Clinton versus Obama: Will There Be Blood?

8 Mar

The Clinton-Obama battle has turned nasty.  First, Hillary launched her “It’s 3:00 am, who do you want answering the bat phone?” ad.  Then came her speech in which she deemed herself and John McCain foreign policy veterans, but implied that Obama wouldn’t know Afghanistan from Argentina.  A Clinton spokesman also compared him to Ken Starr.  The haymakers are coming fast and furious.

Obama tried to remain civilized–and lost three out of four primaries.  He reminded America that while he came out against the war from the start, Hillary voted along with Bush and McCain at every opportunity, which doesn’t exactly show a great deal of acumen in international relations.  However, this isn’t about logic anymore.

Obama refused to trade hair pulls, elbows, and eye gouges with the Clinton campaign.  But one of his staffers, Harvard professor Samantha Power, let loose to a Scottish journalist, referring to Hillary as “a monster.”  It’s not an unfair characterization.  After all, she could star in her own version of The Thing That Couldn’t Die.   She could also play the lead in dramatic renditions of “The Little Train That Could” and “The Guest Who Wouldn’t Leave.”  Give her credit.  If she’s going down, she’s going down swinging.

Of course, the Clinton campaign was shocked and outraged (although The Hangover doubts they were surprised) by Samantha Power’s comments.  The Clinton camp demanded action and Power resigned from the Obama team.   Obama has acknowledged that the election has taken a vicious turn, but stated that he would not be drawn “into a knife fight.”  That’s too bad, because by avoiding the blood, he puts his campaign in jeopardy. 

It’s noble that Obama wants to keep on message:  hope and change.  It’s honorable that he wants a clean, dignified campaign.  But a look at recent history suggests that those ready to claw and scratch usually emerge the winners.

In 2000, Al Gore acted like a gentleman from start to finish, even after it was clear that Florida had been stolen.  Where did that lead us?  Into 9/11 and ultimately Afgahnistan and Iraq.  If Gore had fought–ungainly and looking like a sore loser–and won, we don’t know how different things might be today.  Let’s face it, they couldn’t be worse.

In the 2004 election, “swiftboating” became a verb.  John Kerry was besieged by false accusations.  Fact:  He was a decorated veteran, one of the few Ivy Leaguers to actually see action in Viet Nam.  By not fighting back, he allowed himself and his campaign to appear weak.  He had an opponent who didn’t even show up for significant stretches of his National Guard duty.  Kerry should have hammered W. Bush on that every chance he got.  We heard barely a peep about it from the Kerry campaign.  That turned out bad, too.

The public shouldn’t be surprised that at least one side of the Democratic battle has turned ferocious.  The Clinton team is savvy and cutthroat.  They aren’t concerned with a Democrat winning the nomination; their mission is to get Hillary the nod.  It’s politics.   And after losing for much of the campaign, they don’t care how they get there.   That makes them dangerous and more than viable.

In her apology to Hillary Clinton, Power stated,  “Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign.”   In those words lie the problem:  If Obama hopes to hang on, he’s going to have change “the spirit, tenor, and purpose” of his campaign.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way it is.  If he believes his Presidency is what this country needs, his number one priority needs to be winning–no matter what it takes.  He’s got plenty of ammunition.  If he doesn’t start using it, he’ll be sitting in the Senate next year wondering what the hell just happened. 


7 Responses to “Clinton versus Obama: Will There Be Blood?”

  1. Chilly Nate March 9, 2008 at 2:15 pm #

    What are the chances that the winner picks the loser as their VP running mate for the White House?

  2. alguschip March 10, 2008 at 12:11 am #

    If Obama wins, there is no chance he would take her as VP. She has her own baggage and his mandate is to ‘change’ how things are done in Washington–and she represents just that, how things are done now. Then there’s Bill Clinton, too. In anatomical terms, having the Clintons under his feet would be a pain in the ass of exponential proportions for President Obama.

    If she wins, she’d love to have Obama as VP. They’d make a formidable ticket: present and future all in one.

  3. Chilly Nate March 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    Ah yes, a Mondale/Ferraro like ticket would not work. I think the Clinton-Obama card is the best play for the party.

  4. aaron, of course March 12, 2008 at 5:23 pm #

    I guess I’ll agree that Al Gore conceeding, after several days, an election he lost fair and square was ‘gentlemanly’ (I, personally, think it was his finest hour considering how ugly that could have ended up being), but I must take exception at the notion that a President Gore would or could have prevented 9/11. It was, after all, the SECOND attempt by Muzzlim extremists to bring down the towers. The first was the bombings when Al Gore was VP. That act was prosecuted as a CRIME instead of an act of WAR. A very strong case could be made that the policy of appeasement (has that EVER worked?) in the 90’s EMBOLDENED our enemies, culminating in 9/11. It’s easy for some to imagine how things could be worse. If Gore had won his home state, we would have found out. And remember, I voted for him and Lieberman.

    Kerry was and is difficult to believe. I think that’s what did him in. And as Mrs. Obama is finding, I think it’s difficult to become president when you hate our country. Oh, and it doesn’t help to view our soldiers as murderers and rapists and ‘Jack booted thugs’, accuse them of killing babies for sport, think that we should subordinate our sovereignty to the will of others, and believe that self defense is aggression. I don’t think it’s what he did or didn’t do in his 3 months in Vietnam but rather his platform and policies which ultimatley caused him to lose in ’04.

    As for the idea that the fight for the ’08 nomination has been bloody? I’d say brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Just wait for the convention, when neither candidate has enough delegates to claim it. Disenfranchised voters in Fla. and Michigan? Howard Dean made it so (wasn’t it Kerry who said ‘Every vote should be counted’?) and the states’ democrat parties allowed the disenfranchisement by moving their primaries up, knowing fully what the penalty was going to be. Hillary will sue to have the delegates count, and Obama wasn’t even on the ballot in MI.! Ah the hypocracy of the democrats!

    Hillary will be the nominee, but she may end up destroying the democrat party in the process. I don’t think Obama would ever agree to be her VP, and I don’t think she’d want him anyway. I don’t think she’d want to spend the next 4 or 8 years <> with some (most?) of her party and/or the country wondering if the #2 guy should be the #1 guy.

    No matter how things turn out, watching the drama unfold is gonna be a blast!

  5. george in the sticks March 20, 2008 at 1:10 am #

    I must admit it’s a little bit of cheating to come late to the party, but the “blood and elbows” business is overblown so far. Barak’s attempt to keep the punches above the belt seems to be holding steady thus far, and i suspect the relatively positive responses to his race opus will reinforce that tendency. That said, bring some sawdust to the convention floor.

  6. Jarry October 31, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

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