Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Decision '08, OBAMANIA! — Rick Moran @ 7:17 am

She will have more money than God when all is said and done. And if wresting campaign funds from fat cat Democratic party donors was all it took to win the nomination of her party, Hillary Clinton would undoubtedly be the runaway favorite, easily besting the populist candidacy of John Edwards and edging out the feel good vapidity of Barak Obama’s messageless run.

But something happened on the way to Hillary’s coronation that few would have predicted just a couple of months ago; that despite her fundraising acumen and the support of most of the Democratic party regulars who backed her husband in his successful runs for the Presidency, Senator Clinton has lost considerable support among rank and file Democrats while being unable to assuage the rage of the netroots and other party activists over her refusal to grovel before them by apologizing for her vote to authorize the Iraq War.

Every other candidate or potential candidate for the Democratic nomination who voted for the war authorization has come out and made a very public mea culpa, begging forgiveness for being “misled” into voting for the war. But just last month, Mrs. Clinton took a stand and made it clear that while she favors a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, she will not apologize to anyone - even if it costs her votes:

Senator Hillary Clinton has defied the Left of the Democratic Party by refusing to apologise for backing the war in Iraq.

Some liberal activists have deserted Mrs Clinton’s campaign for the presidency because of her reluctance to repudiate her Senate vote in favour of the war.

Campaigning in New Hampshire at the weekend, however, she bid those lost supporters farewell: “If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” she said.

William Greider, writing in The Nation, shows why this calculated political move is backfiring with not only the far left, but rank and file Democrats as well:

Senator Clinton’s struggles are visible in her repeated efforts to recalibrate her positions on major issues–adding a little muscle each time but always a step or two behind public opinion. A year ago, she was still straddling the gut question of withdrawing from Iraq. Now she wants action in ninety days. She is molting a little, but still sounds more comfortable as a hawk.

The demands for an apology on her original go-to-war vote is not the point. It reflects a deeper suspicion that Hillary is as cynical as Bill on the fundamental matter of warmaking. One recalls Bill Clinton’s scolding advice to Democrats after they lost the 2002 Congressional elections. People, he said, would “rather have someone who is strong and wrong rather than somebody who is weak and right.”

Referring to her as “Senator Inevitable,” Greider ruthlessly dissects Hillary’s problems and proffers a reason why both Democrats and the country may be moving beyond her candidacy:

Inevitability actually is (or was) her core strategy. For six years, talented ranks of Clintonistas have assiduously worked Washington and Wall Street to create that expectation for her. They promoted romantic yearnings for a Clinton restoration in the age of George W. Bush. They amassed awesome advantages to scare off less famous opponents or, if need be, to crush them. Senator Inevitable has all the money and brains and influential connections. Plus, she has a rock-star-popular husband, the ex-President, who’s a brilliant strategist and performer.

What could go wrong? Well, things changed–dramatically–and the front-runner now finds herself scrambling to catch up with the zeitgeist. The watershed election of 2006 confirmed that Bush and the conservative order are in collapse. That inspires Democrats to embrace a far more ambitious sense of what’s possible. Senator Clinton, the brainy policy wonk conscientiously calculating her next move, suddenly seems miscast for an era when Democrats are on offense and bolder ideas are back in play.

Clinton’s great vulnerability was captured brilliantly by Barack Obama in a single sentence, without a mention of her name. “It’s time to turn the page…” People are looking forward, not back, he declares. People long for a promising new generation in politics. Let’s not turn back to old fights, the acrimony of decades past.

Nothing personal. But Hillary Clinton is the past.

When she cites the family accomplishments–his and hers–or reminds audiences that “Bill and I” stood up to the vicious right-wing assaults, it sounds almost as though she is offering a co-presidency. If anyone misses the connection, the former President seems to be everywhere, touting his own thoughts on how to govern the country (presumably cleared with her, but who knows?).

This is the central tension in Senator Clinton’s campaign. It’s what makes her sound conflicted. Does she intend to emulate the risk-averse, center-right juggling act by which her husband governed? Or, as she sometimes suggests, will Clinton II be more aggressively progressive, less beholden to business and financial interests, more loyal to the struggles of working people? Senator Clinton tries to have it both ways: running on her husband’s record and popularity, yet hinting she will not be like Bill.

Greider’s article is a must read - a cold, dispassionate look at Clinton and Democratic politics today.

Clinton has been sidling to the right for at least two years, separating herself from the more radical wing of her party in order to project a more centrist personae. This is not news, of course. What has changed in recent months - and what makes that strategy seem quaint and outmoded - is that as a result of the fall elections, her party has no desire to tack toward the center. That, in fact, as demonstrated by the growing popularity of both the Edwards and Obama candidacies, the party yearns for nothing less than a leftist revolution, one that would mirror the conservative takeover of 1980.

Recent poll numbers for Clinton have been grim. Donald Lambro (in another must read article) tracks Clinton’s recent slide:

Hillary’s erosion has been nothing short of astonishing in the last week, though the campaign press has been slow to focus on it. Indeed, they’ve gone out of their way to ignore it.

Remarkably, Barack Obama trailed her by a mere 8 points among Democratic voters nationwide in last week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, and by a razor thin 3 points in an American Research Group poll of likely Democratic primary voters.

Mr. Edwards, too, is showing considerable strength in the early caucus states of Iowa and Nevada where his sharp-edged, populist message is electrifying working class and union audiences.

Hillary’s early head-to-head general election numbers do not look good for her, either. She was trailing Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani by an average of 5 percentage points in all the major matchup polls of the last two weeks.

When did the Clinton political restoration campaign begin to falter? Democrats said in interviews last week that a that a critical factor contributing to her decline in the polls was her unwillingness to apologize for her vote for the Iraq war and admit it was a mistake. “Her Iraq war vote is coming back to haunt her. She’s said everything except that she made a mistake. Voters see this as Hillary wanting it both ways,” said pollster Del Ali of Research 2000.

But it was movie mogul David Geffen’s bitter broadside against her that ultimately triggered the slide. The former Clinton moneyman, who now backs Mr. Obama, was the first Democratic funder to attack her character and question her electability.

In short, Hillary’s inevitability as the Democratic nominee has been lost for good and she must now grub for votes along with the other challengers. And it is an open question whether the magic of her name as well as the presence of her rock star husband will be enough to keep her candidacy afloat in what is shaping up to be a most unusual primary and caucus season for Democrats.

Front loading the calendar with a “Hyper Tuesday” primary day on February 5 where 11 states have already scheduled primaries and another 8 are considering moving their contests will put a premium on money and organization. On the surface, this would seem to favor Senator Clinton’s broad based candidacy.

But prior to what for all intents and purposes will be a “national primary day” on February 5, there are caucuses in Iowa (January 14), Nevada (January 19), and primaries in New Hampshire (January 22) and South Carolina (January 29). Early momentum will be crucial in those caucus states and especially New Hampshire. The problem for Clinton is that she is not assured of winning any of those early contests. She has no regional advantage over any of the other candidates, although there may be some residual nostalgia for the Clinton name in New Hampshire given “The Comeback Kid’s” remarkable turnaround in that state in 1992.

The Senator’s problem is that if Obama or Edwards (or both) exceed expectations in those early contests, that momentum will carry them into Hyper Tuesday where several states that either one can do well in will be in play. And then there is that second tier of candidates, including Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who may very well emerge as a regional powerhouse in the mountain west and other states where the Hispanic vote is crucial.

This change in the dynamics of the Democratic race may actually help the Republicans in 2008. With the Democrats appearing to want a true believer, a 100%, dyed in the wool liberal, it could make a more conservative candidate like Senator Brownback or, more likely, a Fred Thompson more attractive. Sharp contrasts in candidates have favored Republicans in every election since 1980 and recent polling would seem to suggest that this will not change anytime soon. Americans largely still see themselves as “conservative” despite their support for some “liberal” social programs. What pollsters have been unable to fathom is that the American people support those liberal social programs - as long as they don’t have to pay for them.

Hillary can still make it, especially if Obama/Edwards split the progressive vote and allow her to take a plurality of the rest. This will mean a long, bruising primary season and a problem with a disparity in money going into the general election campaign. But it is not likely that Clinton will drop out unless either Edwards or Obama (or some other Democrat) goes over the top with committed delegates. In that respect, she is in it for the long haul.

For the moment, Mrs. Clinton maintains her lead. Whether she can build upon her advantages will be a question on many Democrat’s minds over the coming months.


  1. Keep telling yourself that the only reason anyone would regret supporting the war is because they grovel for the netroots.

    I regret supporting a war waged by jackasses who blew a war that would already be over if they had any idea how to fight.

    Comment by r4d20 — 3/15/2007 @ 9:09 am

  2. Web Reconnaissance for 03/15/2007

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

    Trackback by The Thunder Run — 3/15/2007 @ 10:06 am

  3. The most interesting point made in this blog was not what was said, but what was not said. A year ago, everyone was asking, can Hillary become the first woman president. Looking back, this issue seemed to dominate every the conversation about Hillary’s potential presidential run. Just great.

    Comment by Greg Shirk — 3/17/2007 @ 11:13 pm

  4. Maybe the controversial Hillary 1984 video that was released on YouTube a few days ago has affected her ratings. A lot of people have seen the video and it may affect the result of the 2008 presidential race. Similar videos concerning the other candidates are expected to be released in the next months but it is doubtful if they will garner the same attention.

    Comment by Joem — 3/21/2007 @ 4:25 pm

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