22 January 2007

2004 Again?

TenaciousMcD and Frances (in the comments) are making some distressing points – distressing because they are all true – about Hillary's recent hat-tossing.

I don't understand why the following is not obvious to everyone.

The Republicans have a playbook for how to defeat Democrats in the general presidential election. Their plan is already known to everyone; it is use that playbook. And it involves attaching the following labels (sometimes literally, sometimes through metaphor) to the Democratic candidate:
  • Liberal
  • Elite
  • Weak
  • Effeminate
  • Ambivalent
  • Indecisive
  • Northeastern
In the case of the particular issue of the Iraq war, you can add somethign like 'he/she supported the war to begin with and doesn't have a better plan now than our candidate'.

So, if you're the Democrats, why not forget anything you know about who is out there running, and ask yourself who you don't want to nominate. Let's see, wouldn't that include:
  • Anyone from the northeast
  • Anyone who easily appears weak or effeminate
  • Anyone who has a public record of national voting that can be used against them for the 'flip-flopping' charge
  • Anyone who was hawkish on the war early on
For me this leads to simple conclusions.
In 2004 it meant: do not nominate Kerry.
In 2008 it means: do not nominate Clinton.

Kerry was a Massachusetts Senator who spoke French. It was almost too easy for the Republicans to work their magic on Kerry.

Hilary is a New York Senator; oh, and she's a woman. Oh, and she supported the war. I don't see any way on earth she has the best chance of winning. This doesn't mean she can't win, but she would do so despite being a terrible choice. After all, Kerry was a terrible choice and he almost won.

For me it's not about deep-rooted sexism in the American populace, but about the construction of democratic and repulican discourses. The US can easily elect a woman president, and I think they will, just as soon as the Republicans nominate her. A Republican female candidate will be a strong, decisive, plain-talking leader. Why? Because she is a Republican, and therefore by definition is all those things.

So let me add my voice to that of Tmcd and Frances: please don't nominate Hillary.

The next question is obvious, and I'd like to hear more from the FFb folks: who should the Democrats nominate? I think Edwards breaks up the Rebublican game plan fairly well. And, contrary to early FFb posts, to me Obama seems fiercely intelligent and very charismatic. Given the circumstances, that may be about the most we can ask from a presidential candidate these days. Of course, there are a long list of negatives for both of these guys, but I'm trying to end on a positive note.


Daniel said...

Nice, helpful, and well-said. I like Hillary, but I like the idea of a Dem president successfully elected even more. And, let's face it, Hill gots baggage. (And this feminist just can't take the ugliness that's sure to come regarding an HRC campaign).

That would also be my argument against Edwards: he gots baggage. Everything about his campaign in 04 rings in my ears: his association with the wishy-washy snooze that was Kerry; the dirty, easy criticisms against him as a candidate.

Obama represents something completely new, in a number of ways. And a new, fresh start, a hopeful, leaf-turning-over, clean slate is what will appeal most to the public after this terrible, messy, painful presidency.

Can the fact that he is African-American mobilize the racial minority vote in the U.S., which has, in recent years, struggled in allegiance with a Christian tradition that aligns many with Republican candidates where that same minority group[s] had typically sided with socially sensitive Democrats?

Or will a non-white candidate be catalyst to the...what shall we call it?...racist vote in the way that Bush called forth the conservative right in numbers? Is there a racist vote that's worth a damn?

For all the things about John Edwards that makes him a decent candidate, he is a bore and he is safe, and those points mean that he will not get elected. People are depressed and tired about American government, and they need something to get excited about. Obama will unite a majority of voters in a more powerful way than any other person running, and that will get him elected. Obama needs to be the Democratic presidential candidate.

Ruth said...

Am I the only one out here who's hopeful about Biden? His little plagiarism misstep aside, he's got a long and pretty respected history of public service.

Of course, I'd rather have Bill Bradley or Russ Feingold, but I'm willing to settle...

Transient Gadfly said...

I was going to quibble with your suggestion a couple of posts back that Republicans were exceptionally skilled at message, but this is a much more topical place to bring it up, because it entirely boils down to this point. There is a narrative that the American public at large simply knows to be true, and all attempts to forcibly change that narrative through messaging will fail. The Republicans understand one thing that the Democrats do not, and it's this (and I'd entertain the argument that they don't actually understand it, they're just riding the wave while the Democrats try and swim against it).

Note that this narrative cuts both ways: John Kerry and George Bush had the same Northeastern elite upbringing, and evidence to the contrary is shrugged off because it runs contrary to The Narrative. But John Kerry and George Bush also had the same GPA at Yale, and Bush scored higher on his military aptitude entrance exam, two facts which were also shrugged off. Why? The American public knows that John Kerry smart and George Bush is dumb.

As you rightly point out, the correct strategy here is not to try and fight the Narrative, because you will lose. The Narrative always wins.

Transient Gadfly said...

above, I mean of course that GWB & JK had the same Northweastern upbringing but any evidence supporting that fact is ignored by the mainstream discourse because it runs contrary to the Narrative blah blah blah...

Transient Gadfly said...

let me be clear. i agree completely that the democrats' first priority must be running someone who will win. absolutely.

but if we say well clearly it can't be someone who speaks french because that seems girly (and girls obviously can't lead), and it can't be someone who is smart because smart is hard to relate to for average Americans (who are obviouly stupid), and it can't be someone who's well spoken because that's too much like smart, and it can't be someone from the northeast because the northeast is liberal, and liberal, clearly, equals bad...aren't we losing the war?

not to mention that smart people and good leaders get new information and then change their minds, votes, stances, and policies. stupid people and bad leaders get new information and ignore it entirely in favor of saying they never never never waver (from their idiot position). look how well that's working for GWB at the moment (praise be).

what has to happen to change the discourse, the narrative? what? choose your own adventure politics??


Frances said...

Yes, Hillary is tailor-made for the GOP playbook. Maybe that's why Fox News and the Republican commentariat so palpably enjoy contemplating her candidacy. They've been fantasizing about it ever since she ran for Senate.

Who should the Dems nominate? Al Gore. He's proven himself a true statesman and leader. Visionary on global warming. Courageous and prescient on Iraq, speaking out on the issue long before the war was launched. If he ran, he would unite the party and inspire enthusiasm among the base.

Edwards and Obama are both greatly superior to Hillary Clinton as candidates. The only worse candidate on the declared list, to my mind, is Kerry.

Hillary Clinton never even knows what she thinks about an issue until two sides have been staked out. Then she has to jury rig some kind of "middle way" between them.

Nominating Hillary Clinton will put the entire Democratic establishment, its polling firms, and hangers-on back into power. The very predictability of this constellation of ideology and interest is probably why Clinton has been such a formidable fundraiser.

The Democratic party needs to be reinvigorated. The party needs an infusion of confidence, courage, new ideas, spine--all of the attributes that have been so clearly lacking in the party during the Bush presidency. That means it is essential to choose as a candidate someone who will not simply reinstate the existing party's power structure.

sageblue said...

Mmm, can I just say a big no to Biden? First, it's really important that we carry Delaware. Second, he has god-awful hair. Third, he's an asshat who likes to straddle, but somehow appears to be strong.

I don't know that we know the candidate yet. Where was Bill Clinton in 1991? Chillin' in LR. However, 2007 is a lot different from that time.

I'm calling Edwards, in part because he has a name that is presidential and because he is not, in fact, wishy-washy or boring, but a pretty compelling candidate with a nice message on economic equality that could potentially attract a lot of people and because he has pleaded for forgiveness on Iraq.