accountabilitybloke (old blog)

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Webb or Clark….

Now that Clinton has done what’s expected, we are back to speculating about the VP with a clear slate of options.

That was a very good speech on Saturday, and as the pundits on at least one panel note (we tend to favor MSBC these days; if you are going to have to endure that crap it might as well be moderated well) she has come along way as a speaker and campaigner. One has to think that is due in large part to the opposition she faced — Obama is pretty hard act to go up against if you can’t do the rally speech. (In this case, McCain is in fact too long in the tooth  to catch up….) If campaign speaking and dynamics matter, then she might be the one to go for.

Electoral College wise, however, she really brings nothing much to the table. Even if you approached this election as a traditional battle for the same old swing states (and I think that is not the case here), the fact that she did well against Obama in places like Ohio and West Virginia and Florida does not mean she can deliver them in November against McCain….

With one exception all the Senators and Governors speculated about bring little or nothing complementary to the Obama ticket, and some would be so boring as to threaten to take the steam out of the movement.

The one exception seems to be Senator Jim Webb from Virginia, and my son makes a pretty convincing argument that he is the one. He is certainly able to shake things up with the media (e.g., where are those tattoos that everyone asks about?), and he brings a heck of a resume and personal story to the ticket as well — including a biography as compelling as McCain’s (see Nightingale’s Song). Since I think Obama needs to go for someone to offset his vulnerability in military and national security, I think my son may be right.

But if Webb is not the one, then there is also Wesley Clark who has already tried a run for president (in 2004, with very little success) and comes from the Clinton camp. His low visibility and lack of public persona in recent years means very few are paying attention to him now, but the name will surface along with Webb because of his military credentials (top of his class at West Point, 4-star general) as well as his qualities as intellect (Rhodes Scholar), diplomat and someone who has proven really comfortable with operating in the public sphere (that is, on the media hot seat).

My bet is on either one….

June 7th, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments

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