Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Russ Daggatt Appraises Super Tuesday

I'm mostly posting weekends, nowadays. But this appraisal by Russ Daggatt is too good not to re-post here for you all to chew on. (Why are so few pundits or news guys this good?):

Here is a quick summary of the Democratic primary battle as of this morning:

In the primaries/caucuses before yesterday, Obama had secured 70 delegates vs. Clinton 's 57. But Hillary had 193 "superdelegates" pledged vs. 106 for Obama. So despite Obama having "won" more delegates, Clinton was leading 250 to 176.

[Note on "superdelegates": The 2008 Democratic National Convention, where the Democratic presidential ticket is formally agreed upon, has 796 superdelegates (although the number is not final until March 1, 2008). Those superdelegates include all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, various additional elected officials, as well as members of the Democratic National Committee. But, note, even “pledged” superdelegates are not locked in and can always change their minds.]

Here is how the states sorted out last night. Obama won 13 states and Hillary won 8 (with New Mexico still too close to call -- about 100 votes separates the two candidates without counting something like 16,000 provisional ballots). Here are the states won by each.

Obama
Alabama
Alaska
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Kansas
Minnesota
Missouri
North Dakota

Clinton
Arizona
Arkansas
Massachusetts
New Jersey
New York
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Utah

But, apart from bragging rights, it is the delegates that matter. And that’s where it gets complicated

The delegate count from last night is not final, and everyone seems to have a different count. Last time I checked: Obama's camp claims he got 847 to 834 for Clinton . NBC was projecting a range of 840 - 849 for Obama and 829 - 838 for Clinton . I don’t know of anyone (not even the Clinton camp) who is claiming she will have gotten more delegates from yesterday’s voting.

In addition, I've seen reports this morning showing the current superdelegate count at: 201 for Clinton vs.110 for Obama.

So that puts the total delegate count to date at ... who knows. Obama is almost certainly ahead in delegates awarded from the primaries and caucuses to date (a fact that seems to be little remarked upon in the media). Clinton probably has an overall lead of between 50 and 100 delegates if you count the superdelegates who have said they will support her. Despite Clinton ’s lead in the delegate count, I would say, on balance, it is advantage Obama right now. But it is close enough where an almost infinite number random events could swing it either way.

There was so much momentum for Obama going into yesterday’s races that Clinton seems to have won this morning’s “spin” battle just by holding on to a few key states like New York , New Jersey and California . But that overlooks the fact that Clinton had huge, double-digit leads nationally and in almost all key states only a couple of weeks ago. Given that, Obama’s performance was nothing short of stunning. However, as with New Hampshire, his momentum in the last few days created such high expectations that Clinton ended up beating expectations despite a performance (coming out of Super Tuesday with fewer delegates than Obama) that would have been considered disastrous only a couple of weeks earlier. Election night results didn’t reflect Obama’s win in the delegate count, which didn’t lend itself as well as the state “wins” to projections and early tallies. (And the lazy media has trouble getting beyond the state-by-state vote tallies.) Alas, “spin” does matter.

Obama also has more money than Clinton (having raised $32 million in January – at least twice as much as Clinton – more on that below). And at least for the rest of February, the schedule seems to favor Obama. Here’s a partial list of what’s next up:

February 9
Louisiana (primary)
Washington State (caucus)
Nebraska (caucus)

February 10
Maine (caucus)

February 12
DC (primary)
Maryland (primary)
Virginia (primary)

February 19
Wisconsin (primary)

March 4
(all primaries)
Ohio
Texas
Rhode Island
Vermont

April 22
Pennsylvania (primary)

State polls have been all over the place this season. Even right up to the day of the vote, a lot of the polling has been way off. So I won’t try to handicap any of these state races. (Except to say, I think Obama will do well for the rest of February, but Ohio and Pennsylvania probably favor Clinton because of their heavy blue-collar and unionized vote.) In any event, given the Democrats proportional awarding of delegates, it is unlikely that either Obama or Clinton will open up a lead in the delegate count that is greater than the 796 superdelegates (or even the 500 or so “un-pledged” superdelegates). If I had to bet, I would put the odds on Obama “winning” more delegates than Clinton between now and the convention. And a lot of the superdelegates will probably follow the lead of voters in their respective states. Still, if it comes down to the superdelegates deciding this thing, that is the kind of insider game that I would expect the Clintons to play well.

Another wild card is the Florida and Michigan delegations. As you probably know, the DNC penalized those states for not playing by the rules and moving their primaries up before Super Tuesday. The penalty is supposed to be that their delegates won’t get seated at the convention. The candidates were supposed to avoid campaigning in those states, but Hillary managed to become the only candidate on the ballot in Michigan and also took the most delegates in Florida . (Ironically, those states would have ended up having more influence had they scheduled their primaries after Super Tuesday.) The Clintons apparently believe rules are for suckas, and they are already insisting that those delegations be seated. 185 delegates are at stake, and Clinton leads 2-to-1. Expect very heavy pressure from the Clinton camp and the state parties in those states. It will get ugly.

Imagine the outrage among Democratic voters if Obama goes in to the convention with a non-trivial, but non-decisive delegate lead only have to have the insiders tip the thing to Hillary? (That fact makes me think it is unlikely that the superdelegates will go against the primary results.) But we all know, for the Clintons it is all about them. If they have to destroy the party to win, there is no question what they will do. (While president, Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” – positioning himself between the Republicans and his own party – tended to undermine the Democratic party even while serving him well. Similarly, had he resigned after the Lewinsky affair, Gore would have had clear sailing and an easy go of it in 2000. But, of course, he didn’t.)

Finally, money may become a big factor from here on out. It is being reported today that Clinton has already loaned her campaign $5 million in January and intends to lend it more. As I mentioned before, Obama outraised her in January by at least a 2-to-1 margin. And he tends to have a larger number of smaller donors whose donations are only for the primary race. Clinton , on the other hand, has depended more on a smaller number of donors more of whom have maxed out for both the primaries and the general election. With her inevitability bubble having been burst, the special interests may keep their checkbooks in their briefcases until there is more clarity in the race. In other words, Obama has the momentum, the enthusiasm and the money. The Clintons , on the other hand, have the wiles and a powerful establishment machine. Should be tight.

There is no drama on the Republican side. Being essentially authoritarian, Republicans like to follow a strong leader and their primary system is designed to produce one ASAP. With delegates awarded on a winner-take-all basis, McCain has clear sailing ahead. The only (remote) hope for Romney or the Huckster was that the other one would fall out and the crazy base would rally behind the remaining one. Fortunately for McCain, they both still have a pulse.

It is entirely possible that the Democrats won’t coalesce around a candidate until the Democratic Convention in Denver on August 25 – 28. Is that good or bad? I have no idea. With all the drama on the Democratic side, it might be hard for McCain to get much attention. But it gives the Republicans more time to heal their wounds, organize and build a war chest for the general election. But Republicans also won’t know who to smear – if they use the Hillary menace to unite their party (and that is the probably the only thing that can right now) it may just have the effect of helping Obama get the nomination.

Should be interesting.

Indeed!

More from me under comments, below. (For example, I think the dems will be sorted out BEFORE the convention, maybe well before. But I find the GOP race more interesting, despite McCain's obvious momentum.)

==See more: Politics for the 21st Century


David Brin
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42 comments:

David Brin said...

A few points. (Some of these were made, in crude form, in comments last time.)

1) Obama now perceives his problem with latinos. Just look at the Super Tuesday map, where Hillary took the southwest tier. Barack can reach out to this demographic. On the other hand, Hillary has to wait till March 4 to get another latino bump, in Texas. In fact, most of her best next-states are a month away, while Obama has several momentum builders just next week. These, in-turn, will influence super-delegates.

2) Obama now perceives his problem with lower income democrats. We all should have seen this coming, since Barack seems overwhelmingly prefered by upper income and educated dems. (Do YOU know any Hillary supporters among your peers?) A fact reflected in his huge advantage fundraising. Still, his Chicago speech last night seemed to reflect a sudden understanding that he’d better work hard on the common touch. Except for blacks, the poor have yet to be convinced. (A possible wedge for Huckabee, later? Populism is finicky!)

If Obama can win big in Lousiana etc, over the next few weeks, AND fix his populist message, things may clarify sooner than some folks think, perhaps in 2-3 weeks. Also, despite news reporters’ hysteria, I see no sign at all that there’s much personal animosity between the two camps. Not so much that kiss and makeup won’t be almost instantaneous at the convention. Bill & Hill know that many patronage appointments... plus many nights in the Lincoln Bedroom... await if they play nice.

In contrast, I am rare in finding the Republican race far more transfixing. The bilious Fox/Limbaugh attacks upon McCain. The blatant state swapping between the Romney and Huckabee camps. The sudden Fox party line (last night) that “moderates have always been welcome in our big tent.” (Right!) These point to an establishment in torment, seeking a path to salvation. And if McCain is NOT salvation in their eyes. If he does seem annointed for the GOP nom, then watch out. That path could be really, really scary.

Ready for another paranoid-thriller plot? (Hey, it’s the way I am paid to think.)

Consider - McCain is more appealing to the American middle than Mitt or Huck. He might campaign well and bring things closer to even... but still he has little chance. Also consider - McCain - even if he wins - is Rupert Murdoch’s nightmare. No telling what compromises he might make. Certainly on taxes, energy, campaign reform and (worst of all) transparency. Worst of all, by compromising on such matters and negotiating, he might deeply undermine Culture War as a society distraction tool.

Now further consider that McCain will have to turn rightward, in picking a running mate. Or else risk a 3rd party insurrection at that end. (Oh, please let it happen!) He must pick Huckabee, or a similar Nehemia Scudder type. (If you don’t know that reference, wiki it, and shudder at Heinlein’s accuracy, forecasting an American theocracy in 2012.) Or else a Cheney-clone. Ideally, someone a lot like Bush.

Now add in McCain’s poor health. Plus the fact that millions of Americans admire him as a man, even if they don’t like his views.

Can you see it yet? Put all this together, and would YOU like to be head of his Secret Service detail, or his personal doctor, or his food taster, during the 08 campaign? Think. A high-stature hero-martyr is the kind of election shakeup that could make all the difference -- a hail-Mary pass in the big game. (Repeat “9/11” to yourself twenty times.) Just the thing to get that W-clone veep over the top.

All right, it’s a paranoid thriller plot. I'm trained to think that way.

But this one tracks straight-line along the course we are headed. And it would only take the right man, moment, machine... and motivation.

This is one year I REALLY want to see the Secret Service doubled!

LorenzoStDuBois said...

Who is Russ Daggatt? Can you link to your source? Is that from his blog? I'm interested!

cabeal said...

On McCain from the American Conservative:

http://www.amconmag.com/2008/2008_02_11/cover.html

Nice blog, David.
Good work, and I look forward to catching up.
cb

Mark said...

Just to get an idea how much more money Obama has than Clinton at this point, Obama has already raised more than $5 million since the polls closed last night. Click here for the current total. Amazing what hundreds of thousands of smaller donations can do. Clinton's supporters, those with the money, have already maxed out.

Now he needs to use this advantage correctly.

Zechariah said...

David Bowie: Changes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJtgEfIla0A

Take a look. It was well cut.

DemetriosX said...

An interesting analysis by Daggett, and he has hinted at another way in which Hillary is the best thing that could happen for the Republicans. If Obama does when the elected delegate count, but the nomination goes to Hillary thanks to the superdelegates (or even through the seating of the FL and MI delegates), a lot of Democrat voters may very well stay home. Couple that with the extra republic voters that will come out to vote against her, and the GOP wins.

Obama not only needs to work on his message to blue collar Dems, he also has to close the superdelegate gap. Some are urging people to contact their elected representatives who are superdelegates, especially if their district went for Obama. OTOH, a missive has come from the Obama campaign (but it isn't clear if this is official) warning that a flood of contacts could backfire. I think, though, at the very least, that if your district went for Obama and your representative has pledged for Hillary, some sort of polite (!) contact might be in order.

One place to get an idea of how superdelegates are leaning is http://demconwatch.blogspot.com/ (I'm not affiliated in any way), which has some interesting analysis of the whole primary.

reason said...

Re the paranoid story, anybody who thinks they tip who the GOP VP candidate would be?

I can't think that Huckabee would be a serious suggestion for McCain (I just don't think they would compatable). But who else might it be (the younger Bush?).

Anomalous said...

The VP thing has always puzzled me. Here's a guy who's only actual job is to break tie votes in the Senate, and hang around waiting for the president to die.

Presidential nominees seem to pick them based on one of two notions: first that the VP carries some sort of coat-tail effect in places where the main candidate is not well liked. I don't know anybody who's ever said, "Well, I loathe that guy, but his running mate with the ineffectual job is OK, so I guess I'll vote for him." Usually it's more "I loathe that guy less than I loathe the other guy that's running."

Second, and more cynically, VPs get selected as an insurance policy against getting impeached or assassinated. "You may not like me, but ponder if you will President Quayle."

I sorta think it's a non-issue that won't really sway anybody's vote unless the candidate makes a really obviously bad choice.

Pat said...

The most important things to my mind about this primary are:

The talking heads don't know what they're saying or doing. I've started tuning them out totally. They're treating this like a horse race and that's not what counts; plus, their heads are in the past.

A lot of Democrats are like me: we like Obama for one thing and Clinton for another but would quite happily live with either if our candidate should not be selected.

It's a Major Turning Point election as big as or bigger than those of 1906, 1932, 1960, and 1980 - some are saying, as big as those of 1860 and 1932. How many of the talking heads know this? The New Mexico party chiefs didn't. And ---

The younger generation - the Millies - have turned out in great and eager numbers, totally shocking those whose view of youth participation goes clear! back! to 1980! They should only go to school with these kids and they'd have picked up on that trend a few years back.

Anonymous said...

@anomalous

I'd vote for either, but if Hillary puts Clark on as Veep, I would campaign hard for them. Getting someone good with the base would really help Hillary in general.

Mike Treder said...

David, re your paranoid conspiracy (shades of "The Manchurian Candidate"!), imagine if McCain agreed to take on Jeb Bush as his VP, and then, suddenly...

Anonymous said...

Romney's out - will he lay low and come back as McCain's VP prospect?

Stefan Jones said...

After reading Romney's withdrawl speech, I take back anything good I've said about him.

Do you think his sons will now join the military? Or will they really sacrifice and join McCain's presidential campaign?

David Brin said...

Anomalous, you are behind the times. Democratic presidents tend to pick for very different reasons:
1) could the guy actually do the job.
2) Do we get along.
3) Can he help me pass my agenda
4) Can he be a good “assistant president.”
5) Can he boost me in a needed region or with a fractious wing of the party
6) Can he offer me a look and feel of increased substance.

JFK chose Johnson for #1&3. 2&4 were right out.
Carter chose for #1 alone, in picking Mondale. Carter was compulsive
McGovern tried #5 and got the Eagleton mess
Dukakis went for all six, but especially #6. It helped. But nothing

Clinton chose for 1,2 &4 and people seldom note that Gore was the very first VP, ever, about whom there were no jokes that he was a “useless third wheel.” He had very noticeable authority, was backed up by the White House and accomplished big things, at a major clip.

Republicans have very different standards. They use the Veep slot as a bridgebuilding step, like wedding feuding noble houses. And this is precisely what whill happen when McCain is forced to choose a Cheney-clone (with Huckabee links to the fundies, but enough blackmail in the background to keep him from veering populist.) Yes, both Quayle and Cheney were also life insurance. But in very different ways.

Again,I’d wince over a Hillary nom. We’d look foolish around the world for going for this dynasty thing. We’d have another decade of culture war and unneeded drama. Above all, she’d draw several million disspirited Republicans to the polls... just at a time when we have a chance for a real split-up on the far right. Maybe even a thhird party insurrection! Nothing would prevent that better than an HC nom.

But I’ll fight like hell for her if she’s it. She won’t get Health Care. She won’t be able to pass a single bill. But she’ll appoint Homosapiens to the buereaucracy, courts, justice, defense and let them do their jobs. That’s eighty-percent, in my book.

Oh, but Obama Clarke... please. We could blast Rove’s tent to smitherens and scatter the smithereens to the wind.

Mike, stop it! McCain appoints Jeb, then conveniently gets martyred. Clinton-Bush right there on the ballot... Oh you nasty man! Fortunately, even the psycho who’s writing all this won’t go THAT far....

BTW... VIRAL THIS YOUTUBE ITEM!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnq6cD5jk1Q

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous.

Hillary loans herself 5 million, gets it back + 2.5, and having lowered expectations enough, CNN and MSNBC give her an hour of free air time, touting her "comeback".

Nevermind that Obama raised slightly more, in the same time period, with no debt.

Tony Fisk said...

My turn with the tinfoil:
McCain's safe for now. 'The Base' will strike *after* his election.

But a less depressing thought for the GOP side: McCain/Schwarzkopf? (Oh, silly me! It's the *other* lot who choose 1-5! But then, isn't McCain...?)

Dave Rickey said...

There's not going to be a McCain/Huckabee ticket. The Religious Right is playing this one to lose. Look at McCain getting booed at CPAC, and at Dobson sending out a letter that he won't vote for McCain. And, for that matter, the way that Huckabee threw states to Romney on Tuesday.

The Religious Right wants the next president to be a Democrat who narrowly defeated a Republican candidate they were publicly against. And they really want it to be Hillary, because then they can precisely meter how close the election is by dialing up or down the anti-Hillary sentiment in their congregations.

The next president has one hell of a mess to clean up. We're going to have a serious economic shock, we're embroiled in two wars that aren't going well (even the "Good" war in Afghanistan has started to go to hell because of being starved for resources). If Hillary is the nominee, they'll fix it for her, then slam her mercilessly for the next 4 years while beating the drum of "You can't win without us" inside the Republican party.

Then in 2012, they run Huckabee as the presumptive nominee, and this time throw their full weight behind him, as well as pulling out all the stops on their ground-level election fraud ala Ohio 2004. After that, we're pretty much screwed.

--Dave

TwinBeam said...

DB - why wouldn't Hillary get Health Care?

Chances are the Dems would have Congress too if she gets elected.

And if there's one thing she'll expend her "post-election honeymoon" political capital on, it'd be her carefully wonked-out health care ideas.

Or are you, like me, expecting the economy will turn south soon, making it hard to push through any new spending or taxes?

Dave Rickey said...

Let me take a stab at that one: Because Hillary would be death on down-ticket Democrats, *especially* if she gets the nomination through some kind of back room deal.

Obama is taking a lot of small states by huge margins, that's what has this a contest. And he's doing it by bringing in new voters in unprecedented numbers, in states that currently count as "Red States". He gets the nomination, the Senate almost certainly gets to more than 60 Democrats and the GOP can't excercise so much control over what can and can't get past the Senate.

Hillary gets the nomination "legitimately", she gets a Senate that looks like the one we have now and a slightly better House. The GOP can still dig in and block real Health Care reform and guarantee that whatever makes it through is even more of a gift to HMO's and Big Pharma than her plan already is.

She gets it in a back room deal that leaves all those Obama primary voters feeling like their man got screwed, and they'll either stay home or take it out on the Superdelegates (who are mostly elected officials, about half of them in Congress and every Democratic congressperson is by definition a Superdelegate). The Senate flips Republican, possibly the House does to. Hillary will still get stuff through by practicing triangulation, but it will be stuff further to the right than what Bush has been getting out of a Democrat-dominated Congress.

--Dave

Matt DeBlass said...

But what I really want to know is: Will Ann Coulter follow through on her promise to campaign for Hillary if McCain gets the nomination?

Marc said...

David,

I did not consider your "idea" about a McClain martyr scam. It has merit.

I would think that such a "trick" would be used with; A) no knowledge of McCain, and B) some Vice President picked who can benefit from the "looky what them Islamo-fascists done did to our President!"

I'd lay 2-to-1 odds on your theory if a humble Jeb Bush is picked as the Veep, and 3-to-1 if Cheney is picked as Veep.

I'm hearing of a lot of caging in California and New York. Couple that with Limbaugh and Coulter slamming McCain -- when the NeoCon consigliere, William Kristol gave McCain the "reasonable candidate" endorsement. I predicted over 3 years ago, that the Republican shills would come out and push for Hillary to win. Mainly because; NeoCons want to dump a bad economy on a Democrat, and NeoCons don't want anyone who will investigate.

If Hillary made a deal with Rupert Murdoch and other NeoCons to get support in exchange for not going after the war profiteering and/or FCC liberalization -- well, that's the assumption I made when I predicted that NeoCon shills would stump for Hillary.

>> Did anyone else you know make such a ballsy, and astute prediction?

Marc said...

Matt DeBlass said...

But what I really want to know is: Will Ann Coulter follow through on her promise to campaign for Hillary if McCain gets the nomination?


>> I'll field that;
Coulter will only push for Hillary with the Right Wing audience. Coming out too publicly, in front of Dems, would be like Osama Bin Laden endorsing McCain.

With a snake like Coulter, a phrase comes to mind; "Don't throw me in that brier patch."

Mark said...

It looks like Hillary has also raised tons of money on line since Super Tuesday: $7 million and counting, almost as much as Barack. I much prefer Obama, but this is still really important and really good. As I commented elsewhere, the moment it becomes conventional wisdom that politicians don't need big money donations and are better off working directly with the people, we win. Seriously.

Hillary just switched, purely out of practicality and almost by accident, from a big donor campaign to a grassroots driven campaign; in her case, suburban mothers are the grassroots. From here on out, this is where her money will come from.

Dave Rickey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Rickey said...

Yeah. It's got some interesting implications, that are not good news for the old political engines. What we've just seen is the overthrow of K Street. They started to cut her off because she was fading, she made an emotional (and IMO, manipulative) appeal to her base, and they delivered more money overnight than she was getting from the old apparatus in a month.

Obama's kicked it up a notch as well. Who would have thunk it, all we had to do to keep special interests from buying our politicians was...outbid them.

--Dave

David Brin said...

Dave brilliant observation.

Rob said...

@Stefan, I think Romney always believed the things he spoke about today.

@Dave... that's actually really interesting. Mini-payments, enabled by the Internet, make grassroots activism a funded thing, which is congruent with David's call last year for people to support their causes with a little money, if they didn't have time...

And now I can't remember what David called that sort of activism...

Enterik said...

It's been a while since I've posted here and I'm rudely not going to read all the posts here nor catch up on what has gone by in my absense, rather I will make my statement and see what happens...

My brother in law is a California Evangelical who has stated that he will vote for Obama over any of the candidates his party (GOP-registered) will throw-up but if the Democrats nominate Clinton, he will vote against Clinton and for any GOP candidate. He won't just stay home, he will go to vote against her. Why? "It's a trust issue", he says (according to my wife), he has yet to offer any reason for this lack of trust. As an educated silicon valley programmer, he seems almost willfully anti-rational but apparently not befuddled by talk radio, it's just a feeling.

I haven't had a chance to delve into this with him, it's all hearsay from my wife, but I think I can talk some sense into him if I do it right. I think of him as an Ostrich Christian, who cleaves to the GOP because it is obstensibly anti-abortion, then he turns a blind eye to all the other not so Christian qualities of their realized agenda.

Should I even bother? Maybe the cause never was? Maybe he is convinced Clinton will get the nomination and I just trying to get along with his sister who unabashedly supports Obama?

Matt DeBlass said...

This article on the US Army in todays NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/washington/08strategy.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Stabilizing a region is more important than simply destroying all the enemy? Who'da thunk it?

It's good to see some brainpower being used in the military.

David Brin said...

enterik, welcome back.

Clinton-hating is totally visceral, even in the smartest people. They have a deep-gut loathing for them... and there's a level where I can't blame them. I sense a tickle of that feeling too.

The problem is that smart people should subject subject their gut feelings to reality checks. There is a long list of things Bill Clinton did that are incompatible with the image that personality-conservatives nurse so dearly to their hearts.

* A deep drop in government secrecy
* The Welfare Reform Act
* Budget surpluses and JD Powers ratings of the most efficient US govt in history (they'll credit Gingrich, but then, the GOP dumped Gingrich for DeLay!)

And, above all, when you accuse people of bad things, slanderous things, you should allow time to prove you wrong.

* Not one Clinton "crime" ever proved - except fibbing about private nookie, in answer to a question later ruled illegal.

* Not one Clintonite even indicted for misuse of office. Not one.

You can read to your ostrich aloud from my "ostrich papers"... (just asking them to read it themselves doesn't work as well)... but the key point is simple. The Clintons had their chance to steer us toward black helicopters, camps, torture, secret armies, imperial rule and all that. They... did... not. Instead, it was the GOP that did.

As for abortion, I have elsewhere explained why the fundie right chose this as their core issue. It is the "Jesus Effect."

If Jesus came today, sandals, beard, beads, shirt-off-your-back poverty... he would blatantly be an ascetic socialist hippy. This is devastating. Hence the fundie-right needed a single issue. One so morally overwhelming (yet ambiguous) that they can claim "Jesus would choose us, over this one issue, despite disagreeing with every single other policy we foster."

Baby-killing? Yup. That fits the bill. A simple matter of dogmatic definition of the essentially ambiguous, and the rest simply falls out. You can't even argue with it!

But you can point out how incredibly CONVENIENT it all is. And if a blastocyst is NOT a "human being" then they've sure been offending old J in nearly every other way.

TwinBeam said...

Stepping back a bit from the specifics of which candidate is best and looking a bit further ahead: I'd say the country is headed into a nadir period. Things will likely get much worse before they get better.

The next president is likely to be blamed for it, and end up looking like a Hoover or a Carter - viewed as having been ineffectual in bad times that required more.

And then a president of the opposite party will be elected and given sufficient support that he or she will look like a strong leader. Regardless of how good or bad their policies are, we'll follow them and give them the credit for pulling the country out of its pit.

This may be an election that a rational person would prefer his party to lose. Oddly, it seems to be only the Neo-Cons who recognize this, even to the extent of talking about helping Clinton get elected over McCain.

Even so, I'm starting to suspect that McCain fits the Hoover/Carter mold better than Hillary, and may pull off a surprise election win exactly because that is (perversely) exactly what people want right now.

David Brin said...

twinbeam, strangely, this is a case where pessimism leads to optimism. If the economy does badly enough, this spring & summer, then the blame will fall on THIS administration and the next will be seen as the fix-it squad.

Reagan was allowed many years to "clean up after Carter's mess" even though it was a mess caused by Vietnam and Carter started us down the road of economic, military and diplomatic recovery. You are right to fear that the next president will be a Carter-style blame-catcher. The right certainly will try!

So? The advice all around is for dems and moderates not to spend much, this year. Start correcting that savings deficit. Sock away for retirement. Practice fiscal prudence and eliminate debt. Good for the nation over the long run, though possibly recession-deepening, this summer. In time for blame to fall on those who deserve it.

Mark said...

The advice all around is for dems and moderates not to spend much, this year... though possibly recession-deepening, this summer. In time for blame to fall on those who deserve it.

And then spend it all on Christmas or go on a big vacation somewhere in the U.S. in January. Help out the new President.

TwinBeam said...

Except Democrats in congress are busy pushing a stimulus package through that will hide most of the pain up through the elections.

Probably they're telling themselves that if they don't do it, they'll get blamed - if they can just avoid that and win the elections, they'll be able to set everything right. They're scared because they've got a lower approval rating than Bush. (Though I think that's because they haven't stood up to Bush on Iraq.)

Brendan Podger said...

When I did a history unit in high school, we were taught that Hitler's popularity could be in large part derived from the treatment of Germany after their defeat. They lost prestige, land, and were forced to pay reparations to the victors. After WWII while nothing much could be done about the prestige bit, the Allies made sure that Germany had the resources to rebuild and actively helped make sure they got back on their feet.

From the article "After Hard-Won Lessons.." it seems like the US army is suddenly remembering this. Although to be fair, many of the links from Contrary Brin over time point to many in the command structure getting the message but just being ignored by their CO's

Dave Rickey said...

The military is waking up to just how badly they've been used. Most especially, the way that their fallen comrades have been fucked over by this administration. They come home from their deployments, they look up their buddy, and they find out he's just been discharged on a medical for a missing leg without getting evaluated for disability. And now he's got to wait through a 9 month waiting list because the low-bidding contractor that's taken over doing that for the VA won't hire enough doctors to keep up.

Then he watches his other former squadmate, the one the Army discharged for being too damned crazy to be trusted with a firearm, coming back from a 6 month contract for Blackwater with more money than a general makes in a year.

They sit in bases built by a tenth-tier subcontractor that cost more to build than anything in the states or Europe, by just-short-of-slavery labor from the Phillipines, and that are falling apart even before they're finished. They wear helmets that may or may not be defective, and the manufacturer pays a fine with one hand while signing a contract to make more helmets with the other.

They get Neo-Pentecostal hard-sell rammed down their throat from the day they hit basic training until the day they ship out, then they don't see a chaplain again until they rotate home, where they will be sent to him rather than treated for the PTSD. They watch their best, most effective officers get railroaded out, while the worthless hacks with the right politics get promoted.

The military has more cause than most to hate the Bush administration. No wonder they're overwhelmingly contributing to Obama.

David Brin said...

Dave, this is all stuff I predicted or saw coming in 2004. I've been a pretty lonely voice calling for attention to these matters.

What's really needed is factual compilations. Ideally even a veteran's organization furious and dedicated to making all this vivid.

It's already too late for the BIG thing this all should have prompted. The DemParty is simply stupid not to have pushed for a top-quality former officer to run for Congress in EVERY gerrymandered GOP district. I know a couple and they are great. But it should have been done systematically, across the whole country.

And if Obama has two neurons to rub together, he will reach out to these brave and good folks. He needs one of them right by his side.

Rob said...

Well, I know what's going to happen to that check they're planning to send me and my family of seven.

It's going into the bank. All of it. Invested in some kind of relatively secure vehicle, against the day one of the family sees his or her health go south.

We have to do it; our health care insurance costs went up 30% this year, wiping out the raise I was given. Without a cash buffer a simple broken arm would run our credit cards up $6500 before insurance even tried to kick in.

If that serves the Dems, so be it.

Dave Rickey said...

@ David:

Doesn't that just go exactly to the core of the problem, though? We have entered a world of future shock, we're trapped inside the singularity.

My grandmother told me back in the 80's that the world had changed so much, she couldn't even recognize it anymore. That has accelerated, most of our contemporaries no longer recognize the world in which they find themselves.

If someone had *accurately* predicted the world of 1998 in '88, how far-fetched and ridiculous would it have seemed? Cell phones, the internet, speed-dating, the collapse of the USSR and the dismantling of Apartheid without a genocidal war?

If someone had accurately predicted the world we live in right this minute in 1998, it would have seemed completely insane. We're trapped in a dystopian scifi thriller written by the bastard offspring of Phillip K. Dick and Tom Clancy.

Any theory of what things will be like 10 years from now, or even 5, *must* be implausible on the surface to have any chance of accuracy. But then how is anyone supposed to make a judgement when comparing such proposals?

And I think much of what we're seeing from the right these days is an absolute refusal to face reality. They want to pretend that they can grab control and make things *stop*. That it will all be better if we just set down what kind of society we're supposed to have, and then we don't let anything mess with that. They can't have it, but they *demand* it.

And so, what are those of us who live in the "reality based community" supposed to do? I saw a lot of this stuff coming in 2004, myself. And it was just too damned wierd, I would have questioned my own sanity if I had let myself believe it could actually happen. I certainly didn't talk about it.

And yet, here we are.

--Dave

David Brin said...

Um... Dave... I wrote much of EARTH in 1988. That's why it was set exactly 50 years later, in 2038.

And seems to many that I got great big chunks right. Breakup of the Soviet Union. Internet for everybody. Blogging and bio-logging. Global warming and climate change. U name it.

Well... I didn't expect America to go quite so stoopid. We can still change that, I hope.

Anonymous said...

Bills a likable guy. I'd love to have a beer with him.

But the king does not make the weather.

He got a massive boost from the adoption of technology that greatly increased productivity, effeciency, and, yes, consumption.

He didn't build the internet or put those GPS satellites in the air. He won at the right time to come out looking good.

He started extraordinary rendition to countries known to torture. Whatever you think of the Balkans, he promoted the notion that the US could use a "moral imperative" to launch an illegal (and it was, under international law) war without a hint of Causus Belli.

He did nothing about racially biased drug laws, he rolled over like a whipped puppy on health care and the right of Gays to serve in our military
(both repeated campaign promises he completely ignored after token efforts).

He did nothing to bring these issues up again in the second term, when he apparently had nothing to lose.

Why?

His wife needed issues to run on in eight years. Why do you think he kept his mouth shut about Florida? About Ohio? As early as his second term, they were playing the game to get back into the White House.

Well, we need a President who wants to achieve more than electing President Chelsea Clinton Bush, in 2020.

Down in LA on saturday, 17% of Obamas voters told exit pollsters they would never vote for Clinton. The question wasn't asked in WA, NE, or ME.

LA doesn't exactly swarm with wonky voters, but how does Clinton win when she won't turn out voters in Northern California or Los Angeles to counterbalance the rest of So-Cal, and can't get Seattle to vote for her to balance the rest of WA?

A lot of older voters need to talk to younger people a bit more, because they're missing the reality of a movement. The Party craps on these kids in August, and the Democratic Party throws away the White House for a Generation.

The ONLY parts of the Democratic loyal voter base Obama has gotten to vote for him are wealthy liberal moderates and African Americans...but those are only 40% of his vote.

The other 60% are his dates to the dance, and they're mostly riding home with him.

Why did the DNC create SuperDelegates, conterbalancing the reforms to the primary system in 72 which gave the people a direct voice?

The answer is simple. A direct voice was given to the people...and the people Nominated McGovern and Carter.

TwinBeam said...

Q: WHY did the Dems support Telecom immunity in the PAA?
A: They probably cut a deal with the Bush administration, to get cooperation in keeping the economy good through the elections. (Congress would be blamed, and they're in the majority.)

Q: Why is Telecom immunity so important to the administration?
A: The Telecom companies know too much. "Get us immunity or it all comes out - before the elections."

Note how congress keeps stringing out the PAA vote. Sure that may just mean they can't decide. More likely they really would like to let it sunset, but have found out it's a good way to twist the administration's arm for concessions and make sure he keeps his part of any deals. Squelching the anti-immunity ammendment maintains their bargaining power, since Bush would veto the bill if it didn't have immunity.

Or, of course, you could believe that Bush is just very loyal to the Telecom companies for helping him spy on us, or that he sincerely needs the Protect America Act and the cooperation of the Telecoms, to protect us from terrorism by spying on us. Did I mention I've got this bridge for sale, cheap?