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Hillary's False Dichotomy

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“Do you walk to work or buy your lunch?” 

This old Groucho Marx one-liner captures the essence of Senator Clinton’s meager rationale for remaining an active candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination.  Unlike Groucho, though, Hillary isn't really that funny.

Hillary’s disjointed train of obsessions and associations (one could hardly call hers a logical—much less a legal--thought progression) drives me crazy, i.e., (paraphrasing here):

          “If Barack can not beat me (e.g.) in Pennsylvania and Ohio,
            how can he win [my voters] in the general election?”

This mantra is either (1) a deliberate attempt to confuse voters and super-delegates, or (2) an example of Senator Clinton’s campaign-dazed, not-yet-ready-for-the-White-House mental processes.  Most observers favor the former explanation.

Unfortunately, most national broadcast media can only field “reporters” whose mental horsepower is too feeble to see through Clinton’s smoke screen.  CNN, for example, on Wednesday, April 23, 2008, obediently parrots this nugget of Clintonesque election wizardry:

“Clinton and her backers have argued that the super-delegates should vote for her over Obama, despite his lead in the delegate count and the popular vote, because she is the more electable candidate in a general election.”

In the days since Pennsylvania’s primary election, most cable “news” programs have reiterated this faulty line of thought incessantly, usually resorting to cliché phrases like “deliver the knock-out punch,” or “close the deal.”  Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, Bill Schneider (usually a bright light among dim bulbs), Shawn Hannity, Candy Crowley and Lou Dobbs (three of the dimmest), et al., have been beating this dead horse (Oops! Sorry for the cliché) almost continuously.  Although I never watch Faux News, I suspect that their capon pundits are also busy yapping this false dichotomy all day long.

Only a few commentators and writers appear to understand that equating a Clinton/Obama match among one state’s Democratic voters with a possible Clinton/McCain or Obama/McCain match decided by all registered voters, is as much a non sequitur as “Do you walk to work or buy your lunch?”  One astute writer, Brad DeLong of, cuts through this twisted mess to point out the flawed conclusion in Clinton’s rhetoric.

DeLong picks out one such example, taken from a fellow Salon writer, Sean Wilentz, as follows:

1)     "Clinton has won the popular vote in all ... large states [except                  Illinois]." Wilentz claims that Clinton is the stronger candidate                 because she would deliver big states in the fall. 

2)     "The latest state-by-state figures ... indicate that if the election were held today, Clinton would defeat McCain ... because of her lead in big, electoral-vote-rich states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- and McCain would beat Obama. (…/2008/04/10/wilentz)

Stripped to its bare, ugly skeleton, the flawed argument Clinton and her covert media enablers offer is that primary voters who choose Clinton over Obama (in a Clinton/Obama match) will necessarily choose McCain (???) over Obama in the general election.  This is reminiscent of a typical Bush-league syllogism:

                   Some Arab men are Muslims;

                   Some Muslims are terrorists;

                   Therefore, Arab men / Muslims are terrorists.

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I am a progressive activist. After 28 years in health care management I left in disgust at the mess that commercial health insurance companies have created. I must work to live (self-employed) and enjoy performing with several classical & jazz (more...)
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