A Story You Won't Hear Much About
This won't get as much play as have the stories about acrimony between the Clinton and Obama camps, but The Hill noted a conciliatory tone by the two Senators, on Sunday:
On Face The Nation, Sunday, Senator Clinton said:
But at the end of the day, we will come together as Democrats. We will be a united and committed party to take back the White House in November.
And that's what matters most. No matter who wins the nomination. Kudos to her for acknowledging it.
For his part, Barack Obama praised Bill Clinton's presidency for updating traditional Democratic values, and acknowledged that the negative political tone is not wholly the Clintons' fault. On This Week:
But there is no doubt that I think that in the '90s, we got caught up in a slash-and-burn politics that the American people are weary of. And we still see it in Washington today. It is very hard for us to have a common sense, non-ideological conversation about how we're going to deal with our energy problems. It's very difficult for us to figure out how are we going to make this economy work for all people and not just some people.
Now, that is not the Clintons' fault. It is all our faults in the sense that we have gotten into these bad habits and we can’t seem to have disagreements without being disagreeable.
Some of Senator Obama's supporters should pay attention to what I highlighted. As I keep saying, both sides have been playing rough. Senator Obama seems to be acknowledging it. Kudos to him, too.
For the Republicans, though, things are just heating up. With polls showing Mitt Romney having tied John McCain, in Florida, the Republicans are dialing up their differences, and they're getting personal. As the New York Times reports:
Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney traded blistering attacks in Florida on Monday morning, a day before the state’s Republican primary.
Mr. Romney questioned Mr. McCain’s commitment to conservatism, citing a series of bipartisan bills Mr. McCain sponsored with Senate Democrats, while Mr. McCain accused the former Massachusetts governor of flip-flopping on major issues.
The Times also had this report, last week:
At the end of the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire this month, when the Democrats joined the candidates on stage, Mitt Romney found himself momentarily alone as his counterparts mingled, looking around a bit stiffly for a companion.
The moment was emblematic of a broader reality that has helped shape the Republican contest and could take center stage again on Thursday at a debate in Florida. Within the small circle of contenders, Mr. Romney has become the most disliked.
With so much attention recently on the sniping between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side, the almost visceral scorn directed at Mr. Romney by his rivals has been overshadowed.
And McCain has even been gracious enough to provide us with a nice sound bite, should Romney be the Republican nominee. CBS has this one:
“One thing I think we should really give Governor Romney credit for; he is consistent. He has consistently taken both sides of any major issue. He has consistently flip-flopped on every issue... He’s consistent in that he’s flip flopped on every single major issue,” said McCain, using issues such as campaign finance reform and immigration as examples.
The “L” word has been thrown around a lot today - Romney used it to describe McCain earlier today, but then McCain tossed it back at Romney this afternoon.
“As the liberal governor of the state of Massachusetts he raised taxes by $730 million... The state of Massachusetts is now saddled with a quarter billion dollar debt over his government mandated healthcare system,” he said.
Of course, McCain is facing a geat deal of antipathy from his party's conservative base. The Chicago Tribune said this:
As McCain tries to cement his front-runner status in the Republican presidential race with a win in Florida on Tuesday, the question is whether party leaders and loyalists, frustrated by years of what they consider McCain's grandstanding at their expense, will back him should he win the nomination.
"John's pretty rough in the sandbox," former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a staunch conservative, said in an interview. "It's not just that he doesn't think like I do -- it's the manner in which he goes about it."
Sounds like he has problems on both style and substance.
McCain's rivals have sought to use his deviation from Republican orthodoxy against him, and there appears to be anxiety among some in the GOP establishment at the prospect of McCain becoming their standard-bearer. Former Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, who as House Republican leader put a premium on party loyalty, recently told Fox News, "There's nothing redeeming about John McCain."
One of the most antagonistic figures has been Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host. If McCain is the Republican nominee, Limbaugh has said, it would "destroy" the party. "You know why [liberals] love McCain?" Limbaugh asked on his show last week. "He gives them cover to rip conservatives! They can support a Republican and still hate conservatives!"
So, as the corporate media mostly drone about the horrors of the Clintons, or the animosity between the Clintons and the Obamas, keep in mind that the two leading contenders for the Democratic nomination do seem to understand the big picture. It's not as sexy for the pundits to blabber about, but the divisions among Republicans are more substantive, and they're also growing increasingly personal.