April 7, 2008

Campaign round-up

Hillary Clinton.

As the Democratic primary increasingly turns Shakespearean, the puzzle for Obama supporters and pundits alike seems to be, what the hell is Clinton going to do next?

Her press coverage is filtered through the fact that she's running behind, has a nearly impossible task to actually "win" in any of the big three, popular vote, elected delegates, or total delegates, and is increasingly uncorking novel, some say bizarre, rationales for why superdelegates should make her the nominee and/or that she should be awarded a big pile of delegates from Florida, and Michigan too, if they can get away with it.

She's teetering on the brink of becoming the caricature that right wing noise machine from the 90's first created, and the press follows along.

It seems that she's been snake-bit lately. The effort to "Gore" her by trying to create the impression she's a "serial prevaricator" to dredge up a favorite line by right wing pundits during the 2000 campaign, is taking shape.

First the Bosnia airport thing, made worse by the clumsy attempt by Clinton to casually brush it aside and revelations that she'd repeated it at least three times. Not good, but not fatal.

Then it emerged that she was telling an anecdote in her stump speech about a person's health care woes which wasn't entirely factual. (Apparently, it was told to her by some law enforcement official who asked her to tell people about it.) This is clearly the fault of campaign aides whose job it is to research and check out things like this to ensure that what happened, doesn't.

The candidates obviously do not have the time to research and check out the veracity of every single thing that's put in front of them on the stump. They trust that their staff knows what they're doing and doesn't give them stories and facts that are untrue. This one must have slipped through due to Hillary simply taking the source of the story at his or her word. She had no reason to believe it was false.

That said though, a story which hadn't been properly vetted should never have gotten through to the candidate to begin with, and it should have been fact-checked before Clinton rather recklessly repeated it. Apparently the story's heart-wrench value overcame Clinton's better judgement.

But this now allows the opposition to try to build the "pattern" of deception argument that was used so falsely against Al Gore.

The Clinton campaign has always been beset by internal sniping and finger-pointing, and the source has always seemed to originate with slovenly PR guru Mark Penn.

At the moment he was appointed, the dubious clientele of Burston Marsteller, his mega-PR firm, and his various apparent economic conflict of interests, including the fact that his firm was hired to defend and polish the image of the enormous for-profit military Blackwater company. (see my comment on this post.)

Now it was revealed that Penn was representing the government of Columbia and meeting with its ambassador to plot strategy to lobby for a favorable trade agreement with that country, an agreement which Clinton opposes.

Add to that the infighting and the fact that Penn's only support in the campaign came from Bill and Hillary alone, and finally the pressure to dump him got too much. Penn resigned from the campaign today.

Wonks and junkies will likely debate what role Penn played in the very flawed Clinton campaign strategy, a strategy that was caught utterly flat-footed post super Tuesday and has been playing catch-up ever since. Penn made it clear in statements that he blamed everyone but himself, but history may come to hold him responsible for why the Clinton campaign, considered a mortal lock to win the nomination a short time ago, is now reeling and fighting an extremely uphill battle.

And then there's the long anticipated (by reporters and Republicans and Obama staffers) release of the Clinton's tax return.

The attempt to suggest that the fact that the Clinton's have made a hundred million or more somehow makes them hypocrites, or somehow disqualifies them from championing the cause of poverty or the interests of lower income people is simply ridiculous.

Frankly, it's disgusting. And worse yet, the people trying to argue this are the EXACT same people who are the first to yelp, "Class warfare!" whenever anyone dare point out the vast and growing gulf between the tiny handful of ultra-wealthy and the rest of us.

These people suggesting that the Clinton's, a globally respected ex-president and first lady, are corrupt or hypocritical for making about what the average CEO makes, howl like stuck pigs if anyone mentions the fact that a small sliver of the richest people in this country have seen their wealth increase by a staggering percentage over the past decade, while the rest of us have seen wages stay flat or actually decline.

We're following the same path as the USSR, with a relative handful of greedy people literally looting the country through a massive and systematic scam to make money with the aide and encouragement of a corrupt government run by their own chosen appointees and rampant profiteering on a hopeless and deadly attempt at empire. The USSR collapsed from greed and rot and economic collapse brought on by the same things that are happening in our country this very day.

McCain had the gall to stand on the balcony where MLK Jr. was brutally shot down and utter a lame apology for voting AGAINST establishment of a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, both in Arizona AND as a U.S. holiday.

And people wonder why blacks vote Democratic? (and of course, it reminds one of the fact that Dick Cheney, while he was in Congress, was the ONLY representative to vote AGAINST a 1986 resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and recognition of the African National Congress. He considered Mandella's ANC to be a "terrorist organization". This kind of judgement is what got us to the place where a stunning 81% of Americans think the Republicans have lead the country down the crapper.)

John McSame is doomed, continuing to stake his campaign on the theme of "war = patriotism", and continuing the disturbing pattern of Bush/Cheney of speaking to pro-militarism audiences.

The country and the world are sick to death of needless death and violence. When standing in the voting booth, it's inconceivable that independents or even many rational Republicans could bring themselves to pull the lever for a man who represents a failed, rigidly inflexible, hyper-militaristic worldview that is simply obsolete.

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