Campaign (sp)in-fighting


I woke up this morning with a headache, downed two extra-strength aspirin and am finally able to open my eyes enough to read and write and listen to the telly and hear all about do-overs and Mark Penn and Harold Ickes’ Dick Cheney moment:

Penn had no real people of his own on the inside and chafed whenever Solis Doyle or Ickes got involved in his sphere. At one point, he and Ickes, who have been battling each other within the Clinton orbit for a dozen years, lost their tempers during a conference call, according to two participants.

“[Expletive] you!” Ickes shouted.

“[Expletive] you!” Penn replied.

“[Expletive] you!” Ickes shouted again.

The full Washington Post article (entitled: “Even in Victory, Clinton Team is Battling”).

There’s a comment in the article about how the Clintons have encouraged the in-fighting.  Whether that’s true or not, it does raise the question whether they’d be the ones who could be focused and dispassionate enough to answer that 3AM call correctly.

One of Clinton’s favorite books is “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s account of Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, and she assembled her own team of advisers knowing their mutual enmity in the belief that good ideas come from vigorous discussion. But while many campaigns are beset by backbiting and power struggles, dozens of interviews indicate that the internal problems endured by the Clinton team have been especially corrosive.

Mark Penn vs. David Axelrod and Joe Trippi (3:40 in):

I have a headache when I hear ex-patriot (from Canada), Gov. Granholm, Democrat of Michigan, push for a do-over without revealing that she is a Clinton supporter, or Gov. Christ, Republican of Florida, do the same, I assume, because he’d rather have McCain (with whom he is listed as a possible VP) run against Clinton.

I look at Senator Obama’s campaign staff and see unity, competence and I ask: then why did he lose those three states on Tuesday?

I look at the numbers and find that their claims of math (an ‘un-sexy’ argument, to be sure, but, hey, I like math) are accurate — Senator Clinton’s net delegate gain was negligible.

Here’s a Newsweek article that helps to explain.

I heard from a friend that a memo from the Obama campaign a month ago accurately predicted the March 4th outcomes (nearly to the vote).  They were not taken by surprise in the results.  What they did not foresee:  Saturday Night Live taking sides by displaying a cartoon that ties Senator Obama to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, when neither have endorsed him.  Not as obvious as the support for Senator Clinton that got the media to fall back on their heels and do everything they could to show they were not for Sentor Obama the day before a crucial primary.

The very same SNL that is now using Senator Clinton’s “It is Saturday Night!” clip on their promos for next Saturday’s show.

But, even then, the numbers came in as Senator Obama’s team had predicted. So, how off-guard were they actually caught?

Here’s another question: How bad will things get with McCain vs. Obama?  McCain vs. Clinton? It may be a good idea, whichever becomes the candidate, that they have the opportunity to toughen up before facing the Republicans and alienating Democrats.  Senator Obama’s campaign, whilst they did see the ‘kitchen sink’ coming, did not seem to know how to position their candidate in the midst of it.

Does he rise above?  Does he attack?  Somewhere between?  Let surrogates do the work?  David Axelrod will need to figure that out.

And Senator Clinton’s road-trip down the low-road was, for me, at least, one of the most disheartening experiences of the campaign thus far.  I want to like her, I want to support her if she becomes the candidate.  I’m having trouble imagining how I will do that if they continue with more of the same.

And what about those emails calling Senator Obama a Muslim? His (correct) response: It was an insult to both his religion and to Muslims in implying there was something wrong in being Muslim.  And Senator Clinton’s response that finally put me over the edge of disgust as she strategically paused when asked if Senator Obama was Muslim (‘as far as I know…).

I want a president and accompanying staff who are calm in crisis.  I want a president (and accompany staff) who can look down the road and anticipate outcomes.  I want a president and accompanying staff who does not make me cringe when I listen to them (have you heard Mark Penn?).

What I don’t want:  Smoke-filled rooms deciding over the will of the people.  Pressure put on the more popular candidate to throw in the towel (or become VP), because the less popular candidate has more power in Washington.  Racial and religious smears. Old-style politics where opposition research outweighs the needs of the people.  Where political cronyism decides who gets access.  Where obvious ploys make it seem like Orwell is bound for the West Wing (and not just the Justice Department…)

I have a headache.


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  1. Here’s the video again (3:40 reveals the genesis of last Tuesday):

    Mark Penn style politics.



    They’re both -ian.

    (My head hurts)

  2. we need to demand, from ourselves, the fortitude to muscle our way back into the political process and understand that in any social system, there are winners and losers. And those in between.

    how do we deal with that equation? where’s the balance between what’s MINE and sharing limited resources.

    we haven’t had that conversation yet, in a national sense. and when you have markets in a tail spin over the mere suggestion of trimming profits to stall off foreclosures, you begin to get a sense that this won’t be, um, easy.

    the more i think of it, the more this promise of health care for all is the wrong place to start. we need to understand what has to be given up to get there.

    what we want and what we are willing to give up::: two different things that need incredible leadership to pull together.

  3. and I live in Iowa, so imagine how long OUR headaches have been going on.

    At first I liked the scrappy back-and-forth between Clinton and Obama as it toughened them up for the general election.  But now I fear that independents will like the image of Grandpa McCain telling the children to behave and act their age.  

    But if our nominations were easy we wouldn’t be Democrats, right?

  4. I was so disheartened yesterday when the media narrative seemed to coalesce around the idea that Clinton won on Tuesday by going negative and now Obama will need to do so as well. I hope he finds a way to show strength by taking a different path.  

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