Saturday, April 19, 2008

Race for the White House- 4/19/08

This week saw the ongoing battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democrat Presidential nomination perhaps reach new heights (or lows) as the candidates prepare for this Tuesday's long awaited Pennsylvania primary.

The main focus of the week was a Tuesday evening debate on ABC in which Obama supporters were extremely upset at the sort of questions asked and the focus of the debate. For example, rapper Souljah Boy (at least I think it was the real guy) posted a You Tube video in which he stated that moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanapolous were preposterous. Props for the rhyming there!

While Clinton hardly had a stellar debate, and struggled to deal with her own vulnerable points, such as the Bosnia sniper tail, she was quite aggressive in going after Obama as the debate focused on such matters as American flag lapel pins, Obama's controversial pastor, his comments about "bitter" voters from small towns, and his association with an unrepentant terrorist and radical William Ayers. By almost all accounts, Obama did very poorly in this debate when forced to explain those matters and has complained then and since about there not being enough focus on "issues." After countless debates however, and the fact that there are not huge ideological differences between the two candidates, this debate was far more oriented by the moderators into seeing which candidate might be able to best handle the pressure as it relates to what some Democrats claim they can expect from the "Republican Attack Machine."

In past debates, Clinton has received the harshest treatment and complained as such. This time though, Obama, perceived as the most likely nominee, struggled to deal with that pressure and has been very upset for the remainder of the week. For her part, Clinton has accused him of whining and made the obligatory, "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen reference." Obama has complained about how Clinton "was in her element" during the debate and in a matter of much speculation scratched his face while making that statement with a certain finger that has many people wondering if it was an intentional crude gesture or not.

It continues to be interesting to see how Hillary Clinton is attacking Barack Obama. As mentioned, she took on the narrative of describing how these potential political vulnerabilities for Obama might be exploited by Republicans (at the same time saying she believed he could win a general election) and even brought up Louis Farrakhan's relationship with Jeremiah Wright as well as the fact that the church had once published writings from Hamas. While Clinton may be trying to appeal to blue collar, more culturally conservative Democrats in Pennsylvania and some other late voting states, she is probably just as interested in influencing the decision of superdelegates into thinking that Obama would be an ideological electoral disaster for the party in November. It might very well be that she realizes that she cannot possibily win the nomination with pledged delegates, so she is embarking on a long-term strategy to finally capture the nomination at the convention at the end of the summer. The fact that Clinton also attacked at what she believed was a private moment at a fundraiser is also pretty interesting indeed. Hillary has not sounded this much like a Republican since her days as a Goldwater Girl.

Some recent tracking polls in the last few days do show that Obama might have been damaged by the debate performance as a once statistically signifcant national lead among Democrats over Clinton has all but evaporated.

The effect of the Democrat campaign continues to have many party insiders disturbed that the party might be blowing a golden opportunity in this election. For example, DNC Chair Howard Dean went on the air, the day after the debate this week, and in a somewhat panicked tone, told superdelegates that they needed to start making a decision as to whom to support.

As for the polls out of Pennsylvania, some show a large Clinton lead, while others show a very close race with some movement for Obama. In many ways, those polls are similar to those we saw in March out of Ohio, where Hillary started off way ahead, Obama appeared to be closing on her strong, and then she won by a large margin when the votes were actually cast.

My prediction is that Hillary Clinton will take the Keystone State on Tuesday and will probably do so by about eight points. That will be considered a comfortable victory but not necessarily an overwhelming one. The delegate advantage she will take from the state might also not be too significant, but any sort of Clinton win will give credence to the fact that she has been able to win virtually all of the large states and deserves to stay in the race. If Obama were to be a surprise Pennsylvania winner on Tuesday, the calls for Clinton to immediately withdraw from the race would be defeaning and she would either have to do so, or run a campaign completely dependent on the possibility that Obama might commit another serious gaffe or that she could make the case that only she could beat the Republicans in November.

It is expected that Clinton will win on Tuesday though, either by a little bit, or by more than that, and then the battleground will shift primarily to North Carolina, where Obama is seen as having a large lead, and Indiana which could be quite competitive and where Obama partisans will hope that Clinton finally meets her Waterloo.

In the meantime, I think that even though I am a proud and ardent conservative Republican, I correctly analyze the conventional wisdom that the winner of the Pennsylvania Democrat debate, and by association the week in politics, was Republican nominee John McCain.

(I did this post in a big-time hurry so it probably has a ton of mistakes and might even be incoherent in parts, but its not like anyone is reading this anyway.)


At 2:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole "finger-gate" really reminded me of the controversy surrounding "The Little Mermaid" where the priest puportedly had an erection. Silly season is really in full force right now.

It's not likely, but it'd be nice for an Obama win just to get this over with. With the finger thing, I'm sick of it now. Media Matters released a photo from a different direction showing that he was using 2 fingers in scratching his face. It's absurd that I even need to cite that.

Now people are talking about rap lyrics. And some Hillary people on left wing blogs were fuming about it! Seriously!

They could have summed up the ABC debate like this (and also the campaign)
1 - Obama is a liberal. A few left-wing extremists are associated with him in one way or another.

2 - Hillary is a compulsive liar. The above also applies.

McCain certainly is coming off as the adult in all this childishness.


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