The 2008 Presidential Elections’ headline should simply read, “Obama”. Obama, whether or not he wins the Democratic primaries or the general elections thereafter, has single-handedly defined this election year and transformed it into the most exciting, energizing and most participative one in recent memory.
Notice how Hillary with her claim of superior experience and ready-for-day-one sound bite has been continuously re-locating her own voice to sound more like Obama’s. Even the Republican candidates have each claimed to be the one who would bring an Obama-like change to the White House. I even get the feeling from George Will’s recent columns that he has secretly become an Obama supporter.
Just look at that the numbers and you’ll see that what Obama has done is astonishing. For example, Hillary’s spinsters have tried to argue that her win in Massachusetts was a major victory. But two weeks ago, she was ahead in the polls by double digits, while on Super Tuesday she only won by a few points.
Or look at California. A few weeks ago, Hillary was up by a huge margin. One month ago, two million Californians had already voted by mail, and still Obama was able to cut her lead to a small fraction. As George Will writes,
Obama’s achievements on Tuesday would have been considered astonishing just two weeks ago, but they have been partially discounted because the strength of his ascendancy became so apparent in advance. And he would have taken an even larger stride toward the nomination were it not for a novelty that advanced thinkers have inflicted on the political process . . .
. . . On Tuesday, the Democratic Party paid a price for early voting, especially in California, where more than 2 million votes were cast in the 29 days before what is anachronistically called Election Day. The price was paid by the party’s most potentially potent nominee, Obama, whose surge became apparent after many impatient voters had already rushed to judgment.
Although Obama lost California to Clinton by almost 390,000 votes, he surely ran much closer in the votes cast on Tuesday, after her double-digit lead in polls had evaporated. Had he won the third of the three C’s — he won Connecticut, where a large portion of voters are in her New York City media market, and in Colorado, a red Western state rapidly turning purple — he might now be unstoppable.
The pundits and press would love to turn this into a real battle between white and black, black and Latino, and men and women. They want us to believe that the Democratic Party is somehow being divided, but this is simply not the case. A closer analysis and you’ll see that there really isn’t a party divide.
That divide simply doesn’t exist. The press may point to African Americans who, with the exception of New York, are overwhelmingly voting for Obama. But this is more due to Bill Clinton’s own self-imposed wound than any other cause. As a matter of fact, African Americans were Clinton supporters until Bill shamelessly opened his miscalculating mouth. In California, Obama and Hillary split the white vote evenly. The voter breakdown is more related to political loyalties in voter blocks than due to racial or ethnic imperatives.
In places where Obama has not been able to campaign strongly, Hillary has still been able to sustain the bread and butter Democratic voting pool through her “Clinton” brand and party loyalties. Hillary gets the most conservative Democrats, and by conservative, I mean those who vote based on their party loyalty (seniority and rank), such as the blue collar voters and trade unions. On the other hand, Obama brings in the more educated, younger and independent-minded voters.
This doesn’t mean that the party is split on these lines either. Speak to Hillary supporters and you’ll see that they are all Obama fans. They simply have a preference for Hillary. Obama voters, on the other hand, are mobilized, excited, and committed.
Once again, look at the numbers. Obama raised some $32 million from private donors in January alone. The average Obama supporter donation is in the $100 ballpark, whereas a large percentage of Hillary financiers have maxed out their campaign finance limits.
Since Tuesday, Obama has raised some $7.2 million more from private donors, while Hillary has loaned herself $5 million dollars from the Billary estate. I am sure Hillary will even try to spin her self-loan into a call for empathy, making her look vulnerable yet likeable. Now if I were a blue collar voter, I’d ask myself whether I identified with the Clintons’ estimated $20-50 million net worth. I guess there is big money in public service!
Furthermore, Obama’s camp, unlike Billary, has played a very clean race. They have not pressed Hillary to detail and reveal her opaque role in the Bill Clinton White House. Nor has he pressed her on what Bill Clinton would do hanging around a potential Hillary White House or whether another Clinton presidency somehow circumvents the Twenty-second Amendment on presidential term limits. Doesn’t the entire “experience” and “it may take a second Clinton to clean up” argument clash with the entire spirit of the Amendment?
As a matter of fact, no one has asked Hillary follow up questions to the “Bush Clinton Bush Clinton” dynasty and Bill’s role questions. She either makes a funny one-liner response or laughs about “Bill being Bill” or this being “my presidency”. The follow up questions is, “Hillary, this question isn’t a joke, really why is this not a dynasty”
Then there’s the argument somehow Hillary has been vetted, has already stood up to Republican attacks in the past, and is therefore in a better position that Obama. Hillary sites one single questionable Obama friendship. How many of Billary’s Arkansas buddies were indicted? Personally, I’d much prefer to give the Republicans a new face to attack than to suffer hearing about all of the Clintons’ slime-ball friends, shady deals, and endless attacks. We’ve already lived through the 90s.
To think that we’ve already learned everything about the Clintons’ is simply wrong. The Republicans will go after them, their finances, and their post Clinton presidency friends. Hillary has yet to disclose her personal assets. Former Clinton strategist, Dick Morris, seems to be out to get Hillary. He is questioning alleged Hillary conflicts of interests in relationship to money the Clintons have received from the Emir of Dubai:
And it is for exactly this kind of situation that the Clintons should be required to divulge the extent of their involvement with foreign interests and exactly how much money their personal bank accounts and their Library/Foundation have received. (The Saudi donation to the Library and Foundation was only discovered by the New York Times when the information was inadvertently posted on the Library’s Web site. Soon after the story appeared, it was taken down. The Clintons refuse to reveal the donors to the Library or the related Foundation.) Hillary and Bill have also refused to release their income tax returns, despite the fact that Bill willingly released his when he was running for president.
The Republicans will start with her experience and use the old the “proximate cause argument” – but for her husband’s presidency, Hillary would not be a candidate. And be sure that the Republicans have been waiting for eight years to discuss the relationship between Clinton’s foreign and defense policies and the advent of anti-American terrorism leading up to September 11th.
Do we really want to go down that road? Why bother when Obama is revolutionizing the entire campaign trail and election year? One reason is that the press needs big, suspenseful showdown to keep everyone tuned in.