Monday, February 18, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

If, as expected, [Hillary Clinton] loses Wisconsin – and loses big – she will have two weeks to watch Obama work his magic in Texas and Ohio. She will be outspent and outgunned everywhere by an Obama organization that suddenly can do no wrong. It is very possible that her own double digit poll leads in both states will vanish and by March 4 Hillary Clinton will be fighting for her political life.

Can she hold off this juggernaut anywhere? It seems that as each succeeding contest moves to the fore in the Democratic race, Obama’s numbers skyrocket and hers plummets. It’s as if once voters start to concentrate on a race, they abandon Hillary like yesterday’s stale donuts and attach themselves to Obama’s crusade.

Frankly, unless she can level the playing field, she’s toast. And by level the field I mean she has to find a way to bring Obama’s campaign back down to earth from that elevated, ethereal plane it currently occupies – somewhere between a religious movement and a revolutionary army.


Harold Ickes, a guy who voted to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates, is now arguing they should be seated at the convention.


It's a tad early for buyer's remorse. Still, many grassroots Democrats, chastened by experience in recent presidential elections, are already thinking hard about electability - and whether Barack Obama, so new to the national stage, has the right stuff to successfully withstand Republican attacks. Some of the primary voters in Wisconsin, Texas, and Ohio are surely wondering about this; some of the uncommitted superdelegates, who may be called upon to choose between Obama and Hillary Clinton in the wake of a stalemate, are undoubtedly wondering as well.

And then we have this today, from the GOP-friendly commentator Fred Barnes: "Every poll I've seen this year shows that Obama would attract far more independents in the general election against a Republican than (Hillary) Clinton would. Indeed, there's a growing consensus among both Republican and Democratic strategists that Obama would be the stronger general election candidate. He may be more liberal than Clinton, but by almost every other yardstick he's a more appealing candidate."

Perhaps that might calm the nerves of Democrats who are fretting about the downside of Obamamania . . . unless they decide that Barnes is just playing with their heads, hoping to lure Democrats into picking the candidate whom the GOP secretly believes is weaker. Paranoid? Probably. But that's what happens to the mind after losing two close national elections.


I must admit something I never thought I'd say: I find Hillary Clinton more of a mystery, perhaps a more complex character in a novelistic sense, than Richard Nixon. And she's one that, unlike Nixon, history may never completely figure out. I'd almost want to see her become president just to solve the mystery. Although a Hillary administration might actually compound it.


[T]he Clinton team has run a pretty good campaign. Better, indeed, than what I thought they'd run. It may or may not prove to be enough, and looking back, there will surely be identifiable mistakes and botched opportunities. But, in general, I think Clinton's problems were, on the one hand, voting for the Iraq War, and on the other, running against a staggeringly talented insurgent who combined the traditional "wine track" strengths with overwhelming support among African-Americans and huge media power. Neither of those were really messaging or fundraising problems as such.

Insofar as her campaign made mistakes, it was in existing. One of the recurrent themes in my experience of the primary is that I like Hillary Clinton (and, for that matter, her policy shop) a lot better than I like the "Hillary Clinton campaign" (the press shop, the consultants, the blind quotes, etc) and "the Hillary Clinton campaign as explained by a petulant Bill Clinton." During periods when I see more of Hillary Clinton and less of her campaign, I'm more favorably disposed. During periods when I see less of Hillary Clinton and more of her campaign, I'm less favorably disposed.


Those who oppose him in both parties are attacking Barack Obama with a double-barreled cultural stereotype, the old film noir thesis that good looks can be deceptive combined with a Jim Jones analogy about followers suicidally drinking in hope with laced Kool-Aid.


Clinton is ultimately responsible for putting her political fate in this fool's [Mark Penn] hands. But this is a guy who has basically one big political win under his belt and whose record in seriously contested races, particularly Democratic primary races is one of almost constant defeats. Much of Clinton's current predicament stems from Penn's disastrous, glass-jaw 'inevitability' strategy and the mind-boggling decision not even to contest a slew of states where Obama racked up huge victories and many delegates.

Campaigns are about winning votes not making excuses. There are plenty of delegates still out there for Clinton to win -- over a thousand left in the remaining primaries. But her efforts are being stymied by a campaign apparatus rooted in the belief that any new reality can be overturned by pretending it away.


As the presidential campaign narrows and its costs skyrocket, detailed disclosure of financial resources becomes ever more important. Of the leading contenders, so far, only Senator Barack Obama has released his full income-tax returns — a level of disclosure once routine for candidates after the political corruption of Watergate.

Release of the tax returns should not be made conditional on winning the nomination, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has made it. Both Senator John McCain, the Republican front-runner, and she owe it to their parties and to voters to promptly make available their Internal Revenue Service filings, and to respond to any questions about them. It is true that as senators, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain are required to file financial disclosure forms. But those forms present only general parameters of family financial resources, not the detail available on tax returns.


The curse continues. Regardless of party, it's hara-kiri for a politician to step into the shadow of even a mediocre speech by Barack Obama.

Senator Obama's televised victory oration celebrating his Chesapeake primary trifecta on Tuesday night was a mechanical rehash. No matter. When the networks cut from the 17,000-plus Obama fans cheering at a Wisconsin arena to John McCain’s victory tableau before a few hundred spectators in the Old Town district of Alexandria, Va., it was a rerun of what happened to Hillary Clinton the night she lost Iowa. Senator McCain, backed by a collection of sallow-faced old Beltway pols, played the past to Mr. Obama’s here and now. Mr. McCain looked like a loser even though he, unlike Senator Clinton, had actually won.


Reagan is history. When will Republicans get that? "Nineteen Eighty" was not a place, it was a slice of time. The people who voted "R" that year came from disparate groups. But they signed no contract with one another and they took no vows.

The convergence was of evangelicals and blue-collar workers and anti-anti-communist intellectuals and whoever else -- but all at that point in their collective experience and their perception of the world around them.

A lot of water under the dam since then. Do you expect it to still work that way today? Call your girlfriend/boyfriend from 1980 and see if you two still want to date.


Cartoon by Tony Auth/The Philadelphia Inquirer

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