Saturday, February 09, 2008

Who Can Win In November

I have admitted before that I am a political junkie. Therefore, bear with me during this current primary and presidential campaign cycle. One reader even asked me what I would do with myself once the election is over. The truth is that living in Virginia which has off year state elections, there are ALWAYS campaigns in progress. It is one reason party activists get burned out in this state - I did it for eight years and it gets exhausting at times. Plus, in Virginia we have to stave off anti-gay initiatives every year. But I digress.
Former Reagan speech writer, Peggy Noonan, had another interesting column in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal ( that looks at the Clinton-Obama contest, as well as her perceptions of what Obama would mean for the GOP in terms of restricting their dirty tricks campaign. I think she is right on the mark and once again cites factors that the Democrats MUST recognize if they want a victory in November. Readers should not assume I am a Hillary hater even though I am a former Republican. In fact, I watched a piece on Hillary the other night and I will admit, it left me thinking that perhaps she might not do badly as president (I’d feel even better about it if she had divorced Bill). The sad truth is that the deck is stacked against her and not wholly due to her own doing. Here are some column highlights:

Mr. Obama's achievement on Super Tuesday was solid and reinforced trend lines. The popular vote was a draw, the delegate count a rough draw, but he won 13 states, and when you look at the map he captured the middle of the country from Illinois straight across to Idaho, with a second band, in the northern Midwest, of Minnesota and North Dakota. He won Missouri and Connecticut, in Mrs. Clinton's backyard. He won the Democrats of the red states.

On the wires Wednesday her staff was all but conceding she is not going to win the next primaries. Her superdelegates are coming under pressure that is about to become unrelenting. It was easy for party hacks to cleave to Mrs. Clinton when she was inevitable. Now Mr. Obama's people are reportedly calling them saying, Your state voted for me and so did your congressional district. Are you going to jeopardize your career and buck the wishes of the people back home?

Mrs. Clinton is stoking the idea that Mr. Obama is too soft to withstand the dread Republican attack machine. But Mr. Obama will not be easy for Republicans to attack. He will be hard to get at, hard to address. There are many reasons, but a primary one is that the fact of his race will freeze them. No one, no candidate, no party, no heavy-breathing consultant, will want to cross any line--lines that have never been drawn, that are sure to be shifting and not always visible--in approaching the first major-party African-American nominee for president of the United States.

He is the brilliant young black man as American dream. No consultant, no matter how opportunistic and hungry, will think it easy--or professionally desirable--to take him down in a low manner. If anything, they've learned from the Clintons in South Carolina what that gets you. . . . With Mr. Obama the campaign will be about issues. "He'll raise your taxes." He will, and I suspect Americans may vote for him anyway. But the race won't go low.

Mrs. Clinton would be easier for Republicans. With her cavalcade of scandals, they'd be delighted to go at her. They'd get medals for it. Consultants would get rich on it. The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it's fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He's not Bambi, he's bulletproof.

The biggest problem for the Republicans will be that no matter what they say that is not issue oriented--"He's too young, he's never run anything, he's not fully baked"--the mainstream media will tag them as dealing in racial overtones, or undertones. You can bet on this. Go to the bank on it. The Democrats continue not to recognize what they have in this guy. Believe me, Republican professionals know. They can tell.

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