The Politics of Finger Pointing - Election '08

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Cleverboy, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. Cleverboy macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #1
    So, ABC has posted an article entitled:
    Clinton and Obama Getting Nasty
    Democratic Presidential Contenders Spar Over Past Remarks
    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/story?id=4127744&page=1
    The comment from Obama (below) seems to epitomize something that's been running through the Clinton campaign so far. Namely... everytime something happens that reflects poorly on her campaign, they try to *FORCEFULLY* turn it around, and make it sound like Obama's campaign was actively doing something against them. One of the last times, was when a former Clinton supporter (some writer, whose name I can't remember) said something negative about Clinton, she immediately characterized it as something Obama had said. I remember being stunned and a little sad that I could see the man behind the curtain.

    I understand how "surrogates" can work, but I don't have the impression that that's going on in Obama's campaign as much as its a part of Clinton's. I think she's just shooting herself in the foot occassionally, and its disturbing when I see her immediately point at someone else. I feel like this is what we'll see if she's elected. If something goes wrong, or someone issues a misstatement that goes over badly, suddenly Clinton will be looking for scapegoats... likely saying similar things abou the Republicans or someone else.

    Looking on Politico.com, it seems like she's keeps hunting for the "right" wording.
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0108/Clinton_and_Obama_Johnson_and_King.html
    This quote summed it up for me, very nicely:
    ~ CB
     
  2. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

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    #2
    I think the Clinton campaign is right that this whole thing is being blown out of proportion. There might be some relevant undercurrents to the "fairy tale" comment, but I don't think they were intended at all. And certainly, Hillary Clinton's comments about King and Johnson were accurate and are being misinterpreted. Nobody, certainly not Clinton, denies that the Civil Rights Movement and its grassroots organizing efforts for many years created the political environment to make confronting and overcoming issues of race critical. But just as it took both the NAACP and a Supreme Court with some moral compass to make codify the principles in Brown vs. Board of Education, it took both the tremendous strength of Dr. King and his associates and the remarkable skills of Johnson and his associates to codify the principles of the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act.

    President Johnson was one of our greatest domestic policy presidents ever. He had an almost singular skill for getting tough legislation passed, and did it in the face of the knowledge that his actions would hurt his party politically. To rightly point out his important role in the progression of rights in this country by no means denigrates the central role that Dr. King and the rest of the movement played from the ground up.

    What's more, this is an argument on false premises. It's not that Obama vs. Clinton is movement leader vs. political institution leader. They are both vying for the latter role and as President, Obama will not be a movement leader. Clinton's recognition that strong movements can capitalize on technically experienced political leadership is a valid characterization of the sort of partnership we would *like* to see whether Clinton or Obama is elected.

    And gosh, guys, I don't even support Clinton in the race.
     
  3. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #3
    Wow... I see it breaking again here with another surrogate:
    BET Founder, Clinton backer “insulted” by Obama’s MLK spin
    http://embeds.blogs.foxnews.com/2008/01/13/bet-founder-clinton-backer-insulted-by-obamas-mlk-spin/
    I've yet to see ONE quote where the Obama campaign says ANYTHING about this, other than something like "No Comment". It's really weird. It's like these people are coming out of the woodwork trying to create some pseudo-quote that doesn't exist. It's this kind of politics that scare me most.

    Listening to the video tape of Johnson gives me a headache. It's so political it stinks.

    ~ CB
     
  4. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #4
    I think its being blown out of proportion too, but the Clintons are spending MORE time trying to say Obama is "spinning" this, than simply focusing on what they said or didn't say, meant or didn't mean. It's NOT cool.

    Here's a good article... same basic facts.
    Edwards, Obama Join Fray Over Clinton MLK Comments
    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/01/13/edwards_obama_join_fray_over_c.html
    In the comments are Obama's response to Clinton's "Meet the Press" appearance.

    The more people say Obama or "his PR" has made a statement encouraging a misinterpretation of Clintons comments, the more I become disgusted if they're not ACTUALLY QUOTING someone! How can you keep saying someone said something they didn't say, and "reacting" to it? It's awful!

    I want to keep considering them both. When the smoke clears, I want to respect whichever one is going against the GOP... at this point, the fighting might actually become so hurtful it leaves Clinton so tarnished I'd want nothing to do with her and her politics. If Hillary wins the nomination... I may find myself sadly voted for someone else, or not at all.

    CNN has a great compilation of the dust up (they're doing a great job with this stuff).
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/13/clinton.obama/

    ~ CB
     
  5. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #5
    Actually, after doing a lot of reading... Hillary's comments about King and Johnson were A MISTAKE. They are rightly being seen as "peculiar" by the press. If you take them by themselves... they're perfectly fine. --But she was responding to a comment... which then makes them a goof up.

    CLINTON responded:
    If you actually parse this statement for meaning, you can easily become confused about her point. The most generous have said that she's comparing herself in the role of a president that passes legislation, and possibly Obama in the role of a president that inspires, but ultimately doesn't accomplish much (because he got shot?)

    This is directly related to the problems politicians face, when they attempt to "reframe" the issue to make their own position appear stronger. WSJ has a great article laying out the play-by-play.

    Fox ran another story that is more granular:
    http://embeds.blogs.foxnews.com/2008/01/13/obama-calls-clinton-allegations-ludicrous/

    Obama's press secretary Bill Burton sent out an email to the press that I think clears through the misinformation and backpeddling going on:
    Honestly, I think this is a case of rhetoric coming back to bite you in the ass, as you try to send complicated "reframing" messages and end up saying the WRONG THING. It's not really the fault of the public, she made a mistake in how she sprinkled comments that didn't have much to do with what she was responding to.

    Obama got a "whiff" of this kind of goof, when he murmurred his response, "You're likable enough, Hillary... no doubt about it."during the NH debate. He found himself explaining that he didn't mean to sound sarcastic (which a LOT of people thought)... at one point explaining, "I'd meant to say, 'You're plenty likable'" which I didn't think sounded grammatically correct, as much as it sounded southern. He didn't go around saying, "The Clinton campaign is mischaracterizing my statements! How dare they!" That's what I'm reacting to right now.

    ~ CB
     
  6. Marble macrumors 6502a

    Marble

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    #6
    Nice analysis and compilation of the events. I wish more people would think this hard about how a candidate's maneuvers betray their whole method. I think Hillary actually feels threatened by this ... nothing. She seems gun shy and haunted to me, lashing out at things that aren't there.
     
  7. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

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    #7
    The business about Kennedy was wholly inappropriate, and was definitely a mistake. But that's not what I'm talking about, and it doesn't seem to be what a lot of other people are talking about, either. People are saying that Clinton diminished the importance of King, not Kennedy, and that's what has got a lot of people up in arms. The idea that the country needed a President like Johnson to push through tough legislation building on the legwork that King did, and the initial supportive actions of the Kennedy administration, is true!

    But the undertones about assassination associated with the reference to Kennedy are problematic and divisive. With that statement, I can see what's upsetting people. But the King and Johnson stuff I really can't. Man, Johnson always gets such a bad rap.
     
  8. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #8
    It is TRUE! But you remember she was specifically responding to comments that Obama seemed to remind people of inspirational leaders like MLK... for her to THEN bring up that MLK wasn't as important to changing the politics as LBJ was, is where it actually came across wrong.

    No one was asking her for a random history lesson that uplifted a President over a civil rights leader. If you look ONLY at the answer... you can't see the problem. If you realize that she was trying to respond to Obama's message of "hope" and comparisons people were making, you realize that it doesn't connect properly. Obama is a United States senator running for President. To point out that MLK didn't do as much an Lyndon Johnson in response to it... is a valid fact, given out of context, by someone trying to improperly "reframe" the issue.

    Do you agree with that? Again, I have no problem with the statement, but the implication only comes because the statement was a "response". It just shows that she was out of touch with the conversation at the time.

    She's then *compounding* the issue by trying to conflate it with negative statements about Obama's campaign somehow causing the criticism that's occuring. It's really really weird!

    ~ CB
     
  9. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #9
    Wow. Just heard this story again on Fox News (tv). They ALSO put a bunch of words into Obama's mouth (being as unspecific as they can, its freaky). They then juxtaposed Clinton actually SAYING her quotes (which is fine)... to pictures of Obama at unrelated rallies, the reporter SAYING that he said things (that they can't even get direct quotes for), but then tying him into what they call "and unaffiliated black leaders". That's just depressing.

    This is about Clinton and these people criticising her. It has NOTHING to do with Obama at all (except for the interview after Clinton's "Meet the Press", where he said he hasn't made any comment on it, and the e-mail quoted above from his press secretary). Clinton has to watch out what she's doing with this story. It's just causing bad feelings all around.

    If I hadn't watched this story mutate, and already UNDERSTAND that Obama's campaign tries to actively distance itself from things like this, I'd probably find myself believing he'd said something... which I'd disrespect him for.

    ~ CB
     
  10. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #10
    The actual story here is a big nothing, but it's the kind of nothing the media laps up, in the absence of anything more watchable to report. Candidates clawing at each other for any or no reason puts blood in the water, but that's the entire meaning of it. If I'm watching for anything as events like this roll on, it's which candidate (if any/either) tries to remain above the fray. For the time being at least, this appears to be Obama's strategy, with Clinton in close kidney-punching as furiously as possible.
     
  11. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    It's about time these two seriously launched into each other. I was starting to worry that they could be civil enough to each other to end up running mates or something. :cool:
     
  12. Marble macrumors 6502a

    Marble

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  13. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #13
    I think Swarmlord is just yukking it up on appearances (it really looks like they're attacking each other). :) I'm sure Obama's press secretary isn't getting any sleep, but eventually he'll be forced to say more and more if this keeps up.

    Honestly, Clinton doesn't seem to realize that just apologizing and moving on would have been the best bet. Even apologizing for someone else's misunderstanding is preferable to trying to respin your own criticism into something bad for your opponent.

    In the end, the GOP wins. I keep looking at that photo of Hillary Clinton with the boxing gloves on... and I'm thinking she has a different idea of what I think people want to ultimately see in their political leaders. I want to see her "fight" by making her point and being the best person for the job, not by "out maneuvering" by using tricks and calculation. ARRrrrg. :(

    ~ CB
     
  14. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #14
    That's exactly what's happening, is they're trying to create something out of nothing. Then the politicians can keep saying we need to stay above the bickering. While everyone else bickers about the bickering that didn't actually happen. Then the media talks about it as if it's an issue, and others glom on to the opportunity to weigh in. Nature of the beast.

    He isn't really, and neither is she, but if this kinda thing didn't work, they wouldn't keep doing it.

    As does the media. And the rest of us lose. Especially the candidates who have to talk about this instead of the issues, and the voters who have to watch it, no matter how much we try to ignore it.
     
  15. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Well, of course, when the dust settles on the Dem convention I don't want a situation where these two kiss and make up and join together as the ticket for the election in November.

    I have faith in the Clinton machine and also her desire to become president. I don't expect to be disappointed.
     
  16. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

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    #16
    If he wins the nomination, they'll kiss and make up to the extent that she'll endorse him, campaign for him, and speak at the convention.
     
  17. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Sure, but that's different from being the P/VP ticket, at least I think the dynamic is different.
     
  18. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #18
    We all know P/VP tickets aren't about who likes who best.

    You think Clinton would do absolutely anything to get elected, right? No options are off the table if it means she gets her Guccis in the halls of power?

    So what if she thought Obama as her VP was her best shot at getting elected? Now you're gonna switch your story to "Hillary will do ALMOST anything to get elected"? Or would she put Obama on the ticket if she thought it would get her elected?
     
  19. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #19
    That's a good point. That said however, I've begun to see a distinct pattern in her character that points to an problematic excess of ego and insecurity. It's very possible they're both stuck together... That said, I think Hillary could make her case that she doesn't believe having Obama improves her electability.

    ~ CB
     
  20. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #20
    After thinking about this whole dust-up some more. I think I realize what Hillary had TRIED to say, and that she's barely had a moment to realize how she got off the mark.

    Basically, the exchange went like this... Hillary said:
    Then Barack said in a speech later, alluding to her statement:
    Fox News correspondent Major Garrett asked
    if Clinton would like to respond to this statement. She said:
    If you look at Clinton's last response IN CONTEXT, you can see exactly what happened that threw things so out of whack. Her statement was a complete goof-up at "reframing" the conversation. I believe the point she intended to make would have been better framed by saying, instead:
    Left at the door? Comments denigrating to MLK and JFK, and unnecessarily complimentary of Lyndon Johnson, who in this particular case need only be acknowledged for passing the act... and not at the expense of more highly esteemed social and political leaders.

    There's a brain fart in her head that is causing her to attempt to make indirect comparisons using figures far too widely revered to handle so clumsily. She's repeated "it takes a President to get it done" on a number of occassions now, validating her previous comment, and sadly... her original conclusion which had precious little to do with what she was responding too. :( Both her AND Obama are looking to be elected President... so saying a "President" is needed to get significant change to happen seems beyond question. The more she says it, self-righteously, the more she sounds like she's making a point she doesn't want to make.

    ~ CB
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #21
    Well, I don't think you can find a serious contender for the presidency that doesn't have an overinflated ego. Look at the top nominees from either party, and even historically.

    Also, I wasn't arguing that Obama is Clinton's best choice for a VP. I simply take issue with someone arguing that Clinton will do anything to get elected, then turning around and arguing that she won't do something to get elected.

    IF she has the nomination, and she thinks Obama helps her the most in her bid, you can bet he gets the call. Whether he actually can help her, and whether he takes that call are irrelevant to my point.
     
  22. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #22
    Meh. I think there needs to be a significant measure of humility too. Too see that, you really can't look in a history book, you kind of have to see them in action and appreciate their candor and character over time.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miUS7WnMgBw
    But, that's just me. I tend to be sentimental.
    No, I gotcha.

    ~ CB
     
  23. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #23
    Heh, heh... Actually, in retrospect, this should have been his first answer:
    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/...7a038c6f5a3de6&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
    Take THAT SwarmLord! :D Now you have to say,"Curses!" Whew. Stay on course, Barack. Apparently "no comment" and comments on "inadvisable" statements don't quite fly.

    ~ CB
     
  24. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #24
    It's interesting. I'm listening to the audiobook "Hillary Rodham Clinton: Living History", and I'm realizing what a warm place in her heart she holds for Lady Bird Johnson. Because of Lyndon Johnson's role in the Civil Rights Act, and her relationship with LBJ (who died last year), I think in her mind there's a gravitational pull toward making positive statements about Lyndon Johnson at the expense of the coherence of her message. That's kind of a shame. --So, I might be mistaking her pride in not reclarifying her message, with a dogged insistance to attribute credit to her friends' husband and a presidency that, while not flawless, was undoubtably influential in the advancement of her deepest moral convictions.

    --Eek. That's just messy. Hopefully she can regroup and put the brakes on her personal crusades moving forward.

    ~ CB
     
  25. themadchemist macrumors 68030

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    #25
    You had me until here. You're still not giving Johnson adequate credit..."Need only be acknowledged for passing the act." Give me a break!! Johnson pushed that stuff through Congress against strong elements against it, both within and outside of his party, because of sheer force of will and years of experience as a tough, almost imperious, leader, in Congress.

    No, he didn't make lovely speeches. No, he didn't seem like that pleasant of a guy. But he didn't "only" pass the act; he looked in the face of near certain political injury to his party and did what was right for the country. He didn't just sign a bill; he was instrumental in its passage. And not "just" the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, but Medicare and Medicaid. He and Franklin Roosevelt probably rank as the two most significant (and significantly positive) domestic policy presidents of the 20th Century.

    High, tremendous praise for Johnson, even beyond that that Hillary made, is not denigration of either Martin Luther King or John F. Kennedy. Everyone's consternation at giving Johnson credit for great moral courage and political skill reflects the sad truth that legacies are built on paper-thin narrative. Somehow a recognition that for all his foreign policy failures, Johnson was a giant in domestic policy seems too complex a story for us to swallow and accept.
     

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