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CLINTON’S “A MONSTER” March 9, 2008

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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Brad DeLong quotes Jonathan Chait in The New Republic , by quoting Oliver Cromwell addressing what I would like to believe was the Rump Parliament, [“Enough you have sat here too long . . .”]:

Clinton’s path to the nomination… involves the following steps: kneecap an eloquent, inspiring, reform-minded young leader who happens to be the first serious African American presidential candidate (meanwhile cementing her own reputation for Nixonian ruthlessness) and then win a contested convention by persuading party elites to override the results at the polls…. I don’t think she’d be in a position to defeat Hitler’s dog in November, let alone a popular war hero…. Clinton’s kamikaze mission is likely to be unusually damaging…. Pennsylvania is a swing state that Democrats will almost certainly need to win in November, and Clinton will spend seven weeks and millions of dollars there making the case that Obama is unfit to set foot in the White House. You couldn’t create a more damaging scenario if you tried…


So what is Clinton aiming for if she cannot win a majority from the remaining primary and caucus delegates? Reports today are that Obama has won comprehensively in the Democratic Caucuses in Wyoming – who in an attack of sanity apparently hold their election on a Saturday. (The delegate count in this election were a marginal call, per Nicholas Gruen at Club Toppo). I doubt whether her motivation is to gain the Vice Presidential position on an Obama ticket. I cannot imagine the wife of a former president seeking the role of a backroom operator despite Cheney’s malignant influence over the Bush Administration. Alternatively, she might believe that she is the best candidate, a proposition that would be made credible by way that she is conducting her campaign, and consideration of that record gives pause at the very least.

Soon to be forgotten, as a footnote to Obama campaign, one of his advisers, Samantha Powers, resigned because she alleged that Clinton was “a monster” in a recorded interview with a journalist from The Scotsman. The Guardian has the story:

One of Barack Obama’s senior advisers, Samantha Power, was forced to resign yesterday after describing Hillary Clinton as a monster, one of the most personal comments yet in what is becoming an increasingly negative campaign for the Democratic nomination for November’s US presidential election.

Power, in the UK to promote a book, told The Scotsman: “In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio’s the only place they can win. She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything.”

The Clinton camp demanded Obama sack Power, a Harvard professor and foreign affairs specialist, and produced four members of Congress to denounce her comments and remind Obama of his promise in December to sack staff who made such personal attacks.

The significant aspect of this piece of journalistic opportunism is the fact that the interviewer did not follow-up on the allegation but used the quote anyway. As somebody noted elsewhere, “Just imagine if the Bush Administration lived up to these standards”.

I suppose a certain amount of argy bargy is to be expected. Sometimes the distinctions get very fine as The Boston Globe reports in a supplement to the monster story:

The Democratic nomination fight has grown testier since Tuesday’s primaries, with Obama’s camp raising questions about Clinton’s tax returns and her records from when her husband was president – and Clinton’s responding by saying Obama is “imitating Ken Starr,” the independent prosecutor who led an investigation that sought to impeach Bill Clinton.

Asked the difference between calling someone a “monster” and comparing someone to Starr, Clinton at first said the media had made the Starr reference. Reminded that it was her spokesman who had done so, Clinton said, “One is an ad hominem attack, and one is a historical reference.”

Such an sharp analytical knife could not be used to butter toast.

Paul Woodward, at The War in Context, sums up the overall situation:

This then is the state of politics and the way it gets reported: lies, distortions, exaggeration and deviousness provoke neither shock nor penalty, but an ill-chosen word and an indiscreet honest expression — this is what must always be denounced and rejected.

Power needed to acknowledge that she had blundered, but she didn’t need to resign. Her remarks were inexcusable not because of their content but because she was dumb enough to express them to a reporter.

Aside from the question of the behavior of the media, which in this case is not limited to the United States, there are wider and legitimate questions to answered about the Democratic Party process and the attributes and qualifications of the contenders for president. In particular there appears to a process of disenfranchisement of the “working class”.

Suppose Clinton won the nomination, would Obama set up a third party campaign and break the historical two party monopoly? Probably not, but interesting speculation.

Postscript:

Glenn Greenwald argues that the reporter, Geeri Peev, did the right thing in reporting what Power had said, and suggests there is a difference is that the British are more likely to ask and print the truth. (In this case it is better to go directly to Glenn’s blog at Salon.com.)

I am conscious of the critique of them by Chomsky and others, but it seems to me that The New York Times do very well essays such as “Obama in the Senate – Star Power, Minor Role”. Of course, I have no way of knowing whether the picture of the working of the US Senate is accurate, but its seems credible.

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