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Friday, January 18, 2008

In My Mind I'm Goin' to (South) Carolina

Let's face it. The GOP primary in South Carolina is the highlight of nominating season. Where else can you see libertarians (Ron Paul) sucking up to fundamentalist Baptists (Bob Jones) who have already endorsed recently pro-choice, pro-gay Mormons (Willard M. Romney)? Where else will full grown men who expect to be President (Mike Dale Huck) champion the confederate flag as the emblem of freedom and patriotism? Where else can you see Republican war heroes (Saint John) tarred as traitors with Negro babies? Ah, home!

Best part, my native region--the upstate, aka, the I-85 corridor--is center to much of the crazy. Maybe it's our close proximity to the aforementioned Bob Jones University, which still frowns on interracial dating. Maybe it's the glow of Gaffney's famous "Peachoid," symbolically mooning America's travelers. Who knows? Back in the day, we used to elect a liberal woman with a son named "Scooter" to Congress. But that was before the GOP figured out that they could run whispering campaigns accusing pretty much anyone of being a lesbian or a race-traitor, before push polls ("Does it affect your vote to know that my Democratic opponent is a Jew who ALSO rejects Jesus as his savior?"*) became the state poems, and before the incarnate Ronald Reagan mystically reappeared in SC next to his twin brother Jesus bearing golden tablets with the words "No enemies to the right." Those of you from up nauuth may find this hard to believe, but it's actually a nice place to live. Lots of colleges, increasing prosperity, international diversity, and more civic boosterism than you would expect. Just don't forget the extra pad of crazy for your grits.

Enough ruminatin'. Here are my predictions: Huck wins by four over McCain in SC, while Romney takes the Sin State in a cakewalk. Nomination looks like it's going Willard's way. And Hillary takes Nevah-da. Makes me wish they had already built that Yucca Mountain project.

P.S. the South will rise again, Yankee bitches.

* the cited example is an actual push poll used by former governor Carroll Campbell against a Holocaust survivor. Yee-frickin'-ha.


At 7:33 AM, Blogger Number Three said...

Rise again? The United States is completely controlled by Southern reactionaries and their Northern imitators. Sensible folks are witing for the South to fall again, man.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Frances said...

So your first prediction has come to pass: HRC takes NV.

Bad, bad news for Obama in the entrance polls. HRC was stronger in nearly all demographics. Looks like Obama is being embraced as the black candidate, with a big win among African Americans. But the sisterhood is turning out in droves to vote for HRC. There are a lot more of the latter, obviously, than of the former.


I hope you're at least right about Huckabee!

At 9:05 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

We're looking at a bad night for the Dem party, although as I type McCain is only up by 3% (probably 4% with some rounding issues). Some reports that voter turnout in the beautiful Spartanburg area--a Bush and Huckabee stronghold--is a bit low. McCain is taking the three biggest urban areas: Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, plus much of the state's black belt. Why he's winning there I'm not sure, since it's unlikely it is actually black voters.

I think HRC vs. McCain is a pretty bad match-up for us, and I'd guess that most of you agree. HRC vs. Romney is almost as bad, although I suspect y'all disagree. She could take out Huck, especially given some of his recent statements, but if the current numbers hold his odds of geting the nom just went way down tonight.

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Frances said...

Yes, HRC vs. McCain is a very, very bad matchup for Democrats.

McCain has significant crossparty appeal. HRC has precisely ZERO cross party appeal. She even has trouble getting the votes of male Democrats!

I don't see what is going to happen to change this. The media love McCain and hate Hillary. He gets wonderful coverage about his integrity and straight talk; she is generally seen by reporters as willing to say or do anything to win.

McCain is perceived as trustworthy. Not even Democrats believe HRC is particularly trustworthy.

In short: DISASTROUS for Democrats. If Democrats lose in 2008, they should just hang it up as a political party.

One final thought: you thought you've seen a gender gap before now. If its HRC vs McCain, I'd be surprised if HRC can get 35% of male Independents.

At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCain is the GOP's best candidate by far, but HRC still beats him in the current head-to-head polls (and does so by a slightly larger margin than Obama). Plus, there's still the hope that the GOP establishment will succeed in its mission to destroy him. and if that fails, there's always age. guarantee you most people don't know he's 72.

I'm an Obama guy, of course, but I think the Dems have three great candidates, all of whom should win in the general.

that having been said . . . Go Romney!! (TMcD, your robocall anecdote is a good example of Romney's weakness. should he win his Mormonism - and what Mormons believe - will be ruthlessly pointed out throughout swing states and the south. It will make the swift boat campaign seem mild by comparison. A mormon president would legitimize a faith that calls itself Christian but isn't - and that will keep at least some evangelicals home. We can debate about how large that "some" is - but it should be enough, especially when combined with the huge Democratic enthusiasm advantage (that's the real story of the primary so far).

At 11:51 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

dk, I think you're overconfident. Those projected match-up polls don't mean much this far out. I agree with Frances that the candidate and media fundamentals are what count.

Maybe I'm biased. As a strongly partisan Dem, I'll vote Hillary, for whom I have real respect. But on pure personality I prefer McCain. If I didn't believe that, especially at this juncture in American political history, "party" meant more than "person," I'd lean toward voting for McCain. Unfortunately, I think national elections are almost always decided by people who think the opposite, priding themselves on "voting for the man not the party," even if they're responding to social forces and media narratives that they fail to recognize.

Romney is also stronger than you think he is. If the Mormon thing were easily push-polled, we would have already seen it by now, since the GOP plays much dirtier on that front than do the Dems. To date, the only one who has run anti-Mormon push polls "against" Romney is Romney, trying to inoculate himself. If Hillary (or someone acting on her behalf) were to run such polls in a high profile national race (not just a SC Cong. race as in my example), the press would crucify her as a bigoted agent of intolerance. They would revel in the supposed irony, and dredge up the old line about Clinton opportunism. Contrary to what the media spin says, the Clintons are weak on attack. Where they are brilliant is at playing defense. Maybe Willard would go negative and overplay his hand and HRC could milk a backlash. Not a scenario I relish.

So I'm left with the consolation of my McCain = Hoover theory. Frances, I don't think we're dead as a party if we lose 2008. If everything goes even more to hell in the next four years, we might have a chance in 2012. But I wouldn't want to wish such a scenario on the country.

At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The folks around Obama and HRC are all aggressive, smart campaigners. They will not leave bullets in the chamber - and the morman angle is a big one. Of course you will need (very) plausible deniability, but that can be achieved if played well.

It's also important to note that, unlike the Swift Boat attack for W, the Dem nominee can - and should - talk about how disgusting it is in very clear terms. It's a pure suppress the other side tactic - so the more outraged the better.

Don't you think Romney would be the nominee already but for his religion? The establishment worships the guy and he's loaded. Meanwhile Limbaugh, Delay, et al heap scorn on McCain.

As for McCain, i agree completely that the match-up with HRC is the most dangerous for the Dems. But I still think HRC is a better candidate then many people assume. Everyone knows who she is. And she has a proven ability to take a punch.

Keep hope alive!

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Paul said...

McCain vs. Clinton is a headache for the 'crats. I think one McCain supporter well summed up what the tone and focus of the race would be: "How do you intend to beat the bitch?"

At 8:33 AM, Blogger Frances said...

I think the enormous enthusiasm surrounding the Democratic race is driven heavily by a competitive contest. Once we go back to the tired old dynastic politics of HRC as the nominee, I doubt we as a party have nearly so much excitement to turn to.

I'm overwhelmed with alienation and disaffection looking at the prospect already. I'll be hard pressed to do anything to help the Democratic nominee. Let her turn out her machine to win for her. Let the teachers unions and the Hispanics and the blue haired ladies win it for her. It just kills me to think about what might have been possible if we had been able to turn the page on the past.

I can relate to Republicans who loathe her so powerfully because I get a little taste of it myself when I see her on television. Electing a former president's wife is something they do in banana republics and in developing countries. Why is THIS the best the Democratic party can do?

Everyone who follows politics closely knows that HRC is surrounded by the careerists, the people who have hitched their wagon to power. Obama has the new and fresh thinkers -- across all the policy areas. How can I get excited about returning the fat and complacent Clinton-era retreads back from K street to the White House?

Maybe it's my totally unrepresentative demographic, but I know a lot of Democrats who feel as I do. Strong Democrats who will actually have trouble voting for HRC; maybe they'll do it, but it's impossible to gin up any excitement about it.

I'm feeling utterly demoralized by the result this morning. The idea of a Clinton-McCain race is about as depressing a prospect as I can imagine.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger fronesis said...

This is really depressing.

I just don't understand how the democratic party works. It seems an astonishing feat that they can take the energy and enthusiasm of democratic supporters, and use the primaries as an occasion to a) snuff out all that enthusiasm, and b) nominate the candidate with the least chance of winning.

For me, and I realise I'm oversimplifying, this is what they did in 2004 by torpedoing Dean and nominating Kerry. Did they really wonder what the Republicans would do with Kerry as the nominee? I don't know, call him a French speaking, flip-flopping, gay loving, new england intellectual.

Now I see it happening all over again. WHO is it that Hilary inspires? Who really thinks she's going to be able to have the vision to lead the country away from the precipice that its been hanging on these past few years (that's assuming it's not in free fall already)? I honestly just don't get it. Like Tmcd, on personality alone, I'd vote for McCain over Hilary. I'd vote for most candidates over Hilary on that criterion. And like Frances, when I see Hilary speaking on the news, I can't help but cringe a bit.

dk gives me some hope. But because of my own ignorance, the race just seems too simple to me. That is, the democrats KNOW the republican playbook. The Republicans will try to make the dem nominee out to be indecisive, weak, and part of the establishment. But Hilary IS all of those things - (and her 'weakness' has nothing to do with her gender and has everything to do with her inability to express any sort of political vision and her willingness to seek out the centre at all costs) - so WHY ON EARTH would you nominate her?

At 12:40 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Can't help but agree with all the down in the mouths about HRC. I too really hate the "dynastic" logic here. And I LOOOOOVED the previous Clinton administration. The difference b/w BC'92 and HRC '08 seems like light years. There's nothing fresh, nothing inspirational. Just a struggle between two families (Bush and Clinton) to vindicate their respective establishment legacies. When, pray tell, have the Dems won a race with that kind of candidate? It works for the GOP but I'll be surprised if it works for us.

It is possible, of course, that this is all just the sour grapes of a narrow demographic to which we all belong. One thing Nevada showed is that Latino voters may be unlikely to vote for a black candidate. If so, Obama might be a more problematic nominee than I had thought. He'd have a tough time if the Hispanic vote swung against him in FL, CA, and the southwest. And I do disagree with Frances on one point: the Dem enthusiasm this year is NOT just b/c the race is competitive. So is the GOP--hell, more so--but their race has much less interest and far fewer voters.

The Dems have an historic opportunity this year. My worry is that, although there is genuine and powerful enthusiasm in the Dem primaries--it may be mutually exclusive and non-transferable. Do the HRC folks see Obama the same way I see her?

Final thought: Obama has been taking heat from the heads about his Reagan comment. On the face, everything he said was reasonable. But holy cow!, how stupid is it to invoke Reagan in a positive way with Dem primaries going on!? I don't think that's what lost NV--he was always down in the polls, and HRC had an organizational and demographic edge. Still, it showed incredibly bad judgment. If you have to get all bipartisan, save that shit for the general.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Fro, I wanted to pick up a point of your about '04. I agree that Kerry was an uninspired nominee. But Dean would have been a slaughter.

I see that election via a football metaphor. Nominating Kerry was like punting to maintain good field position instead of going for it on fourth and long. Even though we lost the race, we stayed close enough in Congress that the Bush agenda (privatize social security anyone?) immediately stalled out. It was heartbreaking to lose, but it wasn't a bad long term play for us as a party in a year where we had no obvious winner. This year, I think, the playing field is much much different.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Frances said...

I don't think it's racism among Hispanics that led to the strong Clinton showing. After all, as one of my colleagues who studies ethnic politics remarked, Latinos are way more sexist than they are racist.

In the end, it's just the low information voters going with the ersatz celebrity "incumbent," HRC. Obama is an unfamiliar face, and all HRC has to do is raise questions about him. Stoke the fear of the unknown, and low information voters of all stripes come right back "home" to her.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Frances said...

The low information voters, the machines, the Democratic regulars would all be in Obama's camp if her were to win the nomination. And he would bring his Independents, young voters, and party irregulars with him. HRC ONLY has the regulars; I don't see what she can do to change that. She is what she is -- a celebrity candidate who is the consensus choice of the Democratic establishment that has been screwing up everything royally for the past decade. The parallels are to George W. Bush, except at least she's not an idiot.

At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm for Obama. I hope he wins. And I still think he's got a decent shot. But this anti-HRC sentiment is way out of control. Again, she continues to poll very well against all the potential GOP candidates, just as well, or better, than Edwards and Obama. She's a tough, disciplined campaigner who will have the institutional resources to fight back. And all of the attacks on her are already known, and because of her high name ID, already processed by much of the electorate. She's probably the most OR-ed candidate in history.

in short: it's not just me being a yellow dog dem. She has real strengths that are being overlooked here.

(and Obama has weaknesses that have not yet been fully tested against the GOP's best stuff).

Question: Strickland as VP . . . enough to win Ohio by itself with either HRC or Obama?

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Frances said...

DK, I wish I could get happy about HRC, I really do. But this is pretty deeply rooted for me.

I used to think it was a Fox News Channel fantasy that Hillary Clinton was going to run for president. FNC was trumpeting the prospect for YEARS before she announced. I thought to myself: surely she wouldn't do this to the party. Surely, she must be savvy enough to recognize that she is deeply damaged as a national candidate and that she single handedly unifies the Republican party. They must be salivating at the prospect of running against her. Whatever divisions exist in the GOP after their primary will get healed up right away as they come together in common cause to (as Paul reminds us) "beat the bitch."

HRC symbolizes everything about the Democratic establishment that I have come to detest over the years of exile in the Bush administration. Not only is she an unrepentant war supporter, she has also never taken a strong stand against torture. She has also enabled the Bush administration through its various suppressions of civil liberties. She runs against Obama because he "will raise your taxes." She goes right to the Rove playbook to raise questions about Obama's ability to stand up to the terrorists.

She stands in the way of reform in the party. If she wins the presidency, there she'll be sitting there consulting with Gen. Jack Keane, an architect of the surge, and one of her current advisors. And all the people, all the smart policy advisors who took a risk and stood against the war, all of the people who were right--people like Al Gore--will continue to be marginalized and shut out of power in the Democratic party. Forever crushed by the machine. The soulless political careerists win no matter which party prevails in the general election.

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's truth in what you say. But there's also far more difference between the parties than you imply. Souless political careerists almost always win - no matter what. But it doesn't mean that an HRC administration wouldn't be a HUGE improvement over our current administration, and much better than any of the GOP alternatives.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Frances said...

DK, of course you're right about the huge differences between the parties. I'm no Naderite. But I am a human being who is affected by enthusiasm and energy, not just rational calculation, and HRC saps all those positive feelings right all right out of me. There is nothing inspiring about an HRC candidacy.

I can't even get excited about the "first woman president" stuff. If she EARNED it on her own, like Margaret Thatcher or Angela Merkel, it would be another matter. But she's just following in the time honored, Lurleen Wallace way for women to win office in American politics: she has a dead husband officeholder or a husband who can't run again.

No question: a Democratic administration would be a huge improvement. It kills me to watch the party throw away all the hope for the future, all the appeal to the younger generation that Obama uniquely taps into. But a moribund Democratic party in the presidency is far better than the alternative. The grim logic of two party politics, as Emery puts it.


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