Friday, February 15, 2008

Hope Spring Eternal

The Clinton camp has decided to follow Pat Buchanan's advice which was "to go negative, or go home". They have staked everything on the outcome in Texas and Ohio and they have decided that their best hope and maybe last hope is to begin attacking their opponent. Their new line is that Obama makes good speeches, but she offers solutions. I don't know if this new tactic will work, but the truth is that they have to try something. Bill Clinton has been especially fervent in hammering this point home. It can be hard to be the anti-hope candidate, but that is exactly what the Clinton campaign is now trying to sell.

The Clinton camp has also finally decided to start contesting every primary. Their strategy going in was to basically win the big states and bypass the smaller ones. That strategy has backfired however. As an example, in New Jersey (with 107 delegates), Clinton netted 10 delegates, but in Idaho (18 delegates) Obama netted 12. In a race where delegates mean everything, the strategy to give up on the smaller states was a critical error. The margins that Obama ran up (sometimes as much as 4-1) have allowed him to gain a commanding lead in the pledged delegate count. At some point the campaign probably realized their error but didn't have the funds or the organization in place to do anything about it. This week, they have decided to contest Wisconsin, but Hillary herself won't show up until Saturday. It may be too little too late, but Wisconsin does show some promise for her and if she doesn’t win, she can at least make it closer than it would have been if she skipped the state altogether.

The latest polls show Clinton with a commanding 20+ point lead in Ohio, but a much smaller 8 point advantage in Texas. With more than two weeks before the big primaries, it certainly leaves enough time for Obama to try and cut into her lead in Ohio and perhaps even build a small lead in Texas. The upcoming debates are critical to the success of each campaign and with Hillary being in the more vunerable position she will certainly come out with both guns blazing. I think that Obama needs to be able to defend himself from the onslaught that is coming.

During the first debate, I think he should make a pledge to the American people, that even if neither of them have the required number of delegates, he will not take the race to the convention if he ends up with both less pledged delegates and overall sanctioned votes than Hillary (not including Florida and Michigan) after the primary season. He should then ask Hillary to make the same pledge. Since her campaign has been making the most noise about seating Michigan and Florida delegates and about the super delegates not being swayed by the primary process, this would put her on the defensive immediately. He should couch it in the terms of party unity. He should make it so that Hillary couldn't possibly disagree, less she be seen as wanting the nomination at any cost. Of course he won't do it, but I'm just saying it might well be enough to seal the nomination for him.

I'll leave you with a few words from a presidential candidate offering up some hope:

"Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. And Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. We must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us. From our revolution, the Civil War, to the Great Depression to the civil rights movement, our people have always mustered the determination to construct from these crises the pillars of our history. Thomas Jefferson believed that to preserve the very foundations of our nation, we would need dramatic change from time to time. Well, my fellow citizens, this is our time. Let us embrace it".

"Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. And so today, we pledge an end to the era of deadlock and drift; a new season of American renewal has begun. To renew America, we must be bold. We must do what no generation has had to do before. We must invest more in our own people, in their jobs, in their future, and at the same time cut our massive debt. And we must do so in a world in which we must compete for every opportunity. It will not be easy; it will require sacrifice. But it can be done, and done fairly, not choosing sacrifice for its own sake, but for our own sake. We must provide for our nation the way a family provides for its children".

"Our Founders saw themselves in the light of posterity. We can do no less. Anyone who has ever watched a child's eyes wander into sleep knows what posterity is. Posterity is the world to come; the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibility. We must do what America does best: offer more opportunity to all and demand responsibility from all".

"Americans deserve better, and in this city today, there are people who want to do better. And so I say to all of us here, let us resolve to reform our politics, so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people. Let us put aside personal advantage so that we can feel the pain and see the promise of America. Let us resolve to make our government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called "bold, persistent experimentation," a government for our tomorrows, not our yesterdays. Let us give this capital back to the people to whom it belongs".

-William Jefferson Clinton (first inaugural speech)

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