Electability, The Clintons, Adoring John McCain, and Rush Limbaugh

When Rush Limbaugh had a television show, he sure knew how to make the most of it.  Now he had visuals to go along with his typically cantankerous screeds.  The most notorious of these visual add ons, though, would go on to enrage the left and seemingly solidify the relationship between the conservative talking head and the then first family.

It was around the time the Clintons welcomed Socks, their new pet cat to the White House.  It was a nice little human interest story that picked up a few headlines and helped create a further endearing picture of the considerably young first family.

Rush Limbaugh also covered the domino feline’s arrival to the White House, and had a scoop to top it.

“Did you know there’s a White House dog?” he asked coily and all of a sudden the picture of Socks in the corner was replaced with an image of a thirteen-year-old Chelsea Clinton.

Later Limbaugh would claim it was a mistake, that someone screwed up, but this explanation fails even the most elementary scrutiny.  If Chelsea’s picture wasn’t supposed to go up for that line, what picture was?  Given the Clinton family’s all out war over an MSNBC reporter’s using of the phrase “pimping out” regarding their daughter, one should be reasonably comfortable in the assumption that Limbaugh’s gaffe would have eternally put him on the outs with Hillary and Bill.


This wasn’t the case with Senator John McCain.

Back in 2004, McCain traveled to Estonia, a land forever linked in my mind with the quirky little country Elbonia in the Dilbert comic strips.  In Elbonia, the mud is waste deep and they use giant slingshots as a means of rapid transit, but neither is the case in the real life Estonia.

On the other hand, they have Vodka.

Senator Hillary Clinton, then the new junior senator from New York, was also a part of the traveling party.

The days work done, Clinton suggested the group partake in an Estonian tradition; Vodka drinking contests.  Memories got hazy, as one might expect when imbibing massive quantities of alcohol, but it doesn’t take a leap of the imagination to envision John McCain playing the role of Indiana Jones while Hillary played the tough as nails bartender Marion Ravenwood as they pounded shot after shot in some dive tucked away in the snow covered middle of nowhere.

Knowing what we know today, you could almost swap the script up at the very end with McCain giving that knowing look as he said, “Hillary, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”


It’s now 2008.  By the end of this year, we will have selected a successor for the calamitous George W. Bush, and all out war has already begun.

Curiously enough, the battle lines are not where they should be.

Typically, by this point in the process, the presumptive Republican nominee and the presumptive Democratic nominee are resting from their primary contests and getting ready to focus on one another.  Their campaigns restructure and reorganize if necessary, making preparations to go after the other team as opposed to their own, and they take a little rest as the campaign trail can be very exhausting.

But not this time, not this race.

John McCain, who officially sealed up his nomination a week ago but had it tied up much earlier than that, is fulfilling his end of the bargain.  But on the Democratic side, things are far from settled.

Interestingly, the Clinton campaign has engaged in the most unusual tactic of embracing the right in order to wrestle from Obama a nomination that would seem to be his based upon math alone.  One thing that seems to have escaped scrutiny up until now is that years after Rush Limbaugh called Bill Clinton’s daughter a dog, the former president was actually a guest on Limbaugh’s show.

Rush wasn’t there, he was conveniently sick so that the two wouldn’t have to share a studio together.  This still doesn’t change the fact that Rush had been calling for Republicans to vote for Hillary.  Clinton’s appearance with a guest host only seemed to endorse this call.

Now, I’ve heard varying numbers regarding how many Republicans went out to vote for Clinton in order to sink Obama, but all of those numbers are larger than the actual margin of defeat that he suffered in Texas.

It may seem hypocritical to point to Republican support for Clinton as a bad thing when Obama partisans point to Republican support for Obama a good thing, but here’s the simple truth of the matter.  Obamacans, as they are called, are planning on voting for Obama in the General Election.  Clintonicans (I made that up, and I can see one of the reasons why no one really uses it) seem to be looking instead at merely sabotaging the Democratic nomination process.

But, in general this is simply the onset of what seems to be a disturbing pattern on the Clintons relying upon the right to take out Obama.

This became even more apparent when Clinton decided to become the president of the John McCain fan club.  I know, I believe, what she was trying to do here, but I also believe it failed fantastically due to a miscalculation regarding how we view the world around us.

You see, as predators, we have contrast vision–that’s to say, our vision focuses on borders.  Take a thin fabric bathing suit.  If it is a solid color, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see through it no matter what color it is.  On the other hand, if it is patterned, those patterns disrupt our vision and make it difficult for our eyes to see what is underneath.  The more obvious contrasts super-cede the less obvious because that is how our vision works.

With Hillary Clinton, she was trying to draw a contrast between herself and Obama.  She was trying to draw a line where on one side you would have those who are prepared for the presidency, and on the other side you have those who aren’t.  The only problem with this contrast is that it is greatly super-ceded by contrast that is much more commonly on the forefront of partisan Democrats’ minds; Republican vs. Democrat.

It was a loser when she engaged in it, encouraging Clinton partisans to brush over the remarks while they fell flat within the rest of the Democratic ranks like the “Xerox” remark and the SNL reference during two previous debates.  And it will be a loser in the fall.

Electability has become a forefront theme of this race, and it’s an incredibly important one.  We cannot underestimate the significance of McCain winning the presidency in November as it would essentially be a continuation of the Bush administration.  And there’s plenty of fodder for electability arguments out there to be had.

You can look at polls and electoral maps (most of which favor Obama), or you can look at the states that have already been settled in the Democratic race (which favor Hillary but are much less suitable metric for a variety of reasons).  You can look to the number of supporters Obama encourages that are not necessarily loyal to the party, and you can look to the bitter Clintonista voters who have claimed they will vote for McCain if Clinton doesn’t win the nomination.

One can even look at fundraising which is an aspect to be considered and would seem to be greatly in Obama’s favor unless he choses to use public funding instead.

But what this new found love for the right points out is that when it comes to electability, the biggest argument does not fall in Clinton’s favor.  I’m talking about narrative.

The fatal flaw in Clinton’s campaign is not how it is operated, it’s not in the lack of political prowess on behalf of the candidate, it is in narrative.  More specifically, in the fact that Clinton’s narrative paints her in the same corner as McCain, just not as much.

She claims to have crossed the threshold of being Commander in Chief, but this is absolutely impossible without breaking federal law.  McCain hasn’t crossed the threshold either.  But in the terms of narrative, Clinton’s assertion seeks to highlight a contrast between John McCain and Hillary Clinton that she will no doubt come out the loser of one which pits John McCain’s military service against her lack of service completely.

She claims to have 35 years of experience, but she’s only been an elected official for less than a decade while John McCain has been a Senator and before that a congressman for many years before that.

In short, Clinton’s narrative draws the wrong kind of contrasts, the kind of contrasts that puts McCain the winner, and she’s doing this by employing the strategy that has served Democrats poorly at the very least through the last two presidential elections; running as Republican Lite.

And while she continues to pursue this nomination, she does so in such a matter that not only damages herself for the reasons above, but also at the cost of damaging her fellow Democrat.

Let’s face it.  Obama should win this nomination.  Without trying to repeat the delegate math too much, the basics of the situation are simple.  It’s next to impossible for Hillary Clinton to overcome the pledged delegate deficit she faces.  Still, with enough momentum, it’s feasible for her to win the Super Delegates necessary to overturn the decision of pledged delegates if she can build up some strong momentum in the final states of the primary and keep the pledged delegate deficit close.

But here’s the thing; that’s not going to happen.  While people have put up calculation after calculation regarding Hillary’s chances, the fact of the matter is that the system of portioning out delegates that the Democratic party uses is going to prevent her from being able to close the gap.  Also, it’s absurd to think that Obama is going to fail to win any states after Pennsylvania when there will be the big push for momentum going into the convention.

Without a strong case of momentum to make, Hillary’s only other argument is that she won the big states, or that she won some swing states, both arguments being silly considering that primary voting and General Election voting are hardly analogous.  So the onus is on her to provide a string of wins following Pennsylvania.

A string of wins that are not likely to occur.  Part of the reason Obama won twelve contests in a row was because Hillary had the lack of foresight and preparedness and ability to contest them.  She thought she could survive a massive losing streak.  Obama makes no such assumptions and contests every state regardless of the significance.

This means that regardless of what happens in Pennsylvania, the post Pennsylvania states are going to be at best (for Hillary Clinton) back and forth, some going for her, some going for him.  This will result in null momentum.

And without momentum the decision goes to the candidate with more of the popular vote and more pledged delegates (or it should).

In general, Obama should still come out of this race the nominee, and by all rights, he’s got the temerity to pull it off.  For all the talk that he has a glass job, let’s keep a few things in mind.  For one, he’s now effectively fighting two on one, with both McCain and Clinton going after him.  For another, let’s not forget who’s the rookie, and who’s the supposed veteran.

For all the talk of experience coming from the Clinton campaign, I find it highly interesting that she has not been able to handily put the rookie away.  While some make a lot of noise of the fact that Obama has not been able to deliver the knock out blow to Hillary, it is even more significant I believe that Hillary has not been able to do the same.

Especially when her potential General Election opponent is a politician who really is a veteran and really is experienced.  If she can’t put a rookie away, what makes anyone believe she can put away someone who has more experience in this arena than her?

I really don’t know.  What I do know, though, is if Clinton continues to brutally damage the candidate that will in all likelihood become the nominee, you can probably expect to see a whole lot more pieces such as this one in the future.

UPDATE: Big thanks to Joe from The Moderate Voice for linking in!

UPDATE II: And another thanks goes out to Side of Fries for also linking in!

4 Responses to “Electability, The Clintons, Adoring John McCain, and Rush Limbaugh”

  1. I touched on that a bit too. It’s amazing how little play that seemed to have gotten until lately. I suppose Clinton could say that he was being ‘post-partisan’ and that it was Mark Davis rather than Rush hosting. Ha.

  2. Ya know, that’s starting to look like the whole point of Rush being out–plausible deniability, so that the Clintons can say, well, at least he wasn’t on WITH Rush.

  3. teena says:

    Rush Limbaugh is really for the Clintons. He is really tricking some of the “not so educated republicans” into thinking they are playing a dirty little trick on the democrats. Many of my republican friends caught on to what he is trying to do. The sad thing is so many republicans have fallen for it. He does not want McCain in office. Republicans in PA….wake-up and stop drinking the kool-aid. It is a trick people.

  4. Annie says:

    “Did you know there’s a White House dog?” he asked coily and all of a sudden the picture of Socks in the corner was replaced with an image of a thirteen-year-old Chelsea Clinton.”

    Didnt happen that way. Ivins lied or made a mistake.

    Copyright 1992 Multimedia Entertainment, Inc.
    November 6, 1992, Friday 11:15 AM

    LIMBAUGH: Thank you. This show’s era of dominant influence is just beginning. We are now the sole voice of sanity, the sole voice of reason. We are the sole voice of opposition on all television. This is the only place you can tune to to get the truth of the opposition of the one-party dictatorial government that now will soon run America. Oh, I mean, we are only beginning to enjoy dominance and prosperity. Most of these things on the in-out list are not even funny, but a couple of them–one of them in particular is.

    David Hinckley of–of the New York Daily News wrote this, and what he has–he’s got–it’s very strange. He says, In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.’ Could–could we see the cute kid? Let’s take a look at- -see who is the cute kid in the White House.

    (A picture is shown of Millie the dog)

    LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) No, no, no. That’s not the kid.

    (Picture shown of Chelsea Clinton)

    LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) That’s–that’s the kid. We’re trying to…


    “Later Limbaugh would claim it was a mistake, that someone screwed up,”

    Because it was a mistake, someone did screw up, which led to that guys firing.

    “but this explanation fails even the most elementary scrutiny. If Chelsea’s picture wasn’t supposed to go up for that line, what picture was?”

    As the transcript shows, Chelsea’s pic WAS supposed to go up when he asked for a pic of the “cute kid”.


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