Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hillary For 2008, Or Is It 2012?

It's three weeks before the Ohio and Texas primaries, so Hillary still has a chance to reverse the Obama tide. She is more qualified, and voters may just grasp this in time.

She currently faces "momentum" and herd instinct (aka peer pressure) that disproportionately influences younger people, which is working for Obama. He also has the African Americans favoring him by 80% or more, without a backlash among other Democrats.

But I also see something that I touched upon in the third bullet point of my January 5th post. This is Republicans who have no intention of choosing Obama in a general election nevertheless voting for him in the primaries simply to undermine Hillary who's more likely to beat McCain. I've long suspected this to be one of the reasons for the unusually large turnouts in Democratic primaries that favor Obama. This is why I strongly favor closed primaries in all states, open only to voters registered for that party way earlier.

Instead, the Democratic primary of Ohio is open (or semi-open which is essentially the same thing), as is that of Texas. Most TV networks are curiously silent about this. But a couple of days ago Dick Morris who's now a bitter enemy of the Clintons talked on Fox News about this manipulation by Republicans. He did this to support his prediction that Hillary will fare worse than expected in both these states. He may well be right.

There's little Hillary can do about this so where does she go from here? In the days ahead she certainly needs to reshape her message. For example, she should change those "35 years of experience" and "ready to be President on day one" lines that were weak and off the mark to start with. She's now looks to be doing this and stressing her more significant advantages, like her substance over his rhetoric, or achieving solutions instead of just making good speeches.

Beyond that, how should she act once she wins or loses the nomination?

If Hillary wins she should immediately ask Obama to be her running mate. Whatever her personal feelings about him, she now needs him as part of the "dream team" to unify their bases, including the youth and the African American vote. For his part, Obama should accept. The VP stint will give him the standing and the experience to become an odds-on Presidential favorite in subsequent elections, when he'll still be young. It is actually in his interest to accept the VP slot much earlier, if the Democratic primaries outcome looks to be headed to a stalemate by end of March, or early April.

And what if Obama wins the nomination, or looks to be certainly headed there with committed super-delegate support? Then Hillary and Bill should say nice things about Obama, call on the entire Democratic party to support him, and then both retire from the scene for the remainder of 2008. If Obama offers Hillary the VP spot, she is better off graciously declining him. She has nothing to gain. After eight years of an Obama Presidency she will be less electable at age 68, and any missteps by the Obama Administration in the meantime will rub off on her.

More than this, contrary to the sayings of pollsters and TV pundits, I expect Obama to lose to McCain unless McCain says or does something very stupid. You saw it for the first time here - in case of an Obama - McCain matchup without Hillary in the picture, I predict Obama will lose by five points or more.

In that case Obama post-2008 will be little more attractive than other general election losers: Dukakis after 1988, Gore after 2000, Kerry after 2004 - you get the idea. In the past 60+ years I recall only one instance when a prior general election loser won subsequently. That was Richard Nixon in 1968, who won in unusual circumstances after Democratic frontrunner Robert Kennedy was assassinated. So here's my take in case Obama wins the nomination now: Hillary should just wait for 2012 and hope the Democrats choose better then.


kenrod said...

If Hillary has won the nomination by the time she's 98 yrs old, she will run again. She's tenatious as a bulldog and has the looks to match it.

Sandip Madan said...

Kenrod, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. :-) To me she looks pretty good for her age. She's tenacious (and deserving) all right, but practical too. If she fails this time she should take another shot at the nomination in 2012. I doubt she'll do so subsequently.

kenrod said...

I think it's rather a weak excuse for the Dems to blame the open primaries for their internal cat fights. I don't think I could count in one hand, the number of Republicans that would cross party lines to vote for the "weaker candidate". Both seem weak right now after they've spent million maligning each other.

But the Dems have a history of it. Perhaps it is in the genetic makeup of liberals to allow "equal representation" to get in the way of deciding a winner. The GOP has historically fallen in line with one candidate, and the winner is picked early. The GOP chose a winner-take-all system which makes the margin for the leader seem exaggerated. The Dems have a representation model which means they are too close to call and they are going to take it all the way to the convention. It doesn't mean that Fred Thompson, Guiliani, Ron Paul, Huckabee, etc. aren't capable of leading instead of McCain, but too many cooks will spoil the broth.

And though the polls show Obama ahead of McCain, you could be right in that this civil war between Hillary and Obama will "barack" and break both their budgets. In comes McCain riding in amongst the carnage. The Dems keep snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think I could count in one hand, the number of Republicans that would cross party lines to vote for the "weaker candidate". Both seem weak right now after they've spent million maligning each other."

I can, because I just witnessed it with several people from work. I think it's morally disgusting. I think discussing politics at work is very inappropriate, but at a company with less than 30 workers, I suppose it's inevitable.

Sandip Madan said...

"Count on one hand..." What's your logic to support your opinion? If both Hillary and Obama are weak candidates as you say, what other explanation is there for the high Republican and Independent (read pseudo-Republican) turnout in Democratic primaries?

kenrod said...

How do you assess the statements made by Rev. Jeremiah on Sen. Obama's campaign? I think if he makes it as the Dem candidate, McCain will have a lot of fodder coz Obama was supposed to be past race. He's supposed to be a uniter but attends sermons where the pastor is screaming racists remarks.

The Dems have more superdelegates supporting Hillary and more delegates supporting Obama. How do you think this will play out? Does it mean fistfights at the Convention?

Sandip Madan said...

Sure it provides fodder - that's the nature of the game. But these surrogates and supporters keep saying stupid things and it doesn't mean much. Of course I've never bought into this Obama as uniter theme.

If Obama wins the popular vote after counting votes Florida and Michigan I think he'll get the nomination, whether I like it or not. Americans went for GWB in the past two elections, so that should shape expectations about their choice of leaders. Though I didn't think that highly of Kerry either.

Anonymous said...

The CIA code name for Obama is " Renegade ". For Hillary Clinton, it's " Evergreen ". You'll never guess John McCain's code name. It's " Enlarged Prostate ".

McCain's visiting Iraq. Of course, when McCain was growing up, Iraq was known as Mesopotamia.

We know there are only 3 candidates left. When asked who was the most qualified to answer that phone call at 3 am, John McCain said he was. "You see," he says, "At 3 am, I'm usually peeing in the bathroom anyway."


Sandip Madan said...

Ha ha! Yes, Jadra, I heard that on Jon Stewart recently.

kenrod said...

OK, here are some jokes on the Dems.

Hillary Clinton goes to her doctor for a check-up, only to find out
that she's pregnant. She is furious...

Here she is in the middle of her run for Presidency of the US... Now
this has happened to her !

She calls home, gets Bill on the phone and immediately starts screaming :
How could you have let this happen? With all that's going on right now, you go and get me pregnant! How could you?
I can't believe this! I've just found out I'm five weeks pregnant and it's all your fault! Well, what have you got to say?'

There is nothing but dead silence on the phone. She screams again,
'Did you hear me?'

Finally she hears Bill's very, very quiet voice. In a barely audible whisper, he asks: 'Who's speaking?'

Sandip Madan said...

Very funny, Kenrod.

kenrod said...

Now, it's mid May and every pundit thinks Hillary has no chance left. Is she destroying Obama in order to see that he loses to McCain, and therefore have no chance of challenging her in 2012? Do you think she should be picked to be the VP? Why is it that a year ago, she was a shoo in and she self destructed? What was her biggest error?

How do you see November shaping up? Obama has much more funds than McCain, so do you still see a GOP victory?

Sandip Madan said...

Why should Hillary drop out right now if she's the stronger candidate in the general election? There's a chance (however remote) that Obama stumbles or has skeletons come out of his closet till the conclusion of the primaries. She gains nothing from being VP.

The money alone does not get you victory in an election. Else McCain wouldn't be the Republican nominee. I think the general election is his to lose. But he's old and may do exactly that by making some big mistakes.

kenrod said...

There go the Dems again. Arguing over petty details instead of unifying to defeat a common foe, McCain. You notice how quickly the GOP united behind one figure that's tested. In my observation, the Dems like the new and novel. The GOP likes the tried and true.

I've made several predictions on this blog about how conservatives and liberals behave. Conservs are monolithic, like the status quo and avoid risks, sacrifice for the future. They are boring, authoritarian, and ugly. Their scandals are about power and money. Look at Nixon.

Libs are experimenting, like the new, love life, sensual, want pleasure now. Their scandals are about sex, drugs or alcohol. They are suave and glib. Look at Clinton, Spitzer, JFK. Why can't the liberals come together to defeat McCain. Well, they are liberals which means they want variety, the new and the untested. At this point, anything is better than Bush.

Sandip Madan said...

Amen to your last sentence, Kenrod. :-) The Clinton years were actually pretty good for Americans. It's the Republicans who raked Bill C. over the sex scandals. Anyway, in 2008 it looks to be McCain vs Obama. We may end up being on the same side.

Anonymous said...

So let me ask you a theoretical question. If Obama and Hillary were equal candidates who would get elected? What I'm getting at is "Is there more discrimination against women or blacks?"

Sandip Madan said...

Most surveys are showing Hillary faring better against McCain, and more so in the battleground states. It needn't be a case of relative discrimination, but just that one is better than the other.

But given the divisions it'll be tough for either Democrat without having the other on the same ticket. If they're together which is very unlikely I don't think McCain has much of a chance.

Paul de Fombelle said...

I found the same idea in a French blog (

So many analysts share it: there should be something true!

Sandip Madan said...

Très intéressant. Merci beaucoup, Paul, pour rendre cette entrée de blog français à mon avis.

(That's an interesting post - thanks, Paul.) Of course in this blog I'm merely sharing my personal views. Many polls are presently (in late May / early June)showing Obama with a slight lead over McCain nationally. But I think Obama will be cooked (il perdra) unless Hillary joins the ticket.

kenrod said...

I disagree. Hillary is a wet blanket to Obama. When she shows up he makes mistakes, he fumbles...he hesitates.

Sandip Madan said...

Well, Kenrod, that was when they were opponents. Things change... :-) But she doesn't look to be on the ticket, so we'll never know.