February.

Chalicechick said...

Robin, if you proved that you could turn a comment about the sky being blue into a reference to your concerns about UCM, why on Earth was it stupid for me to say that you could?

CC

h sofia said...

CC wrote: "That seems pretty significant to me."

I'm not saying Ron Paul isn't significant. But there's a big gap between how significant he *should* be and how significant he is in the race (21 pledged delegates to Romney and Huckabee's 250+).

Robin Edgar said...

Simple CC. Your comment insinuated that it was my habit to turn totally inoccuous comments into criticism of U*Us and/or U*Uism. In fact I rarely do that. The type of comments that I do turn into criticism of U*Us are comments that are "on topic" to various aspects of what I am criticizing, like this one for example. All I did in response to your stupid comment was to demonstrate that, thanks to the sheer volume of accumulated posts on the internet, almost any combination of words containing my name and a reference to Unitarians can bring up a bunch of Google search results. I did think that the blue sky one was quite good though, especially since it brought up one of my more humorous TEA blog posts about a fairly recent example of U*U stupidity.

PG said...

Ron Paul's significance was exaggerated by his drawing the support of anti-war Republicans and libertarians (realizing that there's some overlap between the two). It doesn't surprise me that someone who is the opposite of the rest of the candidates on one major issue would be able to come in third, particularly when he was pulling supporters into GOP primaries who don't normally vote in them. (Speaking of which, Hillary's victories in some open primary states are slightly tainted by the number of registered Republicans who were being directed to vote for her by Rush Limbaugh. This does mean that those primaries are not reliable predictors for whether she'd pull those same voters for the general election.)

I'm an Obama fan and I also find some of his supporters silly and excessive. I liked the first will.i.am "Yes we can" video because I thought it showed that supporters were agreeing with Obama's *ideas*, but the one with people just chanting "O-ba-ma" was creepy.

On the other hand, I find the idea of comparing where Kerry and Gore were in delegate numbers, to where Obama is now, also kind of silly. Gore was a foregone conclusion; Kerry just had to win that first primary to show that Dean's support was mostly the internet. They faced no competition as strong as Sen. Clinton. I don't think Clinton should leave the race because Obama is "clearly the people's choice"; I do think she should leave because I don't think she can win a general election against McCain, and that's what we have to care about. Her negatives are too high, and she is not attracting many people who identify as moderates or conservatives. I haven't seen any conservatives cross the line for Clinton, whereas we are seeing that with Andrew Sullivan, Douglas Kmiec and others. If there is something about Obama that the Republicans are likely to pull out and use against him, that is sufficient to make him lose the general, then the Clinton campaign needs to say what it is instead of just intimating that he hasn't been fully "vetted."

Satori said...

{{{
As for Hilary as the "Establishment" candidate, how many anti-establishment senators do you know? The Clintons were middle class before they got involved in national politics.
)))

I'm not trying to say that Obama is anti-establishment. Clearly anti-establishment candidates (such as Gravel and Kucinich) don't get this far. Just that most of the current upper echelon of the Democratic Party was backing Hillary early.

Between her greater support from influentials in the party and her greater name recognition, nobody was going to blow her out of the water early. And frankly, I think if Obama (or Edwards) was 150 delegates down to Hillary right now, the press would have already declared this thing as over.

(((
And who doesn't have a problem with someone being a member of the establishment, as long as they are using those connections to get things done.
)))

I agree. And some of those establishment figures (such as Terry McAuliffe) are "establishment" because Bill Clinton put them there. If Obama becomes President, his people become the establishment.

I just don't think that the fact that it takes time to beat the person with the most name recognition and the most institutional support is troubling. I think it's expected.

Robin Edgar said...

Satori said: I just don't think that the fact that it takes time to beat the person with the most name recognition and the most institutional support is troubling. I think it's expected.

Yes that principle applies quite generally. It even applies to winning conflicts caused by intolerant and abusive U*U ministers who have "name recognition" and no shortage of institutional support from the UUA and the individual U*U "churches" they preside over. . .

I can't help but notice how some of the other critical comments in this thread apply so very well to U*Us much more generally. . .

Here is a slight reworking of what "Anonymous" said -

On the other hand, every single month a bunch of different UU Drennan supporters say pretty nasty things about Edgar, things I'd be uncomfortable about us saying about Christians, let alone a close cousin like Edgar. As religious people, I hope that we have more perspective, more humility, and more appreciation for other people and their ideas than is being displayed by that camp. Just as one example that comes to mind, it is professionally-inappropriate to me to label a congregant as psychotic. But not one single UU Drennan supporter that I encountered questioned this kind of defamatory labeling--instead, they rushed to allege how Edgar is in fact not a member of the human race and lacks inherent worth or dignity. So my disappointment isn't so much at random Drennaniacs--after all, there are always crazies in every religion. It is at UUs who are poisonous in their talk about Edgar and his supporters (UUs included), and have no ability to recognize this fact about themselves.

UUs have beat up Edgar for years because they can't ever acknowledge wrongdoing or take responsibility when they cross the line. Even in this decade, no Drennan supporter steps forward and says, yeah, we have crossed lines and we have done damage to the U*U religion too. It just doesn't happen. Drennan supporters don't apologize, and don't display self-awareness. All they ever seem to do is come back with stuff about how the Edgar camp is worse, as if that somehow justifies themselves. I come away from encounters with most pro-Drennan UUs depressed, not hopeful.

PG said...

"I just don't think that the fact that it takes time to beat the person with the most name recognition and the most institutional support is troubling. I think it's expected."

This is particularly relevant when considering Florida and Michigan, states where Obama did not campaign.* I don't think there's been a single state where Obama's numbers fell after he'd spent some time there -- he's sort of the reverse-Giuliani in that respect. Some polls today show Clinton only 6 points ahead in PA.

So far as I know, Obama had no problem with having re-runs of Michigan and Florida that would give him the opportunity to campaign there. What troubled him was not having that chance because of mail-in votes smushed into the middle of the existing campaign calendar that would endanger his ability to give time to every state. He does not have Clinton's name recognition and established base of financial supporters, and especially back when Michigan and Florida were voting, the policy areas in which he and Clinton differed were not as well known. His campaign has been working its tail off and recruiting volunteers like crazy (I'm going to PA next week for 4 days -- all I can spare -- to do my bit on GOTV.)

As for whether Obama's or Clinton's supporters are the ones more likely to fail to vote for a Democrat if their candidate doesn't make it to the general election: the split I've seen is that the Reagan Democrats who support Clinton will say that they'll vote for McCain rather than Obama; the moderates and conservatives who like Obama will not vote for Clinton. I don't know how many there are in each category, but I'm frankly more irked at the former than the latter. What's the point of calling yourself a Democrat if you'll dump the party's nominee based not on policy but on personality? (Pretty much by definition, the original Reagan Dems voted for Carter in 1976 but were fed up with his incompetence by 1980.) In contrast, it's quite an accomplishment for Obama to have pulled moderates toward him, considering that McCain is a moderate Republican (pro-reform, critical of the conduct of the war, anti-torture, etc.).

* Spare me the claim that an ad buy on national networks that necessarily include Florida = campaigning in Florida. And of course Obama wasn't even on the ballot for Michigan.

Mark said...

The way we pick Democratic delegates does not reflect the way delegates will work in the fall election. Awesome that the five Democrats in Idaho picked Obama, but general-election-wise, so what? Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania generally are the ones who decide elections. Clinton polls better in all of them.

Not that it will (or should) necessarily change how you look at it, but I want to point out that "Obama would be losing if the primaries were all-or-nothing" tends to assume that Obama would have run with the exact same campaign strategy under those conditions.

Also, the question isn't "do voters in key states prefer Clinton to Obama right now" as much as "will voters in key states prefer either Obama or Clinton to McCain." Time will tell, I guess.

Re: Obama and rhetoric, I think this post addressing the "it's just a trick!" phenomenon in a broad sense, including politics, is worth reading.

Chalicechick said...

(((I want to point out that "Obama would be losing if the primaries were all-or-nothing" tends to assume that Obama would have run with the exact same campaign strategy under those conditions)))

I'm sure you're right, but at the same time, any strategy that doesn't focus on swing states is not a good strategy, IMHO.

I wouldn't advise going negative in swing states, but yeah, you should probably be doing your best campaigning there otherwise.

((Also, the question isn't "do voters in key states prefer Clinton to Obama right now" as much as "will voters in key states prefer either Obama or Clinton to McCain." Time will tell, I guess.)))

I guess. And I'm sure it's possible that more people could prefer Clinton over Obama, but Obama would be more likely to win over McCain, but it seems weird and not likely.

I have trouble imagining that McCain is going to energise the base, so I think either democrat has an excellent shot.


As for the "Magic" post, I think it leaves out a crucial distinction. Yes, it's annoying to dispel the illusion for people who know that it's a trick but are enjoying the skill with which it's done. But if I heard people after a magic show going "That man must have been blessed by God to have such wonderful powers. If he could make a bouquet appear out of thin air, imagine what he could do to end world hunger," I don't think I would be out of line in wanting to mention that it was in fact, a show. An awesome show, but a show.

Along the same lines, saying "Umm... You do realize that Obama is NOT the living embodiment of hope and dreams, but is, in fact, a really skillful politician" is a perfetly reasonable thing to do when Obama's weirder supporters start implying otherwise, IMHO.

CC

PG said...

I guess. And I'm sure it's possible that more people could prefer Clinton over Obama, but Obama would be more likely to win over McCain, but it seems weird and not likely.

You're assuming that Democratic primary voters in swing states are similar to the whole set of general election voters. It's quite common that someone who is more popular with the base of a party will be less electable in the general election, because the base-popular person is too extreme for the moderates he needs to grab in the general. The need to keep appealing to the base is why Obama and Clinton are both dissing NAFTA and Clinton fired her campaign chief b/c he was lobbying for a similar trade deal for Colombia.

I think McCain in 2000, for example, could have won cleanly over Gore, but he wasn't popular with the Republican base. He still isn't, but the Republicans are aware that their candidate needs to appeal to the middle.

Thus in swing states, Clinton might be preferred over Obama by Democratic primary voters, but Obama might be preferred over McCain by all general election voters.

I have trouble imagining that McCain is going to energise the base, so I think either democrat has an excellent shot.

Keep in mind that there's a reasonable argument for the Republicans' having gotten out the base in recent elections by energizing social conservatives *against* something they hate, rather than particularly *for* someone they love. For example, in 2004, it was the slew of ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage. (If the CA Supreme Court decides that SSM is required under the state constitution, there's already a group that has nearly reached its goal for the number of signatures necessary to get a constitutional amendment against SSM on the November ballot. Personally I think in California, this is likely to ensure a Democratic victory as SSM supporters show up to vote against the ballot initiative, where they otherwise wouldn't have bothered because everyone knows CA goes Dem. But you can see how it had the reverse effect in places like Ohio, which had a ballot initiative in 2004 and went for Bush quite narrowly.)

One of my worries about Clinton as the Democratic candidate is that I think she energizes the Republican base against her. Admittedly, that base may now be equally terrified of an Obama presidency as they were of a Clinton one, thanks to the Muslim/ flag pin and unpatriotic wife/ Jeremiah Wright stuff, but as of the beginning of this year, Clinton looked much more likely than Obama to scare Republicans into showing up for McCain.

Mark said...

I'm sure you're right, but at the same time, any strategy that doesn't focus on swing states is not a good strategy, IMHO...you should probably be doing your best campaigning there otherwise.

I think I would agree with you if all the primaries were held at the same time, just like all the November elections by state are held at the same time.

Along the same lines, saying "Umm... You do realize that Obama is NOT the living embodiment of hope and dreams, but is, in fact, a really skillful politician" is a perfetly reasonable thing to do when Obama's weirder supporters start implying otherwise, IMHO.

Oh, sure, definitely. But I think Obama has been good at making that same point himself: at least when I've heard him talk on the subject, he's been careful to say that he doesn't think he can Change The World, just that he thinks he can help get it pointed more in the right direction. Some people really respond to that, in an "If Obama opens the door, we'll walk through and do the work on the other side" kind of way.

epilonious said...

"They ignore you, they laugh at you, they fight you, you win"

Looks like it's stage three for Clinton Fans against Obamaniacs.

Otherwise, I loved this summary, it's pretty much exactly what I was thinking and it boils down to "they are a bit to zealous and that is scary to me."

PG said...

Certainly Mrs. Obama does her best to remind everyone that her husband is human, to the point that some columnists have wondered why she always tells deprecating stories about him. Then again, I'm pretty sure it's in the vows when you get married, "promise to love, honor but not let you get too big a head." I wonder if we would see fewer political sex scandals if more wives were monitoring their husbands' egos.

kim said...

Interestingly, when I listen to the callers on the radio, it's the Clinton people who accuse the radio personality of Clinton bashing if they say anything that could be remotely construed as negative about Hillary, even just quoting her. Obama's fan are for the most part much more calm and accepting of comments.
Since my experience is the opposite of yours, perhaps it's just the audiences we are listening to.