Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Democrats' Love Triangle: Time for Some Tasty Humble Pie?

Well, folks. I'm sure you've all been waiting with baited breath to see what the Redhead has to say about Tuesday's Democratic Shenanigans. Especially after my open letter to Mistress Clinton -- who I'm convinced could kick my ass, even in a fair fight -- asking her to back out of the race before yesterday's big contests. I didn't write that letter out of any animus, but out of a desire to see Hillary conserve her political power to pursue a leadership role in the Senate. Oh, you've not been on pins and needles looking for this missive? Well, here it is anyway.

So I've been mulling it over -- always a dangerous thing. Clinton wins three out of four -- Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island. Obama gets the Cherry Garcia consolation prize in winning Vermont. As usual, we Democrats have only managed to further complicate our lives. It's kinda like what happens when you try to date two people at the same time -- it's messy, and eventually you have to chose. And Democratic voters can't seem to chose -- worse yet, a lot of us seem to have love/hate relationships with both our erstwhile suitors. The problem is, like any love triangle, if you don't play your tarot cards right you might just lose them both. Of course, that's my main concern here.

Since neither candidate managed to deliver the proverbial knockout blow, we now face seven weeks of increasingly ugly campaigning between now and the Pennsylvania primary. There are two schools of thought on this: getting all the dirty laundry aired now maybe ain't such a bad thing. On the other hand, if the two candidates manage to inflict serious damage, then we're simply committing a hara-kiri kind of swiftboating before the Republicans even have to lift a finger. Oh, and McCain gets to shift into general campaign mode now -- conserving energy, resources, and consolidating his base -- while we're still kicking the crap out of each other and potentially exhausting all three precious commodities in the election of a lifetime.

Then, there is the whole superdelegate problem. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's suuuper delegate! Looks like it's all coming down to these super special people -- some of whom I hear wish they were in the witness protection program. What to do? Play by the rules the Democrats started the race with, or potentially have a nominee that is chosen not by the people but by the party elite. Is the party of voting rights really going to disenfranchise folks that way -- and risk pissing off our two most important bases, women and African Americans? Then again, both candidates designed their strategies based on the rules as they knew them when they signed up for this clam bake -- is it fair to change the rules now? (um, hell yeah, if it saves the party from imploding.)

There was a very thoughtful analysis provided in an article in The Politico, entitled Democrats Face a Long Brawl. The most provocative point made in this piece is that both campaigns are, essentially, correct in the analysis they are putting forth about where we go from here.

"Obama is right that, at least by conventional standards, she has little prospect of overcoming his delegate lead. ...But Clinton’s aides make clear they are not counting on a conventional strategy. Instead, they will use Ohio and Texas to try to focus attention on several points where they are right. It is true she has performed better in most of the big states, like Ohio, that figure more importantly in the electoral college strategy. Much of her margin came from working-class white voters who opposed Obama overwhelmingly in Ohio and who figure prominently in Pennsylvania. These are the same low- and middle-income, blue-collar Democrats who were instrumental for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It is also true that he continues to have problems with Hispanics, the fastest-growing minority group and one with huge upside potential for Democratic gains in November. Exit polls in Texas showed her routing him with this group, just as she did in the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday states. Above all, it is true that Clinton showed his vulnerability to an argument — Obama’s relative youth and inexperience -- that presumptive Republican nominee John McCain will likely use in the general election."

What's missing in that otherwise thorough analysis, though, is the pretty significant political realignment Obama has inspired through the unprecedented increase in youth voters -- voters that are overwhelmingly going Blue. I've heard it said that Clinton is running the last campaign of the 20th century, and Obama is running the first campaign of the 21st century. The question is, which approach is going to get us the White House against the Maverick and his cronies -- who at the moment are sharpening their knives on the whetstone Democrats are conveniently providing.

I have to admit, I'm no better than the next Democrat, despite my letter to Hillary. That was a purely tactical move to hopefully increase our chances for the White House and preserve her chances for Senate domination. Besides, girlfriend proved me wrong and took both Ohio and Texas. But I've still not figured out how to resolve this particular love triangle. I'm not sure a double date -- a "dream ticket" with both Hillary and Barack -- is even possible after all the murky water that's gone under the bridge. The only thing I know for sure is that I miss John Edwards.

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