The Campaign Strategists. . .


A prominent national security expert zapped me a note the other day commenting positively on something I had posted on the blog, but he admonished me for taking Iowa so seriously. And he had a point.
Iowa is important because it can generate a powerful political tailwind for a candidate, but it is the only state in the nation where people can vote twice — and that alone may account for a very different kind of outcome than the type of election that happens in the privacy of voting by ballot.
But part of the reason why Iowa and the results there were taken so seriously had to do as much with the frustration emanating from the Hillary Clinton campaign as the euphoria from Obama advocates.
With rumors percolating out of the Clinton camp that she was furious and had tongue thrashed her closest advisers after Iowa rather than just rolling with the punch and basically laughing off the results and putting an optimistic foot forward — she and her people gave this sense that the campaign was coming apart. I know that Hillary insiders felt this stress.
Now that it is clear that this is going to be a marathon race and not a sprint in both parties — I think it’s important that the candidates realize that their own temperature gets telegraphed out, and that helped convince many in the press corps that they had seen the beginning of the end.
Hillary did manage a gravity-defying comeback, but I think that the demeanor of her team after Iowa, including the candidate herself behind closed doors, made the comeback even more impressive because they managed to sell the impact of the Iowa loss further than it would otherwise have gone.
One other oddity of this race that I think many voters find distasteful is the one-upsmanship and snarky exchanges between the top campaign strategists. In one case, Obama advisor David Axelrod goes after Clinton and implies a connection between Hillary’s past Senate votes and the conditions that led to Bhutto’s assassination. Mark Penn at various points has offered the same kind of negative dismissals of Obama and Axelrod. After Iowa, Axelrod was heard to be ridiculing Mark Penn. And now, I have heard through sources that Terry McAuliffe is behaving as smugly as ever.
This kind of adolescent, insider pettiness between leaders in the various camps actually helps undermine public confidence in the candidates they represent. Those in the campaigns reading this ought to encourage those in the limelight and in the advisory councils to understand the value of humility, graciousness, and magnanimity.

— Steve Clemons


6 comments on “The Campaign Strategists. . .

  1. pauline says:

    Weigh in here, please, and tell us your opinion of the reliability of e-voting machines. This monumentally important topic has been raised many times on TWN. Have you even looked deeper into this vital part of our democracy? And what are everyday citizens suppose to think when they see the political connections with e-voting machine makers? Further, what proof/studies would you need to say, “hey, this issue deserves much more attention”?
    My niece’s horse is in the barn, but something sure smells funny here to me!


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    If you people think that YOU will choose the next President of the United States, then you are detached from reality….
    The following email spells it out quite nicely.
    Welcome to the United States of Disney
    Dear Fellow Kucinich Supporters,
    On Saturday night we officially became the United States of Disney. While Republican candidates railed about the threat of Islamo-fascists, Americans were oblivious that in fact, the greatest treat to our freedom was transpiring right before them – corporate-controlled media, a key component of fascism, used their power to exclude the one candidate from the debates who dares to stand up to them. To “cover” their coup, they ran a silly fluff piece prior to the debate about people who are running for president with no organization behind them and questioned why they would do such a thing other than to massage their own egos.
    But the candidate Disney/ABC arbitrarily excluded from the debate is a viable candidate who has hundreds of thousands of supporters and a solid organization in every state. Dennis Kucinich has been campaigning non-stop for over a year with his wife, Elizabeth. He’s on the ballot in almost every state. This isn’t some vanity campaign that the Corporate-controlled media has deliberately tried to make disappear – this is the one candidate who is running for all the right reasons – because he wants to save our country from the takeover of special interests.
    While John Edwards, during the debate, eloquently and passionately decried the stranglehold special interests have on our nation, he never once mentioned that Disney/ABC had excluded one of his fellow candidates from the debate. How disingenuous! He also failed to mention the fortune he has invested in a hedge fund that makes him as vested in these special interests as anyone.
    I watched the entire debate on Saturday night, and have to admit that compared to the Republicans, any of the Democratic candidates sounded like a good bet. But here’s the catch – while they debated who was the more likely to bring about change and who had more experience actually initiating change, not one of them has ever proved they have the courage to stand up to the status-quo that will do whatever it takes to prevent change. If they had, ABC would have kept them off that stage too. So while just about everything spoken by the four Democratic candidates sounded good, I couldn’t help thinking that this was just another Disney performance. Put any of them in the White House and you’ll get the same disappointment we’re experiencing with the Democratic Congress we elected in ’06. We worked our tails off to get them elected and they conveniently forgot why we did it.
    Here are some words you didn’t hear uttered during the debate – words that Dennis Kucinich would have said if he had been given his place at the table. Words the American people deserve to hear:
    Impeach – The majority of Americans want to see Bush and Cheney held accountable for the lies and corruption that have driven our country to the brink of moral, financial and military bankruptcy. Dennis Kucinich introduced a bill to impeach Dick Cheney last November. The Democratic leadership moved to table it. It was only because REPUBLICANS voted against tabling it that the bill didn’t die immediately on the floor and instead now languishes in the Judicial Committee.
    Not for Profit Health Care – Don’t let them fool you – the insurance companies are the problem because they only make a killing when they deny patients health care. Keep them in the mix and you will never have healthcare for all.
    End NAFTA and get out of the WTO – Although Edwards briefly alluded to the problems our trade agreements have caused to working-class Americans, no Democratic candidate is ever going to criticize a trade policy that was put through by President Bill Clinton – even if it is the cause of not only job loss, but the surge in illegal immigration from Mexico. No candidate, that is, except the one we can count on to always speak the truth – Dennis Kucinich.
    The corporate-controlled, censored media has carefully orchestrated the obliteration of Dennis Kucinich. This is the third debate he’s been kept from. They are also distorting his politically strategic move in the Iowa caucuses to suggest supporters cast their second vote for Obama, as a indication that Dennis has quit the race and is throwing his support behind Obama. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, Bill Richardson did the exact same thing as Kucinich and he still got to be in the debate last night!
    Is it too late? Has corporate-controlled media become so powerful that they can decide who our candidates are, and delude us into thinking we are actually electing our leaders? There’s one way to find out. Let’s make this a real democracy where people talk to people. Let’s spend the next weeks before our state primary contacting voters and telling them about the one candidate who hasn’t just been talking about change, his entire political career has been the embodiment of change.
    What you do over the next few weeks might mean the difference between waking up this time next year in a Disneyland where the majority of Americans will be grateful for the most menial jobs, while the wealthy few get a free ride, or taking our country back from the military/industrial/insurance/media fascists. Please go to now and sign up to be on a DK Team. We are currently organizing to reach out to voters by phone and in person and your local DK Team Leader will contact you to see the best way you can get involved.
    In peace & hope,


  3. rich says:

    Agree on the bickering–the misreading-&-attack mode is pretty transparent.
    The “influence” of Iowa is overblown, and few of the attacks on Iowa hold up under thoughtful scrutiny.
    Were Iowa scheduled last, the field of candidates would be winnowed down to a few strong candidates. Voters could accurately make their preference known. With 11 candidates in the field, it’s only just/right that voters feel free to vote for the candidate they truly WANT to win, and not the one they’re TOLD is ‘inevitable.’
    Iowa voters do not “vote twice” and do not deliver more than one vote/person to the nominating convention. They gather a sense of who their neighbors feel are competitive candidates, and hold an instant runoff to deliver an ACCURATE sense of the Iowa electorate’s vote on the most viable candidates. That final tally is the one vote–and it does not differ from the widely viewed-as-legitimate nominating process, overall.
    Iowa again defied the Establishment’s patronizing attempts to tell voters who is a legitimate candidate—this time delivering a third-place finish to Clinton.
    Most important! Florida and the other 47 to come are responsible for BUYING INTO the notion that Richardson and McCain are dead in the water and the frontrunners are inevitable nominees. That’s NOT on Iowa–and taking responsibilty for a state’s own choices would radically improve our politics. Other states have every opportunity to vote for whomever they wish.
    Treating voters as sheep–cast your primary vote and get the hell outta here–THAT would skew the result. Caucuses allow for real discussion in an age where functional civic debate has been AMPUTATED from the electorate. A vote un-meddled with.
    As it is, Iowa’s process radically improves American politics, supplying a rare dose of reality. Would that more Iowa hog farmers, plumbers and financiers ran the country.


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    RE Pauline’s post….
    One of the truly chilling aspects to this whole thing is that after two highly questionable presidential elections, our electoral process is still in shambles in regards to security, who controls the counting, and the monopoly enjoyed by two manufacturers of machines whose ownership is closely alled with the Republican party.
    Have we already stopped wondering why Conyers was shoved into a basement anteroom to hold his “hearings” on the INDISPUTABLE and VERIFIED fraud that occurred? Is this bastard Blackwell of Ohio just one more Bush bootlicker that has escaped been held accountable for obvious criminal activity?
    One has to wonder how a Presidential candidate who has expressed support of policies that are completely polar to the wishes of the vast majority of the American public, (such as McCain’s stance on both immigration and the Iraq war), can possibly win the vote in ANY district, state, or area.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    One of the things I find interesting about the Clinton/Obama race is that the RW jackasses on talk radio, such as Ingram, Hannity, Limbaugh, etc, all seem to be pushing for Obama. Their expressed hatred of Hillary is rabid, and makes me wonder just what the hell the Republican party is so terrified of in regards to Hillary. Hannity has launched a personal crusade against the woman, and can talk of little else.
    The fact that Hillary has motivated the far right into such a frenzy of hatemongering, swiftboating, and rabid opposition is one of the few things that makes me think maybe Hillary isn’t such a bad idea.
    And, along the same lines, Ingram had Ron Paul on last night, and despite her habit of trying to forcefully interrupt whenever a guest makes a point she doesn’t want her audience to hear, Paul made an ass of her with his comments about Iraq, “blowback”, and the reasons we are so estranged from the Muslim world community.


  6. pauline says:

    “I’m not sure why Obama would have conceded so soon, given the virtually inexplicable turn of events in New Hampshire tonight.”
    “What’s going on here? Before proceeding, I recommend you read the third section of the post I just ran an hour or so ago, concerning the way the ballots are counted in New Hampshire, largely on Diebold optical-scan voting systems, wholly controlled and programmed by a very very bad company named LHS Associates.”
    “Those Diebold op-scan machines are the exact same ones that were hacked in the HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy. See the previous report, as I recommend, which also includes a video of that hack, and footage of the guy who runs LHS Associates.”
    “That said, the the pre-election pollster’s numbers (NOTE: that’s not Exit Polls, but Pre-Election Polls!) were dead-on, for the most part, on the Republican side, as well as on the Democratic side. Except in the do-or-die Clinton v. Obama race. I’m watching MSNBC right now, and they all seem to agree that the results, for the moment, defy explanation.
    I concur.
    see —


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *