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Groupthink and reality checks in the Clinton camp…

This presidential election just gets more interesting each day — and too great a draw of my attention (what an excuse for professional procrastinating! — just sit in front of the TV and watch the pundits go crazy!!!)

Most interesting yesterday and today is the dance now taking place between the Obama and Clinton camps regarding the VP spot. Clinton’s problem of late has been the campaign version of “groupthink” as those closest to her began to believe their own press hyping that all was not yet lost. The most visible and vocal of the that group — McAuliffe, Ickes, Tubbs-Jones — have become comic figures (McAuliffe especially — his appearances over the past weeks seemed more like staged Saturday Night Live skits rather than even half-way serious spinning).

Viewed from the outside, the last minute hyping looked like just another bit of campaigning and perhaps face-saving theatrics, and one assumed that the pros in the Clinton campaign were more realistic in their private contemplations.

But by Tuesday night it was evident that those folks had actually convinced themselves that although they had lost the nomination battle for the presidency, they had won the right to DEMAND the VP spot. The outward show of political arrogance by Hillary Clinton and her campaign folks indicated that they had convinced themselves of such — a position that flies in the face of historical tradition about how the nomination game is played. The groupthink factor — that is their closing ranks and the resulting failure to listen to someone with a greater grasp of political reality — was aggravated by a negative and disrespectful attitude toward the Obama campaign which the Clinton pros still seem to regard as amateurish and lucky. (The Clinton pros were acting like the British military leadership after the Siege of Yorktown who found it very difficult to surrender to Washington-led revolutionaries. For them it was not a defeat but rather bad circumstances that led to surrender — if only those pesky French had not blocked their access to the sea; if only the reinforcements from New York (led by General Clinton, as it happens) would have arrived; if only the weather had cooperated in efforts to break the siege; if only….)

By Wednesday noon, however, the Clinton campaign groupthink was shattered by a number of former supporters and “neutral” party leaders who made it clear that the game was over. Period. As important, folks like Walter Mondale sent the Clinton camp a message that any halfway informed political observer could have delivered — if you want the VP spot, then dismantle and disband your campaign, stop the rhetorical face-saving flourishes and openly embrace your defeat by endorsing Obama. The message clearly got through, and we are seeing a complete turnabout over the last 24 hours that bodes well for an Obama-Clinton ticket.

The question is whether that is a wise move for Obama to take….

June 5th, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | one comment