Sunday, February 17, 2008

Better Clinton Stooges, Please

Hillary Clinton was supposed to be our nominee. That's what the conventional wisdom said, anyway. And to me, that suggests that she could have had her pick of the Democratic line-up. Now, either Obama just hatched a bunch of Democratic operatives overnight, or he got a bunch of good people that Hillary passed over. Honestly, either of those seems likely at this point.

This time, I'm complaining about Harold Ickes, who is a top advisor to Hillary, as well as being one of the people who voted for sanctions against Florida and Michigan for breaking the rules that are now supposedly hurting Hillary. (I'm of the opinion that Barack would have done better in both those states had he campaigned, but the Hillary people pretend otherwise).

And so this naturally puts him in a sticky situation. And how does he get out of it? The same way the Hillary people get out of everything: By pretending we're all idiots.

Here's the money quote:
"There's been no change," Ickes said. "I was not acting as an agent of Mrs. Clinton. We had promulgated rules and those rules said the timing provision ... provides for certain sanctions, automatic sanctions as a matter of fact, if a state such as Michigan or Florida violates those timing provisions."

"With respect to the stripping, I voted as a member of the Democratic National Committee. Those were our rules and I felt I had an obligation to enforce them," he said.

But the thing is...that sort of puts him in a bad situation in now supporting Hillary's position. I mean, how can he argue that it's fair to include these states when he's already said he was obliged to exclude them? And if his argument is that he's only now saying this because he works for Hillary, that undermines her entire argument. There's nothing else to it. The issue clearly is no longer that the DNC did the wrong them to the voters in those states. He's just saying that, as an employee of Hillary, he thinks it's unfair what happened to Hillary.

But that's not new to me at all. It's obvious to everyone that this is the case. I'm sure there are many people who honestly want these delegates included no matter who they benefit, but as far as the Hillary camp is concerned, she just wants the delegates and doesn't care how she gets them. And here we have this guy Ickes in a horrible position of having to make that entirely apparent, as he's saying it was the right thing for the Democratic Party to strip these states of delegates, but the wrong thing for Hillary.

Of course, this didn't have to come up at all, if he had just kept his mouth shut. I don't know the circumstances of it, but he said all this on a conference call. Had he said nothing, he'd have been fine. But instead, he had to tell the truth about why he voted for the rules, and ended up shooting Hillary in the foot; which is what they're all doing these days.

Winning Pledged Delegates

And here's how it's done, from the Obama campaign:
"The Clinton campaign just said they have two options for trying to win the nomination — attempt to have superdelegates overturn the will of the Democratic voters or change the rules they agreed to at the 11th hour in order to seat nonexistent delegates from Florida and Michigan. The Clinton campaign should focus on winning pledged delegates as a result of elections, not these say-or-do-anything-to-win tactics that could undermine Democrats' ability to win the general election."

And that's right. Whether you agree with that or not, he's using Hillary's tactics against her and blaming her for the whole mess while pointing out how undemocratic the whole thing is. In fact, the only really negative thing about that was the "say-or-do-anything" part, but that's exactly what the Hillary people have been saying. They were trying to show how tough they were and how they're pushing to get Florida and Michigan counted, as well as wooing the Super Delegates and they'll take any win they can get.

And now the Obama people have turned that around and are showcasing that as the negative thing it is, but without it sounding like a big attack. Not only does it sound like a helpful piece of advice, but it is. I don't know why Hillary imagines it's good to tell everyone how she's planning to win this thing through back-channels, but it's not. Most voters don't care about this kind of stuff, and while the "in it to win it" vibe isn't necessarily bad, I'm sure it's more comforting to voters to think she's winning it by wooing voters; not party elders.


A said...

Chris Greene's Atlantic piece recently suggested that Obama snatched up a bunch of the good operatives early on, but I think he was talking about campaign organizers. It still seems to me that the problems at the top of Hillary's campaign can only be explained by a poor ability to evaluate personnel.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Personnel? What, once she's picked someone, she can't evalutate what that person says? I'm now thinking we've been all wrong about Hillary. She may have picked these people because she's a poor judge of character, but she keeps them around because she agress with them. This isn't just about loyalty. She clearly thinks Mark Penn and the others are smart people who she agrees with. Birds of a feather, and all that.