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Hillary Clinton Attacks Activists and Southern Whites & Alienates Progressives

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Steven Leser       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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For several weeks, after John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich left the race, Progressives wondered if they still had a horse in the race for the Presidency. Obama had the edge in winning their votes having been against the war and because he is not seen as tied to the more conservative DLC or Democratic Leadership Council as Hillary has been. Despite that, Progressives still weren’t sure whether Obama was one of them. When Obama said that he believed that working class people in small towns were bitter because of what has happened to the country and because of decades of broken promises from politicians, it struck a chord with the Progressive community. They didn’t care that the way he phrased it was awkward, they viscerally understood what he meant.

When Hillary Clinton attacked Obama for making that statement it solidified her in the mind of most Progressives as the kind of typical politician that they have been fighting against both within and outside of the Democratic Party for years. It showed Progressives she was more interested in causing a false impression of Obama’s words to advance her candidacy than joining him in making the point that people are angry at how politicians have failed them. Progressives are angry and bitter at the state of the country. They are angry that we are mired in a war started on false pretenses and that our economy has been driven into the ground because of that war and a massive tax giveaway to the rich. Hillary’s calculated manipulation of the bitter issue was final blow to her chances of winning over a sizeable chunk of Progressives and sent them in droves to Obama.

Hillary didn’t help herself by attacking MoveOn and democratic activists in general. Even though activists are not necessarily progressives and vice versa, there is enough overlap to where this blow against the activist community constituted a second blow to her chances with Progressives. According to the Huffington Post [1] Hillary said:

"Moveon.org endorsed [Sen. Barack Obama] -- which is like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," Clinton said to a meeting of donors. "We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with. And you know they turn out in great numbers. And they are very driven by their view of our positions, and it's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them. So they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me."

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MoveOn promptly responded in a letter to the Huffington Post:

"Senator Clinton has her facts wrong again. MoveOn never opposed the war in Afghanistan, and we set the record straight years ago when Karl Rove made the same claim. Senator Clinton's attack on our members is divisive at a time when Democrats will soon need to unify to beat Senator McCain. MoveOn is 3.2 million reliable voters and volunteers who are an important part of any winning Democratic coalition in November. They deserve better than to be dismissed using Republican talking points."

This exchange between Hillary Clinton and MoveOn is an amazing one considering that MoveOn was founded in 1998 to defend Bill Clinton against impeachment charges and get the country to “Move On” past that issue. The activist community does much of the heavy lifting in the general election for Democratic Presidential candidates making one wonder how she would expect to win the general election after attacking them. The unnecessary slaps in the face to that community by Senator Clinton are hard to understand.

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Southern White Working Class Voters? “Screw ‘Em!”

It has also come out in the last week that in 1995, after Democrats lost congress and President Bill Clinton asked her advice on how to reach out to southern white working class Democrats that had voted Republican in large numbers; Hillary’s response was “Screw ‘em.” Jake Tapper from ABC News Reports[2] :

…from Sally Bedell Smith's book "For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years" -- that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, during a 1995 retreat called the "Camp David Seminar on the Future of Democracy had some interesting comments about working-class white Southerners who had left the Democratic party:

"'Screw 'em,' she said, 'you don't owe them a thing, Bill, they're doing nothing for you.' Bill rose to their defense, 'as if rehearsing an old but honorable debate he had been having with his wife for decades,'" as one attendee recalled.

"'I know these boys,' Bill said. 'I grew up with them. Hardworking poor white boys who feel left out.' He pointed out that liberal reforms had often 'come at their expense' and that the Democrats had to 'find a way to include these boys in our programs.' Hillary had no rejoinder, but during cocktails after the seminar she stood apart, 'opaque and unsmiling.'"

In the light of this exchange, Hillary’s accusations of elitism and regionalism against Obama are shown to be rank hypocrisy. Whereas Obama’s ‘bitter’ comment contained a negative connotation because of an errant sequence of words, there is no mistaking Hillary’s intent with hers.  These comments against southern white working class voters would be used in a general election against her to devastating effect particularly in Virginia and Florida. As if the GOP needed any more anti-Clinton energizing to get their base out in the south against a Hillary candidacy. It had been suggested by Hillary’s surrogates that she had a better chance than Obama to win Florida. After “Screw ‘Em, you can write off any chance of Hillary winning that state. Fortunately, it looks like we won’t have to see that happen.

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In addition to the challenges Hillary had a week ago with being behind Obama in pledged delegates, overall delegates, the popular vote and all the rest, now she has these additional problems. One wonders when she and her campaign will come to the conclusion that most of the rest of us came to some time ago. Her candidacy is finished. The only things her continuing in this race serve to do are to kneecap Obama and drive down her negatives to the point where any future efforts by her for higher office are impossible. Its time for her to pack it in and let Obama concentrate on winning the General Election.

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[1] Celeste Fremon, Huffington Post, “Clinton Slams Democratic Activists At Private Fundraiserhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/celeste-fremon/clinton-slams-democratic_b_97484.html

[2] Jake Tapper, ABC News’ Political Punch, “Clinton on Working-Class Southerners, circa 1995: "Screw 'emhttp://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/04/clinton-on-work.html

 

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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
 

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