Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The night of the living dead

Here's Hillary's latest speech. After starting off by thanking Barack Obama for his contribution to raising an interest in politics, in a slow beginning that sounded like a concession, Clinton suddenly and sharply shifted to asking "who will be the strongest candidate?".

Hillary argued that most of the 18 million "record-breaking" votes cast during the primary were for her. "Even when the pundits and nay-sayers" declared her dead, the small people kept her candidacy alive. You can see why the Nashville Post commented, "that ain’t any kind of concession speech I ever heard of".

If it wasn't a concession then what the heck was it? A declaration of war? Here are some thoughts. It's in Obama's interest to stay within the framework of Democratic Party rules, but it's in Hillary's interest to change the frame altogether. The Nashville Post highlights these lines:

“I understand that a lot of people are asking, what does Hillary want? What does she want? I want what I have always fought for in this whole campaign. I want to end the war in Iraq. I want to turn this economy around. I want health care for every American. I want … the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard, and to no longer be invisible.”

This paragraph is interesting in what it anchors and in what it turns loose. With his official nomination nearly in the bag, Obama will be tempted to run towards the center and accept the gains of the Surge. But Hillary is under no such obligation to appeal to the general electorate. She is free to continue playing the partisan game. And if the paragraph above has any strategic political meaning, one of its purposes is to nail Obama to his Left.

But it is the last line which is most loaded with menace. "I want … the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard, and to no longer be invisible." This is not a declaration of war. It's a proclamation of rebellion. Hillary is not going to win within the party frame so she will threaten to win outside of it.

The Nashville Post parses Hillary's speech as an invitation to make a deal.

Was Clinton essentially saying to Obama, “Listen Hoss, we can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way. You can either pick me as your Vice President and we can hold hands together as a ticket and I can become your defacto co-president or I can continue this campaign as “a listening tour” on how to best serve the interests of my popular vote-winning 18 million voters all the way to the convention.”

Maybe. Hillary has done some dumb things and nothing prevents her from doing more dumb things. But if she has this move properly gamed out and is raising the stakes, then why settle for second place? Rebellion is an all-or-nothing business as Jefferson Davis well knew.

The rational interpretation is that Hillary is angling for the Vice-Presidency. But to win it -- and more -- she has to play as if she wants to be the Big Kahuna. If nothing else, Hillary can threaten to become Ross Perot in a pantsuit. Obama's optimal strategy, however distasteful it may be, is to make the deal. His alternative is to be prepared to crush the threatened rebellion.

Obama's call.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger Tarnsman said...

As much as the media and the Obama camp want to have the process over and done with the fact remains that 2118 delegates are needed to win the nomination and after all is said and done Obama has won 1754 delegates won. Hillary has 1637. Neither has the magic number. The balance will come from the super delegates who aren't bound by the rules to any one candidate, who can change their support at their whim and who are very much still "at play". Hillary has no reason to quit. The fat lady maybe warming up, but she hasn't started singing.

6/04/2008 01:45:00 AM  
Blogger jenlart said...

In a primary race as close as this one is, it has occurred to me, that under these rules, it doesn't really matter any more who has the (slightly) higher number: only by getting the larger number of 'super' delegates can one win the nomination. and those won't officially count until cast at the august convention. So until then, if one candidate falls from grace ( and face it, neither has, otherwise why so close?) Endorsements, officially declared super delegates, it only figures into running totals

6/04/2008 02:24:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Obviously, Sen. Obama is the selected, not elected, candidate.

Sen. Clinton wants it out there that she will accept the VP slot. But she has turned the offer into a poison pill. First, there are those desperate 3 am calls. Will the White House switch board direct them to VP Clinton in an Obama Administration? OK, if Bill needs bailed out, maybe.

And there is the matter of Bill. Is it an accident that he calls a major reporter a "scumbag" at the very moment Hillary is open to the VP slot? You see, if Hillary is VP and Bill continues to have "Foot in mouth" disease it will rebound on Obama's famed "Judgment" in choosing a running mate. It will be the Bill and Barack show with Barack trying to get further from Bill than McCain is from George Bush. So he goes down in November and goes down running from Bill. The story will be, "if he embraced Bill, he would have won." No, not with that knife in his back.

So I doubt Barack will choose the poison "Bill and Hill" pill. But if he doesn't, many Hillary supporters will switch to McCain.

I think he should choose Hillary and send a couple of Chicago goons to visit Bill. I'm sure he's open to reason. And after all, Bill Clinton is not America's enemy, only Barack's. So it's OK to threaten him. Right?

6/04/2008 05:09:00 AM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

I liked St. Barack's speech claiming victory better, footage here.

I can't imagine he'd make her the VP candidate...he'd be a fool to want her, and from the look of things, she thinks she'd be a fool to take it.

I think she's going to make a show of wanting it, knowing full well she won't get it; giving her a plausible reason for what comes next. . .a show at supporting St. Barack, to set him up for failure in the fall. It's in her interest for McCain to win, to give her a shot at winning at 2012. But she mustn't be seen to cause that outcome -- it has to be because he's the weak candidate. Thus, she has to make a show of wanting it, but she has to ensure she doesn't get it.

6/04/2008 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/04/2008 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith said...

Obama has won the Democratic nomination not because his voting coalition is larger than Clinton's...Instead, Obama has won because his coalition is more efficient at producing delegates than Clinton's coalition. Obama's relatively narrow vote lead has produced a relatively wide pledged delegate lead, which has in turn produced an even wider lead in superdelegates.

6/04/2008 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Democrat chickens come home to roost eventually. Ted Kennedy's run for the nomination in 1980 was doomed, but he tried to change rules at the convention that would favor his count. If Ted could change the rules, why not the Clintons? This race ain't over until Hillary concedes.

6/04/2008 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

"Rebellion is an all-or-nothing business as Jefferson Davis well knew."

Indeed, but there's no guarantee that Hillary sees it that way. Both Democratic candidates have repeatedly shown they lack historical perspective when it comes to such subjects as war, so it wouldn't surprise me if she carries an unrealistic notion of where her campaign may still be able to go.

6/04/2008 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

I love this fight between Obama and Clinton. It's better than Alien vs. Predator and Hamas vs. Fatah.

It's too bad that it appears to be over. I was hoping for sexism vs. racism schism among the Dems so large and festering that it would set the party back about 30 years.

6/04/2008 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger peterike said...

Perhaps Clinton is angling to get the invitation to VP only to refuse it. Though I can't really figure out a reason for playing that card.

Now that Round 1 is done, I wonder why Clinton didn't hit harder at Obama earlier. Didn't her team of gumshoes unearth the Wright-stuff earlier on? Didn't they know about his lifelong affiliation with the Communist Frank Marshall Davis of Chicago? Didn't they know he's not even legally black? (He's 6.25% Negro, if you didn't already know that.) Didn't they think it worth letting the world know that he is ethnically 43% Arab? Not even necessarily to inculcate anti-Arab feelings against him, but just to point out what a phony and liar he is and always has been.

The whole thing puzzles me. Are her people just incompetent? Is she herself so mesmerized by political correctness that she wouldn't attack him on his ethnicity? Does she not believe there are such things as Communists?

He's such an easy target. Will McCain bring up any of this? Does he even KNOW any of this?

I doubt it.

6/04/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Last night Hillary Clinton offered another graceless spectacle. At a key moment in American history - a moment that represents a crucial break with the legacy of America's caste system - she went deep into her self. OBama followed by diving into deepest wells of American tradition. He knows he's making the case an ethic of generosit, solidarity - the sweetness of justice. He's puting his stamp on a new generation just as the Civil Rights Movement once defined ethics-in-action in the 60's. I know there are Clubbers who have been moved by Obama's voice. Hope you won't get stuck on those who aint trying to hear his brotherly Call. O is going to win (even if he loses this election) because his moral imagination is more generous than theirs...

"They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine..."

O's speech last night was great in part because it wasn't about him. The truth is in the music (as it always is in America). Hillary's speech segued into a (bad) self-loving Tina Turner song - "The Best." Obama played a track from Springsteen's loving, yet unillusioned CD about America. (

Earlier in the campaign, after Hillary won Ohio and gave HER best speech of the campaign, she played Springsteen's "Land of Hope of Dreams."It's one of Bruce's best (You Tube here) I'll admit it HURT to hear it then. But Springsteen got Gone. He endorsed Obama in PA. It was great to hear him hooked up with OBama last night. These guys are in tune - voices that mean to liberalize a culture. Wretch invoked Hem a few weeks back re all poltical stories come down to votes. But pop musicians are America's unacknowledged legislators. And in Obama, we might just have a political orator who's worthy of our singers ...

6/04/2008 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Uncle Jefe said...

Gee, Benj, you've swallowed (ahem) the Obamessiah thing completely...I'm sure you swooned last night when he proclaimed
"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

Could you define narcissism any better??

6/04/2008 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger peterike said...

Dear old Benj, punch-drunk as ever on his imagined reflected glory.

Benj, while I shudder to encourage more of your flatulence, I have to ask: since you're so obviously taken with O's status as a Brother, what's your take on the fact that he ain't a brother at all? That his bio is a fabrication of lies and imagineering? Or is Brother status really, after all, skin deep?

And thanks for the laugh about O's "moral imagination"!! Yeah, it falls somewhere between Don Corleone and Stalin.

6/04/2008 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"O is going to win (even if he loses this election) because his moral imagination is more generous than theirs..."

That's just fine...just as long as he loses this election.

"They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine..."

And that's why I'm fervently praying that enough voters wake up: he HAS no notable accomplishments. What, beating Alan freaking Keyes in a senate race is an accomplishment? Being a "community organizer" (whatever that is) is an accomplishment? Marrying a bitter, elitist woman?

The only things I admire him for are graduating from Harvard and his flair with a teleprompter. Choosing between him and McCain is like choosing between a slim jim and a 5-pound roast.

6/04/2008 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Artfldgr said...

Hillary is doing what the strategy dictates for someone that wants the presidency.

if obama wins, what happens to her chance to win for how long? (if he "remakes" america as he said, then possibly never).

if she joins him what are the outcomes?

the best chance she has is to foul him up, get mccain in place and then do it again in 4 years when mccain leaves and she is up against whom? not obama... with all he has done or said, the republicans will hammer on him.

so hitlery is eitehr going to play the leftist "if i cant have it no one can" or she is waiting to cut to michelle obamas anti-cicero moment.

6/04/2008 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Buckets said...

There are still rumors around the blogosphere about the Michelle Obama / Farrakhan "Whitey" tape. Though I don't think any news outlet has published it yet, the tape's existence remains a distinct possibility. "Irrelevant" and "distracting" news items like this seem to keep following Obama around; who knows what else will show up before the convention?

Though the media (and Benji) are trying to shame Hillary out of the race, and have been declaring the nomination battle "over" for the last few months, I really don't think Hillary should have to drop yet.

6/04/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Coloradan said...

Something to consider:

Conditions now vs 2012.

Hillary stands a better chance of being president in 2012.

Assume: she stays in long enough to cripple Obama. McCain becomes president.

1) war will no longer be an issue - we are winning and in 4 years troops will either have failed to permanently pacify the place or else they will continue the cation now and win outright. In either case, its not an issue.

2) climate will no longer be an issue: either legislation will be passed or not, and given recent scientific trends and some awakening on all sides as to cost vs benefits, Big Government for Anthropogenic Global warming will be done with. So no linger an issue.

3) economy will be over the mortgage and "flat spot" that its in now. Dem congress spends and taxes economy into a recession (see the energy bill) which gets promptly blamed on McCain

4) Politics: Hillary is still in possession of the Clinton machine, and after an Obama loss, she will also have the biggest "I told you so" victim card to beat people with in the Dem party. She will have had 4 years to take scalps and completely line the party up.

And after seeing what the presidency does to people, McCain's age and health will be a serious issue in 2012, with people pointing to Reagan's last part of his second term.

In short, if she overtly (but not enthusiastically) supports Obama, but only AFTER the convention, and COVERTLY works to give all her dirt to third parties, she can ensure an Obama loss, and a smooth fast ride in 2012 against an aging and possibly failed president, or else a non-incumbent from a split GOP if McCain were to decline to run again.

All in all, if I were Hillary and the only ting that mattered to em was getting 2 terms in the Whitehouse, I'd play it that way. Obama takes the blame, McCain does the dirty work on the environment, war and economy, and she waltzes in after all that is out of the way.

6/04/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Hi Dan - hard to resist snark cos I'm no Obama - But - hey man - The guy just won the Democratic Nomination for presidency - not a small achievement for any pol in his party - But there's that add-on too - first Afican-American in history to have a shot at becoming President (Still not enough?) - He's in the process of helping all Americans (with any sense of History) realize the full measure of our country's promise. (Can I stop yet?) I've been a fan of the Surge and I think Johnny Mac gets heavy credit for insisting we help realize Iraq's promise. Slightly more concerned, though, about my own country's future. But - There I go again - O's internationalism might just beat the hell out of mine. Check his speech to AIPAC today. Just pussy stuff? Well I can imagine some clubbers calling for harder lines. (And I still think O isn't right Iraq - though he's not all wrong eiher.) But I don't think I've read a Club post here that matches Obama's expression of commitment to Israel and feeling for the universal truths in the Jewish tradition. This speech willl really piss Cedarford off!

6/04/2008 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Even mighty Ocean obeys Obama. This is really quite unique. The very winds and waters yield to his magic tongue. How can we possibly go wrong here? I'm with benji, this guy sends a shiver up my timbers. The wrongs of the world to be righted at last, at last.

6/04/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Perhaps we're seeing two forms of narcissism duke it out for the soul of the Democratic party.

Christopher Lasch, in his 1979,
"Culture of Narcissism," distinguished between the two types (with a nod to Wikipedia):

"The book offers as its central thesis the proposition that post-war, late-capitalist America, through modifications placed by the forces of 'organized kindness' on the traditional family structure, has given rise to a personality-type consistent with clinical definitions of 'pathological narcissism.' Pathological narcissism, notably, is not akin to typical narcissism—someone with a hedonistic or self-centered sense of self—but rather someone with a very weak sense of self. For Lasch, 'pathology represents a heightened version of normality.' Lasch locates symptoms of this personality-disorder in the radical political movements of the 1960s (such as the Weather Underground), as well as in the spiritual cults and movements . . . of the 1970s."

And so ask not what you can do for your country; ask what post-capitalist organized government kindness can do for you.

6/04/2008 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Re Lasch's Cult of Narcissism. In an unguarded moment, Lasch once musingly equated Lawrence Goodwyn (whose work I've invoked here in the past) with Engels. Lasch identified himself with Marx. His culture of narcissism is our culture of late capitalism/consumerism - His best-known books are basically American updates of the Euro Marxist culture critiques of the Frankfurt School.) I spoke to Lasch's Engels this morning. He laughingly told me how his wife turned to him druing O's speech last night to say - "we must find a way to vote TEN TIMES in November." Goodwyn replied - "Dear, Do you really think we're required to commit massive voter fraud to revive American democracy?" It was a rhetorical question. Though of course he was laughing inside/out. I can't speak for Christopher Lasch - he's gone now and he was always an original thinker capable of suprising a reader. But HIS Engels is in Obama's corner bigtime. My bet is that Kit would be with him...

Some Clubbers who speciallize in contempt might consider this passage from the (conservative) National Review Online:

McCain's speech was creaky, ungracious, and unnecessary. I never understand why politicians don't take the opportunity, when so easily presented, to simply be gracious and hold their fire. Watching McCain, I couldn't help but think of the astonishing contrast Barack's triumphant speech to a massive and adoring crowd will be. It was not a comparison McCain should have invited.

It would have been more statesmanlike ‹ precisely the profile McCain is attempting to craft ‹ to acknowledge this historic moment in American politics. A major party is on the cusp of selecting an African American to be their nominee for President of the United States. It's a tribute to America that we've come this far. It would have been magnanimous to leave it at that, and wait until tomorrow to declare with enthusiasm and relish, "It's on!"

6/04/2008 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Why isn't Obama talking to her?

It would be great practice, eh...

6/04/2008 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I agree with Lillith. Obama has not produced wider voting totals, just maximizing delegates out of that voting total.

Hillary is in to win, using Larry Johnson and the "under-news" as Mickey Kaus put it to keep in the game until another shoe drops about Obama.

The rumored video, supposedly at a Farrakhan attended conference, has Michelle Obama screaming about Whitey and calling for Blacks to victimize whites with crime instead of blacks.

It probably does not exist, but everyone can IMAGINE either Obama saying stuff like that. What probably does exist out there somewhere, is video of similar stuff at Trinity. Michelle or Barack whipping up the crowd with that old-time hatred of whites.

No news organization would accept or run the video. They want to keep the "dream" alive. Just as they protected JFK with his bimbos and Clinton with his (until Drudge made that impossible). What Larry Johnson is doing is essentially an open call for anyone and everyone in Clinton's camp to find a video, and put it on the web for everyone to see.

Then Hillary can come in as a white knight. "Rescue" the Dems from a disastrous mistake.

Everyone knows both Obamas found the racial hatred and venom in Trinity and South Side Chicago, dominated by Farrakhan, to their liking. Of course they said stuff in public they should not have, just to get the crowd reaction.

THAT is Obama's fatal weakness. He's Farrakhan's candidate for America. He's probably going to tear the Democratic coalition apart -- because the interests of white working class is directly opposed to that of Farrakhan.

6/04/2008 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Watching McCain, I couldn't help but think of the astonishing contrast Barack's triumphant speech to a massive and adoring crowd will be.

See my previous.

6/04/2008 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

benj, you do realize -- don't you? -- that until he steps on the stage at the convention as the nominee, this thing isn't over.

You do realize that, don't you?

The Clinton's have been kicked to the curb so quickly, so ungraciously, by a party that wouldn't have SNIFFED the presidency for more than two decades without them that a part of me is hoping they do try and blow the whole process up.

With a certain mindset that we all know the Clinton's are capable of employing, if that mindset is now operational -- the Clinton's hold all the damn cards.

All of them, benj. You might want to slow your roll and learn some graciousness your damn self.

6/04/2008 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


Good points. Lasch was a complex person. But overall he moved beyond the critique provided by the Frankfurters and Goodwyn. (I didn't know about the "Marx" and "Engels" line. That's a good one.)

Populism cuts many ways. Obama is a populist in some senses. In others, not. The "bitter" comments illustrate the divide.

In his later books, especially in 'Revolt of the Elites,' Lasch noted that the cultural divide was increasingly one of religion, which the elites deride, or appropriate for their purposes.

In Obama, the elites and bosses have found their man. He can finesse every divide, be all things to all people. His message? It's not that populism doesn't work, you see; it's that it hasn't really been put into practice.

I agree with you about the power or rock music and its anthems. The one I hear in my head is "Won't get fooled again." But I guess anti-Bush Who fans play that one in their head also.

6/04/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Uncle Jefe said...

"A major party is on the cusp of selecting an African American to be their nominee for President of the United States. It's a tribute to America that we've come this far."
You could not be more wrong.
The shoe (or shoes) are simply on the other foot (feet).
America (at least democrat party America) is still choosing someone based on their race (or sex), rather than the content of their character.
An Obama or Hillary Presidency will simply be an opportunity for all of those who have had white (heterosexual male) guilt foisted on them to purge this from their systems once and for all.
I for one feel no such guilt; I will vote for that which is in the best interest of my Country, in terms of security, economics, jurisprudence, social policy, and international goodwill, in that order, and not the reverse.

6/04/2008 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Mark - Had a running argument over a couple years with my prof Lasch (who saved my ass when I was about to flunk out of school and steered me to Goodwyn's work) re American pop. He never beat that aspectof the F-School's culture critique. Re - "Won't Get Fooled AGain" - Nah you're right that song belongs to the right. It would never be the soundtrack for what Emerson referred to as "the party of hope."

Uncle - Who's "you" - the line you quote was written by a conservative political commentator at National Review. Which is why I invoked it...

6/04/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Uncle Jefe said...

Benj, you used that quote to favorably support your 'argument'.
Yes, you.
And was this not you...? "He's in the process of helping all Americans (with any sense of History) realize the full measure of our country's promise."
Apply that to my same post. The shoe is simply on the other foot. The left is still deciding what happened yesterday, in order to use it as a cudgel today, and as they have for the last 40 years.

6/05/2008 03:02:00 PM  

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