I’ve decided to respond to Ana, Larry, and others in a new post rather than in a comment. This is partly because it is easier and more reliable for me to post than to comment under the present conditions. Which in truth are not really conducive to any kind of writing, but here goes.
Ana, yes, I won’t say that “feelings have passed” or that my mind has changed about anything. What I will say is that the whole purpose of that post (and this) was to explore what I see as some serious ambiguities. These ambiguities exist, I think, across the campaign process as well as in the minds of any one who is a) really thinking about this or b) not simply pushing some dogmatic point or another.
To this I want to admonish both Ana and Phil, with all respect: One could read some of your text to be very similar to what a campaign aide might say. You are saying things that I could see you reversing if that reversal happen to support your candidate. And, indeed, that is how one campaigns and now one supports a candidate. The stable strategy is an adversarial system. But, in discussing the logic or rational (or lack thereof) of certain decisions, we may have to step outside of that. If we can.
I feel moved to re articulate the initial question. There are two parts. First, if every candidate who could numerically not win ever (in the Democratic Party) always stepped aside (and this is almost true), then why would getting frustrated with Clinton for not stepping aside be bad? It might be bad because she is the first viable female candidate, and because other years we also get frustrated with the fact that half the country votes in primaries that have no meaning. I’m in the latter camp and always have been: I’m very interested in seeing this go to the convention. (It is also possible that one can ague that Clinton has not lost numerically. But then one also has to argue that super delegates are good and I’m not sure that anyone has stated both of those things together in one place. I may be wrong about that.)
But then we have the second part: Is it OK for Clinton or Obama (but so far this is mainly or exclusively been Clinton) to damage the party’s chances with certain campaign tactics at the primary level?
Ana, you want lots of proof, and I’ve not been completely obliging you. Sorry. Here are a couple of more bits, then I’m going to ask you either for some proof of something, or to simply deeply disagree with me on one very important point. But first let me note that it was some time ago that Clinton did say in a number of ways in and in a number of contexts that McCain and she were both better than Obama. That is bad party politics and being the first viable female candidate does not excuse the behavior. That makes me mad at Clinton. Ana, Phil will provide you with citations if you need them. The three o’clock phone call and natural security bit were similar.
In other words, when Hillary Clinton made her white/working class people comments, there was already a record of her being willing to cross that line of damaging your same-party opponent for the general election. When this damage is followed by statements indicating that “I’m the best candidate because my opponent is damaged” then people like me, who want to actually win the election, start thinking I’d rather lose the election than to win under these circumstances. And wow, I have NEVER had that though before in my entire political life. So that is shocking and disturbing to me. (Yes, my own thoughts are disturbing me.)
Now, as far as the white/working class people comment, Ana, I’m holding Hillary’s feet to the fire on this one, and yours as well. Hillary Clinton was not born yesterday and did not enter politics yesterday. Her statement was the kind that either has to be acknowledged as playing the race card or as one for which she would need to clarify or retract. I would hope she would do the latter. Did she? Please provide a citation. I hope she did, but I don’t think so. Please prove me wrong.
Having said all that, I totally agree with Ana and I think Elizabeth that in many cases the thing that is annoying is often something that the press decided to create rather than something that the candidate decided to create. Reverend Wright, the white/hard working linking statement, and countless other things on both sides of this campaign have been given significance by the press (or ignored, as the case may be).
But that is why we are here, on the blogosphere, where we can try to overcome that particularly annoying feature of our society!
Now, speaking of annoying, let’s move on to Larry Moran’s vigorous attempts to bait Greg.
Larry, if most black people vote for Obama because he is black, than that is racist. Ana can tell you that I have a particularly strict definition of racism, and there is no doubt that this is racist according to my own definition. White people voting for a black candidate because he is black are also racist. And women or men voting for a woman because she is a woman is sexist. I don’t think anyone can argue to the contrary on any of these points. Well, you could, but you would be wrong.
A premise of this entire discussion is that Obama is the first viable black candidate for president of the United States, and Clinton is the first viable female candidate for president of the United States ever. I the twenty first century. In the old days, both blacks and women were owned as property, and neither had the vote. Both were routinely abused, tortured, and sometimes murdered with little or no consequence to the perpetrators, if they became inconvenient. Attempts were made to strip both of all of their power, and even with very clear laws requiring equal consideration, there are still groups of individuals who would prefer blacks and women to be treated as second or third class citizens. Or property. The abuse and killing have reduced considerably and the legality of such atrocious behavior is 99.999 percent abrogated, but the behavior continues and there are individuals and groups who would prefer it more common.
Given this, Democrats in general … and this, Larry, is where you need to bone up on your American politics … are happy with the whole idea of “reverse” racism and sexism.
When we Democrats gather for any purpose, certain pledges are read out loud and we all either mummer ascent or in some cases vote to keep those pledges up, and we all do it with a knot in our throat and a tear in our eye because these pledges strike to the core of our political and personal beings. One of those pledges is to promote diversity and another is equality between the sexes. In Minnesota, our party rules require that representation be equal by sex. Among the delegates and alternates that go to the state convention, half are women, half are men. I think that may be nation wide for our party. When the democrats convene in Colorado, half of the delegates will be women, half men.
One could argue that this is sexist (or racist as the case may be) because we are considering sex or race. And that would be correct. However, we forgive each other and ourselves this transgression because we do so to reverse much greater, even horrific, transgressions of the past and going on elsewhere in the present (like, for all I know, in Canada and in the Republican Party). We are, I assure you, fully aware of the irony and we are utterly unconcerned with it.
In the end, part of the reason Clinton will win the nomination is because she is a woman. Or, part of the reason Obama will win the nomination is because he is black. That is what we are doing here right now in America and in the Democratic party. Very much on purpose. Of course, they are otherwise qualified as well.
I mean, really, to be honest with you, the person I want to be president is Ana. I am not making this up. I think she’s available and she is truly qualified. She would represent my politics as well as anyone I can think of. For instance, she has a gtrue commitment to environmental issues that is stronger than any of the candidates (for whom environmental issues would dissolve with any optimistic report on the environment. I’m sure.) Her commitment to peace is strong, but I think if she really really had to bomb someone she would do so, but only if she really really really had to.
Ana for president!
Unfortunately, she’s not running so I’m not going to write her in. I don’t want a Republican appointing the remaining supreme court justices. Both democratic candidates are not only acceptable, but they are both way better than average, for their own (very different) reasons.