Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rove & Hanson Evaluate The Dem Nominees

Karl Rove takes note of the tremendous weaknesses of both Hillary and Clinton, while Victor David Hanson thinks he detects buyers remorse as the Democrats get ready to replay disasters past.


Karl Rove, writing in the WSJ, takes the measure of both wounded candidates still vieing for the Democratic nomination:

. . . The Democratic Party has two weakened candidates. Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.

And what of the reborn Adlai Stevenson? Mr. Obama is befuddled and angry about the national reaction to what are clearly accepted, even commonplace truths in San Francisco and Hyde Park. How could anyone take offense at the observation that people in small-town and rural American are "bitter" and therefore "cling" to their guns and their faith, as well as their xenophobia? Why would anyone raise questions about a public figure who, for only 20 years, attended a church and developed a close personal relationship with its preacher who says AIDS was created by our government as a genocidal tool to be used against people of color, who declared America's chickens came home to roost on 9/11, and wants God to damn America? Mr. Obama has a weakness among blue-collar working class voters for a reason.

His inspiring rhetoric is a potent tool for energizing college students and previously uninvolved African-American voters. But his appeals are based on two aspirational pledges he is increasingly less credible in making.

Mr. Obama's call for postpartisanship looks unconvincing, when he is unable to point to a single important instance in his Senate career when he demonstrated bipartisanship. And his repeated calls to remember Dr. Martin Luther King's "fierce urgency of now" in tackling big issues falls flat as voters discover that he has not provided leadership on any major legislative battle.

Mr. Obama has not been a leader on big causes in Congress. He has been manifestly unwilling to expend his political capital on urgent issues. He has been only an observer, watching the action from a distance, thinking wry and sardonic and cynical thoughts to himself about his colleagues, mildly amused at their too-ing and fro-ing. He has held his energy and talent in reserve for the more important task of advancing his own political career, which means running for president.

But something happened along the way. Voters saw in the Philadelphia debate the responses of a vitamin-deficient Stevenson act-a-like. And in the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary, they saw him alternate between whining about his treatment by Mrs. Clinton and the press, and attacking Sen. John McCain by exaggerating and twisting his words. No one likes a whiner, and his old-style attacks undermine his appeals for postpartisanship.

Mr. Obama is near victory in the Democratic contest, but it is time for him to reset, freshen his message and say something new. His conduct in the last several weeks raises questions about whether, for all his talents, he is ready to be president.

Read the entire article. Victor David Hanson, writing at the NRO, sees this year as a replay of the McGovern debacle:

. . . The Democrats are tottering at the edge of the abyss. They are about to nominate someone who cannot win, despite vastly out-spending his opponent, any of the key large states . . . that will determine the fall election. And yet not to nominate him will cause the sort of implosion they saw in 1968 or the sort of mess we saw in November 2000.

Hillary won't quit, since she knows that Obama, when pressure mounts, is starting to show a weird sort of petulance, . . .

They won't be able to force Hillary out since she still has strong arguments — the popular vote may end up dead even, or even in her favor; while he won caucuses and out-of-play states, she won the critical fall battlegrounds — and by plebiscites; she is the more experienced and more likely to run a steady national campaign; she wins the Reagan Democrats that will determine the fall election; and by other, more logical nomination rules (like the Republicans' fewer caucuses, winner-take-all elections) she would have already wrapped it up. There seems something unfair, after all, for someone to win these mega-states and end up only with a few extra delegates for the effort. The more this drags out, the more Obama and Hillary get nastier and more estranged from each other — at precisely the time one must take the VP nomination to unite the party.

On the plus side, Hillary is showing a scrappy, tough blue-collar talent that is critical for November — but apparently it will be all for naught, or worse, cause lots of these Middle America "clingers" to go over to McCain.

More and more, McCain will want to run against Obama and his far weaker coalition of elite whites, African-Americans, students — and closets of skeletons. More and more, we will start to see the buyer's remorse of midsummer 1972. . . .

Read the entire post.

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