Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Why Obama and Clinton Must Not Fight Each Other to the Bitter End

Somewhere in the basement we have a Dukakis poster saved from the 1988 US presidential election. Actually it was the one used in the California primary that year, and I traded an Ed Broadbent/NDP poster for it when we were visiting in Fresno. That was when I was deeply involved in the NDP here, and I’d taken Broadbent posters with me in order to have an excuse to go in and talk to the Democrats. It was the middle of June and Dukakis had just won California, ensuring the nomination. But to my enormous surprise, his office was being packed up and stored until after the Democratic convention in August.

I remember telling my husband how stupid I thought that was: even if everyone was tired after a hard-fought primary campaign, they’d be much better off to keep things going at least on a minimal basis in order not to lose momentum. It was a recipe for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

That is what I fear may happen this time with the Democrats. Hillary Clinton has just committed two terrible gaffes: not commenting at greater length on the underlying sentiments Barack Obama expressed in his excellent speech last week , and mis-remembering conditions when she went to Bosnia as an emissary for Bill during the troubles there. The latter is perhaps understandable: Bosnia was a scary place in 1996, and her memories might easily have grown starker with the passage of time. The first gaffe is more serious. What Obama raised is “an important topic,” she said, before launching into an interesting but considerably more prosaic speech about Iraq and infrastructure.

To my knowledge she has not gone further than that, which just won’t cut it in my opinion. Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, may think the same. It is not an accident, I’m sure, that he came out for Obama a couple of days afterward.

Along with the Dukakis and Broadbent posters hidden away next to the camping equipment we haven’t used in several years, we have one other poster from the 1988 campaign. That’s the one for Jesse Jackson which I also traded for that June. This time it was in the Los Angeles airport and the young woman decked out in Jackson buttons was still campaigning for what seemed a lost cause. Unlike the two other campaign posters now hidden away, I’ve had the Jackson poster pinned up in the guest bedroom for years. Keeping the faith, I guess. Waiting for a sea change in American society.

Which might just have been accomplished.

I’ve still got some questions about Obama’s economic policy and his plan for health care, but it’s looking like he’s the person to lead the United States toward positive change on a lot of fronts. What is absolutely essential is that he and the Clintons make peace in the very near future so they can fight and beat John McCain and the Republicans. The future of the whole world is at stake.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely right !! While Hillary and Obama are fighting with each other, McCain is making peace with the hawks in his party. In other he is not being challenged ! Although I doubt it will happen, I am optimistic the Democrats will have a nominee before the convention.

If you look at the 1988 polls, Dukakis had a nice 6 to 8 point lead heading into the Republican convention. Although the Republicans were going to get a bounce from their convention, his campaign went to sleep and they were never able to recover their momentum or counter the tactics of the Republicans.

Its time to focus on retaking the White House.

Martin Langeland said...

Usually the parties shut down between the deciding primary and the convention due to a lack of funds.
But with McCain touring what his base calls Yurp with lots of photo ops for the press he's been wining and dining at his bijoux ranch, it is past time for the Democrats to point out the man's manifest flaws that no one else is likely to see. Except the rest of the world who are a tad nervous the US electorate is so terminally deluded as to elect St John to fill Bush's third term. The mere thought is enough to make Bush look good!

Martin Langeland said...

I always liked Ed Broadbent too, from a respectful not messing in Canadian affairs perspective.

Mary Soderstrom said...

There is at least one petition circulating calling on an end for the war in the Democratic Party. Let's hope something positive happens.

The launch of Violets last night was great fun by the way.