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« Wolfson: But for Edwards, Hillary Would Have Won | Main | Do our Media Understand the Russia-Georgia Conflict? »

August 12, 2008

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Danny

I would guess it was Patti S-D and she'll be the next one to go under the bus. Hillary must have gotten some concession against her and she leaked the e-mails out of spite.

Hey did I tell you that there is nothing Barry can do to win? Nothing! The DNC blew this election big time. It truly is amazing they took a wet behind the ears Chicago thug and tried to put lipstick on him and make him President. GOD!

Deb Cupples

HI Danny,

Yes, it'll be interesting to see what shakes out for Patti.

Adam

My theory is that this leak happened for the same reason that Wolfson blurted out that nonsense about Edwards and Iowa. That reason being: a lot of folks in the Clinton camp are (quite reasonably) frustrated and bitter about what they see as a blown opportunity to win the nomination and, by extension, the presidency. All those rival factions are (somewhat less reasonably) convinced that Hillary would have won *if only she had listened to ME*. These leaks are an act of self-justification - the leaker is trying to demonstrate that it was the Penn faction, not his/her faction, that made the errors that brought down the Clinton juggernaut.

My guess is that this was not Solis Doyle's doing, simply because she's involved in the Obama campaign now. Not only did she, in a sense, get the last laugh in those internal Clinton campaign wars, but she's surely aware that rehashing the primaries does not help the Obama campaign. Even if she really wanted to leak this stuff she'd probably be inclined to wait until after the election.

We might never know the leak source here. Some of the leaked e-mails have as few as 10 recipients, several who can be immediately discounted. But who knows where those memos/e-mails went from there?

The big story of the memos themselves, though, is not the infighting of the Clinton campaign, which was hardly a secret. The big story is how blatant and clear-eyed the attacks on Obama were, and how early they were conceived. The Penn e-mail from March 2007, outlining a strategy of framing Obama as the Other, is particularly breathtaking.

One other interesting/funny note is Ickes's casual assumption that Obama would refuse matching money for the general election. He makes this assertion as if it were a known fact... in February, 2007. This goes to show that the folks who were looking at the fundraising numbers knew the score a long time ago.

Deb Cupples

HI Adam,

Whoever did it, whatever their reasons, it was stupid on the part of the Dems involved.

I don't see why it's a "big story" that campaign staffers wanted to get harsh. I've worked on more than a few campaigns, and suggestions like that are par.

I'm willing to bet that McCain and Obama have staffers who've wanted to go harsh.

Wait, no. I don't have to bet. I have evidence: that memo from Obama's staffer (leaked in January, before South Carolina), which indicated that subtly (and falsely) painting Hillary as a racist was on the table.

Where was the outrage of ardent Obama supporters then?

you'll notice, Adam, that I've dialed back my Obama criticisms.

But this notion that his campaign should be judged by a different standard than other campaigns is worth noting.

I hopet that when he becomes president, his ardent fans won't pressure the media to bury stories about him or pressure Congress to pull back on executive oversight (a Dem Congress will already have incentive enough to do that).

God knows, we don't need another unaccountable administration.

As for Ms. Doyle, you make some wide-eyed assumptions.

I mean, she did know that at some point she would work for Obama (she's good friends with Axelrod). And yet, she helped Vanity Fair slam Bill Clinton.

I guess Ms. Doyle didn't feel vindicated enough that Bill's wife lost the primary.

Like you, I DON'T KNOW who or how many people leaked to the Atlantic.

What I do know is that they were Dems -- and the timing of this move may have an undermining effect on the pursuit of their current goals.

Adam

I agree that internal discussions of negative attacks are par for the course. What I am mildly shocked by is the frank dismissal of Obama's multiculturalism and the clear-eyed desire to emphasize Hillary's "American-ness" as a counterpoint. Calling it a plan to "play the race card" doesn't really do it justice. It's an outright appeal to xenophobia.

I also agree that you're right that I don't really know what I'm talking about with respect to Patti S-D.

What I disagree with is that there's a notion that Obama's campaign is/was/should be judged by a different standard than Clinton's. I've maintained for over five months that Clinton's campaign really did escalate the negativity in a tangible way. This is not to deny that there were negative attacks by Obama's campaign, just that it was Clinton's campaign that took it to another level.

To be more specific: if Hillary had won, I don't think we would have heard echoes of any Obama attacks in the general election. When he went negative, it was in ways that were very contained and didn't really open up avenues for the Republicans. By contrast, we're hearing all sorts of echoes of Clinton attacks (including some explicit quotes) coming from the McCain campaign.

Deb Cupples

Adam,

Again, Someone on Obama's campaign outright wanted to FALSELY paint Hillary as a racist (which coincidentally ended up happening before both Caronlinas' primaries, though the obama campaign has plausible deniability because big supporters like Clyburn and Eugene Robinson did it).

I don't see xenophobia as much different from racism, though SOME people do consider racism worse. I don't know why.

Given that Obama's campa started the racisim bit back in January, I don't see why you (or any other Obama supporter who was paying attention) is shocked to learn that one of Hillary's staffers was willing to pull out the brass knuckles and go equally low.

Unless the shock victims think it's "different" when Obama's people do such things.

Danny

I know a couple of Bush friends tht can tell you they blindly drank the kool-aid and couldn't assign blame to Bush if they wanted to the kool-aid was that strong. It wasn't until Bush's policys kicked them in the ass that they could start thinking clearly for themselves again. Barry (O) does the same thing to clearly bright people. They will deny any wrong doing on his part and forgive him just to win. Its really sick. Sick I tell you! Sick what these people who are normally sane ignore for someone they don't even know.

Adam

Again, I'm talking about a Penn strategy memo from March, 2007, well before any of the primary wars began. The point is, trying to paint Obama as the exotic, un-American candidate, either explicitly or implicitly, was on the table and was discussed. With that in mind, it's harder to excuse things like Bill's "two candidates who love America" comment as just an innocent misunderstanding.

I'm not trying to imply that racism is better or worse than xenophobia, and moreover there's a lot of overlap between the two. I was just trying to state that Penn's suggested strategy was broader than just a dog-whistle appeal to racism.

And again, I don't see parity between the negativity of the campaigns. Nothing Obama threw at Hillary was going to stay with her in a general election.

For the record, I don't know what leaked Obama memo you refer to.

Deb Cupples

Adam,

Part II

That line about Hillary's giving talking points to the GOP might have been a good way to get her campaign to tone down -- and might give Obama supporters someone to blame if he loses.

But reality doesn't support that statement.

Fact: the Rs are GREAT at going after opponents. When they can't find real stuff that does the job (or that they can twist beyond recognition), they'll just make stuff up.

We saw that for 8 years.

Fact: Obama has very obvious and very usable weaknesses FROM THE GOP's PERSPECTIVE -- esp. compared to McCain.

I'm NOT voting for McCain or trying to say he's better than Obama. I'm just telling you how easy it would have been for the GOP to come up with anti-Obama talking points -- whether or not Hillary had played negative.

McCain has served decades in Congress; Obama had less than 3 years in the U.S. Senate -- and he wasn't as active as he could have been, because he was busy raising funds and gearing up to run for pres.

Obama's state legis tenure wasn't all that distinguished, either.

McCain has military experience; Obama doesn't. Bill Clinton got major smearing for that (Hillary likely would have too).

McCain's been on the national scene for years; Obama came out of nowhere a couple years ago.

Those are just obvious comparisons.

Then there's Obama's Wright and Ayers ties, which are hyper-high calorie snacks for GOP operatives.

And, of course, the GOP will exploit xenophobia -- which is easy, given that Obama's dad was from some country way off in the east, where people have dark skin (and Obama's middle name doesn't help).

Hillary could have run the sweetest campaign, but the GOP would have latched onto all of that and spun against Obama.

That's my only point.

Deb Cupples

Adam,

First, I've REPEATEDLY harped on the racism campaign memo to you and have linked to it at least once.

Here's the link again:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/01/12/read-obama-campaign-memo-_n_81220.html

What it shows is that someone in Obama's campaign wanted to paint Hillary's campaign as racist. And Some of Obama's bigger supporters did just that -- with help from an unquestioning media.

Second, Obama's people didn't do "dog whistling" with the FALSE racism accusations. It was in our faces. Look back at the media coverage in the couple weeks before SC's primary.

Incidentally, what was the full quote by BC when he said "two Americans"? Why don't you parse it and see if there aren't two reasonable interps?

Frankly, I think the same Obama supporters who shrieked "racist" back in January started pointing and bellowing over "two Americans."

You said: "And again, I don't see parity between the negativity of the campaigns. Nothing Obama threw at Hillary was going to stay with her in a general election."

Of course you don't, because whatever Obama's campaign does is fine. That and Obama's strategists went to great lengths to wipe their fingerprints off.

Sorry. The racism accusations STUCK with Hillary. They're STILL with her.

The racism was enough, but there's another thing: Obama's hypocritical painting of Hillary as a dirty, old, corrupt Washington politician.

As I said before, Obama has such obvious weaknesses for the GOP to exploit (from their perspective) -- especially his relative lack of experience compared to McCain.

Hillary didn't cause the weaknesses and didn't cause the GOP to exploit them.

Lastly, we haven't yet seen 200 Obama Campaign memos leaked by a hostile ex-insider; thus, it isn't appropriate to believe that Obama is above such tactics while Hillary isn't.

The racism memo is enough for me to suspect that Obama's strategists wanted to be just as brutal as Penn.

This is the "big leagues," and that's what these people do. I don't like it, but it is what it is.

All I'm really saying is that there is no genuine cause for shock over what we've learned about Penn's strategy proposals.

Deb Cupples

Adam,

One more thing, though I risk repeating myself. You said:

"Again, I'm talking about a Penn strategy memo from March, 2007, well before any of the primary wars began. The point is, trying to paint Obama as the exotic, un-American candidate, either explicitly or implicitly, was on the table and was discussed."

The primary wars didn't really heat up until after Super Tuesday (Feb). Trying to paint Hillary as a racist WAS on the table and was discussed" by at least January.

In fact, the racism accusations helped fuel the primary wars.

And, again, you don't know what Axelrod, et. al. were discussing back in March 2007, because a hostile ex-staffer hasn't yet leaked a bunch of memos.

Lastly (again), that Obama's staff would put false racism accusations on the table is a pretty good indication that those people would go pretty low (like Penn).

Adam

I agree, and have always agreed, that the GOP would and will smear (and has smeared) Obama. But they have also run actualy quotes of Hillary criticizing Obama. And as far as I can remember, nothing Obama ever said in the primaries would land in a McCain attack ad against Hillary. Correct me if you think I'm wrong.

As you may recall, I singled those Hillary quotes out when they happened as clearly stepping over the line, for exactly this reason. It matters, because there are voters out there who are more likely to be swayed by Hillary's criticisms (and praise of McCain) than another smear on Obama.

---

I've seen that memo before, but I didn't realize that was the one you were referring to. For one, it wasn't "leaked". It was released intentionally. Second, it's not some surreptitious smear based on disinformation. It's a list of events that actually happened, with context included and reference for further context if desired.

The Obama campaign can take umbrage with whatever they please, and point to it as much as they want. It's only a potent racism accusation if you think those things are racist. Listing things that really happened doesn't make them more or less racist. There's essentially no editorializing in that memo.

For the record, PERSONALLY, I find the LBJ and Nelson Mandela incidents to be totally unremarkable and not worth even pretending to be angry about. "Fairy tale" was sort of nasty and dismissive - worth taking umbrage over if you're in the mood, but not clearly linked to race. The drug use thing is obviously a ridiculous attack but I didn't and don't blame the Clinton campaign for something Shaheen said. "Shuck and Jive" is the strongest accusation all in all - it's pretty clearly a racially charged comment, whether intentional or not.

You don't see how "shuck and jive" is a dog whistle to racial prejudice? It's not too different from many dog whistles to sexism that seemed clear as day to you.

But again, you and I get to make the decision. How is throwing together some press clippings and putting it in a memo an accusation of racism?

---

"Two Americans" - intentional or not, there was a clear implication that Obama was the un-American candidate who didn't have the patriotism of Clinton and McCain. It's entirely possible it was unintentional, although the Penn memo reduces the chance in my mind.

Imagine if that was an Obama supporter, and he had made some reference to how great an Obama-McCain race would be, because it would be a race between two men who [something vaguely but not explicitly chauvinistic]. That wouldn't have been offensive to you? If there was another interpretation that was less offensive, would that make it OK?

Deb Cupples

Adam,

"Shuck and jive" is NOT a black thing. It's a southern thing that applies to whites and blacks. It means "selling snake oil." Even the Dukes of Hazzard used it to describe whites (like Boss Hogg) nearly 30 years ago.

Some people may hear "jive" and think of Jimmy Walker from Good Times, but "shuck and jive" is different (likely older).

I certainly do think if Hillary were the nominee, the GOP would find ways to call her a racist based on the big Obama supporters' cries in the media before SC and NC.

Racism is a serious charge -- and it's still stuck on Hillary, though she's out of the race.

Yes, I do recall the quote: you were talking about Hillary's admitting that McCain has more experience than Obama.

FACT: (though I'm not voting for him) McCain DOES extremely obviously have more experience -- in the Senate, in the military, in life.

Do you think the GOP needed Hillary to point that out? And how could the GOP ignore the experience gap?

I'm surprised the GOP hasn't put a baby bonnet on Obama's head and a pacifier in his mouth. Maybe that's yet to come, knowing them.

You said: "I've seen that memo before, but I didn't realize that was the one you were referring to. For one, it wasn't "leaked". It was released intentionally. Second, it's not some surreptitious smear based on disinformation. It's a list of events that actually happened, with context included and reference for further context if desired."

That's EVEN WORSE than my generous mis-perception was. You're telling me that Obama's campaign OFFICIALLY released the memo -- which means that Obama, himself, approved the idea of painting Hillary as a racist (though Obama knew that Hillary and Bill had good civil rights records stretching back to the '60s).

If that's not as low as a campaign staffer kicking around the idea of preying upon folks' xenophobia, I don't know what is.

You said: ""Two Americans" - intentional or not, there was a clear implication that Obama was the un-American candidate who didn't have the patriotism of Clinton and McCain...."

Again, go find Bill's quote and OBJECTIVELY parse it. See if there are at least two reasonable interps.

Yes, "fairy tale" WAS dismissive -- but NOT on racial grounds. It was dismissive based on the clash between reality and some of the impressions that Obama created with verbal claims (e.g., clean politican, not bogged down by Washington politics or money, wants to make "change" but didn't give many specifics, made a speech opposing the war but didn't have to actually vote on it ...).

Bill repeatedly talked about the image-versus-reality thing (though not as much as I did -- and you know race had nothing to do with it when I noticed the difference).

Lastly, I think you're confusing me with another ex-Hillary supporter. I didn't trouble myself much with the sexism argument. It's just not me.

ONCE, I pointed you to a video about sexism against Hillary, but it was on the media's part -- not Obama's. I DOUBTED that he was sexist because of his mom. I think I even said that to you.

Adam

You're right that you generally avoided the sexist theme; sorry for the confusion.

I don't dispute that "shuck and jive" may have an alternate definition meaning that doesn't seem racially charged to those who understand the term better. I also absolutely acknowledge that Bill's comments have alternate interpretations - most obviously, that he could have not been thinking about Obama at all when he said it. My point is that, to a casual observer, the racial/parochial meanings of these lines jumped out.

Nobody can realy argue what the *intent* behind those lines were. But we can argue the impression or effect of the lines. It's the difference between "you're racist" and "that's a racialy insensitive thing to say".

I don't see that memo as an accusation of racism. I see it as a list of incidents that the Obama campaign felt showed insensitivity toward racial issues from the Clinton campaign. Again, there's no editoriaizing in the memo - each person can read the incidents and make up their mind. IMO, two incidents are meaningless, one is nasty but lacks any particuar racial undertones, and one is very much an insensitive line.

Hilary didn't just say McCain has more experience. She said that McCain is running on a lifetime of experience and Obama is running on a speech he made in 2003. That is dismissive and, frankly, pretty unfair. He had already been a community organizer, professor, state senator, and US Senator for over a decade. Are these not experiences?

Bottom line: Hillary gets to say that if she wants - this is a campaign after all. But it was pretty clearly a line that could be used against Obama in the general election; that was obvious at the time and it's happening now.

Another line in the same theme was the "McCain has passed the commander-in-chief threshold, and you'll have to ask my opponent about whether he has". This one was much less damaging; it's something of a meaningless criticism and actually led to a lot of mockery about what exactly constituted this "threshold".

Deb Cupples

Adam,

You said:

"My point is that, to a casual observer, the racial/parochial meanings of these lines jumped out."

It wasn't to a casual observer: it was what certain sensitive supporters (and some sympathetic media) threw out there -- and it caught like wild fire.

And the more people repeated it, the "truer" it became. you know how it works.

Just look at what some people are saying about Russia/Georgia: people who 2 weeks ago had likely never heard of South Ossetia.

Now, all of a sudden, they KNOW it's all about good-v-evil, and they know which side wears which label?

Media and repetition certainly can shape public opinion, Adam. And that's what happened with the subtle racism accusations against Hillary.

You said:

"I don't see that memo as an accusation of racism. I see it as a list of incidents that the Obama campaign felt showed insensitivity toward racial issues from the Clinton campaign. Again, there's no editoriaizing in the memo - each person can read the incidents and make up their mind."

The SECOND Obama sent it out to the media, his supporters and the media that liked him ran with the racist accusations. Think Olbermann. Think some of the big pro-Obama bloggers.

It got repeated so much that racism still taints many people's perception of Hillary -- despite her civil rights activism record.

Don't tell me Obama and his strategists hadn't WANTED just that outcome before SC (and again before NC).

Too much coincidence, in my mind.

That's the way Obama played throughout the primaries: attack subtly or through others, so that the Hillary couldn't validly face him down.

You said "Hilary didn't just say McCain has more experience. She said that McCain is running on a lifetime of experience and Obama is running on a speech he made in 2003."

As far as foreign policy goes, it's pretty much true. (NO, I'm NOT voting for McCain).

Obama gave a speech to anti-war folks (politically safe) without having a vote, without having to face consequences of such a vote.

He took NO political risks when he made that speech.

Once in the Senate, he didn't use his newfound power and national prominence to stage a bunch of protests to the war. In 2006 (before I disliked him), he talked on ABC about "reaching across the aisle" on the war issue.

Like Hillary and other Dems, he was afraid of looking weak and repeatedly voted for the funding.

As I said before, Obama spent much of his first 3 years in the U.S. Senate raising money and setting up networks for his presidential run. He also tried to take credit for other people's legislative work and got called out for it this year.

Don't you remember that? God knows, I've pointed it out a few times.

If he'd had a solid legislative record of his own, that wouldn't matter -- but he really doesn't. He just speaks as though he does.

Ironically, Obama said in Nov 2004 that he wasn't qualified to run for president because he hasn't even figured out where the Senate bathrooms are.

He said that he would have to start running from Day One, but that he'd rather become a good senator and become better qualified. (Taylor Marsh had the video but has since taken it down. It was CNN, I think).

I've read some things about his state lege history which suggest that he really didn't have a distinguished career there, either.

YES, Obama had some life experience: harvard, law review, whatever community work he actually did (I don't know the true nature or extent of it), parenthood....

But a president needs a lot more -- and on the surface, compared to McCain-- Obama doesn't have it.

Even Hillary would have had trouble in the experience dept. compared to McCain -- though at least she'd been in the Senate for 7 years, first lady (including quasi diplomat) for 8, Arkansas first lady for another 8, law prof, govt. staff lawyer, legal clinic head.....

But I digress. Hillary's out of the race, so her experience no longer matters.

My point is that Hillary was right about McCain's having a lifetime of experience compared to Obama's speech where the war is concerned.

And the GOP knew it -- whether Hillary said so or not.

Just be happy that your favorite candidate is in the running in November and that it's his to lose (given the nation's disgust with Repubs).

If he does lose, try looking at some of his deficiencies and tactical errors, instead of trying to blame it all on Hillary.

She's gone.

Deb

It's called keeping one's hand clean.

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