Sen. Clinton On the Stump in IN and NC
Melissa at Shakesville went out to see Sen. Clinton speak in Indiana. Here is her report (which I hope she doesn't mind my reproducing almost 100%, emphasis mine throughout this post):
It was a townhall-style event, so Hillary gave a short speech and then took questions from the audience. (The guy who introduced her said she had "testicular fortitude," which prompted her to note when she took the mic that both women and men could have fortitude of their own—and she has it! Lots of applause.) She was totally compelling, extraordinarily competent, a great extemporaneous speaker with an unbelievably detailed grasp of the issues, and funny as hell. ("I wouldn't trust the Bush administration to organize a two-car parade." This gave me the image of Bush and Cheney each driving clown cars in different directions, which sent me into fits of giggles.
The one thing KenBlogz and I just couldn't. get. over. was how profoundly not the Dragon Lady she is, despite what we are meant to believe. KenBlogz's comment was, approximately, "The way the media represents her is a complete lie; they might as well say she stabbed someone onstage, which would be just as truthful as the way she is represented." This, from an 18-year-old. The reporter in front of us (we were in the media section) reading The Drudge Report through most of her speech would no doubt be shocked by his observation.
In person, from about 10 yards away, Hillary was as warm, friendly, charming, and engaging as any politician I've ever seen. And the crowd—way more diverse than I expected—adored her. She got several standing ovations.
In the parking lot afterwards, I heard a woman—middle-aged, wearing a union t-shirt, either white or Latina—telling her friend she was glad she came. "She totally won me over," she said. Wheeeeeeeeeeee! Yay, democracy!
Remember what I said back in December in my endorsement of Sen. Clinton?
...She brings together a combination of partisan fervor and a demonstrated ability to work well with Independents and Republicans. Her record as a Senator from New York - where she continues to enjoy high approval ratings (60% now, including a 33% approval rating from Republicans, despite the unending attacks on her character especially of late) and where she was re-elected with 67% of the vote (capturing the vast majority of districts across the state including Republican districts) - is an illustration of the fact that voters who really get to know her well, tend to like her - in contrast to oft-repeated talkingpoints about her "polarizing" personality. Her progressive policy proposals as a Presidential candidate are generally speaking ambitious and impressive and in some cases better than Sen. Obama's proposals. She is without a doubt the most knowledgeable on public policy - something that is also reflected in her debate performances, stump speeches and Q&As.
...As of this time I strongly believe Sen. Clinton has the edge in electability. Sen. Clinton will have to deal with the often false and highly negative impressions the GOP and the media created of her in the 1990s and will continue to create in the foreseeable future - impressions that some of her opponents are trying to keep alive today with false attacks on her character. In fact, I can't think of any prominent female politician in modern U.S. history who has been subject to the obscene levels of depraved or fraudulent vilification and irrational hatred sometimes bordering on the insane, that she has been subject to (especially from the Right, but also from portions of the Left - as I've shown using just a few examples in the past several weeks). However, she has some key advantages in her arsenal: (a) she is one of those few politicians who is both extremely smart and really knows how to fight, (b) the GOP and the media have trashed her silly for almost 2 decades and dug up just about everything they can about her and she's still standing tall, and (c) in New York state, where voters know her best she has impressively high approval ratings amongst Democrats, Independents and Republicans, further proof that as voters get to see and hear the real Sen. Clinton there is a good chance they will tend to favor her candidacy. It is for these reasons that the GOP fears her the most as a general election opponent.
On to North Carolina. Obama supporter Mayhill Fowler writes at The Huffington Post about Sen. Obama's and Sen. Clinton's recent stops in NC:
....Just for the record, Senator Obama's Hickory performance was much better than his Wilmington one. His speech was more grounded and detailed, in little things--adding "the price of a gallon of milk" to "the price of gas"--and in big--entwining his wife's life story with his own in pleading his case for love of country. In short, Obama was more forceful and passionate. Confronting his displeasure with the Reverend Wright seems to have lit a fire under the Barack ass.
Did Senator Obama know to whom he was speaking? Likely not. That's been his problem lately on the campaign trail--not knowing exactly where he was. He even made a joke about it in Hickory when he tried to recall where he had just met someone whose story he wanted to tell. "We were down in--where were we?" Quickly he came up with Winston-Salem, and everybody laughed. Monday in Wilmington, however, not only did he seem not to know Wilmington but the date and time, saying that it was "March" and "nine months to November." The fact that his audiences are largely composed of die-hard fervent loyalists usually masks this underlying dis-connection. But it's worth noting that Senator Clinton always knows exactly where she is and to whom she is speaking. On Sunday in Wilmington, for example, her opening remarks touched in quick succession on several important things about the town: the glorious setting on the Cape Fear River, its connection to the military, the upcoming commissioning of the new submarine North Carolina there next weekend, and the fact that "this country has been very good to me and to many of you," for people who are lucky enough to live in Wilmington are lucky indeed.
Hickory itself got short shrift. Indeed many of the people at the Obama town hall meeting weren't from Hickory at all. Non-Carolinians from retirement communities around Asheville had driven over. As for the Tar Heelers themselves, they came, despite gas prices, from "three counties away." It was a good audience in that it wasn't just college kids, African-Americans and upper middle class white folks. There were more than a few of those working class white people Senator Obama has been seeking, and they had interesting things to say. Howard, a house painter who has lived in Catawba County all his life, said that he supported Obama because "the American century is over, radical changes are coming and most Americans aren't prepared for the future in any way." But Senator Obama "has his finger on the pulse" of this change. Howard, like all the working class people I talked to in Hickory, is well-educated. The issue in Hickory, like elsewhere in North Carolina, is not lack of access to higher education but the quality of jobs that should ensue from such an education. As Kenneth and Gwenn ("be sure to mention our chihuahua Petey") told me, "people are finding that the college educations they gave their kids aren't worth much, and both generations here in Hickory are working at Wal-Mart." Realistically, that's the problem with a degree from a third-tier school in a part of the country where good jobs are scarce. Likely there aren't too many graduates of Duke and UNC Chapel Hill finding only Wal-Mart work.
Getting the nuances and particularities of a community just right is a problem, perhaps an inevitable one, for a candidate whose necessary life is in the campaign bubble. Not only do Senator Obama and his press entourage never really see towns like Hickory but they don't see the opposition first-hand, as well. Therefore, Senator Obama has no idea that, despite whatever her campaign may be up to, Senator Clinton hardly ever mentions him anymore. Despite his remark to Hickory that he's told his staff the campaign needs to get away from going negative, Senator Obama laid into Senator Clinton, usually in conjunction with Senator McCain, several times during the afternoon. At one point he said, "Lately the other candidates aren't talking about their ideas--they're talking about me." As far as Senator Clinton is concerned, nothing could be further from the truth. She presents more ideas on the stump than she has time for. This misrepresentation incensed a group of women friends in Hickory. They had seen Hillary Clinton several times in North Carolina and had come to hear Barack Obama before finally making up their minds. Scratch twelve votes for him.
From the Fay to Z blog of the Fayetteville Observer:
Before he got serious, [President] Clinton said he spotted a bumper sticker that said “Bill for First Lady.”
“I accept,” he quipped.
No post these days is ever complete without a mention of the media and the blogosphere and the truthiness records they are setting. Make sure you read Eric Boehlert's latest at Media Matters, titled "So now the press tells candidates when to quit?". Some snippets:
Here's another first: the press's unique push to get a competitive White House hopeful to drop out of the race. It's unprecedented.
Looking back through modern U.S. campaigns, there's simply no media model for so many members of the press to try to drive a competitive candidate from the field while the primary season is still unfolding.
And the fact is, the media's get-out-now push is unparalleled. Strong second-place candidates such as Ronald Reagan (1976), Ted Kennedy, Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson, and Jerry Brown, all of whom campaigned through the entire primary season, and most of whom took their fights all the way to their party's nominating conventions, were never tagged by the press and told to go home.
"Clinton is being held to a different standard than virtually any other candidate in history," wrote Steven Stark in the Boston Phoenix. "When Clinton is simply doing what everyone else has always done, she's constantly attacked as an obsessed and crazed egomaniac, bent on self-aggrandizement at the expense of her party."
Indeed, even after Clinton won the Pennsylvania primary convincingly last week, she awoke the next morning to read an angry New York Times editorial, "beseeching her to get the hell out of the race," as Howard Kurtz put it at washingtonpost.com. On the Times opinion page that day same, Maureen Dowd actually turned to Dr. Seuss rhymes to make her point: "The time is now. Just go. ... I don't care how."
And across town at the New York Daily News, a bitter Mike Lupica was steamed over the fact that Clinton "won't quit" the race.
Weeks earlier, New York magazine fretted about which senior Democrats would be able to "step in" and "usher Clinton from the race." Or if Clinton, obsessed with her own "long-range self-aggrandizement," would finally figure it out herself.
That represented just a fraction of the often offensive get-out-now proclamations that have become a staple of this campaign.
No longer content to be observers of the campaign, journalists now see themselves as active players in the unfolding drama, and they show no hesitation trying to dictate the basics of the contest, like who should run and who should quit. It's as if journalists are auditioning for the role of the old party bosses.
It's a new brand of political commentary that leaves some veteran journalists perplexed. "The idea that it's your job to tell candidates when to get out, and really trying to control the whole process -- putting it in the hands of the journalists or the reporters or the columnists -- I find that to be new and different," Haynes Johnson told me last week. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Johnson has covered more than a dozen presidential campaigns and is currently working on a book about the unfolding 2008 contest.
Johnson says he was astonished to read some early calls in March from the media for Clinton to get out of the race. He was stunned by "the pomposity and the arrogance of it."
Or Jerry Brown in 1992? He continued his campaign against Bill Clinton through June despite the fact he tallied fewer than 600 delegates. (By contrast, Hillary Clinton has won approximately 1,600 delegates so far.) Brown's attacks at the time were far more personal and bruising than anything we've seen this cycle. As The New York Times reported on June 2, 1992, Brown "put his party on notice that he intends to carry his politics-is-corrupt, Clinton-is-unelectable message to the Democratic National Convention in New York in July, and beyond." Brown also told the Times that voting for Clinton was like buying a ticket on the Titanic.
At the time, Clinton was actually polling in third place nationally, behind President George H.W. Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot, so why wasn't the press in a frenzy demanding that Brown drop out of the race because he was hurting his party's chances in November?
Boehlert has a lot more, including more historical data from past elections. As you read it, visualize all the downright depraved people in the media and blogosphere who have been part of the extended character assassination campaign against Sen. Clinton (by the way, she can use help in IN and NC), recall The Clinton Rules and thank your stars that the Democratic party has an extraordinarily resilient fighter running for President who has defied so much of the fake conventional wisdom in D.C., and the unrelenting fakery and trashing of the traditional media and the fake "progressive" bloggers who co-opted the media. (Don't miss this).
Anglachel's post "This is What a Democrat Sounds Like" focuses on Sen. Clinton's recent worth-watching interview with the Indianapolis Star (video included).
Paul Krugman appropriately critiques Sen. Clinton's and Sen. McCain's gas tax proposals.
Oh, and here's Sean Wilentz's latest post.