…Like a Clinton Scorned…

So here’s the question. With the Democratic Convention in Denver this week, what are Hillary and her supporters going to do? The British press has been fearful in the last few weeks that much of the decline in Obama’s standing in the polls has been down to her vengeful supporters, many of whom are women who have said they will vote for McCain out of spite. But I don’t know – I don’t know whether that’s true for a start, nor whether if they’re saying that for the polls now, that it’s something they’ll actually do in November. McCain’s attack ad above presupposes that he has an unmatched opportunity, but I think everything’s really down to what Hillary, Bill and Obama have to say this week. Of course Obama could have put Hillary on the ticket, making this question largely academic, but Biden appears to be the first mainstream political effect of the Georgia/Russia War, and the accelerating need to neutralise McCain in foreign policy, as the Second Cold War has started to take hold. Even so, it’s worth remembering that Hillary wasn’t even a finalist for Obama’s Veep spot anyway – will her voters take that as a further signal to defect?

Surely, one would presume, Democrats will not be so easily fooled. But an NBC/ Wall Street last week found, stunningly, that of Hillary voters in the primaries, 27 per cent were undecided who to vote for in November, while 21 per cent claimed to have switched to McCain – that fierce pro-life advocate, self-confessed ignoramus on the economy, ardent supporter of every one of George W. Bush’s wars and, if his own words are any guide, not averse to a few more. Could the most diehard Hillary believer go quite that far to spite Obama? Joe Biden’s most important task will be to help make sure they do not, and prevent his running mate’s week in the limelight from being merely a prelude to disaster.

William Rees-Mogg whilst making what I believe to be a flawed overall assessment of the choice of Biden, suggests nonetheless that keeping Hillary off the ticket will prove to be fatal:

Senator Biden is no Hillary Clinton; he presents no threat though little promise to Mr Obama. In the primary elections, Mrs Clinton gained 18 million votes. Among women she had a devoted following – and who still believe she should have been the candidate. If she had been on the ticket, she would have brought a lot of votes with her, as did Johnson. In rejecting her as his running-mate, Mr Obama has taken the risk that his margin of victory might be wiped out.

I must confess I’m confused about this desperation to paint essentially millions of women as so irrational as to vote for a candidate who called his wife a c*nt, who is promising more wars, who rejects any same-sex union, who indeed admits he hasn’t a clue about economics and is much further to the right than the Idiot Bush on everything. Is it a cop out, or does this video by hillaryvotersformccain.com paint an accurate picture of them?

I personally think the video’s appalling, although much of their analysis on their website might be right. Some of Obama’s success in the primaries was indeed likely down to Republican voters having been told to pretend to switch, merely to get Hillary out of the process. The mainstream media has also done everything in its power to knock her out, and is now slowly working its magic (in the US) against Obama too – it’s highly unlikely that Rupert Murdoch is any more enthused about Barack Obama than he was about John Kerry. It may also be true that America simply won’t vote for a black president out of racism, but are these reasonable or rational grounds for voting McCain?

Where they fall down is in their assessment that their bloc voting for McCain will merely be going with the flow with an inevitable victory, which they won’t influence. This is also pretty insane:

And before you play the race card on me, know this: I would much rather have seen Jesse Jackson Jr. run for President instead of Barack Hussein Obama. Barrack Hussein Obama is half-African and half-American raised in Indonesia and Hawaii; Jesse Jackson Jr. is the descendant of generations of real black Americans. It was my deepest wish that Hillary picked him as her Vice Presidential pick, but now it seems as if that’s not going to be allowed to happen.

It’s also pretty racist on at least two grounds, and an admission that they would vote against Obama out of spite, in the misguided belief that McCain has the race already sewn up, thus allowing a clear shot for Hillary against him in 2012. Hillaryvoters4mccain.com however have a different analysis:

However again, their implicit analysis is flawed. Yes Hillary would likely have been an effective Commander-in-Chief – her authority and experience were indeed greater than Obama’s, but is her defeat at his hands a reason to vote for someone like McCain, a serial liar and warmonger?

I can’t see any other pertinent analysis as to why their votes should switch parties other than Obama’s being a less ‘safe’ Commander-in-Chief than Hillary. Surely a reasonable feminist analysis for November’s general election ought to be about who is most likely to bring about women’s equality. Are there enough women out there who think that McCain’s a necessary evil to endure for four years, while they wait for deliverance in 2012 from Hillary? Katha Pollitt thinks the bulk would not be feminist:

le Hillary Clinton voters who will go for John McCain in the general election, but I don’t think too many of them will be feminists. Because to vote for McCain, a feminist would have to be insane. Let me rephrase that: she would have to believe that the chief–indeed the only–goal of the women’s movement is to elect Clinton, not to promote women’s rights. A vote for McCain would be the ultimate face-spiting nose-cutoff. Take that, women’s equality!

Of course she’s right, and cites his utterly reprehensible record on women’s rights:

His record on contraception and sex education is just as bad. He voted against a 2005 budget amendment, sponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton, that would have allotted $100 million to reduce teen pregnancy by means of education and birth control. He voted to require parental consent for birth control for teenage girls and to abolish Title X, which funds birth control and gynecological care for the poor. He voted against requiring insurance companies to pay for prescription contraception, when they pay for other prescription drugs–like, um, Viagra. The beat goes on, and on.

He’ll do no damage in four years to women’s rights? It would indeed be literally insane for a feminist to vote for McCain. Want to see what he thinks of Ellen DeGeneres’ and Portia de Rossi’s plans to get married?

Ultimately I remain convinced that the real number of potential defectors is small, because the Hillary voting camp is so disparate:

Clinton reached out to a lot of disparate groups during her campaign. She morphed from the “inevitable” establishment candidate into a John Edwards populist over time. Only at the very end did she become a feminist icon. In fact, it was remarkable how little her gender really came into the campaign from the outset. Those “hardworking, white” voters who might switch to McCain–many of them men, actually–were a driving force behind her wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and other states.

So don’t confuse Hillary’s feminist support with the support of “security moms,” suburban stockbrokers, and other Hillary voters who could vote for McCain.

I don’t think the media has paid terribly much attention to who the Hillary voters are who actually feel scorned enough to need to be reined in by her. The choice of Biden has already likely had a limited impact on their female number, but it’s likely that if the Obama/Biden ticket fails because of defecting Democratic voters, it’ll have been the inevitable result of a black man competing with a white woman at this point in history, and would be equally likely to have happened if Hillary were the nominee. But one of the earlier points is equally true – the primary results for both of them didn’t tell the whole story – where they both truly stand will only start to become apparent this week.

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6 responses to “…Like a Clinton Scorned…

  1. Okay this is pretty complicated and unclear to most of the rest of the world, so I’ll try to simplify it as much as possible.
    Okay the respective view of political parties from an outside view is fairly warped, this warping causes one to assume things about voting groups here in the US that don’t take the history of each party into account.
    First of all despite its dulcet tones the democratic party was the party of racism up until the early 1970’s after that point they tried to go after the black vote and female vote after JFK’s charisma added tons of female voters to the roles. This despite the fact that the old guard Democrats were active members of the Klu klux Klan. In the separate states most democrats are still touched by this and kind of splits the party between it’s educated and it’s uneducated voters. Hillary and Bill pushed their ideas on the uneducated and poor. Many of the more violent supporters of Hillary carry these fairly racist views with them but call them something else. Like hatred of jews for example, the far left hates Israel for a variety of reasons, blogs like DailyKOS are filled with their anti-semantic rants. It’s one of the reasons that even though I’m gay I detest many of the social programs that the democrats push because they push victim hood as a social position, plus I don’t trust them to pass gay positive legislation because though they talk a good game they have never actually done anything. Many foreigners assume that Hillary’s position on the war cost her support but it really didn’t. In truth many liked her because she was resolute on it, The vocal minority hated everything about the war but the majority of Americans were okay with it but felt it had gotten too expensive without positive trade-offs. No the problems with Hillary was Bill Clinton. His overly aggressive personae and race baiting in South Carolina caused a massive swing over to the Obama camp that they could never over come. Hillary than started a racially tinged campaign that further divided the democratic party in a bid to capture the nomination. Given Clintons ruthlessness, Obama cannot afford to have her on his ticket, if Bill Clinton were not around she would most likely have that nod or have captured the nomination herself.

    As for Biden I think overall it is a weak choice, he doesn’t add any executive skills and he’s prone to speaking gaffes, plus his personal finances are not the best and it’s likely his wifes cancer treatment left him heavily in debt or he is simply bad with personal finances. Over all he seems a nice person but I do not think he strengthens the ticket or helps add any states to Obama’s electoral tally, and at the end of the day that is the number he has to get.

    So Hillary’s supporters were drawn from the dregs of the welfare rolls, and rarely think in terms other than “us vs. them”. I hate to say that many gays have taken the same attitude, most likely caused by over attachment to the very family that caused the last round of anti gay laws to be passed. Despite Bush’s stated opposition to gay marriage not a single anti gay bill passed at the federal level. DOMA and DADT both passed with Bill Clinton’s support as president.

    As for McCain, his record isn’t horrible and he has a long tradition of bipartisan deal making, with the coming storm of Medicare and Social Security perhaps he could do what other could not and hash out a new plan for the future that won’t bankrupt us further. Obama will most likely avoid all issues gay for many years if he does get elected, the black votes he gets makes up for any loss of the gays and most won’t abandon the party for lack of anything better.

  2. I think that’s a fantastic analysis for the most part. As with my earlier post comparing gay rights policies of Bush and those offered by Obama and McCain, it’s worth remembering indeed that Bush’s attitude was what stank, not the legislation. Sure his influence, particularly with the attempt to pass the FMA, was malicious, but at the very least he did support civil unions. Not so McCain – a monster of a man whose record and attitude are palpably horrendous, be it with gay rights, women’s rights, economics, foreign policy, his temper problem and readiness to lie in order to advance his ambition.

    I know my initial position was that McCain would win easily in November. That may yet be true, but it really feels like all the pieces are in flux on both sides still, and both parties and indeed the country doesn’t have a feel yet for what it/they want/s. If it boils down to race, this is all over very quickly. If it’s down to Washington’s stagnation, then Obama’s in with a shot. But he’ll have to wipe out McCain’s ‘maverick’ reputation to do it. How he can do that without falling into the pre-planted traps by the GOP I don’t know.

  3. McCAin is not the monster you think he is, given time and personal experience he tends to come around. The fact that he went on the Ellen show is significant and carried and underlying message of inclusion,, as was his previously impassioned speech against the Federal Marriage amendment. To often people assume that politicians are championing their own ideas, but most politicians are actually just parroting what they feel the majority wants to hear. If everyone said that they wanted gay marriage you can bet they would move on it. The fact that they don’t is because they would be voted out.

    Obama’s speech in Germany is hanging over his head like a dark cloud, he has to reconnect with the common voter if he wants to win. McCain has been doing that and it’s paying big dividends. Most of the american electorate despise pandering to foreign countries during an election since our dealings with them invariably leave us footing the bill to their pretty words. With the media saturation of his ridiculous hope and change message for the past 10 months he stands a good chance of wearing out his supporters and his welcome long before November. That coupled with his inability to debate will likely cost him many votes.

    Okay I usually try not to defend politicians but in Bush’s defense he promised something to stupid people (the marriage amendment) that he knew couldn’t be passed. I found it reckless and hurtful but I understood why he did it. Throughout his first campaign he went out of his way to include gay party members both at the convention as a key speaker and thru-out his administration. Sadly that only made his pandering that much more hurtful to those in the know. Here where his supporters for the war and anti-islamists (well gays should be at least) and he sold them all for a 10% share of the vote.

    I really don’t see Obama loosing as a sign that the US is still racist, in fact I think had he avoided some mis-steps and stopped being so hawkish he would have drawn enough cross party votes to win. I think his struggling’s are from endemic issues in the Democratic party, not from an under lying racism. Well there is some but I don’t think it’s shared by the majority. He simply hasn’t capitalized on his own charisma to come up with a viable plan that doesn’t include raising taxes on everyone.

  4. With the media saturation of his ridiculous hope and change message for the past 10 months he stands a good chance of wearing out his supporters and his welcome long before November.

    Oh yes. I fully agree with that. There are plenty of signs it’s happening already. We had that with Tony Blair, fell for it, and lived to regret it because it meant nothing after all. Obama must switch tack from that and connect directly into the meat & potatoes issues affecting the majority. His problem – he’s still seen as different (and I agree, not because of his skin colour), and even though he’s about as rich as Bill Clinton was and McCain is, the former two had long developed the political street smarts to appear to empathise with practically anyone, before running for the Presidency. Can he learn in under three months? The jury’s out.

    I think you’re right and if Obama loses it won’t be down to race. The missteps I’m seeing are about the same as the ones you are – suddenly being accommodating to gun ownership, the death penalty, supporting Israel unconditionally – these are conventional wisdoms which the majority I suspect have become fed up with, yet he’s insisting on pandering to. I think he burst ‘change’ bubble on his own and it’s causing disillusionment already. As you say, if he bursts the ‘new’ narrative, what’s left other than to stick with what you know?

  5. I just wanted to say this this was a great post. I think you really tapped into a lot of questions people have about the election and Biden being chosen as Obama’s VP!

  6. “suddenly being accommodating to gun ownership, the death penalty, supporting Israel unconditionally – these are conventional wisdoms which the majority I suspect have become fed up with”

    okay here is a bit of the foreign disconnect coming thru, those are centrists positions in the US, not far right, so to try and reach votes on each side of the rail he has to embrace or promise to protect those things if he wants to get elected. Despite European views gun ownership is strongly protected here, and the recent Supreme court ruling re-enforced those protections. Also supporting Israel is a central tenet of both parties platforms, on the left because most urban Jews are democrats and on the right because of evangelical Christians. The death penalty is also supported by almost everyone except the pacifists and the catholics. Catholics can be bought off with abortion restrictions and if you notice Obama has started to stake out less strident support of abortion and more support for adoption services. McCain on the other hand has to handle immigration carefully while trying to create an economic package that does not alienate middle class voters. Obama’s plan is already hopeless so he’s decided to call for universal health care, something which will never fly here.

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