Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hillary Keeps On Keeping On, Is Obama Arabic For Dukakis?

Before I start this ramble, let me say that I have not yet picked a favorite in the Democratic nomination. Recent events have me leaning for Senator Clinton, but I'm not all the way there yet by a long shot.

Marc Ambinder blogs for The Atlantic, and today he posted about an aspect of the horserace which casts Senator Clinton in a positive light.
Another two weeks, another impressive navigation through ever-trickier waters. Hillary Rodham Clinton now has nine serious opponents -- four on the Democratic side (only Bill Richardson isn't making a compelling case against her right now) and five on the Republican side (counting Mike Huckabee).
One reason Bill Clinton is regarded so fondly by Democrats, and conversely is so detested by the right, is that he did not fold in the face of the Republican slime operation. Now his wife is proving her mettle when it comes to taking the heat, and Senator Clinton to this point has proven very durable.

If Senator Clinton wins the nomination despite the months of attacks by everyone in the race, including Democrats, what better testament can there be of her tenacity in a campaign? There is no other personality out there taking the heat she is, and she is not just surviving, but she seems to be thriving.

This leads me to the reflections of Talking Points Memo reader KB:
Why are the republican presidential candidates the only ones going after their opposite numbers in the other party?

Rudy and the gang have gleefully used Clinton, and to a lesser extent Obama and Edwards, as foils and rhetorical ploys in their daily campaigning. But the Democrats running for President never name any of the Republican candidates. Obama could gain serious points by going after Rudy and his wacky team of neocon advisors. Why not do it? What does he have to lose? It would at least put Clinton on the defensive about Iran and force her to comment on the latest Podhoretz nonsense.

It leads to a larger question: at this late date, after all that has happened in Iraq, why are the neocons not on the defensive within the context of this presidential season? Given current public opinion polling, the neocons should be hiding under a rock, and the Democratic candidates for president should be the ones who put them there.
I know that Clinton could score some major points with the left by slamming around Rudy and the gang... but does she really need to at this point? Senator Clinton is doing fine, so why fix it if it's not broken. For everything there is a season, and Senator Clinton has demonstrated enough of a knack for campaigning that I'm certain she will take those shots when it is best that she do so.

I think the candidate who needs to get the gumption to take on the Republican frontrunners by name is Barack Obama. In fact, Senator Obama has been handed an issue which is ready made for him to show some backbone and fight on. The Republican nominees, and Mitt Romney in particular, have made a point of repeatedly "mistaking" Obama's name with Osama Bin Laden's name. The last time this happened Mitt Romney extensively paraphrased a position taken by Osama Bin Laden and repeatedly labeled that position as coming from Obama. In fact Romney actually had to (mis)correct himself from originally getting the name right to mistaking the name and sliming Obama.

Senator Obama's response to the Romney slander was to say that he did not pay attention to Mitt Romney. If Obama will not fire back at that overt defamation, what sort of provocation will it take to get a decent reaction out of him? Obama's reaction reminded me of the '88 campaign, when Bernard Shaw started a debate by asking Michael Dukakis if his wife were raped and murdered by some perp, would Dukakis still oppose the death penalty? Dukakis gave an ideologically correct talking points answer which would have made a typical robot seem emotional by comparison. That unemotional, highly intelligent, technical approach defined Dukakis, who would have made an absolutely fantastic President, but was a decided failure as a campaigner.

Senator Obama only cemented this perception on my part by announcing for the record that he was about to take the gloves off and go after Hillary. Then he released a campaign commercial which indirectly challenged her on Social Security, and featured Obama giving a litany of what fores and where nots on Social Security. That is the best Senator Obama can do when it comes to going after Senator Clinton? I'm as unimpressed with the promised tough Obama as I was with the dismissive Obama in the face of Romney's smears.

So based upon the events of the last couple of weeks, I find myself being drawn to the candidacy of Senator Clinton, if for no other reason than that she is showing the ability to take the heat and thrive for the experience. I am not ruling out supporting any other candidates, but someone else needs to be able to present a viable challenge and show some gumption while taking heat.

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