Monday, April 07, 2008

Why Hillary Clinton Should Be Winning: A Rebuttal

Having just recently praised Salon.com for the most insightful piece I saw on the Reverend Wright / Obama stuff, I am saddened to read this article, probably the worst piece of internet journalism from a repudiated website I've seen.

The premise is fine: If the Democratic primary were winner-take-all contests, Hillary would be ahead. However, instead of a thought provoking discussion of the primary season, it reads like something directly from the Clinton campaign.

My letter to the editor is below. Please consider writing one yourself if you are similarly moved by this wretched piece of shab-journalism.

Wait, Obama's the one playing old school politics?

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a candidate arguing this way. But everybody should see it for what it is -- not something new or transformative, but one of the oldest ploys in the playbook of American politics.

No one can argue the math within this article. Maybe there are snippets here and there that we can quibble about, but the basic premise is correct: if the primaries were a Republical-style, draconian winner-take-all system, this contest would surely be over.

However, everything else about the article is misleading at best, patently ridiculous, absurd, and petty at worst.

To accuse the Obama campaign of bullying would be like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accusing the Kerry campaign of running false advertisements. I'm not sure how the author can write this after Nevada and South Carolina, and Texas, where the Clinton campaign threatened to sue the state Democratic party. Or suggesting repeatedly that caucuses are undemocratic (all that civic participation is certainly a nuisance).

The truth is the entire Super Tuesday system was such an advantage to Clinton, it's hard to feel much sympathy. Clinton has had so many embedded advantages - perhaps more than any other candidate in history - that the whining falls on deaf ears. To hear Clinton blatantly backtrack on Michigan and Florida, it reeks of such pandering and political maneuvering that it has alienated everyone but Clinton's supporters.

In fact, it's quite incredible, with the natural advantages that she's had that this race has gone this far. However, contrary to what the author infers, the Obama campaign has gone about its business collecting win after win of small states. It's clear that the Clinton campaign did not plan for a post-Super Tuesday scenario while the Obama campaign clearly did. They didn't complain about Super Tuesday, how it is so biased towards an establishment candidate that it is probably more undemocratic than the caucuses that the Clinton campaign maintains undermine the system.

What makes this article substantively worthless is not simply that it's clear that the author is predisposed towards Hillary Clinton (I've read many Salon.com articles that are openly pro-Obama). It's that it reads like a mailer from the Clinton campaign: Obama can't win big states; the Obama campaign is playing dirty; Obama can't beat McCain.

The author's favorite phrase appears to be "like it or not..." then refers to how Obama is fatally flawed for the November election. Well, like it or not, the Obama campaign has played by the rules and is winning in every possible sense of the word.

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