Monday, April 14, 2008

Campaign Droppings - X

Where the Elite Meet to Eat -- Their Words

Election campaigns are the most enlightened way of choosing leaders in a democratic society but they occur in the least enlightened ways.

The latest episodes:

Chris Matthews goes on TV each evening asking which candidate can win the votes of “the regular people.” He means white guys, because to him, blacks, women and everyone else who isn’t Chris Matthews is irregular. For more on the Matthews plague, see Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

Barack Obama tries to bowl and to feed a calf. (Not at the same time.)

Hillary Clinton lies about being under sniper fire in Bosnia.

Bill Clinton lies about the lies and says it was because she was tired, even though she says she is the only one able to answer a phone call at 3 in the morning.

Obama has a Yuengling in a Pennsylvania bar. (Probably tasted bitter.)

Hillary does him one better and goes to Indiana to throw back a shot of elitist Crown Royal followed by a beer chaser – the “boilermaker” favored by voters who look like Karl Malden. All this proves that being “the candidate you’d like to have a beer with” is now almost a constitutional requirement for election.

Obama explains to a private meeting of campaign donors in San Francisco that the little people of Pennsylvania are bitter about losing their blue collar jobs and “cling” to their loves of God and guns and hatreds of immigrants and people not like them.

The last item has threatened the Obama campaign because it sounded to many like he was putting down working class people. This is a classic example of the “gaffe,” defined as a politician accidentally telling the truth. The Clintons jumped on Obama’s remark like a protester on the Olympic flame.

How “elitist,” said the two Yale law grads whose entire professional careers have been in public service yet have earned $105 million in the past seven years. There are ballplayers who have earned less, though they may be only utility infielders.

The fact of the matter is that Obama ellipsized his remarks, as so many politicians of all parties do. They say the same things so often, they often forget to connect dots, assume the people in front of them understand and are puzzled when "regular" people do not.

In this case, being thrown out of work and being poor does not make you so bitter you turn to God, guns and nativism, though it sure sounded like that’s what he said. What he was really saying is simple, true and the thesis of the recent book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” And that is, Democrats allow Republicans to shift the policy argument from failed economic policies that destroy working people to “wedge” issues like God, guns and gays. In 1972, Nixon – the godfather of political sleaze – made the election not about the Vietnam War but about “amnesty, acid and abortion.”

The press certainly has fairly provided negative coverage of Obama-gaffe, but a certain point was made after he addressed the all-powerful Associated Press meeting of the top editors in America and was asked by the group's chairman about
the search for “Obama bin Laden.”
Obama’s recent screwup was brought to light by a liberal blog,
The Huffington Post, and covered for days. ("Dayenu," as some of us will sing next weekend.) Yet every one of Hillary Clinton’s genes tells her to kick someone when he is down -- doing John McCain’s dirty work for him by using the same words as he does, describing Obama as “elitist” and “out of touch.” This wasn’t the first time she has sided with McCain, either.

As Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, writes:

    What you see is what you get: Hillary’s cynical view of the larger interests of the Democratic Party, exhibited in her 3 a. m. red telephone ad. And her simultaneous, incongruous suggestion that Barack Obama –- notwithstanding his supposed lack of national security qualifications to be commander-in-chief -– would make a good vice president on her ticket.

    And, yes, a sense of entitlement that veritably shouts, “Look, because I believe in good things, and because of all I’ve been through, I deserve to win this.”

    For more on what Bernstein believes another Clinton administration might look like, click here/<>.

    It's Hillary Over Obama 53-34, Y'know

    "Y'know," or the more formal "you know" is filler for for sentences spoken by two kinds of people -- teenagers not fully conversant enough to go from subject to verb to object and politicians waiting for the programmed talking point to come to mind.

    In this regard, Hillary Clinton is the champ. In two separate 90-minute appearances on CNN Sunday night, addressing faith issues, Clinton used the phrase 53 times, or about once each 1:40 (including time taken by questioners.) Obama used it only 34 times, or about once every 2:40. A full minute of difference among Democrats whose real policy differences are minute.

    In a tour de force, although I admit there was some meaning to it, she used the phrase three times in one sentence: "You know, I am someone who has talked a lot about my life. You know more about my life than you know about nearly anybody else's, about 60 books worth..."

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