Where are the Obama Women? What about Hillary as Majority Leader?

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Before I write much today, I just have to say that I agree with Joe Klein and Margaret Talev in crying foul about the distortions in a recent McCain ad about Obama and sex education.
I’m not going to spend more time on that because the John McCain I know as well as the Rick Davis, Trevor Potter, Mark Salter, and others who have stood with McCain for years are honorable people. This ad was a mistake — and they probably know it. I have no evidence for this, but my hunch is that this ad went out without thoughtful screening from above.
If they did approve it, then they should reconsider it.
But on other fronts, I’ve been talking to various women who either support Obama or Hillary Clinton. I’ve had a tough time finding women who support John McCain — but clealry Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman and others do. But many of the HIllary women remain apologetically enthusiastic about Sarah Palin.
Some women who are Obama supporters — and one of whom is a Pulitzer prize writing authors — are telling me that they are doing what they can to convince other women that Obama will be good for their interests.
But in an email I received from one of these yesterday: she asked me “where are the heads?”
What this means is that she doesn’t see Obama-supporting talking heads, particularly of the female gender, out in field meeting with folks.
I spoke to a senior Obama campaign official yesterday who told me that they are doing all the can to rev up their female base and to get people out talking — but that he knows it still feels like a less than adequate footprint.
I don’t think women are moving en masse to McCain/Palin — but the fizzle of enthusiasm for Obama/Biden is wanting.
Hillary Clinton is the key — and probably always has been. It’s too late to put Hillary on the ticket — but I wonder if Obama is willing to make his first tough-minded political act his support of Hillary Clinton as Senate Majority Leader.
It would cost him as Harry Reid doesn’t want to be deposed and Richard Durbin and Chuck Schumer want the job — and she’s not a formal part of Senate leadership as of now.
But extraordinary challenges require extraordinary fixes and gestures.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

72 comments on “Where are the Obama Women? What about Hillary as Majority Leader?

  1. jackster says:

    There’s a lot of talk here about how unhonorable McCain is, with his ‘win at any cost advertising’. Excuse me, exactly what has Obama been doing, since his slide in the polls, ‘win at any cost advertising’! There was nothing honorable about the way he fought through the primaries either. He and the DNC alienated too many democrats, like half the party, for him to win the general election.

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  2. jeleanoro says:

    Hillary as SML is just the person to get the Senate doing the peoples work again…they’ve been stalled and doing very little, as their approval ratings indicate. She has a good record of working across the aisle, despite some of the comments of her being decisive, and she certainly has a tremendous wealth of knowledge about the issues. If Obama wins, she would be an asset to the democratic party in that position.

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  3. rrow says:

    As a strong Hillary supporter, I would love to see her as majority leader. Then her and Sarah could work together. But Nancy would have to go, maybe Harry could take her job.
    Reading these comments is hysterical. I do not buy the Obama as a victim meme. We saw him do the same thing with Hillary, He and his surrogates are out there attacking and playing dirty, but when they get hit back, he plays martyr.

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  4. fsteele says:

    It would be a good gesture for Obama to support Hillary for SML. To consider Obama for the highest office, he’d need support of Hillary’s caliber in the most powerful and visible spot available.
    Some people consider SML a dead-end job, a signal that the Leader is not going to run for anything higher. Some Obama people might like the idea to keep her out of mischief in 2012.
    It’s not just for Senators to sign to support H for SML, we can all sign it:
    hrcforsenatemajorityleader09.com

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  5. Tahoe Editor says:

    Obama’s problem is that the women who speak for him hate Hillary: McCaskill, Pelosi, etc. They were very anti-Hillary from the beginning, so putting them out there just reminds voters of the intraparty cat fighting of the primaries.

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  6. AJM says:

    My guess is that there aren’t women speaking up for Obama because he has not put them in positions of influence.
    As to Obama campaigning for Hillary (or for that matter for any real Democrat) to be majority leader, think again: Obama is not that big a man.
    As to the lipstick question: yest that was a dogwhistle — a tactic Obama specializes in and so my take:
    You could put lipstick on Obama but he’d still be as sexist pig.

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  7. Bob says:

    The hypocrisy coming from the left is astounding. Obama’s entire campaign, from primary to now, has been smearing Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, middle-class America, and now John McCain and Sarah Palin. He has run THE most negative and divisive campaign I have ever seen. Distortions, lies, and fairytales about his own accomplishments.
    Now that Sarah Palin has garnered attention similar to the sort he once did, he is crying “foul”. Give me a break!! The Democrats are being dirtier and more negative than any Republican candidate has ever been, and it’s disgusting, and not working. People see right through you, Obama.

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  8. Tahoe Editor says:

    You are of the ilk who will say, “How did McCain win?! I don’t know anyone who voted for him!”
    Palin exposes the lie that is the “National Organization for Women.”

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  9. Robert M says:

    NO. she is divisive within the party. She openly set the standards by which race and class were bought into the primary election to denigrate Barack Obama. Worse Bill would be back.
    Under no circumstances should the Clintons be brought back into the political process beyond her Senate seat. There are a ton of Democratic women whom can oppose Gov Palin. Women are operate under these circumstances: TRUST BUT VERIFY. The more Gov Palin is exposed to the light of day women will verify she is not one of the majority of them except by her DNA.
    By the way I think you are a LIAR. You are a CLINTONITE despite your e-mails denying this.

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  10. WigWag says:

    No Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia. The last Democrat to do it was Woodrow Wilson (first term).
    By The Fault (Charles Lemos) is one of the smartest blogs around. I highly recommend it. Here is a brief snippet of a post from there:
    “A Mark Blankenship Enterprises (MBE) poll shows a surprisingly competitive race in the Mountaineer state with Senator McCain leading Senator Obama by five points, 44% to 39% with 17% undecided. However, Obama is having a difficult time winning over Clinton supporters. Only 55% of Democrats polled say they support Obama with 25% opting for McCain. 20% of Democratic voters in West Virginia remain undecided.
    “If the election were held today Obama has a much steeper uphill fight in West Virginia,” Blankenship said Wednesday on MetroNews Talkline. “The trend in this survey shows Democrats are not flocking toward Barack Obama.”
    West Virginia has five Electoral College votes. The state voted for George Bush in both 2000 and 2004. No Democrat has won the White House without winning West Virginia since 1916.”

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  11. WigWag says:

    The latest from Five Thirty Eight:
    “Lots of interesting polling data today, but the headline is that our model has now pretty much fully caught up with John McCain’s bounce — attributing him with about a 1 point lead in the national popular vote. As a result, it also now regards him as the slight favorite to win the Electoral College.”

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  12. Tahoe Editor says:

    Y’all are hyperventilating because it may just be dawning on you that politics is politics, and the New Kind Of Politics hasn’t materialized.
    Reading “enough is enough” off a notecard — this is the New Kind Of Politics?

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  13. plainbrown1 says:

    Why is it that thoughtful folks refuse to believe what they see? Because you like a political opponent does not mean that s/he can’t/won’t engage in self serving and even malicious behavior. The McCain Camp has consistently run ads that are clear lies, deceptive and dishonorable. Yet time after time they are excused based upon “what I know about the people involved.” Fact is, action speaks louder than words. The fact that the ad herein mentioned was not immediately pulled after the initial criticism evidences the intent to do what they did – run a false and ugly ad.
    The McCain Camp has gone beyond the permissible bounds of spin and PR into the murky and ugly turf of lies, intentional distortions and character assassination. It is NOT OKAY! And it is not accountability to forgive an ugly effort simply because you believe that they are better people than they have consistently demonstrated.

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  14. Henry says:

    KATHLEEN writes: “I hate to say I told you so, but I did say … that Hillary would be the best (VP) pick ….” Go ahead and tell us: you were right! Can you imagine Hillary debating Sarah Palin? Hillary would win easily (she won all of the debates with Obama). I predict that in contrast Sarah Palin is going to kill Joe Biden in their debate. Finally, about Cindy’s green dress, agree: girl, you need to change your look! Henry.

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  15. Janet says:

    Wow. I just lost all respect for you. These are NOT honorable people. Are you saying that all the other ads they’ve run and the things said at the RNC were in the least honorable? McCain and Palin have been non-stop lying about virtually everything to the American people. They aren’t even TRYING to be honorable. There is something very wrong with that assessment of yours, Steve.

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  16. Kathleen says:

    I hate to say I told you so, but I did say ages ago that Hillary would be the best pick and fervently believed that BO was smart enough to do it.. and everyone knows I was the most snookered commentor here on that score….especially the 3 a.m. head fake….how to be right and wrong simultaneously…my head hurts…
    Geroge Lakoff does a better job than I did explaining that, why, and how BO needs to hone his message….
    http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/contributors/1743
    My more mischievious side is sorry the PUMA’s didn’t take my suggesdtion to do a Mass Moon-In Wave, at Investco Field, with Kiss My Ass painted boldly on their SweetCheeks…would have gotten press…..Bill and Hillary are too classy to do this, but they could be brushing off their shoulders right about now, too….I feel like bullet voting for Cynthia McKinney…. and speaking of Greens, what’s with Cindy’s designer bilious green these days? Must be subliminal…

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  17. Speechless in Florida says:

    Obama made a huge political mistake by not choosing Hillary as his VP, she could have been the best “talking head” ever. Instead of a sure victory in 08 we will fall short to a Lieberman loving Republican, go figure. Hillary 2012!

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  18. MarkL says:

    Whammer
    You’re the one with crocodile tears.
    Obama himself clarified that the was referring to Palin with the remark; moreover, I think people are just too dainty to say that the “old fish” part of his PREPARED SPEECH sounds like a very immature reference to female pudenda.
    Obama has to control himself, or he is going to blow this election, big time.

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  19. Whammer says:

    Part of the problem is that the MSM ought to play the role of editor and decide what is and isn’t news.
    Obama describing McCain’s policies as “lipstick on a pig” was a common colloquialism. The subsequent torrent of crocodile tears from the McCain camp was obviously pure nonsense from the beginning. Any sensible news organization would ignore their bleatings. Was Obama’s remark even remotely associated with Palin? No. The entire story is totally stupid.
    But the press can’t help itself, and McCain knows it.
    Is any of this the slightest bit honorable? I think not.
    Plus, nobody I know who is honorable has ever used the “c-word” about his wife. Nobody I know who is honorable ever dumped his wife after she was injured in a car accident. Nobody I know who is honorable ever endorsed flying the Confederate Flag at a state capitol. Nobody I know who is honorable would ever make a joke about an adolescent being ugly. Nobody I know who is honorable would allow a political opponent to smear his family and then embrace him in public later, without ever defending his family.
    McCain honorable? No way.
    Steve, I’m sorry, but you have ignored the dark side of this guy. He is an opportunistic, ambitious scumbag. The fact that he’s personally genial doesn’t matter.

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  20. kotzabasis says:

    My dear Clemons, no women will save Obama but many will be attending his political funeral.
    A shadow of defeat has been already cast over the face of Barrack Obama. In all his appearances, since the ‘ascension’ of Sarah Palin, in Ohio, in Virginia, his face expresses the ineffable feeling—of a would-be Messiah who would ‘change’ America and transform the hate of the world for America into love—that he carries a crown of thorns on his head and is dragging his cross to Calvary on November 4. And his denigratings sexist comment of “lipstick on the lips of the pig” forebodes that he will become more desperate in his campaign.

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  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This son of a bitch McCain parades this vindictive lying small town hack in front of us as a viable VP, and you call him “honorable”????
    Gads Steve, the guy just showed us that he cares more about winning an election than he does about giving us competent leadership. He’s a world class piece of shit for what he just pulled. Thats far from honorable.

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  22. Read Scott Martin says:

    I appreciate high level diplomacy as much as the next guy, but
    your vouch for your friends and acquaintances regarding today’s
    “sex ed” ad by McCain was embarrassing for this usually thoughtful
    and level-headed site. Davis, et al, may be the standup guys you
    know and that I know of on the McCain team, but neither they nor
    Senator McCain need excuse-making from their friends. Nor do I
    think they expect it or deserve it. The name of their organization is
    on the ad.
    I look forward to more of your posts on foreign policy, though.

    Reply

  23. Henry says:

    BITTER CLING writes: “no way (Obama’s) going to do anything for (Hillary) except try to figure out a way to blame his GE loss on her & Bill.” Agree. Obama / his camp will try to do that. But if he really does lose this election, Obama has no one to blame but himself for blowing the VP pick. Putting Hillary on the ticket would have united the Democrats. Hillary earned VP by winning the big primaries and 18 million votes. But Obama picked Biden, a total cipher. And now the Republicans are much more enthusiastic and united than the Democrats. Henry.

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  24. David T says:

    Steve,
    What is it with you and Clinton becoming majority leader? Did you bet someone that she would take over that post within a year’s time or something?
    I don’t know if its really true that women are moving in droves to McCain. As David Broder notes today the Fall campaign has just started (w/Labor Day as the usual starting point).
    Assuming my guess that you made such a bet is off, do you really think that those who find Palin attractive enough to vote for McCain-Palin will switch back if Hillary becomes majority leader? Do you really think they’ll care.
    Its true that Palin and Clinton are both female. Its also true that they both have made good use of the “sexism” charge in some cases where sexism may have played a role and in some cases where it probably did not. But beyond that they have very different appeals beyond being “fighters.” Do you really think that those who feel that Palin’s life story mirrors their own feel that Clinton’s does?
    Finally what does it mean to say “Hillary Clinton women?” are not speaking up for Obama? Perhaps you could identify a few of them. Perhaps you could clarify where Obama is hurting with those women who supported Clinton. My guess is that most of them will support Obama.
    And those who might be persuaded to support Obama over McCain are more likely to find a Claire McCaskill and Kathleen Sibelius appealing than those multi-millionaires with mixed executive records like Fiorina and Whitman (one of whom was fired from her job and the other who probably overstayed her welcome — neither of which had anything to do with their gender).

    Reply

  25. croc says:

    I to feel so so bad too that Tubbs Jones is dead, Tahoe, oh Lordy how we could use her now to tell womenfolk that Sarah’s no Pig just because she wears lipstick, and she’d put a switch to Bama’s ass for sayin’ flat out that Sarah is an out an’ out Pig. Ain’t right, nope, ain’t right.

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  26. Tahoe Editor says:

    Here’s a dog whistle for you:
    Obama-Biden will be shining Hillary’s shoes in the Senate come November.
    It strikes me now what a terrible loss it is for the Obama campaign to lose Stephanie Tubbs Jones. She would most likely be taking the lead for Hillary women.
    Miss her.

    Reply

  27. bitter cling says:

    I’ve had it with Obama. as far as i see, he lost the election when he
    picked Biden. no matter how much I despice McCain, I can not
    bring myself to even consider voting for Obama.
    the “fish” comments yesterday were far more offensive to me even
    then the “lipstick” remark-that was a low down, dirty, locker room
    dogwhistle if I ever heard one. all the snarky comments Obama
    made about Hillary on the campaign trail-“the china’s flyin'”, the
    “Annie Oakley”, “you’re likeable enough”-Obama HATES her. no way
    is he going to do anythingfor her-except try to figure out a way to
    blame his GE loss on her & Bill.

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  28. Tahoe Editor says:

    Exactly. Hillary’s role in this election has been reduced to putting out press releases saying, “Barack wasn’t talking about Sarah Palin when he said ‘lipstick on a pig’.”
    Oh, sweetie.
    Commentary: Obama wrong to spurn Hillary, pick Biden
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/08/rollins.convention/
    And now Biden says Hillary would have been a better pick. What does that say about Obama’s judgment? And Biden’s commitment?
    I’m trying to imagine how the Biden-Obama relationship goes forward in the Senate. Very strange.

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  29. Henry says:

    Obama should have put Hillary on the ticket. He blew it. And he probably knows it. Henry.

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  30. giddytwoshoes says:

    Tahoe, Tahoe,
    Check out this Neegrofied T-Shirt bustin’ Obama’s chops. Looks like Zero in blackface.
    Yup, You Can Put Lipstick On A Pig !
    http://www.zazzle.com/obmampig_you_can_put_lipstick_on_a_pig_shirt-235378078685668284

    Reply

  31. MarkL says:

    Oh God,
    Obama “explained” to Letterman than McCain is the pig and Palin is the lipstick.
    Lord help us.
    I fear Obama is teetering on the edge of the abyss.

    Reply

  32. JohnH says:

    For once I agree with Tahoe–if you’re explaining, you’re losing.
    Time for Obama to call McCain what he is–a dangerous, reckless liar. In other words, four more years of the same.

    Reply

  33. Zathras says:

    The last time a White House took a keen interest in who the Senate Majority Leader was, we got Bill Frist.
    Look, there are a lot of Congressional Democrats who will acknowledge that Harry Reid has not been a success as their party’s leader in the Senate. I’d be surprised if he retained that position in the next Congress. An effective Majority Leader, though, has to be devoted to the Senate, not to servicing a vast entourage or attempting to lead a faction of the his or her party. Richard Durbin would do very well in that position. Chris Dodd has the chops to handle the job. Hillary Clinton would compete with a Democratic President as Leader, not help him, and I’d credit a President Obama with having enough sense not to encourage that in any way whatever.

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  34. Tahoe Editor says:

    The problem is that when Obama’s sanctimonious response is “Enough is enough!” and then it doesn’t stop, it makes him look ineffective & weak.

    This Crazy Sex Ad is Obama’s Dukakis Moment
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-neffinger/obamas-dukakis-moment_b_125263.html
    Bubblicious: Obama-Biden = AOL-TimeWarner
    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/capital-commerce/2008/9/10/pop-why-the-obama-bubble-has-collapsed.html
    David Axelrod = 21st-century Bob Shrum
    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09102008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/why_bams_flailing_128293.htm
    THOMAS FRIEDMAN: from cool to cold … “change” as a campaign slogan is now meaningless
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/10/opinion/10friedman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin
    Camille Paglia on the witch-trial hysteria over Sarah Palin, a powerful new FEMINIST
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/paglia/2008/09/10/palin/print.html

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  35. WigWag says:

    “It makes more sense to donate and go out and work to elect more Democrats to the Senate than to be promoting Hillary or any one for next Majority Leader. Get a bigger majority that is veto proof, and anybody can be leader then.”
    Linda, your point is a good one except that Obama is killing down ticket Democrats. His weakness as a candidate at the top of the ticket, and the poor job his campaign has done recently, is turning what should be a great year for Democrats into what will be a mediocore year at best.
    Think about the states the Democrats should pick up. Virginia with Warner is in the bag and the two Udalls look good in New Mexico and Colorado. But because McCain is strong in New Hampshire, Shaheen isn’t as far ahead as she was. In Alaska, with Palin on the ticket, Ted Stevens is catching up and might win despite his indictment.
    With Obama on the ticket and with the convention remembered fondly in St. Paul, Minnesota is gone, Franken will lose. North Carolina, Georgia, Maine, Texas and Kentucky are all gone for the Democrats.
    And with Clinton on the ticket (as either President or Vice President) Democrats might have had a chance with Musgrove in Mississippi and Merkley in Oregon. Given how poorly Obama has run his general election campaign, the liklihood of Democratic pick ups in these states is now more and more remote.
    So yes, you’re right. Democrats should donate to and work for Democratic senatorial candidates. The problem is that these candidates have a lead weight around their necks. The name of that lead weight is Obama.

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  36. Tahoe Editor says:

    If You Are Explaining, You Are Losing
    http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=8113
    I think Obama would be in a much stronger position if he had any other accomplishments to speak of. “His One Accomplishment?” is an effective line of attack.
    Writing memoirs and running for president are not the kinds of accomplishments people look for when selecting a president. Thankfully I haven’t heard Barack repeat the “I’m qualified to be president because I’m running for president” meme lately — someone must have figured it out and told him.

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  37. Kathleen says:

    Joe Biden is in the news today saying maybe Hillary would have been a better pick for Veep than him…..this whole mess puts him in an awkward spot….

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  38. Chris says:

    WigWag, you’re a lying troll, and delusional to boot.

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  39. Kathy says:

    Just call me a Lipstick Pig, but back when I was a Democrat (as of June I became independent) the party was absolutely spineless. It has chosen a candidate equally spineless unable to do anything against the Republicans except try to be more conservative than they are. He loves the death penalty and FISA now. Oh, good. Women talking heads? Why would any woman support Obama with any enthusiasm. I don’t mean all women have to be for Hillary. I mean here’s a guy who is pro-choice as long as the woman talks to her husband and pastor (I call that patriarchal); a guy who chooses a pro-life running mate; a guy who is now anti-handgun control; a guy who has shown incredible disrespect to Sen. Clinton (something we should all detest whether we liked her or not).

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  40. WigWag says:

    TO: pxs, Dave, george, Nobcentral., JohnH , Jamie , Pat , tom.a, Chris, Publicola, steve:
    Each of your comments on this thread is silly. The campaign that McCain is running against Obama is no more virulent than the campaign that Obama ran against Clinton;. Frankly, it is no more virulent than the campaign that Clinton ran against Obama with one difference. When Obama used the claim that the Clintons were racists to galvanize the African American community (which was wary of him early on) in his favor, Obama stepped over the line. Now that McCain is using the same kind of tactics against Obama to great effect, you don’t like it. It’s funny how you didn’t complain when Obama was slandering Clinton in the same way that McCain is slandering Obama now.
    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. But this time, it’s your goose being cooked!
    As for us Clinton supporters who are going to hold our noses and vote for Obama anyway, we don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

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  41. LInda says:

    John McCain approved the ad; so he owns it and so do all his campaign staff.
    It makes more sense to donate and go out and work to elect more Democrats to the Senate than to be promoting Hillary or any one for next Majority Leader. Get a bigger majority that is veto proof, and anybody can be leader then. But Democrats like to work hard and use time and energy to put the cart in front of the horse and wonder why nothing moves.
    Finally, when Obama won the nomination, I wrote here that he now publicly should announce that his first nomination to the Supreme Court will be Hillary.

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  42. Kathleen says:

    Perhaps we should define “honroable”…the John McCain I know is not….he is your typical money grubbing power junky. …I’ve gone nose to nose with him and his red faced, teeth clenching temper in his capacity on the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. and the legislation he sponsored calling for the forced relocation of 10,000 Hopi and Navajo from their land…ostensibly to return land to Hopi, but the US gov’t has been shifting the line in the sand in the Artizona desert for over 100 years to justify disrupting the traditonal native cultures living there, to accommodate Peabody Coal Company, one of McCain’s top 10 contributors…perhaps from PCC’s perspective McCain is honroable…when they contribute, he delivers….I’m sure Charles Keating thought he was honorable too….this is just par for the course…Repugs get away with it, Dems don’t…
    Maybe BO can close the barn door, …..

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  43. janinsanfran says:

    I guess Steve has decide the McCain team has the election in the bag and he better massage their nether parts now.
    Say it ain’t so Steve. You weren’t a quitter over Bolton.

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  44. Chris says:

    Well, Pending Comment, that may well all be true, but I think it looks pretty lame for a sane person to feed the myth that McCain, or his campaign, are honorable any more. (I’m not asking Steve to shed his vaunted non-partisanship and go knock on doors for Obama; I’m suggesting that it’s a bad idea for non-insane moderates to lend political cover to conservatives, as if the past four, five, seven, eight, or fifteen years hadn’t provided enough evidence of the idiocy of such a theory.)
    You’re aware, I assume, of the discussion about the wisdom of having Democrats preface every statement about McCain with, “Of course I respect Senator McCain’s service…”? You know there’s a second side to that argument, right, which involves (1) framing, and (2) how it limits the ability of the speaker to speak critically, or even launch an attack of any sort, right?
    I think it’s obvious that the McCain campaign decided that they couldn’t win on the issues (hence the issue-free ads and speeches). They decided they couldn’t win on turnout (hence the caging). They decided they couldn’t win on popularity (hence the attack ads against celebrities until it popularity was a tool for Palin to bludgeon center/left critics with).
    So, they’ve decided to run on a scurrilous, sarcastic, and slanderous platform of lying about Obama. And I don’t think it helps for anyone to pretend otherwise; nor do I think it *likely* that anyone from outside the party is going to talk the “honorable” people in McCain’s camp into running a campaign in a style that’s sure to lose it for them.
    That’s why they’re doing it this way: they don’t *have* any other options.
    (Only on the left do concern trolls have any effect with political leaders; Republicans *know* not to take political advice from people who aren’t already loyalists, because Republicans are not sunnily stupid optimists about human nature and the ability of people in politics to recognize their own interests, especially when it involves their own political survival. Do you seriously think Steve’s going to con Steve Schmidt into doing something that diminishes John McCain’s chances of winning? Strange how this faith that the rest of us should assume that the professionals know what they’re doing has gotten us into such predictable messes, time after time, isn’t it? On the other hand, maybe the success of such arguments *to* the left is part of what makes us hope they’ll work on the right.)
    And it cracks me up that sarcasm and criticism from the left makes moderates think it’s being *screamed*, while attacks from the right just sound, to them, like meaningless noise.
    Interesting sensitivities, there.

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  45. dawghouze says:

    Steve, way to yank their cranks, those commentors of yours. Bwaahahaha! Can’t you all see, Steve could never seriously think these guys were honourable or he would be STOOPID, just like the American people who will elect McCain to the presidency.
    Good one, Steve …. Bwaahahahaha !!

    Reply

  46. WigWag says:

    The fact that the great Heidi Li reads the Washington Note is exciting. She has one of the best blogs around and I heartily recommend it. Her effort to bring some sanity to the procedures used by the Democrats at their convention was heroic. Heidi, if you read this, you have numerous fans who are grateful for your wonderful work!
    As for Hillary as Majority Leader, it could really galvanize things in Obama’s favor. Senate Majority Leader is an important position with national prominence. Under normal circumstances it is far more important than Vice President although McCain’s age changes the dynamic in this election.
    With that said, it’s hard for me to see how it might happen. Obama’s weakness is hurting down ticket Democrats. Just look at the recent polling from Alaska, Minnesota and New Hampshire. With Clinton, the Democrats would have won all three seats going away. With Obama they may squeak by in Alaska and New Hampshire, but Minnesota is probably gone.
    In any case the Democratic Majority is likely to expand from plus 1 to at least plus 4. The idea that Harry Reid would willingly give up his position under those circumstances is hard to believe.
    After Reid leaves, the next Majority Leader will be Charles Schumer. Too many Democratic Senators owe him and the new crop about to be elected will also owe him. Schumer has been a brilliant Chairman of the DSCC and he is a darling of Wall Street which along with the cultural elites, are the new owners of the Democratic Party.
    Schumer has done an extraordinary job of raising money and recruiting candidates. Compare that with his main competition, Dick Durban. The last thing Durban was seen doing of note was apologizing on the Senate Floor for comments that some people thought compared Bush to Hitler.
    Durban may be well liked, but the Democratic Senators would have to be stupid to select him. They won’t.
    And they won’t bypass Reid, Schumer or even Durban to select Clinton either. Of course, it would be wonderful if they did; if for no other reason to see the look on the contemptible Nancy Pelosi’s face when it happened.
    But Obama better do something fast. Questions seems to thing that everything is okay and that the polling really isn’t all that bad. Maybe questions’ is right. But I wouldn’t count on it.
    An African American candidate going into a national presidential election essentially even in the popular vote polls and behind in Ohio and Florida doesn’t seem like particularly good bet to me.
    You could bet him to place, but of course that would mean he lost.

    Reply

  47. steve says:

    RE: “I’m not going to spend more time on that because the John McCain I know as well as the Rick Davis, Trevor Potter, Mark Salter, and others who have stood with McCain for years are honorable people. This ad was a mistake — and they probably know it. I have no evidence for this, but my hunch is that this ad went out without thoughtful screening from above.”
    STOP IT!!!
    They are running a lying sleazy campaign.
    This is what Republicans do.
    Over and over again.
    Stop excusing them
    Stop pretending otherwise.
    Stick with the facts.

    Reply

  48. jg says:

    Mccain 2008/Hillary 2012! You missed your chance OB! We will remember in November!!

    Reply

  49. Publicola says:

    I’m not going to spend more time on that because the John McCain I know as well as the Rick Davis, Trevor Potter, Mark Salter, and others who have stood with McCain for years are honorable people. This ad was a mistake — and they probably know it. I have no evidence for this, but my hunch is that this ad went out without thoughtful screening from above.
    If they did approve it, then they should reconsider it.
    This is exactly why they will continue to run this type of crap. It’s McCain’s campaign and he’s responsible for it and the people in it. And frankly, if you know them so well, call him and ask if he stands by the ad. My bet is you are going to be DISAPPOINTED. This man has demonstrated, above all else, he is a POLITICAL COWARD. Afraid to engage on the issues, he resort to this nonsense. And your response? Surely he didn’t mean it. Evidence to support that? None….
    I was prepared mentally for the possibility of a McCain Administration if it should happen. Now I realize America can’t let this man or his handlers within a 1,000 feet of the White House.

    Reply

  50. Marsha Mc says:

    Hillary for Senate Majority Leader is exactly what is called for.
    Whether it helps Obama or not, she is the type of leader we need in
    that position in the senate. Hillary would work well with either
    McCain or Obama and the congress would finally get things done.
    This is a no-brainer. See our site:
    hrcforsenatemajorityleader09.com and sign our letter if you agree.

    Reply

  51. Pending Comment says:

    Chris,
    Steve always talks to both sides. He runs a non-partisan think tank. He blogs fairly and has been a real leader on many issues of great importance to progressives.
    If he calls these guys “honorable”, he has a reason that must make sense to him. Anyone reading this blog for a long time knows he is always strategic.
    I don’t have time to look at it, but note that STeve did not say that Steve Schmidt, Randall Scheunemann, and others who were key players around McCain were honorabel. Look at who is not on the list.
    My hunch is that Clemons is playing divide and conquer in McCain camp which is smarter than just acting indignantly and being turned off as a screamer.
    Only hunches but that is Steve’s M.O.

    Reply

  52. questions says:

    Current polls do not seem to support WigWag’s position. Most of the woman-bump is confined to the South where Obama was losing anyway. (At least according to some kos diary I saw earlier.) It’s not likely anywhere near as bad as it seemed only yesterday. Polls are suddenly being trumped by newer polls with very different numbers. The down by 20 in NC is now down by 5 from a different pollster…. The sampling biases are legion. The polls are settling down into a very tight race with that bit of centrist indecision as the focal point. Obama is doing a good job on O’Reilly pushing for those people. The WSJ is behind him. The NYTimes is waffly. ABC News is covering the book banning issue…. Palin has enough problems and the press has corners of concern — we might end up okay. And if the Reps run another piece of crap like that kindergarten sex ad, maybe we’ll all wake up to the Willie Horton stupidity of our political discourse.
    The lipstick on a pig remark was directed at McC’s policies NOT at Palin — besides, she calls herself a pit bull with lipstick– if he meant her, he’d have said pit bull.
    And again, the Repubs have all sorts of ammunition ready and waiting for HRC. It wouldn’t have worked. The evangelical women out for Palin DO NOT LIKE PRO-CHOICE WOMEN and would not have supported her anyway. They’d have stayed home. Deep Clinton supporters are fools to choose Palin given the policy positions.

    Reply

  53. Chris says:

    In that case, Lurker, Steve should be *happy* to have all the critical comments from people like us (excepting you), because then *he* can take that heat to his friends in the McCain camp and say, “I’d like to give you guys more slack, but people aren’t letting me, so I’m here to tell you that you need to start acting more honorably.”
    And why is it, Lurker, that triple level chess so often involves Democrats being told to let Republicans run amok? Kind of looks like a simpler game from here. More like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.

    Reply

  54. Chris says:

    “the John McCain I know as well as the Rick Davis, Trevor Potter, Mark Salter, and others who have stood with McCain for years are honorable people.”
    Really, Steve? Those guys are “honorable”?
    Then what’s your explanation for how the campaign’s been run, a mass case of multiple-personality disorder?
    Pod people have taken them over?
    Boys will be boys?
    They’re only dishonorable when they’re pursuing political power? (note: with Republicans, that would be *all* the time.)
    They’re running a dirty campaign but they’ll govern cleanly?
    They’re trying to change the system from the inside?
    Do you seriously think they just spent millions of dollars on ads and they don’t *realize* that the ads cater to reactionary conservative voters based on religious and racist code words and messages?
    Do you think it’s an accident that they picked a right-wing conservative nut with a taste for secrecy, conservativism, abuse of power, and gun-wielding that would make Dick Cheney happy?
    But no, you, you’re exempt from Occam’s Razor, because you “know” those guys are “honorable.”
    You’re not overtly wacked, Steve. But you’re spending an awful lot of time apologizing for people who are. And you’re cloaking it in the traditional cover-up words and attitudes — seriously, “honorable”? Have you *seen* the McCain ads? Did you *watch* the convention speeches? — that people like Josh Marshall are starting to call out as shields for bullshit. Even Joe Klein is ahead of you on this one.
    Or does that just make you think there’s an opening for you, as someone’s pet moderate, to enable the continuation of Bush-Cheney policies?
    (note: I’ll admit that writing about politics online is a thinner tightrope than doing it behind closed doors, since everyone can see what you’re doing, and perhaps you think you can shame McCain and his people into not being such sleazeballs — but it makes you sound incredibly naive to see your arguments, in public, that these guys aren’t doing what they obviously are. Really, Steve. We all know this is beneath them, but siding with them, I would’ve thought, was beneath you.)

    Reply

  55. Carroll says:

    ….”enthusiasm for Obama/Biden is wanting”
    Indeed it is. And who made this election about women? The media? Hillary & supporters? Now McCain? The blogsphere? The public? Who?
    So now we have a country in two wars, several more on the back burner, and in an economic meltdown…and this election is all about women.
    I give up.

    Reply

  56. Dave says:

    Thanks Lurker – what an honorable thing for Steve to do, instead of calling them out for what clearly is a outright lie and disgusting campaign, we appeal to their inner cocktail party weenie to maybe feel a little bad about it, and apologize after the campaign. This ain’t chess, this is the future of this great country we are talking about – and if “serious” people like Steve don’t call them outright on the bullsh*t they are spewing, we end up with these clowns for four more years.

    Reply

  57. Heidi Li says:

    Please see http://www.hrcforsenatemajorityleader09.com
    It is the home of an established movement to have Senators affirm their support for Senator Clinton as Senate Majority Leader. We are sending letters to all Democratic Senators via fax, mail, and email indicating the hundreds of signers of a letter calling upon them to do just this.

    Reply

  58. Lurker says:

    Steve Clemons is clearly reaching out to people he knows on the McCain side and appealing to their better nature. He knows these people. You and I don’t.
    Obama, Hillary, and McCain have all done disgusting things in this campaign.
    You should not be lemings. Clemons’ comment about these people being better than the ad they put out makes his comment even more powerful.
    I’ve been watching how he does this. He’s a realist and doesn’t burn bridges with either side of the aisle, and this gives him and this blog leverage that most other blogs don’t have.
    I admire how he manipulates folks and by calling for the McCain team to be more honorable, he is making a bigger point of how dishonorable they have been.
    It’s his triple level chess strategy.

    Reply

  59. tom.a says:

    I know this post wasn’t about the disgusting McCain ad, but
    “honorable” people don’t put out ads like this, even as a mistake.
    It’s a joke to call them honorable, now or in the past, for peddling
    such blatant crap as this latest ad.

    Reply

  60. JohnH says:

    More commentary on lying as the standard method of communicating in Washington.
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JI11Ak01.html
    And why do they do it? Because the culture of Washington promotes it (Republiscum and their think tanks along with the corporate media), or tolerates it (Democraps and their think tanks).
    If this outrage over McCain’s constant is real–and it might be, since a lot of jobs are at stake for people wanting to work in a Democrap administration–then we may have and “Enablers’ Awakening.” Unfortunately, old habits die hard, so I’m not holding my breath.

    Reply

  61. WigWag says:

    We may be in the process of witnessing a political collapse of historic proportions. Or maybe once the novelty of Sarah Palin wears off, the Obama/Biden ticket will become relevant again.
    One thing we know of sure, Senator Obama’s campaign has lost control of the news cycle and things are spinning out of their control. This is very dangerous two months before an election.
    The Barack Obama “you can put lipstick on a pig” comment is getting wall to wall press coverage. And the picture isn’t pretty.
    Was Obama being sexist when he made this comment? Of course not. But then Bill Clinton wasn’t being racist when he commented. after Obama’s South Carolina primary victory, that Jesse Jackson won South Carolina too. And Hillary Clinton wasn’t being a racist when she mentioned that both Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson played important but different roles in the civil rights struggle.
    Obama and his supporters were happy to accuse both Clinton’s of racial insensitivity because it gave his campaign a temporary tactical advantage. Now he’s the one being accused unfairly of making a bigoted remark and he and his supporters don’t like it. Obama supporters are in no position to accuse McCain of doing to him precisely what he did to Hillary.
    It’s called Karma. What goes around comes around. Or if you prefer, payback is a bitch.
    As for Hillary Clinton, she has made many campaign stops for Obama in Florida, California and elsewhere. The humiliating role she played at the convention was frankly more than he deserved, but she was the good soldier.
    Obama needs to beg both Clintons to appear with him everywhere he goes. Biden isn’t getting the job done. Is there anyone who still thinks Biden instead of Hillary was the right choice? Hillary Clinton excites women, she is favored by white women (where Obama is lagging)and she has a huge following among the “bitter” set in places like Ohio where polls now show Obama trailing McCain by 5 points (outside of the margin of error). How many Democrats have won the White House recently without winning Ohio?
    As far as Majority Leader for Clinton, it’s a good idea but it will never happen. The Majority Leader position isn’t Obama’s to dispense. Harry Reid, Charles Schumer (the next in line for this position) and others would rather see Obama lose than make Hillary majority leader. And the idea suggested by some that she could be offered a Supreme Court position is absurd. Anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton wants to be on the Supreme Court doesn’t know much about her at all.
    If Obama were really smart, he and Biden would come up with some kind of trumped up medical condition as an excuse for Biden to leave the race and be replaced by Hillary. But of course that won’t happen either.
    Obama is in a real pickle. But it’s a pickle of his own making.

    Reply

  62. carsick says:

    When the primary was still going on I wrote here that my best case scenario was with Clinton as Majority Leader (and Hagel as Sec. of State).
    She’s a fighter and she could still push her priorities well there. Also, she’s a bit like LBJ with her knowledge of and willingness to use skeletons in closets to massage the votes she would need.
    There would be some hurt feelings but I don’t think they’d last long enough to hurt long term success.

    Reply

  63. Pat says:

    My jaw just about hit the floor when I read the second paragraph of your post. You have GOT to be kidding!
    I read without commenting as a rule, but I had to come out of lurkerdom for this one.
    As everyone has pointed out, these are not the “honorable” people you think you knew or know. They want to win at any cost, and that ad is the Willie Horton ad (so far) of this campaign.
    Please take another look at these people, Steve, this time with open eyes.

    Reply

  64. Jamie says:

    Steve, I respect and enjoy your commentary on the foreign policy issues you follow, but I’m worried your judgement of character may be a tad bit off.
    Honor? Seriously? I haven’t heard a word of truth from the McCain campaign in the last 6 months – Obama’s “1 billion in earmarks” (try around 300 mil last year, 0 this year, against the almost 800 million from Palin) – The “non” support of the Bridge to Nowhere touted as Palin’s toughness, still being repeated every 5 minutes even though news organizations as non-traditonal, obscure, and loony-left as ABC, CBS, CNN and that mouthpiece of EarthFirst! the Wall Street Journal have amply covered its inherent lies.
    Every step of this campaign is being carefully engineered to spew dishonest crap in every direction toward one goal – keeping McCain from addressing, and hence the press from having to cover, ANY issue (economy, housing, defense) that might truly effect the voting public. That it’s working may point to their tenacity and desparate mindset, but “honor” might as well be the name of a crater on Mars, it’s so far from this collection of soulless demagogues.

    Reply

  65. Give Peas A Chance says:

    Here’s McCain, in his own words, describing how he traded
    medical care for information soon after his capture by the North
    Vietnamese., i.e., before any kind of torture McCain is not, and
    has never been “honorable.”.
    McCain himself wrote this article himself! It appeared in U.S.
    News & World Report in May 1973:
    http://tinyurl.com/28nrbx
    Here again, is McCain IN HIS OWN WORDS (from the article) :
    “I think it was on the fourth day that two guards came in,
    instead of one. One of them pulled back the blanket to show the
    other guard my injury. I looked at my knee. It was about the
    size, shape and color of a football. I remembered that when I
    was a flying instructor a fellow had ejected from his plane and
    broken his thigh. He had gone into shock, the blood had pooled
    in his leg, and he died, which came as quite a surprise to us—a
    man dying of a broken leg. Then I realized that a very similar
    thing was happening to me.
    When I saw it, I said to the guard, “O.K., get the officer.” An
    officer came in after a few minutes. It was the man that we
    came to know very well as “The Bug.” He was a psychotic
    torturer, one of the worst fiends that we had to deal with. I said,
    “O.K., I’ll give you military information if you will take me to the
    hospital.” He left and came back with a doctor, a guy that we
    called “Zorba,” who was completely incompetent. He squatted
    down, took my pulse. He did not speak English, but shook his
    head and jabbered to “The Bug.” I asked, “Are you going to take
    me to the hospital?” “The Bug” replied, “It’s too late.” I said, “If
    you take me to the hospital, I’ll get well.”

    Reply

  66. JohnH says:

    Lies, distortions, half-truths…it’s been standard fare for Republiscum for years. And people gladly bought it. Will Rogers was wrong. Republiscum have proved that you can fool some of the people all of the time.
    And BTW isn’t it finally time for foreign policy experts and think tanks like NAF to stop being silent about America’s imperial ambitions, about its desperate attempt to control oil and gas supplies?
    The culture of cover-up enables a culture of lying. By hiding the truth, it allows the neocons’ lies about foreign policy goals–democracy promotion, human rights, womens’ rights–to go unchallenged.
    The prime example is the war in Iraq. All the neocons’ lies have been exposed, but few will come forth to trumpet the real reasons why we’re there. Or in Afghanistan for the matter. Or why Iran is so important. Or why the Russians move into Georgia was so significant.
    The culture of Washington has become so corrupted–think tanks, politicians and media alike–that those not lying outright are more than content to remain silent about what is really going on.
    Given this culture, John McCain must be shocked that a few people have actually noticed and commented on his lies. But he can rest assured that it’s only a few…

    Reply

  67. Nobcentral says:

    Steve – With all due respect, I think that you may have to seriously consider that the John McCain you KNEW is not the John McCain of today. The race for the Presidency does change people. And every single bit of information points to the John McCain of 2006 and earlier as being a fossil, a forgotten personality.
    Whether McCain has allowed those around him to shape the campaign (or convince him his one path to victory is to re-ignite culture wars, attack Obama’s character, and at all costs, ignore and avoid any type of policy discussion) or not is up to an open debate. But McCain shouldn’t be getting a free pass here – ESPECIALLY from someone like you who knows him, has worked with him, and is very much listened to in the right circles.
    My point is, you have more influence than most. You should use it. McCain should be called out for what has become the most dishonorable campaign for the Oval Office in recent memory. The campaign doesn’t reflect the McCain many people thought they knew, is turning off voters (like my 68 year old mother who has never voted Democrat before but will this year), and will likely result in a more polarized debate in 2009 no matter who wins and that’s distinctly bad for the country. It’s time for McCain to clean up his act and leave aside the very same tactics that denied him a shot at the White House in 2000.

    Reply

  68. george says:

    Steve:
    Are you allowing your inside the beltway connections to cloud what is an obvious smear. I can’t believe that you are excusing this and brushing it aside as an obvious mistake. Maybe it wasn’t? Please don’t tell me that you think that the John McCain of today is the same one of 2000. I like McCain back then but now see him as the sell your soul and honor of your career to win the presidency. NO POW war story or Maverick tale will change what his campaign has become. I am embarrassed to read your excusing their behavior.
    So if John Bolton changed his spots, you would welcome him with open arms?

    Reply

  69. Dave says:

    Honorable people? Give me a break – whatever they once were, they are certainly not honorable now – they know exactly what they are doing – distorting, no LYING, about the record of Obama for short term political gain.

    Reply

  70. pxs says:

    are you joking? – mccain has been declaring loudly and clearly his intent to run a despicable, dishonest, and divisive campaign for a long time now, by every add he has run and by every word uttered during the horror show that was the GOP convention.
    let go of your idealized image of these “honorable” people. any claim to honor was abandoned a long time ago to pursue a win at any cost strategy. you are helping them to make it work by clinging to this view. mccain is now reduced to a rovian sock puppet. pathetic.

    Reply

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