“She deployed her soft side inconsistently”


Ah yes, the old inconsistent deployment of the soft side: the Wall Street Journal rolls out its post mortem of the Clinton campaign. Also note the graphic (New York Times version is here) which shows that from late February to the end, Obama’s delegate lead over Clinton never significantly changed. She couldn’t close the gap, but for months on end he was unable to pull away. If you’re on the short end of a race with that dynamic and the prize if your luck changes is you get to be President of the United States, when does magnanimity kick in? Really late, I’d say.

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“She deployed her soft side inconsistently”

  1. At the risk of using yet another sports metaphor in politics, Obama basically just ran out the clock on Hillary. I don’t blame her a bit for hanging on — after all, as you point out, the prize at stake here is not a small one. Her game here is clear — keep herself viable in case Obama stumbles on the campaign trail this summer. In that light, I expect that she will perform that uniquely American task of “suspending” her campaign, rather than ending it.

    Obama is a bit of an unknown to many Americans, leaving the Republicans ample room to fill in the blanks. If he starts looking like a lightweight on foreign policy issues, and can’t open up a substantive lead on McCain over the next two months, expect the underground campaign from the Clinton camp to start up very quickly.

  2. I would argue that her luck did change. It was clear a few months ago that clinton couldn’t win this thing – I think that this blog predicted that she’d have to win over 66 percent of the remaining race (but I’m too lazy to factcheck any of this, so sorry if I’m wrong). That she did so well in the final months (and she did do well) is likely a result of obama laying off, knowing he had won, the wright affair doing serious damage to obama’s campaign (not to mention a victory seating delegates from states that she had agreed previously wouldn’t be seated).

    My point is that the results were predicted months back as the best-case scenario, and good on her for attaining that best-case scenario, but it was to the forseeable detriment of her party’s presidential campaign.

  3. Ross: “a result of obama laying off, knowing he had won”

    If Obama had beaten Hillary in any of her “must-win” states (Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania), the primary race would have been over a month ago, and Obama could have spent all this time uniting the party and raising funds for the general election.

    So if your statement is true, that he lost those states because he didn’t try, then his political instincts are terrible.

    However, if your statement is false, and he lost those states in spite of trying (which I think is more likely), it means that he couldn’t win when it really counted, even with the advantages of huge charisma, media interest, and a 2 to 1 fundraising advantage.

    Either way it should be worrisome for him. It reminds me a little of Ignatieff.

  4. It got weirder and weirder from about April onward that any Democrat was still bothering to vote for Clinton, let alone that millions of them were, in sufficient number to thump him in state after state. The further the process went, the weirder it got. At some point, it’s pretty clear the guy’s the likely nominee, and while she has a right to keep running, if I was a late primary voter whose main concern was getting a Democrat elected over a Republican, I’d have been more and more likely to support the front-runner just to send him off in good shape to fight. And yet truly formidable numbers of Democrats refused to do that. No wonder so many people were desperate for Clinton to get out; she was the only excuse a lot of people needed to vote against Obama, and that was pretty embarrassing for the frontrunner.

    I really think Obama will be able to bring most Clinton supporters with him into the general election, but Andrew’s Iggy comparison is…a little eerie.

  5. Iggy/Obama, apples/oranges.
    Also, maybe you hold on but once you realize that you must go, you should go with true grace, not the case here.

  6. I hate the obligatory post-mortem article after a failed campaign. There is no way of knowing what the real mistakes were, and often no attempt to sort through it in a meaningful way. Just a parade of quotes from every disgruntled campaign worker whose advice was rejected at any point and thinks that makes him a genius.

  7. If Pierre Trudeau had married Sheila Copps and Iggy ran against her in 1990, then it would be errie.

  8. Can her high numbers even towards the end be explained by an iron grip on the party machinery? And if that’s the case, aren’t those voters likely to have strong enough party ties to show up in Nov. anyway?

  9. I can play too…

    If you’re going to opine on Obama’s campaign strategy then reading up on it is apparently unnecessary as long as you can make a silly comparison to Iggy. For one thing Clinton didn’t win Texas outright.

  10. One thing that is very similar is that the young people who back Obama and/or Iggy are firmly convinced that everyone else just doesn’t understand him/his positions well enough, and that if we did, why, we’d all just wise up and support their favourite.

    We’re just not sophisticated enough.

  11. Voting in this forum is by already committed party members and thus the party machines of the various candidates is the major factor. The stronger and better organised the machine – the higher their voter turn out. This primary ended being a battle of two machines and despite being behind, Clinton’s was impresive. In the presidential election it will be a slightly different story – independant voters (who the winner will need) are more easily swayed by gaffes, rumours etc.
    I will be a historic presidential campaign.

  12. Well Ben I don’t see how your comparison really works. Obama has proven to be good at the first part of getting the job so he one ups Iggy there. Does Obama’s time in Indonesia equate to the amount of time Iggy spent out of Canada? Obama has been a community activist, lawyer, state senator, and US senator which is a straighter career arc than Iggy’s. Obama doesn’t read profiles of himself because he feels they contribute to political narcissism so I don’t think the arrogance comparison works either. Having just read Rick Perlstein’s fabulous Nixonland, it seems to me that you’re offering a very Orthogonian argument of resentment towards elites and it doesn’t work in Obama’s case.

  13. I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. She strikes me as a Democrat mirror image of Richard Nixon: amoral, disingenuous, awkward and mean.
    But lately I’ve been ticking off lots of people by observing that I couldn’t see why should have quit when she still had a theoretical chance of winning.
    I’m with you, Paul. I can’t blame her for not throwing in the towel. Why should she? To be nice? To make it easier for someone else to win? If Obama can’t win without someone else being nice to him, he has no business being in the race.
    And the worst thing is (it pains me to admit this) she may have been right about him. If Obama couldn’t broaden his constituency enough to knock her out of this race, is he going to be able to pull together enough electoral votes to win in November?

  14. Commentary Ben? You’re deep in the tank if you think the home of VDH, Max Boot, and James Kirchick – not to mention the Podhoretzs – is an reliable source on Democrats and their policies. Quit while you’re behind old son. ;)

  15. It’s a convenient place to link to those quotes, that’s all.

  16. Oh I don’t doubt it’s convenient, in much the same way the RNC’s site or McCain’s site have or should feature good collections of decontextualized Obama quotes, but that doesn’t mean that Commentary is anything but a bunch of partisans with axes to grind. Again try harder if you’re going to play the resentment card.

  17. Lorne, I don’t agree with you about Hillary — I think she would make the best president of the three finalists — but your point about Obama is right on.

    In fact, we should remember that Obama was widely expected to lose his race for the Senate in 2004, before Jack Ryan imploded. Obama ended up winning in a walk.

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