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May 18, 2008




Hillary is President she just has to follow the rules and let the process play out. Obama isn't ready and the country knows it. His supporters are taking a second look and they don't like what they see. The media slime that they are will not get to annoint Obama as they did Bush.

D. Cupples

HI Danny,

Thanks for you nice words and optimism. I hope you're right that the media won't succeed. I do sense a backlash in progress, I just wish that it had begun some months ago.


It wasn't a half-hour ago that I dropped onto The Moderate Voice more or less inarticulately bleating what you have given in chapter & verse & jot & tittle. The media's deeply committed to Obama. I know Jonathan Alter is a weasel, but was he actually the first fellow who blew the horn that it was post time for hard-left spinning?

Very good delineation of Obama's backcourt moves while his power forwards clear out the way through the circle. He's very clever, but is he ready for prime time? Is anybody? Rove & Co. mistreated McCain in 2000 much the same way---deniability was maintained, but not believed. Good that the voters are more discriminating and feel that what you've shown to be true might be their way of looking at it.

D. Cupples


I don't know if Alter was the first. He's just the first that I came across.

Off topic but interesting: my software automatically dated my post Feb 25; thus, I know that Alter's article came out on or before Feb 25.

Newsweek dated the article March 3. I don't know whether Newsweek re-dated the online version or pre-dated it to coincide with publication of the hard copy of the magazine.

I DON'T think that Obama is ready for prime time. Despite his years in the Illinois lege, he doesn't have a real record of leadership. He just says that he does.

Some voters are aware of Obama's game, though many media have made it hard to discover that by refusing to focus on some stories.


Yes, Rezko disappeared like magic & so did Wright & Michele's mouthy nastiness. I expect them to reappear as the TUCC collection of tapes is acquired by interested parties. Larry Johnson of No Quarter says there is one of Michele yelling obscenities about "whitey," and looning about her own low SATs. Just normal Sunday sermon feedback at that loon palace. Kinda unChristian in manners if not mores.

D. Cupples


Given the million-dollar reward, I suspect that if a copy of the tape exists, it will come out pretty soon.


I suspect that said tape does not exist. It has all the trappings of a rumor smear. We'll see.

As I've said before, I'm completely fine with Hillary seeing the process through, fighting for every vote, and dropping out only when she sees no path to the nomination left. That said, I am not going to maintain the fiction that Obama is not the presumptive nominee for perfectly good reasons. He is.

As I've said before: take the delegates he has, add the add-ons that are headed his way, add the "Pelosi club", add the superdelegates that he already has privately comitted who are coming out in 4's and 6's, and add the pledged delegates he will get in the remaining contests, and he's already there. This is true even if we account for any realistic seating of MI/FL.

Here's a quote from a TPM blog comment by "rabbitsmorgasbord" that sums up many of my thoughts on the matter fairly well. He doesn't account for the privately committed superdelegates and the Pelosi club, which is why he gives Hillary a bit more of a chance then I do.


"[...] there's no path to the nomination for Hillary that makes any sense. So Obama is the presumptive nominee at this point.

The path to the nomination for Hillary is that the SDs conclude that she's electable and he isn't. Those arguments have been made for weeks and weeks now, and the SDs are going to Obama at better than five for every one that Hillary gets, plus some defections from Hillary to Obama. Those arguments aren't working. The other path to the nomination for Hillary would be for some major Obama scandal to break before the convention.

McCain is the presumptive nominee in the same sense. A major scandal before the convention could mean that someone other than McCain gets the nomination. So it's possible. Just not likely. (And less likely with Obama than McCain, in my estimation.)

[...] The reason Obama is the presumptive nominee is all about the delegate totals, because that's how the nominee is chosen. Hillary can't win a majority of the pledged delegates. The way the add-ons are calculated is also in Obama's favor because he won more states.

He's ahead in superdelegates, too. Hillary needed 80% of the remaining superdelegates a while back, but a lot of SDs have gone to Obama since then. She needs to win them at better than 5-to-1 over Obama, but Obama has been winning them at better than 5-to-1 over Hillary. That's a lot of ground to try to reverse. Even if she could get MI and FL seated as is (which won't happen, for reasons Terry McAulliffe explained quite well [in] 2004) she'd still be very unlikely to be able to pull off a win, although she'd certainly have a better shot at it than she has now. "

D. Cupples


Said tape may NOT exist. IF it does, it'll likely come out soon because of the $. THat's all I was saying

TPM is about the last source I'd listen to re: Hillary (except Greg). It has been nastily anti-Hillary for months.

I already know the arithmetic arguments. It'll be over when it's over, and I'm not accepting anyone as THE nominee until it's official.

You're welcome to continue perceiving the situation the way you do.

The whole Dem nominating process has been tainted, anyway -- which is a bigger issue to me.

Frankly, I'm trying to grow accustomed to writing the words "President" and "McCain" next to each other and in that order.

It's tough.


Attacking the source there (even worse than Josh Marshall, it's just a mere TPM comment thread) is irrelevant. The points made there are, more or less, factually indisputable. The only way Clinton wins is if there is an enormous scandal that causes huge numbers of superdelegates to REVERSE course.

The defeatism you express about Obama's chances against McCain are simply unjustified. Even emerging from a brutal campaign fight, near the likely nadir of his support level, Obama is beating McCain nationally in many polls. Moreover, he has a clear path to victory, based on winning the Gore states plus a couple extra states in the west. Unless you actually WANT Obama to lose to McCain, I really don't understand why you keep forlornly predicting a McCain win.

The national mood is slanted toward the Democrats to degree unmatched since the Great Depression. On nearly every issue, Obama and the Democrats are on the side of most voters. Obama is leading a huge registration effort, and the primary process brought in an enormous number of new voters. The Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, are going to have the resources to outspend the Republicans almost everywhere.

Pessimism is not warranted.

D. Cupples


Please don't dismiss me as illogically "attacking the source."

The fact is that right now, we're ALL engaged in speculation, nothing more.

A very anti-Hillary person will likely draw very different conclusions from the same set of facts than a very pro-Hillary person. (A lot of "very"'s, I know)

That's why I don't consider TPM's (or MSNBC's) speculations worth my time. I wasn't attacking TPM, just stating why I don't consider it a be-all source for predictions.

For months now, I've expressed pessimism about Obama's chances against McCain. That's not new.

You and I are just weighing different factors more heavily than others and coming to different conclusions.

The result: you think Obama is a shoo-in, and I think he has a small chance of beating McCain.

I think that you (and the DNC, for that matter) have underestimated two things: 1) the party rift, and 2) McCain's ability to impress ordinary voters (as opposed to people like you and me) as a maverick or liberal.

At this point, electoral maps conflict re: whether Hillary or Obama has a better chance against McCain. I think that's because the people drawing them are biased (on both sides).

That said, I DO enjoy the electoral maps that show Hillary doing better than Obama, BUT I DON'T believe them -- any more than I believe the ones showing Obama doing better.

As for polls: some conflict, so we can cite the ones we want. As you know from my past posts, I have trouble trusting polls as it is, and NH, CA, and IA are evidence enough for me to continue not betting money on polls.

In summary, it's all speculation, Adam -- which generally sounds reasonable but remains unprovable.

That's why I don't predict that Hillary will win the nomination, but I don't predict she won't, either. In short, I suspend judgment.


When you say "TPM is about the last source I'd listen to", you are attacking the source. Now, there's nothing inherently "illogical" about attacking the source, if you think the source is horribly biased. Biased sources deserve to be noted as such. But the merits of that argument also warrant consideration. My point is that the merits of that particular argument seem basically sound, and you seem uninterested in trying to refute them.

As fivethirtyeight said today: "Even if Florida and Clinton were seated fully [and we both know 50% seating is far more likely - Adam], Obama should be sitting on about 2,156 delegates a week or so into June, leaving him 53 short of the 2,209 he'd need to officially clinch the nomination."

That's counting add-ons, but not Pelosi club or unannounced committed superdelegates. Even ignoring the latter, Hillary would need something approaching 90% of the remaining superdelegates. Again, that's ignoring a large number of SDs that are privately committed, AND assuming a MI/FL scenario that's not actually going to happen.

There's no equivalence between predicting the outcome of the general (which IS speculation at this point) and predicting the outcome of the nomination (which, by any reasonable standard, is at least 95% complete).


I've never said Obama is a shoo-in in the GE. But you pessimism is unwarranted. I understand concerns about divisions in the party and/or McCain's marketing appeal to some independents, but the effects of those factors (particularly party division) will never be stronger than right now. Obama has a great line of attack on McCain - staple him to Bush, and attack HARD on unpopular policies. That works both with Democrats and with independents. He's going to keep at it, and it's already working. He's got a 10 point lead in some national tracking polls, and at least some lead in every one I've seen in the last few days.

I think Obama has a significant advantage over McCain, for three basic reasons:

1) He plays well in a broad range of states and can force McCain to play defense in places the current Republican establishment has never had to defend (VA, CO, NV, even potentially some of the upper prairie states).

2a) The mood is extremely anti-Republican in general and in favor of major policy shifts that McCain promises to not deliver.

2b) Obama, by contrast, has marketed himself as an agent of change who can be trusted to deliver these policy shifts. He's pitch perfect for this election cycle.

3) The Democrats in general and Obama in particular have the Republicans in general and McCain in particular MASSIVELY out-funded.

Hillary, had she won the nomination, would have also had advantages 2a) and 3). She also has some key regional advantages that give her a very good shot in the fall.

I enjoy the maps of her winning, too. I like maps of both of them winning the best. Fivethirtyeight has both of them projected as beating McCain right now. That hadn't happened until a few days ago, and it reflects the detente we've seen between the Obama and Clinton campaigns.

Some of the more simplistic analyses, like the one on or, have Obama losing, because they only use the most recent poll restuls. There are a pair of polls for WI and MI from early May that have Obama losing narrowly there. I'll bet you a latte and a flag pin that the next poll improves Obama's numbers in Wisconsin, and probably Michigan as well.

Every state poll that has come out lately has been giving relatively favorable results. He's up 8 in PA in the latest poll, which is consistent with a gradually widening lead there as the acrimony of that primary fades from memory. PA is truly the keystone for Obama, since he doesn't need Ohio and Florida to win.

(One other more sophisticated analysis:
He's only tracking Obama v. McCain at this stage. That guy is unambiguously biased towards McCain, so I don't think he's tweaking his approach to make Obama look good.)

D. Cupples


About "attacking" sources, I took it wrong. 'Sorry about that.

I'm not "refusing" to refute TPM's argument out of fear of not being able to. Given my training, I'm pretty good at attacking arguments -- if only based on my ability to point out assumptions and speculations on which they rest.

I'm just too busy to go look at TPM -- and I don't usually find it productive to refute second-hand reports of other people's arguments.

I keep hearing the same arguments from you re: total-delegate count. You might turn out right or wrong.

I'm NOT refuting your arguments -- I'm just suspending judgment.

When a nominee is formally named, I'll stop suspending judgment and acknowledge what has come to pass.

About the GE: again, I don't know if you're right or not (and you won't know for some months).

Your predictions are based on speculations that don't factor in certain things, like how the resentful segment of Hillary's supporters will feel in November (which will likely change, but in what direction?)

I don't know how anyone can validly say that this is the worst the resentment will get.

Remember, I DON'T represent the intensely resentful segment: if I didn't you might have stopped chatting with me long ago.

The resentment isn't merely about "their candidate" having little chance of beating Obama. Many of them started out thinking Obama was ok back in December.

They turned on Obama and the DNC some months back, IN PART because:

1) they feel that Obama misrepresented himself and the true nature of his campaign (On that one, I agree) AND that he questionably harmed Hillary.

2) given that, they're not sure that Obama would be any better than McCain policy wise, because they have no idea what's truly inside him (and he has no real record as evidence).

3) they perceive the media as having helped Obama do #1.

4) they perceive DNC leaders as having helped with #1.

5) the perceive visible DNC leaders (like Brazile and Dean) as having wanted Obama to win so badly that they would do whatever it takes (including making misleading statements to the public and stopping the contest in March).

6) they perceive the Florida problem (and MI too) as evidence of #5 and of a blatant disregard for millions of ordinary Dem voters.

PLEASE DON'T ARGUE with me about these points. I'm just reporting back what I've been observing for months.

In short, they see the election as bordering on rigged -- and they see the Democratic party as no better than the Republican party (i.e., top-down and dictatorial).

It doesn't matter that you can refute some of their points: it's what many people think and feel -- and the resentment has been hardening for months.

I guess we'll see what happens in November.

Lastly, sophisticated "analyses" are still based on some speculations and assumptions that may or may not pan out. That's why, as I said in a different comment, that I have no use for electoral maps at this point.


You ask me not to address any of those points, but I rally can't leave point #2 alone. It is simply absurd to imply that there are no established, substantive policy differences between Obama and McCain, based on their records. There are many examples. Iraq war, Bush taxes, and abortion are just three obvious ones. (Please don't throw out the "present" vote canard. It's been explained exhaustively. Obama actually coordinated his votes with abortion rights groups.)

Honestly, it's roughly as easy to argue that there's no policy difference between Hillary and McCain. Which is to say, that's also an impossible argument. Both essentially posit that one candidate has spent their entire policital career pretending to be a Democrat, so they can be a Trojan horse candidate for the Republicans in a bad Republican year. It's pure conspiracy theory.


I admit that there are Hillary supporters who won't vote for Obama, but it seems bizarre to argue that that number would GROW between now and November. About the only scenario where I could imagine that would be if Obama picked a pro-life running mate like Chuck Hagel. I don't think Obama is that dumb.

At any rate, I completely agree that general election arguments (be they based on polls, demographics, national mood, predicted tone of the campaign, or anything else) are fundamentally speculative at this stage. But there are many, many reasons to be optimistic, which is why I have said that your pessimism about Obama's chances are unwarranted.


When you say you are "suspending judgement" on my delegate arguments, what you are essentially saying is that you have decided not to think about what Hillary's real chances at the nomination are. That makes it extremely difficult for you to see the actions by the campaigns in context.

For example, you got angry when someone leaked/fabricated a story about Obama considering running mates. But if you actually look at the delegate counts and consider Hillary's real chances, it seems like a pretty logical thing for him to be doing.

D. Cupples


I asked you to not argue about the points, because I wasn't making those arguments. I was reporting what I've heard/read.

You and I have logical discussions despite our disagreement over who should win the nomination. I can admit when "my" candidate does something wrong or stupid.

Most voters aren't so emotionally detached. And most aren't very politically aware. They're too busy.

I DID NOT make the argument that McCain and Obama are the same policy-wise. I suspect that they have more similarities than I'm comfy with, but I also suspect that Obama differs re: abortion and some other issues.

But I've been paying attention and researching for years now. Most voters haven't.

When many people think of McCain, they don't think "Keating 5." They think "campaign finance reform" and how McCain helped bring down Abramoff.

I hate quoting movies, but this is a good one: "politics is perception" (American President)

And perceptions can be false. As I've said before, for example, some people's perception of Obama as beyond ordinary politics starkly contrasts his records in Illinois and Washington.

Yet, many people have the perception that he IS beyond politics as usual.

In short, a lot of voters on BOTH SIDES aren't focused on real issues: many are focused on imagery and vague concepts.

Even worse, as 2000 proved, some people vote on which candidate they'd rather do happy hour with.

I'm not one of those people.

THAT's why I didn't want to get into a debate with you about the points I'd reported from around the blogosphere.

I'm just telling you that the mis-perception of McCain as a liberal will likely be a real problem for Dems.


You're right. I don't need to come up with a specious yet artificial percentage re: Hillary's chances of becoming the nominee. Frankly, I know that the chances are slim, but they aren't zero.

To find out whether or not she'll win, I likely need only wait a few weeks.

HOW would I concretely benefit from making predictions now?

I wouldn't. That's why I'll suspend judgment until the actual results are in.

I didn't mind that Obama started considering running mates. I mind that he tried (once again) to manipulate the media and public with disingenuous tactics.

You know I hate that. I've been mad at Bush for years for doing that. One of the worst is when he (apparently) has a staffer leak purportedly classified info (isn't that in the neighborhood of treason?) just so he can spin the national debate.

If I don't find it acceptable from Bush, why would I find it acceptable from Obama?


Most of what you say is very reasonable. I would just quibble with the idea that Obama had a staffer leak this. Firstly, theres a significant chance that the "leak" is pure BS. Secondly, even if some staffer did leak this, there's no evidence that Obama wanted him/her to.

In fact, it seems like a pretty stupid idea to leak this while Hillary is still campaigning. He's been consistently on message with the "VP talk is premature until I am the nominee" line, and it's the right line to use.

D. Cupples


How can you quibble over WHETHER it was a leak? There was no press conference about VP discussions, yet the info made it to the press.

That's a leak.

Whether Obama or campaign higher ups wanted it is a different story.

Me, I can't imagine that a low-level staffer would even know about the VP talks IF Obama/Axelrod/et. al. had wanted them to stay secret.

Thus, I suspect that the press was tipped by a mid- or higher-level staffer.

I can't imagine a mid- or higher-level staffer leaking something this sensitive if the higher-level people had wanted it to remain secret. Mid/higher staff DOESN'T WANT Obama to have trouble in the press.

I agree (as I indicated in my post) that it was bad strategy to publicly have VP talks while Obama needs to woo resentful Hillary supporters.

At the same time, intending to leak the VP talks IS in keeping with the I'm-already-the-winner imagery and narrative that Obama's campaign has propagated.

That the strategy is stupid DOESN'T mean that an Obama campaign strategist didn't execute the strategy.

At some point, everyone (e.g., Hillary and Bosnia) makes major strategic mistakes. :)

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