04/23/2008 - 12:27pm
Hillary has an enhanced argument for her candidacy today.

Taking Pennsylvania by 10% points means she picked up 216,000 votes more in the cumulative popular vote battle against Barack.

Throw in the currently excluded tallies from Florida and Michigan, and Hillary leads in popular vote. Now, this isn't fair, as Barack's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan, but it adds some moral weight to Clinton's argument that she should stay in the race 'til the bitter end.

As Bob Novak writes today:
A margin of 10 percentage points demonstrates that she is more than just a survivor. She is the candidate of the traditional Democratic base whose support is essential for winning the presidential election.
Considering that Hillary and Barack have nearly identical voting records in their brief legislative careers (a combined decade in the U.S. Senate), what is it about Barack that makes him less attractive to the traditional democratic base?

We've got to conclude that Barack's "bitter" controversy represents a vital turning point in his candidacy - private remarks in front of elite supporters in the nation's most wacko liberal city demonstrating a large gulf in his understanding of and connection to regular Americans.

Barack's Pennsylvania campaign, which was quickly erasing Hillary's once 20 point lead 10 days ago, was stopped dead in its tracks.

In his concession speech last night, Barack congratulated Hillary for her tide-turning victory, but attacked the nature of how she obtained it, saying its not about winning at any cost - but for democrats, it should also be about how you win:
''We can be a party that thinks the only way to look tough on national security is to talk, and act, and vote like George Bush and John McCain. We can use fear as a tactic, and the threat of terrorism to scare up votes.

We can be a party that says and does whatever it takes to win the next election. We can calculate and poll-test our positions and tell everyone exactly what they want to hear..."
This argument, which on the one hand looks smart because it pulls voters back to the themes that made him the hot candidate in the first place - the promise of a different kind of politics - is a mistake now, in my opinion, as it serves to solidify his status as the intellectual/suburban (read liberal) candidate, not the man of the people.

Bill Clinton represented a "new" democratic approach - be liberal, but be normal and reasonable. A contradiction in terms, but one that made him electable. In the Hillary/Barack matchup, we're seeing a faceoff now between these two images - the electable candidate versus the NPR candidate.

NPR can get the nomination. He can't win the presidency. That's the lesson of Pennsylvania.

Whether Barack gets the nomination isn't the question - it will take a minor miracle for him to lose it. The question is, "how screwed are the democrats with Barack Obama as the nominee?"

The answer? Very screwed.
04/23/2008 - 3:32am
It appears that Hillary will win Pennsylvania with a 7-10 point margin (16% of the vote is tallied as I write), and the question is - does Hillary's story line start to take hold? Outspent 3-1, can her argument that Barack is a flawed candidate become an accepted fact amongst democrats?

The backbone of the party must know that they can't win with Barack as the nominee. The problem is, how do they dump him without causing disastrous pain to the party? And how badly do they want to considering their disdain for the Clintons?

While Hillary's argument is dead on, democrats can't walk away from the fact that Barack is leading in vote totals and delegates without betraying those things they pretend to believe in - democracy, minorities, liberalism and change.

They're stuck with the flawed candidate.

But the festivities continue. And Hillary continues to tear Barack up for John McCain - at least for two more weeks.

What fun!
04/22/2008 - 3:49pm
Zogby's tracking poll released today shows Hillary opening up a ten point lead going into today's voting, up from six points in the previous two day cycle. This confirms the trend indicated by the Suffolk University poll yesterday and leaks in Drudge that said Hillary's internal polling gives her an eleven point lead.
She now leads Obama, 51% to 41%, having gained three points over the past 24 hours as Obama lost one point, pushing her beyond the poll's margin of error to create a statistically significant lead for the first time in the Pennsylvania daily tracking poll.
Could this be the result of the Michael Moore endorsement?
04/22/2008 - 1:14pm
Just what Barack needs - another endorsement from the radical wing of their political hemisphere. Following up on the burden of winning the public support of Robert Reich last week, Barack is hit with another blow - the endorsement of Michael Moore. Moore's comments, written on his website and shared with the world by AP, offers some insights into the burdens democrats carry into this election year with Barack as the nominee:
Moore writes that Obama's experience and voting record aren't as important as his "basic decency" and ability to inspire. "What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change," Moore writes. "My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate."
But the Movement that Moore endorses is the double edged sword of the Obama candidacy. Barack has found the trigger to release the pent-up demand for "change," making him the Magic Man of 2008. He's got the magic, but he doesn't have the goods, he doesn't have the experience to be president, as Michael Moore so aptly points out.
"I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for eight long years," he writes. "That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters — that big 'D' on the ballot."
To switch metaphors on Moore, let's consider that the pummeling that Americans have suffered is not that of a boxer, but rather, that of a scorned lover. Choices shouldn't be made when the decision making apparatus is still under the influence of real-time hurt. The mistakes made by a lover on the rebound are the stuff of legend.

This is what democrats are doing by allowing themselves to be seduced by Barack. They are so desperate to regain their footing that they are moving forward blind to their new lover's obvious liabilities. This is the energy that drives the Obama movement. This is the danger it represents.
Moore says he is disappointed with the Democratic Party, too, for failing to end the war despite public outcry and for "do(ing) the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgment ..."
Let's recap Moore's endorsement then. Democrats are a failure, Barack isn't a great candidate, but since he's articulated the frustration that a big chunk of the electorate feels about the present, he's the guy to vote for.

This is the trap that democrats are in. They sense it even if they don't see it, which is why they've kept Hillary around so long. But it is the template for a losing campaign.
04/22/2008 - 12:54pm
A good title, but there's little analysis on the premise in a Chicago Tribune story today entitled, "Obama 'brand' has taken a hit."
"They made a very serious choice that will have long-standing consequences - to put their brand at stake in order to try to deliver this knockout blow, that they've been campaigning about this -- you know, with this notion of politics of hope. I don't think that that's how they've behaved," said Clinton strategist Geoff Garin.

There's no doubt that Barack is willing to cross over to the dark side when circumstances require. As he described yesterday, after you take a few elbows to the ribs, you have to respond. While this has brought him down into the ring that he sought to float above, the question is - does the brand remain strong even as he mixes it up like any old street fighter?

For the sake of primary season, I suspect that the Obama calculation is correct - his brand as the good guy will remain strong enough as Hillary solidifies her brand as the 'do anything to win' candidate - that he can afford to do the dance he's doing. Democrats know the game that the Clintons are playing, and most of them don't like it.

The damage that's done is, of course, long term. It will be harder for Barack to act like the Messiah during the general election. He and McCain will mix it up on equal terms - one party nominee against the other - and Barack will be forced to answer for his thin resume and shaky associations, as John McCain will have to answer for his long history in public life.

This is the gift that Hillary has given the nation.
04/21/2008 - 11:55pm
No waffling today from Barack.

At an Obama visit to a diner in Scranton, there was some tension with the media. Asked about his inability to attract support from working class white voters, Barack put Aunt Jemima down and said, "Let them eat waffles."

Am I remembering that correctly?

Better watch the video.
04/21/2008 - 6:44pm
Visit RezkoWatch for the background on today's editorial in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review attacking the Obama campaign and its odd response to Barack's Hamas support.
04/21/2008 - 6:24pm
Drudge is reporting that the internal, private polls of the Clinton campaign are showing her lead up to 11%.

A move this dramatic is outside the norm of what over polls are showing, except for a Suffolk University poll that gives Hillary a 10 point margin. See below for more numbers.
04/21/2008 - 4:31pm
Hillary has a 7 point lead in Pennsylvania according to today's Quinnipiac poll, a 1 point improvement for Clinton from a week ago. We can now see the effects of Barack's bitterness - his slow march toward catching Hillary has been stopped cold by the week-long controversy, with the vote being held tomorrow.
"Pennsylvania voters apparently made up their minds a couple of weeks ago and nothing has happened since to change them. An extraordinary turnout effort by Sen. Barack Obama's campaign could snatch this victory from Sen. Hillary Clinton, but that does not appear likely," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
A Suffolk University poll also released today shows Hillary with a ten point lead, and more ominous trends for democrats, as 40% of voters are conflicted over what they'll do if their candidate doesn't get the nomination:
In addition to the 20% of disgruntled Democratic voters defecting to McCain, another 4% would vote for independent Ralph Nader, and 20% were undecided about what they would ultimately do in November.

Zogby's tracking poll shows Hillary up 6 points in Pennsylvania, making the Suffolk numbers at the extreme end of the spectrum.

McCain leads Hillary and McCain both by 5 points in national head to head
tracking polls by Rasmussen.

Barack leads Hillary by the same 5 points in their national poll. Gallup shows the democrats divided by just two points with Barack in the lead.
04/21/2008 - 4:18pm
Is it just me, or do you find the stories about McCain's unmanaged anger the perfect antidote to the PC era?
It is unclear precisely what issue set off McCain that day. But at some point, he mocked Grassley to his face and used a profanity to describe him. Grassley stood and, according to two participants at the meeting, told McCain, "I don't have to take this. I think you should apologize."

McCain refused and stood to face Grassley. "There was some shouting and shoving between them, but no punches," recalls a spectator, who said that Nebraska Democrat Bob Kerrey helped break up the altercation.

In the battle for the heartland, it seems to me that the throwback quality of John McCain - good old fashioned American-style masculinity, including a bit of pig-headed belligerence - is just what the doctor ordered to go up against the Kerry-esque Obama.
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