Friday, April 25, 2008

Pitifully Biased Media Stung Again By Clinton Win in Pennsylvania

As our InsiderAdvantage polling showed over the past week, there was never any doubt that Hillary Clinton would win the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary by a margin of between 7 and 10 points. That, my friends, is a big win. But to hear the pundits on most of the news networks in their coverage early Tuesday night -- excepting at least FoxNews and MSNBC -- Hillary Clinton was a dead duck.

Of course, some of their comments were based on these absolutely absurd exit polls. As I have said many times, exit polls are garbage. Why the networks waste their sponsors' money on this rubbish is beyond me. Regardless, the endless refrain of "Hillary Clinton must face up to the facts and get out of the race" has been postponed at least another week or two.

Now that the rose-colored glasses have been at least temporarily knocked off of those who live and comment from within the self-referential cocoon of the Washington, D.C. bubble, let's get some facts straight. First, Barack Obama is not going over well with mainstream, older working Democrats. He does go over well with liberal Democrats. (Don't misunderstand. I'm not one of those analysts who uses the "L" word as if it is a scarlet letter. I'm being descriptive only.) More, Obama is losing a portion of women over the age of 45, whose resentment of his candidacy grows with each new contest.

Second, Hillary Clinton is increasingly despised by white Democratic elites, both from within the political ranks, among the very wealthy and among academicians. And her family's onetime hold on black America is gone for the foreseeable future.

The Democrats finally have reached the point at which they have a true mess. So, too, do the many journalists and analysts who have tried every sly word mix possible to, in essence, destroy the hopes of Clinton as she doggedly fights to the finish of the nominating process, which is starting to draw nearer.

Face it. Clinton has won every big state so far, save Obama's home of Illinois. She is humiliating the likely Democratic nominee and making Sen. John McCain the presidential frontrunner when he and his Republican Party should be running for the hills. It is virtually inconceivable that Obama has a chance of defeating McCain in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, so long as McCain keeps his distance from George W. Bush.

And should Clinton win the nomination, marginal states where large black turnouts are necessary for a Democratic victory -- including several of the states listed above -- will be impossible for Clinton to win. Again, McCain, absent a "Four More Years" perception by the public, wins.

So how do the Democrats survive? The only hope is a shotgun wedding. Hillary becomes Obama's vice presidential nominee, should he regain his momentum; or Barack runs as Clinton's VP if she continues knocking him off in states such as Indiana or Kentucky. In either instance, it will be painful and forced, and it still might not work. But it is likely the Democrats' best hope. Otherwise, the loser takes his or her toys and goes home mad -- really mad. And John McCain waltzes -- OK, maybe he soft-shoes -- his way into the White House.

Just how excited the Republican establishment may or may not be about such a McCain victory is a story for another day. Meanwhile, we will sit back and watch much of America's fumbling and bumbling national media continue its not-so-hidden effort to stack their stories in Barack Obama's favor. They are doing him irreparable harm by creating lasting resentment that he otherwise has not earned on his own.


Is Obama Ready for Prime Time?


After being pummeled 55% to 45% in the Pennsylvania primary, Barack Obama was at a loss for explanations. The best he could do was to compliment his supporters in an email saying, "you helped close the gap to a slimmer margin than most thought possible." Then he asked for money.

With $42 million in the bank, money is the least of Sen. Obama's problems. He needs a credible message that convinces Democrats he should be president. In recent days, he's spent too much time proclaiming his inevitable nomination. But they already know he's won more states, votes and delegates. His words wear especially thin when he was dealt a defeat like Tuesday's. Mr. Obama was routed despite outspending Hillary Clinton on television by almost 3-1. While polls in the final days showed a possible 4% or 5% Clinton win, she apparently took late-deciders by a big margin to clinch the landslide.

Where she cobbled together her victory should cause concern in the Obama HQ. She did better - and he worse - than expected in Philadelphia's suburbs. Mrs. Clinton won two of these four affluent suburban counties, home of the white-wine crowd Mr. Obama has depended on for victories before.

In the small town and rural "bitter" precincts, she clobbered him. Mr. Obama's state chair was Sen. Bob Casey, who hails from Lackawanna County in northeast Pennsylvania. She carried that county 74%-25%. In the state's 61 less-populous counties, she won 63% - and by 278,266 votes. Her margin of victory statewide was 208,024 votes.

Mrs. Clinton's problem remains that she's behind in the delegate count, with 1,589 to Mr. Obama's 1,714. Neither candidate will get to the 2,025 needed for nomination with elected delegates. But the Democratic Party's rules of proportionality mean it will be hard to close that margin among the 733 delegates yet to be elected or declared. Mrs. Clinton will need to take 58% of the remaining delegates. Thus far, she's been able to get that or better in just four of the 46 contests.

Her path gets rougher. While Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Puerto Rico are good territory for her, Oregon and Montana may not be. And Mrs. Clinton will be outspent badly. She entered April with $9.3 million in cash, but debts of $10.3 million. Mr. Obama had $42.5 million but only $663,000 in unpaid bills.

In Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama's money could only wipe out half a purported 20% deficit, but the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows Mr. Obama behind by 2% in Indiana and ahead in North Carolina by 16%. Those states will vote in two weeks. The financial throw weight he will have in the Hoosier State could more than erase Mrs. Clinton's lead there, while keeping North Carolina solidly in his column. His money could give him a double knockout on May 6, which would effectively end her bid for the presidency.

If she wins Indiana, however, she will surely go forward - and Democrats run the risk of a split decision in June. Mr. Obama could have more delegates, but she could have more popular votes. In fact, on Tuesday night she actually grabbed the popular vote lead: If you include the Michigan and Florida primary results, Mrs. Clinton now leads the popular vote by a slim 113,000 votes out of 29,914,356 cast.

Mr. Obama will argue he wasn't on the ballot in Michigan and didn't campaign in Florida. But don't Democrats want to count all the votes in all the contests? After all, Mr. Obama took his name off the Michigan ballot; it isn't something he was forced to do. And while he didn't campaign in Florida, neither did she.

And what about the Michigan and Florida delegates? By my calculations, she should pick up about 54 delegates on Mr. Obama if they are seated (this assumes the Michigan "uncommitted" delegates go for Mr. Obama). If he is ahead in June by a number similar to his lead today of 125, does he let the two delegations in and make the convention vote even closer? Or does he continue to act as if two states with 41 of the 270 electoral votes needed for the White House don't exist?

The Democratic Party has two weakened candidates. Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.

And what of the reborn Adlai Stevenson? Mr. Obama is befuddled and angry about the national reaction to what are clearly accepted, even commonplace truths in San Francisco and Hyde Park. How could anyone take offense at the observation that people in small-town and rural American are "bitter" and therefore "cling" to their guns and their faith, as well as their xenophobia? Why would anyone raise questions about a public figure who, for only 20 years, attended a church and developed a close personal relationship with its preacher who says AIDS was created by our government as a genocidal tool to be used against people of color, who declared America's chickens came home to roost on 9/11, and wants God to damn America? Mr. Obama has a weakness among blue-collar working class voters for a reason.

His inspiring rhetoric is a potent tool for energizing college students and previously uninvolved African-American voters. But his appeals are based on two aspirational pledges he is increasingly less credible in making. Mr. Obama's call for postpartisanship looks unconvincing, when he is unable to point to a single important instance in his Senate career when he demonstrated bipartisanship. And his repeated calls to remember Dr. Martin Luther King's "fierce urgency of now" in tackling big issues falls flat as voters discover that he has not provided leadership on any major legislative battle.

Mr. Obama has not been a leader on big causes in Congress. He has been manifestly unwilling to expend his political capital on urgent issues. He has been only an observer, watching the action from a distance, thinking wry and sardonic and cynical thoughts to himself about his colleagues, mildly amused at their too-ing and fro-ing. He has held his energy and talent in reserve for the more important task of advancing his own political career, which means running for president.

But something happened along the way. Voters saw in the Philadelphia debate the responses of a vitamin-deficient Stevenson act-a-like. And in the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary, they saw him alternate between whining about his treatment by Mrs. Clinton and the press, and attacking Sen. John McCain by exaggerating and twisting his words. No one likes a whiner, and his old-style attacks undermine his appeals for postpartisanship.

Mr. Obama is near victory in the Democratic contest, but it is time for him to reset, freshen his message and say something new. His conduct in the last several weeks raises questions about whether, for all his talents, he is ready to be president.



Says V.D. Hanson:

The Democrats are tottering at the edge of the abyss. They are about to nominate someone who cannot win, despite vastly out-spending his opponent, any of the key large states - CA, NJ, NY, OH, PENN, TX, etc. - that will determine the fall election. And yet not to nominate him will cause the sort of implosion they saw in 1968 or the sort of mess we saw in November 2000.

Hillary won't quit, since she knows that Obama, when pressure mounts, is starting to show a weird sort of petulance, and drops the "new politics" for snideness. And at any given second, a Rev. Wright outburst, an Ayers reappearance, another Michelle 'never been proud' moment, or another condescending Obamism can cause him to nose dive and become even more snappy.

They won't be able to force Hillary out since she still has strong arguments - the popular vote may end up dead even, or even in her favor; while he won caucuses and out-of-play states, she won the critical fall battlegrounds - and by plebiscites; she is the more experienced and more likely to run a steady national campaign; she wins the Reagan Democrats that will determine the fall election; and by other, more logical nomination rules (like the Republicans' fewer caucuses, winner-take-all elections) she would have already wrapped it up. There seems something unfair, after all, for someone to win these mega-states and end up only with a few extra delegates for the effort. The more this drags out, the more Obama and Hillary get nastier and more estranged from each other - at precisely the time one must take the VP nomination to unite the party.

On the plus side, Hillary is showing a scrappy, tough blue-collar talent that is critical for November - but apparently it will be all for naught, or worse, cause lots of these Middle America "clingers" to go over to McCain.

More and more, McCain will want to run against Obama and his far weaker coalition of elite whites, African-Americans, students - and closets of skeletons.


Obama soft on crime

The political operative behind the Willie Horton ad that helped defeat Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential race is releasing a new ad this week targeting Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama. Floyd Brown, a longtime conservative strategist who heads the conservative National Campaign Fund, said he is launching the ad to expose Obama's weakness on gang violence. "The ad draws a parallel between Obama's weakness on gang violence and the war on terror," said Brown. Brown is the former head of Citizens United, which claims to be the largest political action group for conservatives in the United States.

In his new ad Brown tells of a woman leaving church choir practice who was killed by gang gunfire while shielding her 6-year-old daughter, a 15-year-old boy beaten with bricks after a gang member crashed into his car, and a 14-year-old boy shot five times in the back for refusing to flash a gang hand sign. "They all died in 2001. In Chicago," the voice-over declares.

That same year, Barack Obama - then an Illinois state senator - voted against expanding the death penalty for gang-related murders, the ad points out. The ad concludes, "When the time came to get tough, Obama chose to be weak. So the question is: Can a man so weak in the war on gangs be trusted in the war on terror?" Brown says the ad will run in targeted states beginning on Tuesday.

During the early part of Barack Obama's political career he opposed the death penalty. In recent years, however, he has modified his position to support the death penalty in cases involving the "most heinous" of crimes. In 2001 as an Illinois state senator, Obama did vote against a proposed law that would have widened the scope of the death penalty to include some gang activity. The bill passed the legislature but was later vetoed by then Republican Gov. George Ryan, who imposed a moratorium on death penalty executions.

Obama defended his opposition to the gang death penalty bill because, he argued, it would unevenly apply to minorities. "There's a strong overlap between gang affiliation and young men of color . . . I think it's problematic for them to be singled out as more likely to receive the death penalty for carrying out certain acts than are others who do the same thing," Obama said at the time.

Whether this highly partisan ad will stick as Obama's "Willie Horton" is yet to be seen. Massachusetts inmate Willie Horton was serving a life sentence for murder, without parole, when he was released as part of a weekend furlough program in June 1986. He did not return, and in April 1987 he twice raped a woman in Maryland after pistol-whipping and knifing her fiance. Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts at the time of Horton's release. He supported the furlough program as a method of criminal rehabilitation, and when the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill prohibiting furloughs for first-degree murderers, Dukakis vetoed the bill.

Beginning in September 1988, an organization headed by Floyd Brown backed George H.W. Bush in his race against Dukakis. Brown's group produced and aired an ad detailing the Horton case and Dukakis' role. To conservatives, the name Willie Horton became synonymous with soft-on-crime liberalism. Liberals said the ad was nothing more than veiled racism. Horton was an African-American. The ad is widely thought to have played a significant role in helping Bush win the presidency.


The Democrat house organ is backing Obama

NYT editorial below. Note that to them, Hillary's victory was "inconclusive". Only when something suits their agenda is it conclusive

The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.

Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.

If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.

On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad - torn right from Karl Rove's playbook - evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," the narrator intoned.

If that was supposed to bolster Mrs. Clinton's argument that she is the better prepared to be president in a dangerous world, she sent the opposite message on Tuesday morning by declaring in an interview on ABC News that if Iran attacked Israel while she were president: "We would be able to totally obliterate them."

By staying on the attack and not engaging Mr. Obama on the substance of issues like terrorism, the economy and how to organize an orderly exit from Iraq, Mrs. Clinton does more than just turn off voters who don't like negative campaigning. She undercuts the rationale for her candidacy that led this page and others to support her: that she is more qualified, right now, to be president than Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama is not blameless when it comes to the negative and vapid nature of this campaign. He is increasingly rising to Mrs. Clinton's bait, undercutting his own claims that he is offering a higher more inclusive form of politics. When she criticized his comments about "bitter" voters, Mr. Obama mocked her as an Annie Oakley wannabe. All that does is remind Americans who are on the fence about his relative youth and inexperience.

No matter what the high-priced political operatives (from both camps) may think, it is not a disadvantage that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton share many of the same essential values and sensible policy prescriptions. It is their strength, and they are doing their best to make voters forget it. And if they think that only Democrats are paying attention to this spectacle, they're wrong.

After seven years of George W. Bush's failed with-us-or-against-us presidency, all American voters deserve to hear a nuanced debate - right now and through the general campaign - about how each candidate will combat terrorism, protect civil liberties, address the housing crisis and end the war in Iraq.

It is getting to be time for the superdelegates to do what the Democrats had in mind when they created superdelegates: settle a bloody race that cannot be won at the ballot box. Mrs. Clinton once had a big lead among the party elders, but has been steadily losing it, in large part because of her negative campaign. If she is ever to have a hope of persuading these most loyal of Democrats to come back to her side, let alone win over the larger body of voters, she has to call off the dogs.


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