Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The End of the Campaign?

So, as Chris Bowers made quite lucid over at OpenLeft, the media narrative has shifted back toward Obama despite his not being any more (or less) likely to win the nomination than he was two days ago. He has had a prohibitive lead in pledged delegates and has been gaining rapidly in supers for weeks, and despite constant cable news chatter about how Wright was the end of him, he did fine with white voters in both states, creamed Clinton in NC (beating expectations) and gave her a real scare in IN (beating expectations). It frustrates Chris that the race has arbitrarily sort of ended here and not two weeks ago when the delegate outcomes were almost exactly as clear. But anyway...

Kos is speculating about VP picks. He makes what I think is a convincing point. First, Clinton does not work as a VP choice. She does not offer anything geographically, nor in terms of her established persona/image in the media. She also brings lots of baggage (Bill, the Clinton scandals, etc.) and cuts against his end-the-game-playing/turn-the-page message. A truly poor choice, indeed.

But she does have segments of the party behind her that would need to be wooed. First, women. They are upset and indignant that their first potential president is being taken away from them, and while some of the frustration is more than defensible, not backing a Democrat (to prevent the reversal of Roe v. Wade, to prevent more corporate economics, to prevent more hawksih foreign policy, etc.) out of indignation is not intellectually defensible and I don't think many of them would do it. They are mostly Democrats, and they are mostly not prepared to vote for such a right-wing windbag.

Latinos would find McCain somewhat appealing, though the economy and Iraq would still make it very hard for him to win them, and I guess I don't see how McCain simultaneously appeases the angry, nativist GOP base and Latinos at the same time. He simply is not that talented of a politican.

Nonetheless, Obama might want to consider improving his standing with these groups in his VP choice. That's why Kos' Bill Richardson / Kathleen Sebelius options please me. Both are competent executive types. Both have progressive values but carry a lot of moderate and independent appeal. Both supported him in the primaries. Both help carry his change message. And both (he Latinos, she women) appeal to some of these less-than-enthusiastic-for-Obama demographic groups. They would simultaneously shore up his problems and appeal to his same core message of change and unity. Good choices, both.

I still like Jim Webb, though he isn't quite progressive/change-y enough. That said, he'd be a hell of a symbol to the public about why they shouldn't choose McCain (both war vets, both tough white dudes, etc.). He'd help with Virginia, too, which I think Obama can carry.

Gov. Kaine (VA) works also. Change-agent, early Obama supporter, delivers Virginia, competent executive. Not a dazzling resume or anything, but a safe, solid pick.

So the arbitrary rules of the media narrative (via Russert, Brokaw, etc.) have shifted to Obama. I guess it's good when he's winning, but as Bowers said, we shouldn't have to play by these rules anyway.

FInally, as Kos points out, it is quite frustrating that supers (or at least those who purport to know them) focus so much on Obama's demographic problems and not Hillary's. Why does she get constantly creamed among young people, among independents, etc? Why aren't these concerns? Oh, right, because race just deserves more attention. I say it now and I have said it before: constantly talking about white race fears and why they won't support blacks creates and furthers these divides. Racial politics is enabled when the media worries about it and talks about these white voters rejecting Obama. The media talks about them like cultural relativists (ah, those white voters galloping in the Appalachians!). But there is nothing more universal than the intolerability of racism. End of story.

But the end of the campaign? Depends on her. She must stay in through her victories in KY and WV. After Oregon, though, I think she quits. Supers will keep flooding to him and her money situation sucks. Oh, and that pesky media narrative (against him before, now against her). I almost feel bad for her, because no one deserves Russert's ridiculous framing of the race.

Almost, but not quite.

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