by D. Cupples | Between 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, George Bush managed to convince at least a few million Americans that opposing Bush equaled opposing our nation. With help from Mr. Rove and Mr. Limbaugh, Bush had many Americans getting riled up when other people criticized our president -- as though the questioners were calling their own mamas ugly.
It was a brilliant strategy, getting people emotionally invested to the point that they took personally any political opposition to a guy most of them weren't related to or even friends with. An email I just received suggests that Barack Obama's campaign staffers are using a similar tactic. The email reads:
"...We won Wyoming on Saturday, and we just learned that we won Mississippi by a large margin tonight.
"Between those two states, we picked up enough delegates to erase the gains by Senator Clinton last Tuesday and add to our substantial lead in earned delegates. And in doing so we showed the strength and breadth of this movement.
"But just turn on the news and you'll see that Senator Clinton continues to run an expensive, negative campaign against us. Each day her campaign launches a new set of desperate attacks.
"They're not just attacking me; they're attacking you."
"Over the weekend, an aide to Senator Clinton attempted to diminish the overwhelming number of contests we've won by referring to places we've prevailed as 'boutique' states and our supporters as the 'latte-sipping crowd.'"
I don't know if "latte-sipping crowd" is an actual insult or if it even came from the Clinton campaign (as opposed to a journalist who enjoys metaphors). And, frankly, "boutique state" sounds more elegant than insulting.
That aside, the Clinton campaign isn't attacking Obama's supporters (or their mamas). It is merely questioning whether some of Obama's victories are truly "overwhelming," given the numbers of voters involved and the likelihood that multiple states Obama won will give their Electoral College votes to McCain in November -- not to any Democrat.
First, Caucuses are different from primaries (not an attack, just a fact). In primaries, people go into a booth and privately vote. At caucuses, which last for hours, people publicly defend their candidate. Understandably, caucuses include far fewer voters than primaries (usually those who are more politically active and have accommodating schedules). Compare these few primary and caucus states:
Wyoming (caucus) ..........12.........................8,753
Less than 50,000 people voted in caucuses to decide who got Wyoming's, Hawaii's and Rhode Island's combined 74 delegates. More than 1.6 million people voted in primaries to give out Georgia's, Rhode Island's and Oklahoma's combined 68 delegates.
In other words, at least 32 times more people had input into who would win the primary states' 68 delegates than had input in giving out the caucus states' 74 delegates.
The natural question: are caucuses as broadly representative as primaries of a state party's voters' opinions?
Of the 26 states (plus Washington DC) that Obama won, 12 of them were caucus states. Now add Texas, where Obama lost the primary (which decided two-thirds of that state's delegates) but won the caucus (which decided one-third of the delegates). That makes 13.
Hillary has won 2 caucus states -- sort of, anyway, as she won the popular vote in Nevada but Obama won more delegates there. Not understanding Nevada's system, I can't explain why.
Anyway, it's fair and factual -- and not the least bit insulting -- for the Clinton campaign to point out that many of Obama's victories were in caucus states that had far fewer voters deciding who would get delegates.
Second, neither Hillary nor Obama is likely to win "Red States" in November, because they're flooded with Republicans. Instead, "Red States" will likely give their Electoral College votes to McCain.
Of the states that Obama has won so far, 10 are "Red States": Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Wyoming. Those 10 states have a combined 64 Electoral College votes -- which will likely go to McCain. (I didn't count Texas, whose caucus Obama won but not its primary).
Clinton has won two "Red States": Texas and Oklahoma, whose EC votes total 41 (which also will likely go to McCain).
Long story short: Obama's victories in the caucuses and primaries don't really reflect how he would do in November if he were the nominee. The Clinton Campaign would be remiss if it didn't point that out.
Obama's supporters may not like hearing such things, but those statements don't constitute personal attacks against those supporters. The Obama campaign's email continues:
"I'm not sure how those terms apply to Mississippi and Wyoming -- or Virginia, Iowa, Louisiana, or Idaho for that matter.
"I know that our victories in all of these states demonstrate a rejection of this kind of petty, divisive campaigning.
"But the fact remains that Senator Clinton's campaign will continue to attack us using the same old Washington playbook. And now that John McCain is the Republican nominee, we are forced to campaign on two fronts.
"It's up to you to fight back. Please make a donation of $25 today:
Telling thousands of people that Sen. Clinton is attacking them (or their mamas) is as divisive as it is factually questionable. Thus, its a tad hypocritical for the email to accuse Clinton of "divisive campaigning."
Given that the get-them-to-take-it-personally tactic was used by George Bush, et. al. (circa 2001-2005), it's equally hypocritical for the email writer to accuse Clinton of "using the same old Washington playbook."
And isn't it interesting that the email suggests that the way to fight Clinton is to give Obama $25? That's similar to televangelists who prescribe monetary donations as the way for viewers to secure salvation in the hereafter.
Given that the Obama campaign has tried to paint itself as employing a new style of politics (i.e., clean and nice), I'm surprised that the media isn't focusing more on such emails.
Note: I don't know how to put an image of an email into a blog post, but I'll be happy to forward the email to you if you email me.