Rumors of Sen. Clinton's Funeral Were Greatly Exaggerated
UPDATE: Contrary to commenter T2, I'm not trying to "gloat" with this post. I was myself wrong in assuming Sen. Clinton would lose NH. The point I'm making is that some people had prematurely and wrongly assumed that the race is essentially over. I'm also trying to emphasize that we shouldn't just be focused on speeches and crowds over substance. Remember, John Kerry drew massive crowds in 2004.
Worst Best post on Sen. Clinton's political demise ever? Not sure, but this one by The New Republic's Jonathan Chait with the sign "Hillary = Toast [symbol]" has to be in the running. (A search of the Huffington Post archives might possibly reveal a strong contender as well). As it turns out, not everyone was wrong last night.
Best retort by the Clinton campaign to the media prior to the NH vote? This one to Ben Smith at Politico:
Counting the votes
My correspondence with Clinton's chief strategist this evening. Read from the bottom:
From: Mark Penn
Sent: Tue 1/8/2008 7:51 PM
To: Ben Smith
Subject: Re: Inevitably
From: Ben Smith
To: Mark Penn
Sent: Tue Jan 08 7:35 PM
Writing a state-of-campaign story — pls do let me know if there's anything I should know...
Guy's got a point.
As Paul Krugman notes, citing the silly Intrade trend: "From inevitability to pitiful failure to front-runner again in just a few days. There’s no hint that the market saw either Iowa or New Hampshire coming, or knew anything beyond the bloviations of the talking heads." Anyway, someone forwarded this article along on Monday - it was written by a James Ridgeway in Deadline USA - a blog of the British newspaper The Guardian. There was something disturbing about this article that I want to mention considering it was by a supposed progressive. Let me start with this passage:
After a heartfelt introduction by her husband Bill - who said he'd never been more proud of his wife than during her speech after the Iowa caucuses - she began to wander in a distracted manner, touching on one campaign issue after another. It was more of a restaurant menu than anything else. She looks and sounds as if she's cracking up.
But Hillary is such a trooper, you never know whether she is going down or just re-gathering her forces for another assault. Yet, it doesn't look good. By Sunday night, she was trailing in New Hampshire by more than 10 points in some of the polls here. Her crowds are in the hundreds; Obama pulls in thousands of excited, cheering people.
So far, predictable. Then we get to this:
The next day in Penacook, a village outside the state capitol of Concord, Hillary addresses a large crowd at the high school. "She's flailing," radio talkshow host and 1992 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Arnie Arnesen tells our cameras as she watches Hillary's performance. "She's not convincing people." We catch a man yawning. A little girl is sleeping on her mother's shoulder. You can feel the energy being sucked out of the room. People begin to leave before she stops talking. "The campaign feels like it's going to the emergency room right now," says Arnie. Is this the end of her inevitable presidency? The Clinton dynasty tanking?
She didn't convince people alright! More fun follows:
She starts talking about health care - a policy lecture when she's supposed to be pumping up the crowd for the final campaign before the election.
This was to me, the most disturbing and insulting part of this article. For the past 7 years, we have had a President in office who was originally installed there after the media endlessly showered him with praise and extolled his feel-good speeches about compassionate conservatism. The speeches were devoid of facts - and often intentionally laced with lies - and the media's main focus was to point out how boring Al Gore or John Kerry were with all their (accurate) policy talk. So, when I read this, all I could think of was that history was once again repeating itself. Except, I just never thought I'd hear this from an alleged "progressive" (I wonder if Ridgeway was criticizing Gore and Kerry's boring "policy lectures" back in those days.) As rimjob at Daily Kos points out, Sen. Clinton not only won more of the vote of the nearly one-fifth of the voting population who made their decision on voting day, she won the union vote and the vote of those people who believed the debates were very important or somewhat important - Obama won the vote of people who felt the debate was not too important. (NOTE: I give Sen. Obama enormous credit for being an astonishingly good and inspiring public speaker and he is certainly no George Bush, not to mention Bush can't hold a candle to Sen. Obama or his speeches. That said, the media's emphasis on the ability of candidates to speak rather than on their record or actions and what they might actually do when in power is a persistent problem - and I wince when I see progressives condone or endorse that).
The article continues:
Then there was the debate Saturday night. Hillary says this to Obama: "You've changed positions within three years on, you know, a range of issues that you put forth when you ran for the Senate and now you have changed. You know, you said you would vote against the Patriot Act; you came to the Senate, you voted for it. You said that you would vote against funding for the Iraq war; you came to the Senate and you voted for $300bn of it. So I just think it's fair for people to understand that many of the charges that have been leveled not just at me, but also at Senator Edwards, are not totally, you know, unrelated to the very record that you have. And you've said records matter, and I think that we should get into examining everybody's record."
She is trying to turn Edwards against Obama. It doesn't work. After all these months, we get to see Edwards, the renowned trial lawyer, in action. He strikes like a snake. Referring to Obama he says, "Both of us are powerful voices for change. Anytime you speak out powerfully for change, the forces of status quo attack." Then, "I didn't hear these kinds of attacks from Senator Clinton when she was ahead. Now that she's not, we hear them"
"I want to make change, but I've already made change!'' shouts back Hillary, caught off base. "I'm running on a record of 35 years of change." She continues, "Words are not actions. And as beautifully presented and passionately felt as they are, they are not action. You know, what we've got to do is translate talk into action and feeling into reality. I have a long record of doing that, of taking on the very interests that you have just rightly excoriated because of the overdue influence that they have in our government."
Unexpectedly, she is wounded. Edwards and Obama look like good guys. Obama rides above the storm. Serene. Of course, since he and Hillary don't really disagree on much of anything, that's not hard to do.
"This is a funeral," Arnie says.
It sure was a funeral.
Go read Taylor Marsh as well.