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« Bombs Kills Five U.S. Soldiers | Main | Dems Want Bush to Respect the Law »

February 11, 2008



How can you possibly characterize that list as "some allegations that Obama will likely face if he makes it to November"? Republicans are going to run attack ads that accuse him of having conservative economic advisors? Of approving the nominations of Chertoff and Negroponte? Of not being progressive enough? Really, this is ridiculous.

These are not criticisms from the right, and they are not criticisms the right would use in the general election. They are criticisms from the left, which are only of use during the primary process. Call them what they are.

It's perfectly fine if you like Hillary more than Obama. It's perfectly acceptable for you to argue that liberals should support Hillary over Obama because her liberal credentials are more bona fide. I would point out that many of these criticisms apply at least as much to Hillary, certainly moreso in the case of being "pro-war". But at any rate, an honest discussion of policy comparing the two of them is exactly the sort of discussion that should be happening during the primary season.

But please, let's not masquerade this material as potential chinks in Obama's armor in the general election. This is pro-Hillary, anti-Obama, primary material, designed for consumption by liberals. With the exception of the Rezko thing (which can hardly be described as "not vetted" at this point), none of this material can be characterized as fodder for a Republican attack ad.

Carolyn Kay

Obama supporters seem to think that Hillary is too damaged by right wing attacks, and therefore we should make Obama our candidate. So shouldn't we at least know something about his faults before that happens?

The right will use these items as kernels for the basis of an attack campaign just like the ones that hit the Clintons, Al Gore, and John Kerry.

How many times does it have to happen before we finally wake up and stop voting based on who we think is less attackable by the right?

Carolyn Kay


Again, what faults? I'm not saying they don't exist, but what we have here is an attack from the left, not an attack from the right. The right will not mount an attack campaign based on touting Obama's moderate economic agenda.

Again, other than the Rezko thing (which has certainly gone through the media cycle and been examined quite a lot), what "kernels for the basis of an attack campaign" do you see here?

D. Cupples


You make a GOOD point about these being issues that the Dems should look into. That's my point. No, the GOP won't attack Obama for "not being progressive enough."

The GOP strategists WILL, however, harp on any clashes between Obama's image and the reality of his record. They'll use such things to attack his honesty and crediblity. That's how they play.

If they can attack Kerry for not having bled enough before getting his Purple Hearts, they'll twist things about Obama.

Incidentally, you're right: Hillary has warts (I wasn't suggesting that she doesn't). But the media has been focusing on them for years, so they don't surprise anyone. I'd just like to see Obama -- if he wins the nomination -- not surprise anyone. The time is NOW to vet him.

Lastly, that I pointed out these things doesn't mean that I'm attacking Obama. I'm dealing with potential issues. Did follow the links that Caroline Kay gave and check their validity?

If so, what are your thoughts on those other sources' assertions?



I read parts of every link and all of a few of them. Some of them seem very solid and offer useful counterpoints to compare Clinton and Obama - the one about the subprime morgage crisis is a good read, for instance. Others seem like pretty vacuous attacks. "Stretching the truth" about, well, nothing of any note at all? "Misusing history" about something that has nothing to do with policy? Making some statements that aren't inconsistent about Israel? (Wait, the Palestinians are suffering AND the rocket attacks are bad? Stop the presses!)

Considering the ambivalence many hardcore conservatives feel toward McCain, getting the Republican base out to vote is going to lean heavily on rallying against the other guy/gal. So attack ads are a certainty. One thing fall ads are sure to do regardless of the nominee is try to portray him/her as hopelessly leftist (i.e. the opposite of what many of these links argue about Obama). But that's neither here nor there.

You're right that attacks on Obama will probably try to portray him as somehow lacking in character. The swiftboat attacks were sufficiently audacious and absurd that it proves anything is possible. After reading these links, though, I'm not sure what they have along these lines to latch on to. I'm sure there's something, but I don't see it.

But let's not forget the other major character attack that the Republicans leveled against Kerry - that he "flip-flopped". There's an elephant in the room (double meaning not intended) in our discussion, and that's one absolutely certain plan of attack on Hillary. Tom Tomorrow laid this one out a while ago:

Hillary's attacks on the war in Iraq will be blunted, to some degree, by her vote for the war. Obama lacks this drawback, which gives him a tactical advantage. Democrats are allowed to go on the offensive, too. If the election becomes a referendum on the war, the Democrats win.

Honestly, I'm still not seeing the silver bullet in the Republican arsenal that's going to allow them to make the Republican base, and more moderate conservatives, fear Obama the way they already fear Clinton. She's got 12+ more years under the crosshairs, and the result is that there are unaffiliated voters who won't vote for Hillary.

You're afraid of the unknown attack on Obama, and rightfully so. I don't think anyone should vote for Obama because they think he is immune to attack ads. If your goal is to dispell that myth, then I'm with you. But Clinton is hardly immune either. They will find fresh avenues of attack with her, too. And they have 16 years of Whitewater, et al, to fall back on.

D. Cupples


Thanks for the point-by-point on Caroline's links. [While I was emailing you, you answered my comment.]

What I've learned from focusing on elections so closely (including campaigns that I've helped with) is that events are hard to predict. A former Florida State Senator once told me, "November is 3 political lifetimes away" (this was back in March or so 2002).

I just hope that the Dem-against-Dem battles soften up a bit.


Sorry to be so simplistic, but this primary contest is not splitting the party. It's simply a generational shift from the old to the new. Hillary Clinton has too much baggage, and her experience that she goes on about mostly comes from being a wife. Is this truly what feminists want? She is also just very polarizing and her own personality just reinforces these negative perceptions.

By contrast, and although not perfect, Barack Obama is a breath of fresh air. A clean break from the past, a heck of a lot of intelligence, and the ability to bring in a lot of independents. You need them to win in November!


Yes, and Obama also needs D Cupples and me. He's got some baggage too: don't kid yourself. So far the media hasn't vetted him, which is one reason why we would love to see him become president in eight years, after we all know him a little better.

We've seen the result of a presidency that becomes becomes a popularity contest: George W. Bush.

Finally, 'the generational shift' is real, and it IS splitting the party. Many of the people who trust Hillary are the ones who have been following her career for the last 15 years, like me. I don't know much about Obama, but I know way more than most of his supporters. And what I DO know worries me.

It's the whippersnappers who have swallowed the media's Hillary-bashing---which has gone on for years---hook, line, and sinker.


Pete, the only sense in which Hillary's experience comes from "being a wife" is that being Bill's wife opened a lot of doors for her. She may not have served on all those commissions or become a senator without her association with Bill Clinton. But her experience is real. (On the other hand, Obama seems to have good experience as well, in contrast to the common criticism.)

Damozel, how do you know there's been a lack of vetting of Obama? Should we assume that because the only big negative story turned up so far is the Rezko thing, that nobody has looked? I'm sure people have been looking. That the links in this post are filled with marginal, nearly meaningless accusations, just shows they haven't found anything juicy.

At any rate, we can rest assured that no matter what is or is not found about Obama in the next few months, a nominated Obama will face sume well-spun negative attacks. That they will almost certainly be irrelevant and/or spurrious is not the point. We know they will happen. What I doubt, though, is that the negative ads will be able to match the cumulative effect of all the negative stories Hillary has been exposed to since 1991.

Just because Obama can win a popularity contest, doesn't mean he is GWB, or Bill Clinton, or Ronald Reagan, or JFK. It just means he's popular and likely to win.

The Democrats may look like they are splitting from the perspective of those who have their nose in the campaign and who are closely following the volleys exchanged by the Clinton/Obama supporters. But from the perspective of the average voter or even the average Democrat, this looks like a very civil campaign. The actual candidates have been quite respectful of one another. Whoever wins is going to have a MUCH easier time uniting the Democrats than McCain will have uniting the Republicans.

D. Cupples

I'm not so sure, Adam. I could see McCain getting a lot of right wing support in the fall, if only because he likes Bush's corporate tax cuts (one of the biggest issues for Wall Street Republicans, who control the right wing media).

I guess we'll find out in the coming months. November really is a few political lifetimes away.


I don't mean to imply that McCain WON'T be able to draw in the core of his party, just that he will have a harder time than the Democratic nominee. McCain clearly made concessions to the core of his party in 2006-2007 - flip-flopping on the "unwise" (his words) Bush tax cuts, speaking at Falwell's University after previously calling him an "agent of intolerance" - in an effort to secure the nomination. (I hesitate to call the tax cuts a right-wing position - it's just a Republican one. Somewhere along the line the Republicans started to equate "small government" with lower taxes, seeming to forget that it's actually spending that correlates with the size of government. Big debt is not small government!)

We'll find out if McCain did enough in the coming months. If he tabs Huckabee or someone like him as VP as a further concession, it kills any remaining chance that I would vote for him. I can vote for a 72-year-old cancer survivor, but only if his veep isn't a fundamentalist wacko.

By contrast, I think that it's pretty clear that whichever of Clinton or Obama gets the nomination, he/she will receive a strong endorsement from the other, and the party will be pretty well united.

Watching the talking heads on CNN last night, I think we're already seeing the basic theme of the anti-Obama campaign coming into focus. He's too young, too inexperienced, head in the clouds, full of impractical dreams, et cetera. He's also getting the super-liberal label, and the unfit-to-lead-in-a-time-of-war label, but Clinton would see that treatment as well.

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