The race for the Democratic Presidential nomination is coming to a close. Senator Hillary Clinton is so far behind that it is almost impossible to envision a scenario where she gets the necessary delegates to become the nominee. She and her surrogates are trying to make the argument that only she can beat McCain. The story goes that Wright and all the related stories mean that middle class white voters will not vote for Obama. It’s a good line, but is it true?
There are several major Democratic constituencies. For a Democrat to win the White House, they have to win each of these constituencies convincingly. Those constituencies are Women, Jews, African Americans and the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual and Transgender community. There are important constituencies beyond these, but if a Democrat cannot win those four core constituencies, they are finished. Hillary and Obama each represent the first ever viable candidate for one of the four core constituencies and thus have the lion’s share of support from that particular constituency. The main danger of this race for both candidates is that while they embody a huge step forward for women and African Americans, attacking each other may alienate their opponent’s core constituency.
Here one sees the genius of Barack Obama’s campaign strategy. Critics say he isn’t fighting back hard enough against the tactics of the Clinton campaign, but what would be the result? All we have to do to find the answer to that is to look at the results of Hillary’s strategy. Hillary’s attacks against Obama, the use of Wright and her bringing up Farrakhan’s name as the ultimate bogeyman has completely turned off the African American community to her candidacy. African American’s, who consistently vote for Democrats over Republicans by 4-1 margins in General elections, will not vote for Hillary Clinton. It only takes about five minutes talking to African Americans in any town or major city to realize this. Hillary has no chance of bringing them around. Their anger toward her goes far beyond the normal feelings toward the opponent in any race for the nomination. Here in New York City, in Harlem, anger in the Black community at Hillary and former President Bill Clinton has reached such a boiling point that a movement is underway to force the former President to move his offices out of Harlem. Obama’s New York supporters are already talking about trying to get behind someone like Hillary’s former opponent for the Democratic senatorial nomination in New York, Jonathan Tasini, to run against her in 2012 should she fail to win the nomination and/or Presidency. African Americans are finished with the Clintons for the near future. It will take a serious effort over a period of at least three to five years just to start to repair that damage.
Contrast that with Senator Obama. Obama has done nothing to Hillary that would inflame Hillary’s core constituency of white women. Some of Senator Clinton’s supporters talk as if they would not support Obama in the General Election, but if you spend time listening to them, they have no real anger toward Senator Obama. There is nothing there beyond the normal feelings you have toward the person who rivals your chosen candidate for the Democratic nomination. Why would there be? One is hard pressed to come up with any example where he has personally attacked Hillary. Obama can easily bring this constituency back around to support him once he is the nominee.
Obama’s position has been and will always be that he is not going to make personally attacks on fellow Democrats; the idea is to fight and beat the Republicans. Obama has said that when it comes to the general election, he will fight as hard as is necessary to beat his opponent. Even there, it is Obama’s hope that the fight will be centered on the issues. If necessary, there is ammunition against McCain that can be used. Obama’s point though is well taken. Is that really what the American people want? Obama represents a paradigm shift in politics. Strategy or no strategy, I don’t know many politicians that would have had the discipline to force their campaign to stay positive and not engage in reciprocal attacks given the Clinton onslaught. There are personal issues one could use to attack Hillary.
Let’s talk about those issues. Hillary and her campaign say that Wright, Rezco and Ayers will be the GOP talking points against Obama. How do they think Tuzla is going to play? Hillary is on record on three or four occasions as saying she was under sniper fire when she flew into Tuzla, Bosnia to visit the troops there. The only problem is, there is video of her landing and coming out onto the tarmac for a relaxed photo op with a Bosnian child. Chelsea is also with her, Hillary and Chelsea look relaxed, and not the least bit concerned for their safety. Hillary later apologized for misleading people about that trip, but we all know that her apology will not be enough to stop GOP attacks on her about it. It is even worse that Hillary lied about being under fire considering that her potential GOP opponent was a Prisoner Of War in Vietnam. That is a contrast that is about as ugly as it gets. Then of course there is the allegations the RNC already has said it will use of the Clintons accepting campaign financing by a Chinese spy ring, see http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0807/RNC_Pushing_the_China_angle.html . You can see from the abundance of major newspaper citations at the bottom of this article that there is a mountain of evidence to which the RNC can point that suggests wrongdoing and the same campaign finance staff that were around for Bill’s campaigns is on Hillary’s fundraising team. Of course, the RNC will bring up impeachment and Bill’s philandering but there will be an interesting edge to it. The RNC will say that Hillary pushed the guilt by association angle with Wright so why if she would stop attending a church presided by a Pastor who says crazy things would she stay married to someone with the moral issues of Bill? Isn’t that a fair question to ask given that Hillary and her campaign have given the OK to guilt by association? Yes, Hillary has unwittingly opened herself up to that attack. Shouldn't we be concerned about the scandal known as Travelgate? According to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelgate article in Wikipedia:
It began in May 1993, when seven longtime employees of the White House Travel Office were fired, after a brief investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The White House said the action was due to financial improprieties in the office operation. Critics said the actions were done to allow friends of the Clintons to take over the travel business and that the involvement of the FBI was unwarranted. Heavy media attention forced the White House to reinstate most of the employees in other jobs and remove the Clinton associates from the travel role.
In 1998 Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr exonerated President Bill Clinton of any involvement in the matter. In 2000 Independent Counsel Robert Ray issued his final report on Travelgate, stating that Hillary Clinton had made factually false statements but saying there was insufficient evidence to prosecute her.
On July 3, 1993, the White House issued its own "strikingly self-critical" 80-page report on the firings. Co-written by Chief of Staff McLarty, it criticized five White House officials, included McLarty himself, Watkins, Kennedy, Cornelius, and another, for dismissing the Travel Office members improperly, for appearing to pressure the FBI into its involvement, and for allowing friends of the Clintons to become involved in a matter they had a business stake in.
If you read the rest of that Wikipedia article, you see that the Republicans have a very negative spin on this that would be at least partially supported by Prosecutor Robert Ray’s findings that Hillary lied during the investigations about various things regarding Travel gate.
Those four major issues, Tuzla-gate, China-gate, Monica-gate and Travel-gate would be only the start of what the Republicans would throw at Hillary Clinton. There is much more. Hillary’s issues are much more serious than having had a crazy pastor or having known people who did bad things. Hillary’s supporters like to claim that she has been vetted but she absolutely has not been vetted. It is only Obama’s discipline and pledge not to attack fellow Democrats that has prevented these serious issues from dominating the race for the nomination. It also is more interesting to view things like Rush Limbaugh asking his supporters to vote for Clinton in primaries in light of the things we know the GOP intend to use against her. The RNC is confident they can beat her and they want her to be the nominee so badly they are willing to do just about anything to help that happen.
When the Superdelegates decide whom they are going to support, if electability factors into their decision at all, they should consider the constituencies and who can unite those constituencies and the party. Is Hillary the candidate to choose when, as the result of how she has conducted her campaign, she has hopelessly alienated the African American community? Or is Obama, who alienates no one and reaches out to everyone, the candidate to choose? Then they should think about which one of the candidates really has the baggage that would do them serious harm. When all of those items are analyzed, I think the choice to nominate Barack Obama is obvious.