Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘setting fire to the future of the Democratic Party

‘What We’re Finding Out Is That Obama’s Pathologically Pro-Establishment and Conflict-Averse DNA Was Funded by Party Insiders and Embraced by Liberal Constituency Groups in 2008 for a Reason’

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Via the comments, it’s very hard to think a stronger warning sign for Democrats than a sentence like this one:

George W. Bush’s approval rating didn’t drop this low until Katrina hit.

The piece as a whole is the strong case for dumping Obama from the ticket:

Obama has ruined the Democratic Party. The 2010 wipeout was an electoral catastrophe so bad you’d have to go back to 1894 to find comparable losses. From 2008 to 2010, according to Gallup, the fastest growing demographic party label was former Democrat. Obama took over the party in 2008 with 36 percent of Americans considering themselves Democrats. Within just two years, that number had dropped to 31 percent, which tied a 22-year low.

If would be one thing if Obama were failing because he was too close to party orthodoxy. Yet his failures have come precisely because Obama has not listened to Democratic Party voters. He continued idiotic wars, bailed out banks, ignored luminaries like Paul Krugman, and generally did whatever he could to repudiate the New Deal. The Democratic Party should be the party of pay raises and homes, but under Obama it has become the party of pay cuts and foreclosures. Getting rid of Obama as the head of the party is the first step in reverting to form.

Historically, primarying a sitting president is tantamount to just giving the presidency to whomever the other side nominates. But if it’s Romney, given the extent of the Obama disaster, that’s a tradeoff that could potentially be reasonable; Romney would likely just be a more effective version of Obama, putting forth generally the same sorts of policies without the scorched-earth opposition from the other side. Let Romney 45 govern like Bush 41 and regroup for 2016/2020.

If it’s Perry, Bachmann, or Palin, on the other hand, rolling over seems completely suicidal, no matter how bad Obama is and will continue to be.

Of course, on the third hand, even if he remains on the ticket it’s increasingly hard to see how Obama gets reelected under these circumstances at all. Recalling Rortybomb’s well-linked post about the difference between losing badly and losing well, defeat with dignity is better than defeat without it.

‘Clinton to Drop Out Friday’

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‘Clinton to Drop Out Friday’: So says Mark Halprin at Time. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive Clinton for standing by and saying nothing while her supporters chanted “Denver!” last night, but her dropping out ASAP would certainly be a good first step.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 4, 2008 at 11:52 pm

Are the primaries over yet? Liveblogging

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10:37 PM: In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.

So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.

So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom’s cause.

So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that’s better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

10:22 PM: Good line from Obama on McCain: In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.

10:17 PM: Reaching out to Clinton’s supporters now, being far more gracious than I think I could be in similar circumstances.

There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn’t just about the party in charge of Washington, it’s about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.

All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren’t the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn’t do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.

10:15 PM: The nominee.

10:13 PM: Obama thanks his grandmother, and gets a little bit misty-eyed about it.

10:08 PM: Obama taking the stage now.

10:00 PM: Obama wins Montana.

9:59 PM: Last word on Clinton tonight: It may be that nobody in America has more invested in Obama winning now that Hillary Clinton does. If he loses, the bulk of the Democratic Party will point to what she said (and didn’t say) tonight, and we will not forget.

9:55 PM: Olbermann reporting now that Clinton gave her speech in a basement with no TVs and no cell phone service, perhaps deliberately so, so that no one in her audience would know she’s already lost.

I suspect those people already knew, and, like Clinton, they just don’t care.

9:53 PM: Yglesias: I probably shouldn’t write any more about this woman and her staff. Suffice it to say that I’ve found her behavior over the past couple of months to be utterly unconscionable and this speech is no different. I think if I were to try to express how I really feel about the people who’ve been enabling her behavior, I’d say something deeply unwise. Suffice it to say, that for quite a while now all of John McCain’s most effective allies have been on Hillary Clinton’s payroll. Yes. Yes.

9:50 PM: The question is, “Where do we go from here?” This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight. Followed by a plea for donations at

Anyone who primaries Hillary Clinton in 2012 is getting a check from me.

9:48 PM: She’s got the crowd chanting “Denver” now. JESUS CHRIST.

9:45 PM: georgia10 takes us back in time to October 2007.

9:40 PM: Okay, now she’s seemingly dialing it back again. The beginning and end of this speech sounded a lot like a dignified concession—only the middle third sounded like damn the torpedoes. I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

9:39 PM: Seriously, she’s taking this further? Seriously?

9:37 PM: I was just typing that this is Hillary’s “Mountaintop” speech—she may not get there with us, but she has shown her supporters the Promised Land.

Then she started in with this stronger candidate / popular vote bullshit.

She’s got her crowd booing now at the thought that this is over. My God. The horror. The horror.

9:35 PM: Reporting from the future, TPM Election Central has the full text of Obama’s speech tonight in Minneapolis.

Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

9:32 PM: Hillary coming out now.

9:19 PM: Fox has called South Dakota for Clinton, which hopefully won’t give her reason to declare herself the nominee tonight as well. (We were already playing under “next vote wins” rules.)

Much of the discussion on MSNBC is centering around this absurd kabuki dance currently being played out over whether or not Clinton merely wants to be asked to be VP, or if she would actually take it if asked. Dear God, Obama, do not ask Clinton to be your VP under any circumstances.

9:16 PM: Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC says that Clinton is demanding a private sitdown with Obama before she’ll concede or embrace his candidacy. Matthews calls super-double bullshit on this: “Why are they telling the media they want a secret meeting? Why not just have one?”

9:04 PM: Jesse Taylor, having returned to Pandagon after a years-long absence, gives Srinivas a run for his money on the definitive word on McCain’s speech: McCain’s speech was inspiring. Literally dozens of people standing in a room, booing things.

Meanwhile, MSNBC has had its mind totally blown by Obama’s victory, almost as if no one could believe this was happening even as it seemed inevitable over the last few months. Chris Matthews is even comparing this moment to the fall of apartheid in South Africa, which is a stretch, but not by all that much.

9:00:01 PM: MSNBC cuts into McCain’s speech to report that Barack Obama, winning Montana, is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party. History: made.

[Ed: He’ll win Montana, but the polls are still open there. MSNBC is actually just projecting that he’ll be pushed over the 2118 line no matter how he finishes tonight.]

8:59 PM: Srinivas, my old political co-blogger from ’04, has the definitive line on McCain’s speech in Google Chat: so where was all this the last 5 years johnny boy

8:57 PM: Good points from Matt here.

Marc Ambinder writes about an RNC memo “that portrays the Democratic Party in a state of disarray and claims that legions of Hillary Clinton voters are poised to jump to John McCain.” As Marc says, “privately, many Democrats would agree that that ‘united’ is not the best adjective to describe the party right now.” If anything, though, I think this ought to give McCain serious pause. How is it that he’s in a dead heat with an opponent who’s party is an a maximum state of disunity?

8:53 PM: TPM’s got the ever-growing list of the dozens of late-to-the-party supers who endorsed Obama today.

Meanwhile, McCain drones on. “My friends, that’s not change we can believe in.” How long until he’s reduced to chanting “No, we can’t!”?

8:49 PM: Is that Bush getting booed at a McCain event?

8:46 PM: Now he’s after Obama, in a rather ham-fisted way. He’s actually coming across as pretty smarmy—mean-spirited, petty, and nasty.

I’m actually surprised McCain decided to give another speech on the same night as Obama. I thought he wasn’t going to do this anymore, as the contrast is just too stark to do McCain any favors.

8:35 PM: Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.
—John McCain, 1998

He’s on TV now, shamelessly sucking up to Clinton’s supporters. Pathetic.

8:30 PM: Tonight’s the night. The AP has already reported that Obama has the nomination cinched tonight—his speech tonight in Minneapolis (at the site of the 2008 RNC Convention) should be one for the ages. Keep watching.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 4, 2008 at 12:39 am

Richardson Endorses

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Richardson (finally) endorses. I’m not sure whether he’s going solo or if this is a sign that the supers have finally realized how destructive the unnecessary continuation of this primary is—but either way it’s welcome news on top of the State department scandal and the release of Clinton’s White House schedule, both of which begin to shift the narrative away from the painful Wright stuff.

If Wright had happened when Obama was “the presumptive nominee”—which is to say that everything were exactly as it is now except Clinton had admitted she’d been beat—it would have been half as damaging. Wright took hold so deeply in part because half of a divided Democratic party welcomed the news as a means to overturn the will of the voters and get Clinton installed as the nominee—if those people had instead been willing to speak with one voice to denounce the story and its terms, the cancer could have been removed with a lot less bloodletting. As it is, the Democrats are imploding, and the prospect of a united party in the fall is drifting further and further out of reach; the superdelegates can’t dare let this thing go on till June, and yet they give every indication that they will.

Partial text of the endorsement:

I have made a decision to endorse Barack Obama for President….

My affection and admiration for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver. It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall.

Gore, Edwards, Pelosi, the ball is in your court.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 21, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Who Has the Moral Claim to the Democratic Nomination?

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The American Scene lays out the competing moral claims Clinton and Obama make on the Democratic nomination. I like this article because it acknowledges, as many similar articles do not, that the situation is not strictly black and white. The fact that Barack can’t get the job done in big states is troubling, the undemocratic nature of the caucuses and the failure of the delegate system to map directly onto the popular vote is problematic, and on and on. Obama clearly has the better of the argument as the winner under the rules, and accordingly he will be almost certainly be the nominee however long it takes to get there—but it costs me nothing to concede to the Clintons that, yes, the rules are not holy writ and they are not Objectively Fair and Just. They are merely the rules agreed-upon in advance by all parties involved.

My worry, going forward, is that Clinton can see the writing on the wall and will conclude that her only chance for the nomination is to turn her ship around and fly, guns blazing, at the DNC itself. Clinton’s last card is a big one, a kind of doomsday device—she can attack the delegate system and the rules themselves, claiming that various features of the primary have perverted the actual will of Democratic voters for reasons X, Y, and Z. From a procedural standpoint, this is nonsense, and from a partisan standpoint it is a total disaster, because if the delegate system is delegitimized in the eyes of Clinton supporters there’s no way to declare Obama the winner in a way they will accept and therefore no way to bring the party back together again afterwards. But it remains, nonetheless, a card she can play.

(As I wrote the other night, this total disaster scenario may even be a feature, not a bug; see possibility #3 in this comment thread.)

My point in writing all this is simply to acknowledge that, regardless of its relative lack of merit, Clinton will still have an argument that she should get the nomination over Obama even if she loses the race by every conceivable metric (as it appears she will)—and, worse, such an argument could actually take root in a party still smarting from the injustice of the 2000 election, with a press that is anxious to find some way for the Democrats to improbably let this gift-wrapped election roll, Buckneresque, right through their legs.

Obama supporters need to be ready to counter this.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 6, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Setting Fire to the Future of the Democratic Party

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2:50pm UPDATE: I wrote the draft of this post this morning—now I see that the Clinton camp is officially denying Simon’s report. I wanted to put the denial up top so everyone sees it.

Also at Ambinder, I also see, unrelatedly, that Clinton failed to submit a full delegate slate in Pennsylvania—which I find utterly shocking.

Not long ago one of my commenters used the phrase “setting fire to the future of the Democratic party” to describe the scorched earth strategy of the Clinton campaign. It was an apt description then, but if there’s anything to this report from the Politco, it’s worse than my worst imagination of what was possible.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination.

This strategy was confirmed to me by a high-ranking Clinton official on Monday. And I am not talking about superdelegates, those 795 party big shots who are not pledged to anybody. I am talking about getting pledged delegates to switch sides.

Our only hope is that a knockout blow somewhere in the Texas/Ohio/Pennsylvania circuit ends this insanity and lets the Clintons slink off with some small amount of their dignity intact. But a Longtime Associate writes in echoing my own fears about Wisconsin and how things could go wrong tonight:

once again, obama has been unable to contain expectations. this is a very competitive primary, looking at demographics and polls, and clinton’s last-minute attacks may again give her the win, as they did in new hampshire. the cult of obama / style over substance attacks are taking root, to some extent. the last gallup tracking poll shows a lot of movement to clinton. the painfulness of a possible wisconsin loss will be doubled due to the failure to manage expectations.

Fingers crossed tonight, Obamaniacs.

How Hillary Thinks She Wins

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“You need a process that both sides can buy into. You cannot let these internecine battles create a war.” That was Chuck Schumer on Meet the Press a few minutes ago, speaking without specificity about how the superdelegate and FL/MI situation should shake out.

Let’s parse this out.

“You need a process that both sides can buy into.” Assuming both sides want to win, and that both sides consider themselves to be within striking range of victory, what kind of process could both sides “buy into” when clearly any process would result in one or the other losing?

I think Clinton’s camp is going to argue going into the convention that the only possible mutual buy-in result is a joint ticket, and then assert she should obviously be the head of that ticket and/or quietly refuse to be VP. I think this is how she thinks she can still be the nominee.

UPDATE: I decided to post this as a diary on Daily Kos, with a poll: “Is a joint ticket the only solution to this mess?” After about twenty minutes, “no” was far and away the winner, with “There should not be a joint ticket under any circumstances” edging out “No, there are other possible solutions” by about ten points.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 17, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Reading the Primary Tea Leaves, Rep. John Lewis Edition

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I was prepared to accept The Stump’s argument that Rep. John Lewis’s switch from Clinton to Obama isn’t actually that noteworthy, until I saw Josh Marshall’s equally persuasive argument that it is, in fact, incredibly notewothy. Now I don’t know what to think. I guess we’ll see how things get spun tomorrow.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 15, 2008 at 9:02 am

Addendum for Bald People Trying to Keep Hope Alive

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Jaimee points me to Al Giordano of The Field’s analysis of the Survey USA California poll, which he says uses an improperly tight likely voter screen that simply doesn’t reflect the massive turnout we’ve been seeing. Properly weighing the results of the poll, he says, it looks a hell of a lot closer:

Clinton 43.2
Obama 42.4

And again, that’s before the bump from either South Carolina or Kennedy has registered.

Take it all with a grain of salt, but keep hope alive. He’s also got more grist for the startling-New-York-upset mill, with a look at the tabloid treatment of the Kennedy endorsement and the Clinton campaign’s subsequent Spanish-language ad blitz there. He’s also hinting rather strongly that the Obama campaign has an ace up its sleeve for tonight…

GRASPING-AT-STRAWS UPDATE: And why is the Clinton camp canceling scheduled conference calls and TV appearances?

ALSO: Josh Marshall cryptically writes that there is “already chatter” that the seating of the Michigan and Florida delegates may go to court. I’ve written before, as recently as half an hour ago, that this situation is a disaster waiting to happen. The only good thing about it going to court is that we’ll have an answer well before the convention—that, and the fact that the Clintons will get a lot of “Sore Loserman” press over suing the DNC while Obama, if he’s smart, will float nicely above the fray.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 29, 2008 at 9:08 pm

The Big Dog, Betrayal, Principles, Narcissism, and 1976

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In the comments from last night’s “Ugh” post, Mike Young makes a point I wanted to follow up on:

I’d vote Mccain before Clinton. A lot of my under 30 friends would probably vote an independent Ron Paul ticket or Bloomberg before Clinton. I’ve never met any passionate political participant who grew up in the 90s–liberal, conservative, religious, agnostic, blonde, or tall–who likes or even doesn’t despise Hillary Clinton. She’d probably still win the general (they’re the Clintons, dummy) but she’d do it by setting fire to the future of the Democratic Party.

I’ve think I may have met a few here and there, but it’s definitely not the overwhelming sentiment. I was thinking about this today in connection with reports that even party bigwigs like Ted Kennedy and Rahm Emanuel are now calling on Bill to reign it in. Of course he won’t. When has he ever been persuaded to reign any of his excess in?

I’m reminded of a pair of columns I wrote back as a undergrad for the student newspaper in January and February of 2001. The first one tried to come to peace with Clinton, with whom I always had a rocky love-hate relationship with while he was president. It starts, “I like Bill Clinton. I haven’t always,” and goes on to talk in generally pro-Clinton terms about my conflicted feelings about the Lewinsky scandal. Just two weeks later, I was moved to write this fiery excoriation after yet another indignity and betrayal—the pardon scandals, remember those? We’ll get the mother of all replays exactly one year from today—from the man who was a master of the form:

Conservatives are falling over themselves to point out the “hypocrisy” in Democrats; you loved him while he was president, they ask, so why don’t you love him now? The answer is that this infraction is of a darker character than the other scandals — and the answer is also that this is the last straw. We could forgive the man for Whitewater, for Monica, for all the petty and insignificant scandals trumped-up by Clinton’s enemies in the right wing. We could forgive the man for causing embarrassment to the Democratic Party and to the country, for allowing his own personal foibles to overshadow the governing of a nation, and for failing to back up his acclaimed status as “Best Politician Ever” with substantive reforms and meaningful acts. We were content to look back with a wry smile on the Clinton years and wonder what might have been, as George Stephanopoulous does in his memoir, “if the President had been a better man.” Clinton may never have been remembered as a great president, but he probably could have been remembered as a good one.

The pardons change all that. The pardons are a parting shot at everyone who ever supported him during the trumped-up impeachment and years of Republican-sponsored scandals. The eleventh-hour abuse of the pardon power, for no reason that he could readily cite, to benefit a man who has indirectly pumped a significant sum of money into Clinton’s hands, is more than just the latest in a series of scandals; it is the definitive scandal. It is the final proof that William Jefferson Clinton cares about no one but himself and no thing but his own immediate advantage. It is the abuse of power for its own sake.

It’s over, Bill. Pack up your things, leave your key on the table, and get out of my house. I don’t want to see you anymore.

The possibility that the Clintons will return to the White House and inflict their narcissism and neuroses on the country and on the left for another 4-8 years is still too much to contemplate. It’s honestly hard for me to say—and I say this as someone who more than once in the past has railed against not voting for the Democratic candidate, whoever it is—whether a return to Clintonism would really be better for the left in the long run than four years of McCain followed by the election of an actual progressive (Obama! Gore!) in 2012. Maybe I’m right and Obama is the Democratic Party’s Reagan, but it’s 1976, not 1980; maybe things still have to get even worse before people finally wise up.

At least there’s only a few more weeks of this before I know whether or not I’m going to be knocking on doors or holding my nose come November.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 20, 2008 at 3:19 pm