Now I started out this process as a fervent Hillary Clinton supporter, but as the primaries rolled on it became abundantly clear that she didn’t just have serious problems as a campaigner, but she also was seriously problematic as a candidate. The ’3am ad’ was a mean thing to do, and although it brought in immediate dividends, it really was a tactic out of the Karl Rove play book and further damaged her reputation in the contests which followed. I fully accept the argument that as a woman she has had to fight harder and harsher than her male counterparts in order to get even this far, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s true that even that lacked imagination on her part. In a year when Washington insiders, regardless of their experience and other positive qualities, have not been popular with voters, she portrayed herself as the consummate insider. Whilst mixing those two qualities was clever in almost forcing Obama and others to risk a charge of misogyny in attacking her at all, the voters really didn’t care. Obama offered a changed mood, a changed atmosphere, a new look and a new approach. In return Clinton, McCain and Fox News offered Jeremiah Wright, so far proving unsuccessful, with a clear majority of voters at this stage indifferent to the behaviour of a key mentor whom he’s now cut himself off from entirely (although he took far too long to do so).
Obama is now the de facto Democratic candidate for President in November, and despite my earlier naysaying, his chances right now are surprisingly good. And although Hillary no doubt feels she should be on the ticket, considering the huge proportion of the party and electorate who voted for her, I would beg to differ. It’s true that she has strength to take on McCain and give him the real bashing which Kerry was unable to inflict on Bush in 2004. She knows the Republican attack machine well, indeed knows how to counter it and isn’t afraid of it. But increasingly I don’t think Obama is either. He’s faced a two pronged attack from Bush and McCain already, and come out shining, entirely by sticking to the message which has served him well since he arrived on the scene. As the ‘change’ candidate he defeated the Washington insider Clinton – both of them really considering how ruthlessly Bill campaigned against him – and the same has been true so far against McCain. The GOP candidate is clearly out of touch, worryingly doesn’t realise it, and regularly sounds both like Bush and worse than him, at a time when even the Republicans can’t stand Bush anymore. All Obama has had to do so far is point this out to gain the upper hand – he hasn’t needed Hillary and I don’t think he’s going to. Just look at McCain’s discomfort merely on his own last night, crashing and burning almost as badly as he did on the Ellen show. Even the right wing press dismissed him.
I think for VP he could do worse than pick Jim Webb. Webb has astutely already seen how he could fit in with the Obama narrative, and solve the electoral mathematics problem which Hillary thinks she would solve but wouldn’t. Obama’s chief vulnerability in November is often mooted to be his weakness in the white working class male vote, which Webb on the ticket would appear to address:
Black America and Scots-Irish America are like tortured siblings. They both have long history and they both missed the boat when it came to the larger benefits that a lot of other people were able to receive. There’s a saying in the Appalachian mountains that they say to one another, and it’s, “if you’re poor and white, you’re out of sight.” …
If this cultural group could get at the same table as black America you could rechange populist American politics. Because they have so much in common in terms of what they need out of government.
See? No need for Hillary, and this combined narrative uniting ethnic groups and presenting a unified approach to addressing the absence of opportunity in the United States, could well prove unstoppable. Webb’s distinguished military record could also blunt McCain’s ‘war hero’ tag, and his experience in not just government but a Republican government could seal the deal.
Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence.
There is no historical precedent for taking such action when our country was not being directly threatened. The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades.
They both even speak with the same voice about Iraq, whilst appealing to different sections of the electorate. Obama/Webb to win in November, with Hillary Senate Majority Leader.