Building Bogeymen

Ta-Nehisi, writing for Matt Yglesias, expresses almost the exact same exasperation I felt when first confronted with James Carville’s ridiculous statement that, almost as punishment mind you, because the Obama campaign made such a big deal over the RFK statement, this primary would go beyond June 3rd.

Honestly, I’ve been fed up with Clintonian dishonesty for a long while now, and Carville’s remarks run along the same vein as those that have poisoned any appreciation I might be able to work up for the other Democratic candidate.

Fact of the matter is, the Obama campaign never made a big deal, and to my knowledge only put out two statements regarding Clinton’s abominable gaffe. The first was a statement produced by an Obama staffer that would best be described as perfunctory. Essentially it was a quick, comments like that don’t belong in this campaign statement. That was it.

Then, a few days later, after Clinton delivered her non-apology apology, Obama himself said:

“I have learned that, when you are campaigning for as many months as Senator Clinton and I have been campaigning, sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make, and I think that is what happened here,” Obama (D-Ill.) told Radio Isla in his first public comments about the remark. “Senator Clinton says that she did not intend any offense by it, and I will take her at her word on that.”

If by making a big deal Carville actually meant giving Clinton a pass on a thoroughly disgusting and historically misleading and inaccurate statement, then sure, Carville may have a point. But according to my dictionary, I’m having a hard time making the two concepts mesh, so he was being dishonest.

Fact of the matter is, Obama was infinitely more graceful to Clinton in the heat of the miniature firestorm caused by her gaffe than Clinton has been regarding any number of controversies that Obama has had to deal with during this campaign. But simply accepting graciousness when it is offered isn’t in the Clinton gameplan.

So Carville was doing what has become standard operating procedure for the Clinton campaign as of late; building fictional bogeymen.

Instead of taking anything resembling responsibility for one’s own actions, the Clinton campaign has turned this primary into one gigantic blame game and in the process has created a slew of dastardly villains against which only Hillary is a suitable champion to vanquish them.

There is the media that is trying to force Hillary out. Yes that big bad Clinton hating media that hates the Clintons so much that despite the fact that she has very real possibilities of winning, they are calling for her to drop out. But, like him or not, you have to give Chris Matthews his due for at least trying to make a very salient point to a red-faced Terry McAuliffe.

The media and punditry would LOVE for the Democratic nomination to continue.

The Clinton capaign has tried to turn the media into bogeymen for the sake of its supporters, giving them a great evil to fight against. But this doesn’t really square with the far more complex reality that actually exists.

Have the Clintons suffered at the hands of an unkind media? Yes, undoubtedly so. But is the dreaded MSM the root of all of the Clinton’s evils? Hardly. In fact, one would expect more gratitude from Hillary towards the media for twice now the media has helped the Clinton campaign significantly and without that help it is unlikely that Clinton would even be here now.

The first instance was before anyone cast a single vote. For much of last year, Clinton billed herself as the inevitable nominee and the media ran away with it. The only conceivable stumbling block that could lie in her path towards her coronation would be Obama’s charisma and that was about it. When you stop to look at the field of Democratic candidates that we had at the beginning there was no doubt that many had longer resumes and were arguably more qualified than Clinton, but thanks in no small part to the media’s narrative, Biden, Richardson, Dodd, even Edwards weren’t given but a slim chance.

The second and more significant place where the media did more to help the Clinton campaign was in its February and post February coverage of the primaries. During the 11 primary winning streak that Obama scored, many of which were unabashed blowouts, that was when he mathematically sealed the deal. Indeed, when this whole thing comes to a close, I think we will see that the delegate disparity, and definitely the pledged delegate disparity, will be little different at the end than it was following the February sweep.

But while Obama rightfully siezed the nomination following that streak, the media woefully underreported the mathematics which falsely inflated Clinton’s chances at winning the nomination in the minds of the electorate. While they could have rightly started dubbing Obama the presumptive nominee way back then, it wasn’t until the North Carolina primary when Tim Russert finally came out and said, “We now know who the Democratic nominee will be.”

Thus, yes, the media has been unkind to Clinton, but they are unkind to just about every candidate with the noted exception of John McCain. That Clinton is here partially as a result of the media sort of undercuts the campaign’s proferred narrative that the media is evil and only wants to see Clinton go under.

And yet there is STILL more. Calls of misogyny, shifting goal posts, now trying to demonize anyone who thinks that delegates should decide the nominee (you know, because following the rules is SOOOO evil), and the absolutely gross likening to Michigan and Florida to the Civil Rights movement and the Women’s Liberation movement, all of them are intended to build this elaborate story line that Clinton is a stalwart hero beset upon all sides by fanged beasts ready to tear her and her people apart.

All of this ignoring the greatest enemies to Clinton and her presidential aspirations; herself and her campaign.

In any given election there are a near infinite number of factors that contribute to a candidate’s defeat, and this primary is no different. But there can be no ambiguity that Clinton’s own performance, and the performance of her campaign, were the single greatest contributing factors to her defeat. She failed to accurately assess the political landscape. She failed to prepare herself adequately for a political opponent that could take the nomination race beyond Super Tuesday. She failed to manage her campaign’s finances responsibly. She failed to define herself consistently. She failed to even understand the way the Democratic primary actually works.

“I believe a win is a win,” Terry McAuliffe said of Indiana, and whether or not he knew it, he was blatantly displaying the kind of ignorance that greatly aided Clinton’s descent in this election cycle. What the Obama campaign understood that the Clinton campaign apparently didn’t understand is that a win is not a win, and that proportionality aspect of the delegate system is exactly where Clinton got beat.

But there is something far more Quixotic about the Clinton campaign than merely tilting at windmills. Indeed, Don Quixote was more than just a crazy old man who saw monsters in wine skeins and windmills, but a symbol, a reflection of the inability of humankind to change with the times.

In the Cervantes tale, Quixote struggled with a changing of the times, a move of his culture away from the days of chivalrous quests and gallant knights who roamed the land and saved fair maidens from evil beasts.

Clinton is going through her own similar struggle, only for her the era that is ending is that of her own relevance in the political sphere. She awakes and she sees that John McCain and Barack Obama are already beginning to wage a general election war without her. It isn’t a matter of Hillary Clinton being the main villain or the main hero, but that she is unacceptably neither.

At once, Hillary Clinton, the matriarch of one of the most powerful political families of this time, must face the end to the epoch defined by herself and her husband as well as the end of her brand of politics. As she is being forced to the sidelines, she not only has to watch someone who is not her begin to bear the standard of her party, but he is doing it in a way that is so terribly unlike her. He’s not fighting dirty, he’s not scorching the Earth at John McCain’s feet, but instead applying a more agile and intricate strategy. Where she is about the full frontal assault, Obama is about leverage and redirection.

And I simply don’t think that she, nor those who have grown up in politics subscribing to her style of politics, can cope. But instead of taking this time for instrospection, to objectively sit back and study how the political landscape has changed, they strap on the same old armor and use their last reserves of strength to force the battle back into something that they are more familiar with.

It’s sad. It’s sad in the way of watching an epoch in its death throes, but it is also sad that people once thought to be firmly rooted in the reality based community have so thorougly abandoned any precepts of reality without nary a glance back over their shoulders.

(edited by DrGail)

One Response to “Building Bogeymen”

  1. Jamie Holts says:

    Nice writing style. I look forward to reading more in the future.

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