Monday, April 21, 2008

How To Choose Between Democratic Candidates You Know Are Going To Lose In November

(Third in an ongoing series)



Since I am blogging, I have the following strongly held opinions about last week's debate, which I haven't seen.

a. I thought some of the questions were absurd, but Obama should have had an answer to all of them. They were none of them hard or unexpected questions.

b. What made them hard for Obama was that, as lame as the Gibson/ Stephanopolous questions were, they were asked out of a false assumption that both candidates seem to accept -- the Pennsylvania primary, specifically, and the general election, beyond, will be decided by so-called "Reagan Democrats."

c. Obama cannot possibly win an election on that basis, and he is unwise to even try. All the "Reagan Democrats" are Republicans. If they weren't, John Edwards would still be a factor in the primaries.

d. The election will be decided on what "new" voters decide to do. John McCain has recently said that the "new" voters will vote for him. Maybe he's right.

e. The other false assumption is that a key issue in the primary campaign is "electability". It isn't true that the superdelegates have to, or are even supposed to, choose a nominee on the basis of electability. Hillary Clinton likes to say that, but what else is she supposed to say? No. Superdelegates are supposed to act in the best interest of the Democratic Party. It may be in the best interest of the Democratic Party to nominate the candidate that will lead to the happiest and most motivated warriors, the ones most likely to give money and time to the Democratic Party going forward.

f. So, for example, a lot of young people will be happy to give their time and passion to elect Obama, even against long odds. A lot of middle age women feel likewise about Hillary. They do not care about their electability in a general election. They care about the progress being made by having the first African-American Presidential nominee, or the first woman Presidential nominee.

g. If Hillary does not win the Pennsylvania primary by more than 10 percent, then the numbers work in such a way that her arguments to superdelegates are no different from the arguments that John Edwards or you or I can make to the superdelegates.

h. The notion that this election was there for the Democrats to win, but for the constant bickering between Obama and Clinton is nonsense. There are no slam dunk wins when your candidate in 2008 is either a woman or an African-American.

i. Hillary can win against McCain if McCain makes enough missteps. He could select any one of the people who ran for the Republican nomination against him to be his Vice President. He could be caught with his pants down (hopefully just figuratively). Facts about his health could come out (he could have a real senior moment on the stump). Facts about his wife's finances could come out (McCain wants the Democratic candidate to accept public finance limits that McCain will gleefully get around by getting loans from his wife). Most likely, if McCain does all those things, Hillary will lose anyway. Even so, Hillary does have that snowball's chance.

j. It still says here that the country is not ready for an African American President. If it turns out the country is ready, we'll never know about it, because there will be no voting booths available for non-whites and other liberal riff-raff to vote from.

k. That was the entire point about the U.S. Attorney scandal.

l. You could still look at all of that and say that the future is with Obama, or with someone more like him. You could still say the right fight is more important than the wrong win.

m. Or you could say that given the stakes, winning is too important to give it up to the romantic vision of youth. A paralysing campaign will leave Hillary Clinton in no shape to govern. It is worth it if it means we can stop digging the hole that the Republicans are so intent on burying the United States in.

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