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                                       politics + culture

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Hampshire

On February 1st, 2000 Al Gore defeated Bill Bradley in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary 76,897 to 70,502 votes out of 154,639 cast. (source, wikipedia).

A remarkable thing happened tonight in New Hampshire eight years later: with 96% of precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton has won New Hampshire full out winning over 110,550 votes with Barack Obama taking 102,883 and John Edwards winning 47,803....that's a total of over 100,000 more total votes cast in the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 2008 than 2000.

That's remarkable and cause for celebration whatever the outcome.

Now, I've spent the last two posts expressing my disagreement with Clinton campaign strategy over the weekend. I'm not going to back down from that point of view.

You could point to any of the stratagems and tactics the Clinton camp used over the weekend as "key" but I think the overall cumulative effect of all the strategies was the significant thing here and it gave the Clintons exactly what they intended to achieve: the media story became about Hillary and not about Barack Obama and it stayed about Hillary.

For what it's worth, that's classic politics, and it worked. If Barack Obama is going to compete against the Clintons, his team has to be ready to win the media game played sharp. In some ways, that is one of the strongest selling points of a Clinton candidacy: her team knows how to finagle things their way. They have multiple tricks up their sleeve.

But they were tricks.

It's important to note that. Bill Clinton was wrong to impunge Obama's motivation for pulling that speech off his website in 2004 (he did it out of courtesy to the Kerry / Edwards campaign.) And Hillary was wrong to print deceptive fliers questioning Obama's votes in Illinois (Obama was voting in accordance with Planned Parenthood's local strategy.)

And, yes, to use the phrase "false hopes"...to call the Obama campaign "the biggest fairy tale you've ever seen"...to segue from communicating your personal feelings about the campaign into a veiled attack on Senator Obama's lack of "readiness" and "wrongness" doesn't sit well with me.

Of course, it's up to the voters to decide. That's what primaries are about. And the voters of New Hampshire have spoken. That means something. Going forward we bloggers should do our part to make sure that the ultimate nomination is made as an informed choice by fact checking every candidate. There should be no free pass. Scrutiny (which is, if you put the best face on it, what the Clintons are calling for in regards to Obama) is the order of the day.

When Hillary Clinton accused Barack Obama of having a Federal Lobbyist running his New Hampshire campaign (a false accusation) what she didn't tell the voters is that she is, far and away, the largest recipient of Federal Lobbyist donations in the field. There is no comparison with Edwards or Obama because neither of them accept ANY money from Federal Lobbyists.

Hillary's campaign is fueled with Federal lobbyist dollars.

That's hypocrisy. That's misleading. To accuse someone associating them with something YOU are already associated with is just wrong. But with the Clintons, that's par for the course.

The message is that the rules don't apply to them.

I'm tired of it. Not so tired that I can't see why some Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire and around the country still strongly support Hillary Clinton...but tired enough that I am willing to speak my mind about my disagreements in a constructive manner during this primary season when it can make a difference. Part of the Clinton message is that scrutiny does not apply to them.

It does.

Hillary may have won New Hampshire, but over this weekend she once again showed her cards about her core mode of operation. I think that should give fair minded observers pause. That's what the primary season is about.

There is much to admire about the Clintons, not least of which is that they are formidable campaigners, but that does not mean we have to think that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for us in 2008. We don't have to accept this particular status quo.

The time is now to get all the issues out on the table for all to see.

Is Hillary Clinton the best candidate for the Democratic Party in 2008? Is that our best option? Her win in New Hampshire, and how she won, in my view, ask that question. At the same time we can all agree that the turnout was, once again, cause for celebration.


  • Good analysis and right on target.

    By Blogger John Wesley Leek, at 6:32 AM  

  • My short comment is Hell Yes!...but.

    These techniques, as repugnant as I may find them, will be used against the Democratic nominee in the general. We have gotten our asses kicked, repeatedly, by being unwilling to smack back twice as hard when we get smacked. I hate it, it sickens me, but it is.

    So who do I want to send into that crucible and what skills do I want them to have? The Swiftboaters are already raising money and that weighs heavily on my choice.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:19 PM  

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