Sunday, January 21, 2007


This must be the civility I keep hearing about:

Obama's announcement of a presidential exploratory committee — presaging a formal announcement scheduled for early February — must have elicited a Howard Dean-like reaction from Clinton because one of his key points was aimed at her.

In the video posted on his Web site, Obama said the U.S. is "mired in a tragic and costly war that should never have been waged." Clinton voted for the war in Iraq and has yet to follow Edwards and others in apologizing for the vote. This places her on the opposite side of most Democrats, as a CBS News poll showed earlier this month.

CBS reported Tuesday that "A CBS News poll taken earlier this month found that 77 percent of Democrats surveyed wanted a decrease or full withdrawal of troops from Iraq. And another CBS poll asked viewers of Bush's Wednesday night speech if they supported the plan to send more troops to Baghdad. 82 percent of Democrats opposed it." Obama and Edwards opposed the troop surge before Clinton, and she could only fall in line behind them. Hillary Clinton isn't one to play catch-up for long.

Obama's announcement included the fact that he's planning a formal announcement of his presidential bid on Feb. 10, giving Clinton only a few weeks to regain the momentum she thought she had and probably accelerating her plans to announce her candidacy. She's caught in her own quagmire, stuck with the foundational strategy that won her husband the presidency twice.

She has to maintain the moderate pose while pushing a liberal agenda. She faces the growing pressure from Obama, Edwards and the Cindy Sheehan wing of her party that is shoving her uncomfortably leftward. Clinton knows that if she gives in, she loses the Clinton cloak and will have to seek the presidency as just another one of a crowd of anti-war liberals. And she can't win that way, because — as the 2006 post-election polls showed — either party's nominee will depend on the truly moderate voters of both parties to grant the margin of victory. So what will Clinton do?

Clinton will do what she and her husband have always done. When they speak of the politics of personal destruction, they aren't really complaining of how they're being treated. Psychologists call this "projection." When they speak of it, the Clintons are talking about another fundamental element of their politics.

Barack Obama may not be immune to these attacks but Clinton — concerned about his ascendance — may have already used her best ammunition. In a mini-memoir written a decade ago, Obama spoke of his use of illegal drugs.

This long-forgotten story was reborn in a Jan. 3 Washington Post piece that may have been another Clinton maneuver to cut into his momentum. What else is there? Team Clinton will make sure we find out. For Clinton, whatever there is won't be enough to make up for her sliding scale position on the war. The Democrats are so far gone on that issue that Clinton will have to toe the Jack Murtha-Nancy Pelosi line sooner or later. The longer she waits, the harder the anti-war faction will be on her. The only other weapon she can use is her pals in the 527 Media. Former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld got off easy compared to how Obama may fare.

The cynics among us might believe that Hillary used the Associated Press like a rented mule in her "Rumsfeld refused to testify" play last summer. And they would also believe that the AP's gushing review of Terry McAuliffe's book — a Clinton puff piece — might also have been maneuvered by Hillary's AP pals.

But even those who aren't cynical will understand the connection when The New York Times's troika — publisher Pinch Sulzberger, Managing Editor Jill Abramson and columnist Maureen Dowd — begin whittling away at Obama. If Hillary sounds the alarm, they will not be alone in challenging Obama. The urgency of her SOS will be measured two ways.

Uh-huh. That this could be posted without the slightest trace of irony or sarcasm, from a "news" network positively rotten with Chimpco crack whores, tells you everything you need to know about the incredibly debauched nature of the media, and their role in the poltical-industrial complex. Hillary is the big cutthroat; forget how the Bush people used Pat Robertson's minions to push-poll the rubes in South Carolina about John McCain's negro love child back in the 2000 primaries.

Sell the conflict, build the smackdown, prolong the inevitable, milk the ad revenues. Funny how none of that is actually of any value to people not in the bidness, but them's the breaks. It's going to be a long eighteen months, but we already knew that, didn't we?

Matt Yglesias has more:

One thing I found myself thinking about last week was how quickly lots of liberals -- myself included, really -- have tended to be willing to accept the notion that John Kerry was some kind of uniquely unappealing candidate for national office in terms of his personal qualities. But of course before Kerry was super-lame, there was Al Gore and he was . . . super lame.


No matter who it is the Democrats nominate, that person is going to wind up mocked as obviously the wrong the choice; obviously just an absurd person who absurd primary voters picked over dozens of more appealing choices.

Just for the record, I'm not a big Hillary fan. I've never understood the ease with which she and her husband have reflexively "triangulated" issues of principle, giving ground to the worst sorts of idiots and social baboons. Things like flag burning and violent video games, while not pleasant issues, simply do not warrant the time of serious people.

Still, she deserves some credit. She has proven to be a smart and effective senator, winning cooperation and even grudging respect from diametrically opposed people like Sam Brownback. And anyone who can put up with the self-indulgent perorations of Robert Byrd and terminal oafs such as Tom Coburn or John Cornyn deserves props, just for the willingness to do some rhetorical shit-shoveling.

So far, the Democratic candidate that seems to be hitting the best notes is John Edwards. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the hype machine that Obama or Clinton have. But the real thing to watch out for -- for all of them -- is the catty, sniping little mean girls of the "serious" media, the Heathers (female and male) of the talk shows, the panel wankfests, the regurgitated gossip chatter columns, etc. They relish the unearned, obscene power of manufacturing consensus opinion in the Beltway and in the TV studios and "news" rooms, but they are completely unserious about the responsibility that goes along with it. They'll sniff McCain's ass for a while longer, but he looks to be hitting self-destruct mode already, and probably won't make it through summer.

So whoever is nicest to the Heathers, or gives the best talking head, strokes their preening self-importance, will probably get anointed as the prospective front-runner. The rest of them will be stamped as "aloof" or "not viable" or "doesn't speak cracker well enough to win in Jeebusland", or whatever handy bullet point they can concoct. And the first one to fuck up in front of a camera will be Howard Dean-ed within hours.

Why? Because they are allowed to get away with the notion that they are civil and serious, when most of them are neither.


Anonymous said...

Excellent. Caught CBS news' Friday segment on Hillary's announcement to run & it matched FOX's take - (I'm paraphrasing) the question is, given that Hillary is controversial, is unliked, has sharp elbows & is temperamental, can she win?

CNN did an interview with Edwards about a week ago & the questions were really attacks on him rather than questions, the kind of thing Rush would ask.

Heywood J. said...

Yeah. It's not even any imputations of partisanship, specifically. There's two huge problems with the MSM political coverage in general, as I see it.

The first one, in evidence in the initial coverage of the presidential campaign entrants (almost two years before the election, which is a whole 'nother problem) is this insistence on letting their desired narrative dictate which "facts" or angles they emphasize, rather than collecting a wider range of facts and observations, and letting that dictate the narrative.

The second problem crops up more in specific partisan issues, or instances of institutional spinelessness and hackery. They are becoming more and more defined by institutional inertia, and cluttered thinking, because they are overly respectful of people who openly hold them in contempt. They are petrified of being called traitors or cowards. Traitors and cowards don't get to go to the cocktail weenie parties, don't get that cherry Hamptons pad, don't get that trophy wife accessory. So that conditions them to lean towards niggling, asinine questions about personalities and perceptions, rather than policies and principles.

And the networks are fine with that, because they have excised their actual news-gathering bureaus to the point of elimination anyway, for all practical purposes. They have decided that their mission is less about informing us, and mostly about selling us oversized trucks and boner pills.

The real question is, is there just a small but powerful claque of retrograde morons who are allowed to consistently steer the "news" people into such shallow waters, or are they really giving the people what they want -- titillation, sensationalism, airy beignets of road rage designed to channel people's feelings of disempowerment and disenfranchisement into completely unproductive directions?

Only the next washed-up celebritard to accessorize themselves with a Malawian orphan can say for sure.